In April, 2013, MarchFourth Marching Band was honored to receive an invitation to do a US State Department cultural exchange tour in China, sponsored jointly by the United States Embassy in Beijing, Sias International University, Sias Foundation, and the Government of Henan China Cultural Affairs. We had only one month to prepare for the tour, and did not even receive the full itinerary until the band landed in Beijing. We really had no idea what we were in for.
Because the news generated so much excitement among our fans, our friends, and band members who were unable to go to China, it seemed crucial to send along a camera man to document this amazing cultural experience, and bring home the content to produce a film that could allow others to share in this adventure. Kevin Balmer of Diggable Monkey was hired for the job, and his perspective is unique in that he is also a part-time drummer in MarchFourth, and toured with the band to Germany in 2010 in a similar role, which yielded his first film, “Was ist Das?," which won BEST DOCUMENTARY at the 2012 Oregon Independent Film Festival. If you want to get an idea of what it's like traveling with M4 on the road overseas, check the Director's Commentary version of the film below:
MarchFourth in Peine, Germany with the Stederdorf and Gross Bulten Spielmannszug.
ON THE ROAD IN CHINA
MarchFourth is a seasoned touring act that travels on America's highways over 200 days of the year. While we've had the chance to get our feet wet in Europe a couple of times, our recent trip to Asia was a first for the band. Real bus seats? 7AM wake up calls? Mandarin? Oh, Boy...
The MarchFourth in China film traces the band's path through Henan, a relatively remote province of China. Often referred to as the "Cradle of Chinese Civilization," Henan culture is distinctly rural and far from the flashy bling of big cities like Shanghai or Hong Kong. Located in the fertile region of the Yellow River, the area's economy is an agricultural and resource-based one. To put it in context, we were commonly advised to "think Kansas." The freaky and urban MarchFourth juxtaposed against Henan's traditionally more rural reality is at the heart of this story's magic. While the band has much experience performing for unsuspecting audiences, the contrast between style and musical aesthetic in this culture was extreme, and got to the heart of the mission of the trip.
That such a large, eclectic, outside-the-box band was chosen to represent American musical culture struck many as an odd, but strangely perfect, choice. Fans and friends expressed their feelings of pride that something so very unique, that they felt connected to, would be sent on such a mission. Now we want to tell the story. We are producing a 50-60 minute documentary, including travel footage, live performances, behind-the-scenes intrigue, and video shot on an iphone from the "bands'-eye" view. The finished film will be free to watch on youtube, not a merchandise item. In order to give it away, and share it far and wide, we need your help. We are asking for just what we need to finance the completion, duplication, and release of the film. Please help us get this amazing story out to the world!
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Risks and challenges
It is our goal to complete the film by late September. This is pretty ambitious, but we want to release the film while it is still a fresh story. Due to Kevin's touring schedule with M4, and the demands of summer, there is a slight chance we won't meet that deadline. However, we are good on our word, and the film will be made. We promise to update donors on our progress, and do our very best to stay on schedule!Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
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