Hello and welcome –
my name is Simona and I am a documentary photographer and self-shooting director. I am obsessed with music and have been an enthusiastic Bonnie 'Prince' Billy fan for about fifteen years now. I have collected his full length albums, EPs, gadgets and multiple collaborations over the years and had the chance to meet and talk to Will at many of the 40+ shows of his that I attended.
At the beginning of 2014, during an e-mail exchange, I put forth my proposal for a video documentary on one of his tours. After years of working as a stills photographer I had been seduced by the realm of the moving image, and documentary filmmaking was slowly becoming my favourite form of storytelling.
Let me recreate our conversation for you, and please allow a little imagination and poetic license. Imagine my lines as if they were told in a loud (I have said that I'm Italian, haven't I), anxious, broken voice. Imagine Will's lines in his warm, velvety and calm tone.
Simo Valley: – Will? What if I followed you on tour and filmed?
Will Oldham: – (silence)
SV: – I mean, uh, what if I followed you and made a tour documentary, like, of the shows and all. How great would that be? For me, at least.
WO: – You're welcome to come and photograph, but we're not sure about the filming part?
SV: – I'd like to make, um, a 'fusion' film, between the history and geography and culture of the places where you'll play and the music itself... Does it make any sense? But I'd have to follow you around, so make sure you don't hate me for that.
WO: – Fusion sounds good. We're touring the Netherlands in September.
SV: – Hey, what a coincidence, I'm FREE in September. Let's do it.
And then tried reassuring him that my second name is not Misery.
Several months passed and September got scarily close. With the tremendous help of Tonnie 'Broeder' Dieleman and Leo Meijer, who had the idea for this tour and opened the BonnyCairo shows, and of some lovely Dutch people (Albert Bartelds, in particular, has been an absolute star) I quickly gathered a list of interviewees and arranged a meeting and an interview in every town involved in the tour. Tonnie and Leo took care of the logistics and were always ready to answer all my questions and clear my doubts.
Everything was ready.
I spent the week before travelling trying to get rid of the new U2 album that had mysteriously crept, unwelcome, into my iPhone. A couple of days before leaving I fell on the stairs while holding a hot cup of tea, burning my hands and bruising my knees. I started thinking I had been jinxed and fearing for my life, just before the most anticipated week of my whole existence. Maybe I should have given some money to that witch in Bolivia, years ago.
Then September 14th came and I was still alive, if only a bit bruised and anxious, and anxiously I got to Middelburg. Anxiety suddenly left me, replaced by a feeling of awe and peace and belonging, and a fantastic week followed: great music was played, lovely people were met and some very decent footage was filmed. But alas good things don't last, and as quickly as I had left London I found myself back with a heavy heart.
Why couldn't I do this all the time?
Why can't such great moments last forever?
What is love?
Baby don't hurt me.
Don't hurt me.
With these gloomy thoughts in my mind I let the hours flow, and the hours turned into days, and eventually September made way to October. At the end of the month I found the strength to face my hard-disk full of magic and melancholy and started editing the film. And the more time I spent editing, the more I wanted to spend all my time doing so. I finished cutting a 91-minute film in eight days. I slept two to three hours per night, barely talked to my flatmates and did not leave my flat, except for the occasional grocery visit to Walthamstow market, also known as hell on Earth.
And here we are, ladies and gentlemen – after a few trims here and there, some double thoughts and triple thoughts, the film is now ready. This final cut is 84 minutes long, and it's dense with useful information, friendly faces, interesting words, wonderful music and awesome locations – all of it surrounded by merrily grazing Dutch cows.
I now want to share this piece of work and this is when I need you. The project was entirely funded by myself and entirely dreamed of, thought and produced just out of my passion and devotion for the Bonny Prince. If you're reading these words it's either because you somehow know me, you are friends with my über-supportive sister or you share this passion of mine for Will's music – and in any of these cases, you might want to help this film see the light.
So here is how you can do so.
My expenses for the film so far included my flights to and from the Netherlands, the rental of an extra camera body, colour correction and grading, titles and graphic design, sound design and mix – and some damn extras from that low-cost airline that we all know (and hate) in Europe, punishing me for wanting to carry my tripod.
What still needs to be paid for is the music licensing fees for the closing songs from the Amsterdam show, which are covers of R. Kelly's “The Greatest” and The Everly Brothers' “I Wonder if I Care as Much”. They are the last two songs to appear in the documentary. Also, I might try and submit the film to an independent festival, or screen it somewhere.
THE DOCUMENTARY –
As I mentioned above, it's 84 minutes of pure joy.
It's a fusion-style film focusing on the relationship between the music and the place where said music is played: it is made of seven different episodes (one for every show, and therefore, every city or town), each including an interview with a locally known person talking about the venues where the music will be played that very night; an extract of a song from super duper Dutch musician Broeder Dieleman's show; one whole juicy and warming song from the Bonny Gang show.
Will and Emmett have kindly composed a soundtrack for the film. It is as dreamy and warm and peaceful as the Dutch countryside, and you can peacefully listen to some extracts right here, right now.
I have filmed and edited the film. Marco Ruffatti has done his colour correction magic, and Emanuele Costantini took extra loving care of the film's sound.
THE REWARDS –
All donors will have my eternal gratitude, which will be openly expressed on my Facebook and Twitter accounts. If you donate £10+ you'll also receive a link for you to either watch, download, or watch&download the film. If you're feeling generous and want to donate more, you'll also have between one and five additional videos of live songs from the Dutch shows and £100 will also get you a limited edition postcard by yours truly. Finally, if you want to donate £500 and be my forever hero/heroine, your name will also appear on the closing credits.
I do accept international donations, grazie, gracias und vielen Dank!
CAN’T DONATE BUT WANT TO HELP? You can still help tremendously by sharing my page as much as you can! — You can tweet, share on Facebook, email everyone and connect me with your friends and colleagues.
CONTACT ME AND/OR VISIT MY PAGES!
***Any donation money exceeding my goal that will not be used for paying the outstanding expenses for the Royal Dutch Tour Documentary will be put into my next music-related documentary project.***
Risks and challenges
Risks and challenges are virtually non-existent. The project has been already completed, and the final edit has been decided. BUT of course we can never say never, therefore if the notoriously moody Gods of Documentary Filmmaking are against me this could still happen:
— my phone gets violated by another U2 album, and I die of heart failure from the shock;
— all the (four!) hard drives where a copy of my documentary has been dutifully saved suddenly stop working all together, leaving us with no documentary at all;
(actually, the above cannot happen as there's a copy floating in the Clouds. PHEW)
— the witch from Bolivia comes back to chase me and scatters some jinx powder over me. Then who knows what might happen, I might disappear leaving no trace, except for the words "We're one, but we're not the same" written with my own blood on a blank wall. In this case there's nothing I could do, therefore I apologise in advance. "You fuck and what's to do, it's not your kingdom too…".Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
- (30 days)