Music Education has been massively cut in US schools over the past decades, compromising our children’s education and jeopardizing our culture. “Some Kind of Spark” is a feature-length documentary (appx. 80-90 min) that follows seven inner-city kids (ages 7-14) from New York City as they embark on a life-changing experience—the opportunity to study music at the Juilliard School of Music.
Shot in HD over a 2-year period, “Spark” intimately follows the students inside the classroom and out; studying at home and abroad; from practice rooms to stages. It will serve as an entertaining and educational reminder of the power and importance music plays in all of our lives.
Julliard’s MAP program is a music and mentoring program targeting students underrepresented in the performing arts, including black or African American, Hispanic and Native American students, ages 7 to 14, from New York City schools. The idea for MAP was developed in 1994 in the wake of massive cuts in music education at New York City public schools. Part of the goal is to help those students most affected by the cuts and whose communities are under represented in the classical music world.
Several characters—from students and teachers to professional musicians—are represented in the film to help illustrate the impact music can have on us all. From Pete Destill, a 9-year old Haitian boy—forced to leave his country after the devastating earthquake in 2010 and now learning the flute—to Suzanne Morello, a former MAP student herself in 1994 who “came from nothing,” and is now a viola teacher for the program. Or Leisly de Plaza, whose parents from Ecuador have made every sacrifice to allow her to study the piano with Major Scurlock, her teacher who “came from the projects,” found the piano at 15!, and still managed to attend Juilliard as a student. He has taught there for the past 15 years helping kids like himself to “find their voice.”
And there are many others, each with a unique and inspiring story to share.
We have been following these students and teachers for the past year and will continue on through this summer with trips to music camps they attend in places like DC, Vermont and Ecuador, to next year’s MAP auditions. We will then film another year of classes and recitals, wrapping principal photography in May 2012.
Ironically, I first learned of MAP after funding for the program itself was in question. An article in the New York Times described the imminent closure of the program, leaving countless students without proper resources for music training once again. Thankfully, the program was saved and it has now grown from 2-years to a 4-year program and serves as an inspiring model for music education.
One financial note: This film is not intended as a promotional vehicle for The Juilliard School and we have not, and will not, receive any funds from the school for the making of “Spark”. We are grateful for the unfettered access to the program (only a 60 Minutes crew has been granted access back in 2004) and are honored to work with the students and faculty. Still, we wish create a film that goes beyond the walls of Juilliard and inspires people in communities across America to embrace music education.
Ultimately, this is a film about how music can transform lives. Hopefully, it will also serve as a inspiration for other programs across the nation to nurture two of our most valuable national treasures: our children and our musical heritage.
We appreciate any help you can provide for this project. All funds raised through Kickstarter are earmarked for production expenses (travel, camera and audio crews) as well as post-production editing. If you have any questions, please feel free to contact me directly.
- (30 days)