A documentary adventure about success, collaboration, and surviving while doing what you love.
Hi, this is Jesse and Paul. We’re making a film about Peter Blanchette and an awesome guitar orchestra. It all started with a call from Peter asking about filming a single performance, but when we came to a rehearsal we got hooked on a bigger story.
Through the film we're exploring larger questions about the meaning of success, what it means to work in groups, what it means to be an artist in America, and how it might be possible to survive doing the things you love to do. It’s been a real adventure, and we are excited to keep going and to get it up on the screen so you can see it.
At this point we have over 100 hours of footage, and have also gotten very close to the people in the movie (after filming/ befriending/ occasionally living with them over the course of the past nine months) -- we are so close to the people and footage we would probably end up making a film that’s at least seven hours long. And this makes it all the more necessary to hire an editor.
We are seeking funding to work with the very talented Malcolm Pullinger who has edited and produced character-driven documentaries that we love -- FOLLOWING SEAN, and WINNEBAGO MAN. Both films are story and people driven but illuminate larger themes -- they are funny, entertaining and also profound. He is the perfect person to help shape this story.
Please join us in bringing this film to life. By coming on board at this stage of the production, and helping to hire a GREAT editor, YOU would help bring this film to a whole new place! We appreciate any support in making this happen – no donation is too small.
Other ways you can help:
One easy way to get involved is to friend the film on Facebook. Please take a few minutes to spread the word through Facebook, Twitter, or a quick e-mail to a few friends.
If you have any questions about this film, the Kickstarter campaign or if you have any ideas for people or organizations we can contact please email our Campaign manager Sean Flynn (firstname.lastname@example.org).
Thanks for checking out our project!
Jesse and Paul
ABOUT PETER BLANCHETTE:
Peter Blanchette is a conductor, composer, musician, and the inventor of the 11-string Archguitar. His repertoire of unusual and internationally acclaimed arrangements and compositions ranges from medieval to modern, from Bach to Led Zeppelin and Lady Gaga. His music has been featured on Prairie Home Companion – where Garrison Keillor awarded him a "Best of Towns under 2000” -- and also on SEX AND THE CITY.
ABOUT THE HAPPY VALLEY GUITAR ORCHESTRA:
"The first thing you need to know is that the Happy Valley Guitar Orchestra is awesome!" -- Adam Orth, The Recorder
Ranging in age from 14 to 65 HVGO is a true avant-garde community orchestra, comprised of more than 20 talented, enthusiastic, acoustic and electric guitarists from widely varied traditions. HVGO creates new and beautiful music that could only come from such an eclectic melange, inspiring musicians to work together who might otherwise never collaborate. As the conductor, Blanchette is striving to both get the folks who only play and attend musical events in local beer halls and nightclubs to listen to Philip Glass, and also to teach a more traditional classical music audience something important about Kurt Cobain. HVGO is a resident performance group at the Northampton Center for the Arts. HVGO players include farmers, special education teacher, van driver, painter, health club manager, photographer, community college instructor, carpenter, stay-at-home father, bartender, reporter, doctor, salesman, health food manager, real estate agent, printing press operator, house painter, computer programmer, school social worker, engineer, and daycare worker.
ABOUT THE FILMMAKERS:
Sundance-Award winner Jesse Epstein and musician/ filmmaker Paul Odgren both grew up in Massachusetts. When Jesse moved to Northampton from Brooklyn (for 10 months) they met and bonded over a love for both music and film, and were compelled to make this documentary. Really compelled -- they were so blown away by Peter and HVGO after going to one rehearsal they couldn't stop filming.
DIRECTORS PREVIOUS WORK SAMPLES:
Here's the trailer for BODY TYPED: a series of 3 short films on physical perfection -- which includes the Sundance award-winning WET DREAMS AND FALSE IMAGES:
You can also watch the short film 34 x 25 x 36 in entirety in the Youtube Screening Room -- it was featured and received over 1 million views in 4 days!
(Photos by Gavin Thomas)
Peter and Maddy at the Tuesday Farmer's Market:
(Photo by Ben James)
Peter Busking in Spain:
(Film Still by Paul Odgren)
Music writer Carl Vigeland writes about Peter, and sums up why we are making this film...
"I’ve made the recent acquaintance of a 50-year-old Northampton, MA-based musician, Peter Blanchette, who may be the world’s preeminent player of a unique instrument, the 11-string guitar (or arch guitar, as he terms it), which he more or less invented (working with its maker, a man who teaches design at Harvard); brilliant, modest, and with a great sense of humor, Blanchette is a virtuoso who, despite appearances on Fresh Air and Prairie Home Companion, has somehow remained undiscovered by the larger music public, perhaps because there is a greater appetite for Kanye West than John Dowland; his repertoire is wide, ranging all the way to the present (as well as writing his own stuff, he does very clever transcriptions of composers from Grieg to Satie to Bartok and is rumored to be working on a Lady Gaga cover); he is also the founder of a one-year-old group of amateur and professional musicians (a onetime sub in the Boston Symphony Orchestra, a blind painter, a high school student) called the Happy Valley Guitar Orchestra, the only such group I’ve ever encountered; with brio and surprising passion, they play a lot of spaghetti western soundtrack tunes, a Blanchette specialty; married to a local lawyer who works as a public defender, Blanchette comes across a little as a kind of techno-hip survivor of, say, the so-called Beat generation, appearing on stage in a suit that doesn’t quite fit his large frame, with unruly graying hair that falls over his bushy eyebrows as he stoops to plug in what he called on one occasion, “my backup band” (his iPod); audience laughter follows his frequent, self-deprecating jokes—a favorite turns on Bach and the Brandenburg concertos—and then suddenly the space around him quiets, his deeply expressive face assumes a meditative pose, and he begins softly and slowly to play an old Scottish ballad; when I heard him do this at Smith College on New Year’s eve, I wept."