Thank you for your interest! I've sung in gospel quartets most of my life. I sang with a professional gospel group called "Robert Blair and the Fantastic Violinaires" for over ten years (this group originated in the fifitys, on the Chess label. Wilson Picket was once a member of this group). This screenplay I wrote is a fictional brainchild based on my experiences traveling on the road with them, and before ... good, bad and ugly.
The group I co-founded, Lil Blair and the Violinaires, we formed when the lead singer of over 40 years died and most of the older guys stopped singing for a while. Here are a couple clips of the group singing:
"Tell Me How Long"
"Where He Leads Me I Will Follow"
Here is the short synopsis that is likely to go with a teaser trailer:
It seems the devil blocks gospel quartet lead singer Robert Chestnut's efforts at every turn. As BAD as it seems, as UGLY as it can get, the group still does plenty of GOOD that a ministry should. Giving hope to the homeless, the needy, the spiritually hungry ... even saving young runaways and enslaved women from a life of exploitation, follow The Faithful Tones on their journey of discovery and redemption.
If you care to read it, the longer script synopsis shold answer many questions of what the story is about.
Robert Chestnut, the lead singer of a quartet gospel group, must get his group signed to a major record label while navigating setbacks, flaws in his and key members' characters as well as their personal lives … and deal with a personal tragedy.
Robert possesses a tremendous capacity for finding ways to help others. Attempting to repair a faltering marriage with his estranged wife, while overcoming his weakness for advances by other women, he helps other group members navigate trials in their own lives. The guitar player struggles with a drug problem and an abusive relationship with baby-momma. His younger brother is unsavory and underhanded. To make matters worse, the co-founder/manager of the group leaves during critical record label negotiations to explore the world of R&B music.
The group does many positive things besides inspiring others with song. They feed the hungry, take on just causes that improve society, teach kids to gain an education and set goals for their lives. Yet, as human beings, they each have their own shortcomings to conquer.
In this movie, filled with joy, despair, ups and downs, drama, action, intrigue, and a peek into the world of modern-day slavery and exploitation, a social issue the group confronts head-on, we get to see a story based on the real world of what people, even in the world of gospel music can go through … the good, the bad and the ugly.
Wow, sounds like a great story, and one that would be well worth telling. There have been many films dealing with other genres of music, from classical, to rock, to funk, to reggae, to R&B to country, to folk to rap, but do not recall many (any?) on gospel, and especially with that type of music, there is also the "salvation" aspect - while uplifting, it can also be a weight upon one's shoulders. Many of the other music genres have been covered to the point that there has also even been parody of some.
Just like Mr. Chestnut's struggle, I hope that your distribution goes well.
Good luck, and thanks for sharing.
I love the look of the footage you shot, and the acting " talent "... lighting is nice too...technically looks great.
I would maybe scrap the idea of " good bad and ugly " and come at this from a different point of view... one that more closely matches your content. ( what that is exactly I dont know yet ).
The trailer could be like 30 seconds ...way shorter. this has nothing to do with subject and sound and title... just a heads up.
in this sense, as you know, every nanosecond counts.. every frame... so thats one issue...shorter trailer more to the point.
The reference to the movie 'good bad ugly' was about characters in a film, each one with their own "music theme" the sergio used to identify the characters. You are not dealing with 3 different 'characters' ( one good, one bad, etc ). You are dealing with characters in situations that are good or bad or ugly.. in other words it is the drama that describes your good, bad, ugly, not the characters. You could say it is the situation ( drama ) that is changing and evolving for various characters which eventually can be described as " good" for person A or bad for person A. So in short, I would scrap the idea of the good bad ugly as a way to hook an audience into this film.
In a way, you are more advanced re: the drama and story then the movie 'the good bad ugly' by sergio. Yours is more like shakespeare's plays about human conditions and positions in situations and " how they deal with those challenges in life ". In other words, you are dealing with characters that may have the disposition of hamlet or macbeth or king henry etc etc.. but you are NOT dealing with something so simple as person A = good guy, person B = bad guy and person C = ugly guy.
So throw that trailer in the trash can, is my opinion. If I can help any way I'd be happy to, and your stuff looks beautiful.. really nice.. great camera work, lighting, acting, ...everything I see is top of the line stuff....so good luck and think more in terms of what your synopsis says... for the trailer etc.
some title that is short and catchy... but says it all.. I'm at a loss what that is ... maybe something like
good luck !
watched trailer again.. and I take it back re: trailer length..make one shorter for tv promotion ( broadcast commercials ) and keep what you have too... its nice.
great looking stuff. Wish I had worked on it ! Call it Gospel Song or something ... talk to spike lee or someone about backing it up for distribution if youre not fixed up for that yet.... 40 acre and mule should be around ? I would bet my next beer that he would be willing to back up a real good drama for a change
write email to peter bavaro here
his email at end of article about film festivals lower left
say rod bauer recommended and ask about getting it done now... good luck
forget spike suggestion. that was dumb... go this way and see what happens
change title.. make it gospel song
thank me later by starting homeless shelter I can go to later in life
======== I wrote this ==
watched trailer again.. and I take it back re: trailer length..make one shorter for tv promotion ( broadcast commercials ) and keep what you have too... its nice.
but that means NOT with the good bad ugly bit... it means with the changes already done...
I dont always think in a linear sorta way and speak well... i say, " make it shorter" but dont mean with the same premise you had ( good bad ugly )... im already thinking you made that change and make it shorter etc...one for promotion on tv 30 sec spot , another for promotion 60 sec spot, another for your delivery to markets.
time for another beer
Dont know if this matters much.. re: singing in general, in choirs etc... but you probably know this already....
In nyc there is a choir that sings Handel's Messiah at a famous church downtown near wall St....and it is a big deal... It happens once per year. It sounds beautiful. It is a big " night " to go there and listen .
Not everyone who sings in that choir is Christian. Is this weird ? I don't think so really. Some people who love to sing are singing for the sake of that love for singing. Some sing because they are just plain " good " at doing that.
Maybe they have perfect pitch and great ears ( like floppy eared beagles ? )... and great voices ( mezo sopranos come to mind ) ? I'm thinking of some arias I've heard... and one in particular an ex girlfriend used to do on stage for some Mozart thing... very beautiful to listen to ...
But she was into yoga and from Southern California and I need to say here that some of those people are just plain " weird " re their " spirituality ". It's almost as if everyone just sorta takes what " fits " their lives.. and they adapt to that as their " belief " ... usually not having to do with any earthly religion... most likely having to do with aliens and a mixture of believing that " every religion in the universe has some good points "... and they sorta pick and choose what works OK for the moment.
I'm sure the country ( USA ) has plenty of stuff re: drama and characters to offer any movie about religion, but the idea that " singing " gospel songs might deal with real life people and real drama in their lives ( choices etc ) is pretty new ( like Bill Hunt pointed out in earlier post ).. and I think I would like to see something done that focuses on loving our neighbors and helping each other ... and not being so distracted by " weirdness " all the time... But of course any movie about gospel songs will seem weird to some people no matter what. Whoopie did it with fun in Catholic setting... but it is nice to see your stuff and a more " people oriented " ( character oriented.. individuals ) approach.. that just feels more honest and loving than anything I've seen before. Good luck !
( burp, scuse me, its beer thirty )
able123, thank you SO much for your comments; it is gratifying it got your attention enough to give me your thoughts on the film.
To make sure everyone understands: this is a gritty film ... not just a "feel good" movie. It's probably going to offend SOME people's sensibilities because it gets real.
I've sung in this genre since I was a kid, and many of the folk who will watch it will understand completely what is going on. People came to "shows" even though they knew some of the guys from SOME of the groups were not squeaky-clean preacher-like. Some were womanizing, some drank, some had drug problems. I believe this is one reason quartet gospel suffered in the black community, because some of the groups did not take their ministry seriously ... it was about "sangin'", and touching people, but not always a true attempt to live a righteous life as example.
I wanted to tell that story. Robert was a womanizer ... it almost destroyed his marriage to a good woman. But, he has turned that around (even though the women won't stop coming). Rusty ... it's money, money, money to him. And when there is not enough of it, he gets depressed because he can't provide for his girls and their momma (no, they are not married).. And when he gets depressed, he drinks ... heavily.
A sub-plot in the movie is how Robert and his buddy that left the group for R&B, Russell (my character) , make it their business to rescue two women they come to know from exploitation and sex slavery.
This film will be the first of it's kind, I have no doubt. I hope it is different enough and a departure from the norm that most people laud it's boldness and innovativeness. But this movie may not be the one they show in the fellowship hall after church
Again, I truly appreciate you guys' input. It is still worth considering again, even though I have already thought through many of the points you guys raise about the name and content.
I have been playing with Rod's (Able 123 - long story... ) idea for a name change. I struggled a bit with the name, but then he made some good points. Just some ideas, off the top of my head, but remember - it's already Wine Thirty here:
To God I Sing
Gospel - With My Heart and Soul
Gospel Train (really liked the angle that you shot the train from)
Gospel - A Man and His Music
God and Music Set Me Free
Gospel - Freedom at Last
One Man and His Music - Redemption
Those were my first thoughts, and feel fee to use any part, or any one. Just find that distributor.
Two other possible sources for support, but I do not have their e-mail addresses, like Rod does:
Jamie Foxx - I immediately think of his rendition of Ray Charles, who also did a wealth of gospel
Will Smith - While I think of him as The Champ, he has been a good backer for many startup projects
Again, just thinking here.
this oughta teach him to expect a wide range of responses in the lounge !
10 seconds... approx. THE BOOK, THE SNAKE, THE SONG
Its almost beer thirty ! GO JETS GO GIANTS !
edit... by the way, my first response was thinking of spike lee for help with hooking up with distributer etc.. but then I realized.. " this isnt some kinda " black" thing... african american, etc ....this is a movie , so thats when I figured friend Bavaro could help with getting the output ( exports, etc ) up to snuff for festival submissions...go from there ( can even reshoot some things - or shoot new things - when more money gets involved , if wanted )
Anyway, I have to sorta apologize for that intitial " pidgeon holing " thing in my head. Was dumb. Is sorta normal though too... as obviously there's sometimes more help and so on available within certain circles.. oh well, here's to good movies, may they thrive ! ( toasting with 1st of several beers )
I agree with you, regarding any ethnicity. I chose Foxx, primarily for his work on the Ray project, and music, that is heavily steeped in gospel roots. Now, maybe he would feel, "been there, done that," but maybe not.
Will Smith has been branching out with both direction and production, and has dabbled heavily in documentary, and semi-documentary work. He also has a strong background in music, though do not know if there is any gospel in there?
I know less of Lee, though am somewhat familiar with some of his films.
Though many immediately associate gospel with "Black music," I will never forget the year that Joe Cocker (I'm a great fan), was nominated for the Gospel Music award for Best Album. Though I grew up in the Deep South, with the era, and location, we seldom differentiated on the color of a performer's skin - it was about the music. Most of the local, or semi-local performers, like Irma Thomas, The Isley Brothers, Ernie K-Do, etc., had their beginnings in gospel choirs, and it showed in their later music. Similar could be said (maybe less gospel influence) for many of the Dixieland Jazz bands, or both that earlier time, and even now. No one ever cared if the guy on trombone was Black, or white - it was only about the music. Take Irma Thomas' Ruler of My Heart. It could be refering to Jesus (though most assume that she' lamenting the loss of her "man"), and be sung in a church today.That song still haunts me today. Yeah, though the Deep South had its issues, back in the days of my youth, we were fortunately insulated from many of them, and often the music was the common, bonding thread.
Just thinking here.
PS - Go Jets (my newly adopted third team)!
well, I hope I see it on screen someday, though I still dont like the title. The gospel isnt good bad and ugly.. people are I guess.. but again, this is drama ( which has its own background re: tragedy and comedy in the classic sense ( not meaning funny and sad ).....and its referring to a movie too.. which kinda bothers me. So there... I said it.
I'd like to watch the whole thing. what I saw was done well.
go Jets !
Funny you mention the Isley Brothers. I LOVE the Isley Brothers and was influenced by their music.
I had a little fun throwing together some original songs in hte form of music videos:
No Good Lover
I Love You That Much:
Thank you for those links.
I like you way that you shoot and cut. No gimmicks - just tight and straight. Well-done!
As for the Isley Bros., we were blessed down in New Orleans. We had some great performers there, and they attracted many more, that the city just sort of adopted, like Sam Cooke, Otis Redding and others. They were not FROM New Orleans, but played many of the venues, with the local folk, that they were like our "step-children," doing well. Locally, we DID have our "own," and supported them well.
Maybe we were being ego-centric, or just did not know better, but we dubbed their music, though it was really across the specturm, as "New Orleans Music," though elsewhere, "R&B," and later "Soul" was applied to the sound. We got the original artists too, where much of that music was covered by white stars, usually signed to some big record label. It was not until much later, that I found names, such at Pat Boone, assigned to various songs, and listed first on Billboard charts, etc. Heck, I had never heard ANY of these performers do those songs, but I suppose that most of the country did, and those versions were all they knew. While some of the cover versions were pretty good, few could compare with the feelings evoked, the soul, and the textures, that the original artists have provided, no matter how talented they, or their producers, were - the sounds were too homogenized - they had been turned into pop-kool aid. I felt sorry for people in much of the rest of the country, having only those cover songs to relate to. We had the originals. It wasn't until I attended school in Philadelphia, and began discussing music with others (who lived away from New Orleans), that I came to realize that we had lived in our own little world, but what a great one it was.
Back then, there was really only one open venue (outside of the jazz clubs, from places like Preservation Hall to the Club 77 on Claiborne Street), and that was the Union Hall on Soniat and Tchoupitoulas Streets. I'd drive over from the Gulf Coast most weekends, to attend. There, we were treated to the likes of Clarence Frogman Henry, Irma Thomas, The Isley Bros., Clarence Gatemouth Brown, Sam Cooke, Johnny White, Otis Redding, Neville Bros (much, much younger then), and so very many others.
It was not until much later, that The Warehouse opened, and it was a venue featuring mostly rock performers, though some of the "locals," or "regulars" from The Union Hall, did make appearances - the New Orleans music scene was changing.
Now, live performance venues have sprung up everywhere. There are festivals, dedicated almost exclusively to New Orleans Music, from Dixieland Jazz to the Blues to that "soul sound," that we called "New Orleans Music," so long ago. Still, I will always reflect on the glory days of The Union Hall, and the performers that we got to see and hear in person, in a rather intimate venue (though with poor acoustics ).
Nah, I was one lucky guy, and would not give that up for anything.
I wish you all the luck in the world, as I too, would love to see your film.
Wish that I had Jamie Foxx's cell number, or even had met him, as I'd give him a call on your behalf.
Let us know how it goes,and thanks for sharing.
Sorry that I managed to get so far Off Topic there, but in my feeble mind, there were some parallels with Gospel, which was a major contributor to many of those performers - hey, it prompted you to offer those two links, and I got to appreciate them, so all was not lost.
Have not spent much time in theaters lately, but I'd certainly pack up the wife, and head out to see your film. I'll bet that others would feel the same way too.
Best of luck,
As an aside ... I don't have a clue how to make contact with Jamie Foxx or Will Smith.I wish I did.
I don't have a clue how to make contact with Jamie Foxx or Will Smith.I wish I did.
jamie foxx booking ( gersh ).. will give you agents name..
write letter addressed to who you want to speak with ( smith, foxx ) and use agent address ( in care of )
c/o agent XYZ
LA, CA 12345
they screen and forward if they deem it worthy of talent's attention... otherwise you need to know a friend etc.
how about brands and logos etc ??? products, that sort of thing ?
I recall working on some movie and the camera operator framing the shot purposefully in a way to avoid some drug store chain " sign" at night... like Rite-Aid or something...
then there's the labels on stuff people are drinking and all that .. so many dumb things to deal with..
people dont generally realize all the effort that goes into NOT shooting stuff that is copyrighted etc.
Usually on streets (with public walking around like in times square ) the locations dept posts signs that says " anyone walking around here may be photographed and it's understood that your permission is granted if you decide to be walking around here " ... hehe.. all sorts of effort to cover everything.
sounds like you have it all worked out.
probably your biggest challenge next might just be delivery in format(s) necessary to distributer(s).
I think I would read that blog about festivals by Bavaro at sixteen19.com and talk to him about submitting your film to Cannes, Sundance and Tribecca festivals...
Most festivals wont take work that has been distributed before.. they like new stuff.
another thing ( believe it or not ) is mail order. Put ad in some magazine etc for film you are selling.... Make sure you say, " allow 7-10 days for delivery "... Now use the cleared check or money order or paypal or whatever from the customer to make the DVD or BlueRay and mail it. In other words... you use the money from customer ( already cleared in your bank etc ) to actually make the product and mail it. It is what they do generally in the mail order
Im not sure but I think the festival would still allow submission from something that sold mail order and was not distributed otherwise, ask Pete Bavaro at sixteen19...
you really need to talk to some pro people about this stuff... lol....he wont charge for talking to you.. dont be scared...
why not also make ( get someone good to make it ) poster ( point of sale ) ... meantime...
Will probably change with getting distributer but who knows..maybe not if its good enough...
like this stuff ( I left out my favorite motif ( scary snakes ) but that can be added no problem ! )
my idea below ( group singing ( real good quality still image ) )... inserts from film screenshots below...some nice design, good color, composition, font choices and all that groovy stuff print ad art directors know real well....
movies posters are like the good ol 331/3 album covers... they sell product and usually look fantastic !
Cool stuff! Great ideas! My Director and I were just talking about Poster and DVD concepts.
I did something for a website, but it's too "busy" for a poster or DVD. The tagline I came up with is "If you could change the world with music ... what would you sing"
I haven't created content for the website, yet. But, I needed to put something up.
yeah.. is a bit busy...font for title hard to read..(and color on color hard to read too ...guttenberg said ( in 1500's ? ) the easiest to read is black letters on white... is still true )...
although I kinda like idea of group singing being represented ( and maybe train insert to show travel aspect ) to get across idea of it being a little about singing ( like you did )...I also really really like the montage you did...really nice. Great job drawing paths and making selections and great choices of images.. says a lot emotionally ( expressive ).
Well, good luck and let us know how things progress !
dont know if it will matter but if you print this stuff yourself...you dont have to do a full bleed with images...can make a little smaller ( images ) and maybe have plain white or black at top ( with black or white title of film at top )...white is cheaper cause its the paper stock color ( ink cost and if you go to offset press commercially same thing matters cost wise )
I used to use quark xpress to do page design..which is way different than photoshop ....cause its not one giant " image" ....way nicer to work with too.
However, that is a pro tool (program) for offset press work mostly and is primarily for color separations for printing plates, and uses postscript...this stuff changes fast now with computer revolution...now you can make plates direct and bypass the separation..
time for more coffee.... good luck
happy thanksgiving ! hope its been great !
give this guy a dvd sample or call or email or whatever... see what happens.
george cochran...very smart and extremely talented man..
ps.. he just had a quadruple bypass so give him a couple days to respond...he's resting
sorta.. i doubt he knows how to really " rest "...