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MUSIC CITY is a film about people who share a common bond of music, love, and the piano, and how they intersect in New York City.

What is MUSIC CITY?

MUSIC CITY is a narrative feature length film set in New York City. It's a love note to New York, with drama, laughs, inspiration, and characters drawn from real life. And the music! Breathtaking music from all genres, with a focus on classical.

The film pays homage to New York, its diversity and character, and to music. It is a film for music lovers, musicians, and anyone who has ever fallen in or out of love. MUSIC CITY is a film to inspire and entertain and lift spirits.

Another typical day in the subway.
Another typical day in the subway.

The Story

Among the characters are Walter and Marcie, employees at the Steinway & Sons piano factory in Astoria, Queens. Walter is a reclusive loner who relates better to the intricacies of a piano’s complex workings than to people, and Marcie is just plain lonely. Across the factory floor two generations of craftsmen struggle with the hardship of a loved one with a substance abuse problem, while across the river in Manhattan, a young piano virtuoso is on a meteoric rise to fame and fortune. But it’s a rise that may force him to give up the woman he loves. And in a quiet neighborhood, a grandfather and his grandson bond over music. These and the other stories and characters who inhabit this world are the bedrock of MUSIC CITY. Equally as important is the carefully-chosen music which will be allowed to resonate through every scene.

Music’s potency and ability to elevate our emotions will stand in the spotlight, and whether it comes from the score or is performed on screen, it will color the film with a deepness of tone and feeling.

Where did the idea come from?

MUSIC CITY is inspired by a short film I wrote and directed a few years ago called "Common Practice." In it, I touched on the theme of music's universality and the power it has to bring people together. For almost two years the film played at festivals all over the world (including Sundance), and seeing firsthand how people responded to the story and were inspired by its message, it gave me the confidence to write MUSIC CITY. MUSIC CITY is my way of expanding on the themes and characters in a way that will reach a wider audience.

Here is the short film (it runs about 10 minutes):

Why $27,156 exactly?

Two reasons: One, it's an homage to W.A. Mozart, who was born on January 27, 1756 (27-01-56 for our international friends); and two, we genuinely need about $25,000, which is about what we'll net after Kickstarter and Amazon's fees.

Our "Skyline" logo
Our "Skyline" logo

The Music

Victor Hugo said it best... and it's a truth that we have all experienced so many times in our lives. Music is our companion in our most triumphant moments and in our darkest hours. It is a living, breathing thing that has the power to move us beyond words, and it is just as potent live as it is through thin, tinny headphones.

I don't whether it was the first time I saw "The Magic Flute" live, or seeing the movie AMADEUS when I was a kid, but I've had a deep love for classical music. I am genuinely in awe of the great composers who wrote the music, but also of the extraordinary musicians who play it. Last year, as I was writing MUSIC CITY, I began to take piano lessons simply as a way to learn more about my subject. But I fell hopelessly in love with the instrument, and if I'm lucky, for one hour every day I get to forget about the stresses of making a film and drift away by myself into music. I wish I'd played as a child, but better late than never. The piano will be a part of my life forever, and I have this experience to thank for it.

The relationship between music and cinema is one of the most powerful, and I feel like I only scratched the surface with COMMON PRACTICE. Now -- with your help -- I am ready to take it to the next level.

Here are just a few of the selections that will be used in the film. I listened to these non-stop as I was writing.

Liszt's Consolation No. 3

Beethoven's Moonlight Sonata, 1st movement

Chopin's Nocturne No. 20

Liszt's Liebestraum

While classical music is integral to the film, other genres are just as important. Hip-hop, rock, pop, and jazz are all represented in MUSIC CITY.

Another reason I love New York. This is from a recent Saturday in Central Park:

Steinway & Sons

MUSIC CITY is not about Steinway & Sons per se, but a good part of the movie takes place in their extraordinary factory in Astoria, Queens. When I approached Steinway a year ago and told them I was beginning to write a screenplay revolving around characters who either worked at the factory, lived in Astoria, or somehow had a connection to music in their lives, they were immediately receptive to the idea, and they've been very supportive while we've been putting the pieces together for the film.

Steinway's support has been instrumental in getting MUSIC CITY as far along as it is. Because of them, we will be able to shoot in the factory and in the venerable Steinway Hall on 57th Street. Their collaboration brings verisimilitude to the scenes where craftsmen and women are at work, and to the locations where the movie will be shot. We are thrilled to have 160 years of Steinway's passion for excellence behind us, and we take that responsibility very seriously. 

A Steinway artisan at work.
A Steinway artisan at work.

For those wondering, Steinway does not have an editorial say in the film's narrative, nor have they asked for one.

The Plan

Since we have a good chunk of our production financing in place, our intention is to shoot the film this summer. We will edit as we go, which allows us to submit a cut for consideration for the Sundance Film Festival. As an alum for my short film "Common Practice," which is the basis for MUSIC CITY, I believe we have a very good shot at getting in. One, because MUSIC CITY will be a unique and beautiful film, and two, because Sundance has a long history of showcasing their filmmakers as their careers progress.

While premiering at Sundance would be a dream come true and complete the circle begun with "Common Practice," the festival circuit is as robust as it's ever been, and there are many other festivals at which we'd be honored to play. One of them is the Tribeca Film Festival, one of the coolest and exciting festivals in the country. Maybe my ultimate dream comes true and I get to bring MUSIC CITY to both of them!

How you can help

We need your help to see MUSIC CITY become a reality. We will begin prepping the movie in July, and shoot in August and September in New York City. We have raised the majority of the budget but we need a few dollars more to "kickstart" pre-production. The money we raise on Kickstarter will initially be used for:

  • location scouts
  • budgeting & scheduling
  • casting
  • rehearsals
  • and all the million little things that add up in prep

To the extent we raise more, the money will then be used to augment our production and post-production budgets. This will allow us to get many things, including renting better equipment, paying more location fees, affording higher quality post production, and throwing an EPIC WRAP PARTY for our amazing cast and crew (and our generous donors at the $500 level)!!

We are extremely fortunate to have one of our backers agree to match whatever we raise on Kickstarter, so please give as much as you can since it will be doubled!

Who we are

Bringing the right people together is one of the most critical steps in making a movie. That goes double for independent films. We are working hard every day to bring the best of the best on board, and so far we've succeeded.

Here is a little bit about some of the people involved with MUSIC CITY:

Marcos and Christopher on the set of "Common Practice"
Marcos and Christopher on the set of "Common Practice"

Marcos Efron (Writer, Director, Producer) Award-winning filmmaker Marcos Efron was born in Buenos Aires and raised in Texas. After earning a finance degree Marcos worked as an investment banker in New York but eventually chose to tackle more creative endeavors. Following the premiere of his short film “Common Practice” at the Sundance Film Festival, Marcos made his feature directing debut with “And Soon The Darkness” for Studiocanal and Abandon Pictures. The film stars Amber Heard, Odette Yustman, Karl Urban, and Academy-Award nominee Adriana Barraza. Marcos' experience producing and directing feature films, documentaries, short films, music videos, and commercials, combined with his deep-rooted personal and professional relationships with world-class artisans in the film industry, ensure that “Music City” will be produced to the highest artistic standards.

Stephanie Levy (Producer) Stephanie is an award-winning producer who most recently produced the independent feature film DAVID, winner of many prestigious awards, including the Ecumenical Prize at the Montreal World Film Festival, Special Jury Award at the Napa Valley Film Festival, and Best Narrative Feature at the San Luis Obispo International Film Festival. DAVIDwas filmed entirely on location in Brooklyn, and Stephanie was instrumental in completing the film on time and well under budget. With over 25 years experience, Stephanie is an experienced negotiator with valuable connections to talented cast and crew. Stephanie is also a committed animal advocate, developing community educational outreach programs and producing short films and PSAs designed to raise awareness for the compassionate treatment of animals. Stephanie is also producing MIDWAY, a visual feature length journey into the alarmingly sad effect of plastic garbage in the Pacific Ocean.

David Kaplan (Executive Producer) An independent film industry veteran, David previously served as a film finance executive at the New York-based consulting firm Cinetic Media. During his time at Cinetic, David structured film financing on a single picture basis -- collaborating with producers, filmmakers and financiers to create opportunities for investment that made both creative and financial sense. David also consults for established independent film companies in order to help them analyze opportunities, grow their respective business, and make informed decisions based on constantly changing market factors. Prior to joining Cinetic, Kaplan served as the Director of Development at Killer Films, shepherding many projects, including HBO's "Mildred Pierce," Academy Award winner Dustin Lance Black's "What's Wrong With Virginia," and upcoming films from Ramin Bahrani ("Goodbye Solo"), Sebastian Silva ("The Maid"), and John Krokidas. David currently serves as an independent film finance and distribution consultant, working in-house at Joshua Astrachan and Lucy Donnelly's Locomotive Film Partners.

Jonathan Montagu (Co-Executive Producer) Jonathan is new to the film business but he has a broad range of experience raising financing in other sectors. He successfully raised over $125 million in venture financing for Concert Pharmaceuticals, Inc and Nimbus Discovery, LLC. Jonathan is a Founder of Arpolex Pharmaceuticals and IGAN Biosciences, which successfully licensed its lead product to an undisclosed pharmaceutical company. Most recently, Jonathan served as an Entrepreneur-in-Residence at Atlas Venture, a leading venture group focused on media, technology and life sciences venture investing. Jonathan began his career at the Boston Consulting Group and produced the sell-out production of Black Comedy at Oxford University in 1999.

Christopher W. Johnson (Cinematographer) Christopher is an award-winning cinematographer who travels the globe shooting television commercials, feature films, music videos, network promos, and documentaries. His diverse skill set allows him to work in all mediums of acquisition, whether from the air, in a studio environment or scenes involving multi-layered visual effects. This varied and unique set of experiences is brought to every shoot and provides directors and producers with a very seasoned collaborator. Recent work includes the Baja 500 (filmed in 3D), commercials for Air New Zealand, the Moving Still Image campaign for H&M/Versace, a documentary about Ang Lee for FOX shot on location in Taiwan, and “The David Steinberg Comedy Series” for Showtime. His accolades include winning the International Cinematographers Guild’s (ICG) award for Best Cinematography for Marcos Efron’s film, “Common Practice.”

Jennifer Euston (Casting Director) Jennifer has been a casting director for 17 years and currently conducts New York film searches for Disney, Dreamworks, Paramount, Universal Studios, and Sony Pictures. In the past year, Jennifer has cast three independent films including Bachelorette, Sleepwalk With Me and Revenge For Jolly! which premiered at the Sundance and Tribeca Film Festivals in 2012. Recent casting credits include Cop Out, Furry Vengeance, The Other Guys, and Scott Pilgrim vs. The World. Additionally, Jennifer was responsible for New York-based casting for Bridesmaids, Super 8, Friends With Benefits, and How Do You Know. Jennifer’s television experience includes Girls, Veep, and The Pacific for HBO. For The Pacific, Jennifer received an Emmy Award for “Outstanding Casting for a Miniseries, Movie or a Special” as well as an Artios Award from the Casting Society of America. Jennifer began her career at Universal Studios in Los Angeles and attended New York University, Tisch School of the Arts, majoring in Cinema Studies.

The Cast

MUSIC CITY is an ensemble piece, and our aim is to hire as many great actors from New York as possible. We've begun to put together an outstanding cast, and several of the more major roles have been filled with some very well-known names. As much as we'd like to announce to the world who these wonderful actors and actresses are, we have to wait a little bit longer until deals are inked and everything is formalized. Hang tight though, because we will be making all our announcements via Kickstarter and Facebook, and you will all be the first to know!

International supporters

Please add $8 to each reward for international shipping charges for CDs, script, etc, and $30 for the director's chair.

Can you contact us?

Absolutely! Feel free to send any questions to muscicitythemovie@gmail.com  We check it everyday (honest!).

You can also follow us on Facebook, Twitter and at www.musiccitythemovie.com

Admittedly our web presence is in its infancy, but as prep gets underway, we will be putting up loads of cool updates and content. So stay tuned!

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    8 backers

    Thank you! You're going to get exclusive EMAIL UPDATES and PHOTOS throughout production, plus our eternal GRATITUDE and the satisfaction of helping an inspiring film see the light of day. How cool is that??

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    13 backers

    If you loved the short film, you'll love this reward. In addition to the exclusive updates, you'll also get a signed DVD of Marcos Efron's Sundance short film “Common Practice,” the inspiration for MUSIC CITY, plus a shout-out on the "Thank You" page of our website.

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    14 backers

    You're the best! And now you'll be the most stylish on the block with your limited-edition MUSIC CITY "Skyline" logo T-SHIRT (in addition to everything from above). And it comes with a personalized THANK YOU CARD signed by the filmmakers.

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    17 backers

    Clear your shelves because you're getting a big box in the mail! In addition to all of the above, you'll get a DVD or BLU-RAY of the film when it’s released, an official CAST & CREW GIFT (in addition to the T-shirt at the $50 level), and a copy of the screenplay signed by writer/director Marcos Efron.

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    "The Connoisseur" Charge your iPod because in addition to all of the above, you'll get "SYMPHONIES ON A STEINWAY," a 5-disc CD set from Steinway & Sons’ own record label, ArkivMusic, and a CD or digital download of the movie’s SOUNDTRACK when it’s released.

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    "The Jetsetter" Grab your chicest outfit and meet us in the Big Apple. You get everything from the other levels plus an invitation for you and a guest to the official WRAP PARTY in New York City.

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    1 backer

    "The Auteur" Call the shots in style! You get all of the above plus a GENUINE DIRECTOR'S CHAIR with your name embroidered onto it, and a signed 8x10 print made from a frame of your choice taken from the movie.

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    "The Musician" Grab this one fast because there's ONLY ONE! In addition to the rewards from every previous level, you get a PRIVATE TOUR of the extraordinary Steinway & Sons factory in New York for you and up to six guests, where part of the film is shot and pianos are still made by hand.

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    "The Mogul" Step onto the red carpet, because you get all the above plus a PRIVATE SCREENING of the movie for you and your friends, with the filmmakers and available cast in attendance, with a Q&A session to follow. *Must be within 100 miles of either New York, NY or Los Angeles, CA.

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Funding period

- (30 days)