Filmmaker Scott Graham and co-producers Ginger Sheehy and Phil Spell roll one for the ages on the "Road to Equinox"
by Lee Abraham †
Time is a slippery deal. As todayís perpetual tomorrow becomes a lifetime of yesterdays, some points on the line have more impact than others. Not only in our own individual experiences, but as a community, a culture, and in a few cases, as a planet. Somewhere between personal revelation and global phenomenon, the summertime music and camping festivals continue to thrive, and as a result, impact the lives of a rapidly growing of community of jamband fans, musicians, artists, writers, and yes, filmmakers.
"I had the idea that a film should be made three or four years ago," recalls Scott Graham, film director and cinemagraphic visionary. "I was sitting at a campfire at the Autumn Equinox festival with Tim ad Junipa (the festivalís promotors), and I said to them, ĎHey, somebody should make a movie.í" After they agreed, Graham offered his services. Although work on the film didnít begin until a couple of years later, the seeds for "Road to Equinox," a documentary on the í98 Autumn Equinox festival, had been planted.
"The film is really about the notion of community and how it develops... how a culture starts to thrive at a festival in two days. Thereís a very natural flow and sort of progression to it," says Graham. "Itís not just this festival. Thereís tons of festivals throughout the whole nation, we just happen to have close proximity to these... itís also about the moment of live music, thereís something magical about that."
Itís easy to see that Graham is passionate about the project. After all, "Road to Equinox" brings together two of his most consuming interests - film and music. As a youngster living in Florida, Graham acted in school plays and then local community theater. He was also deep into jazz. "I was listening to Miles Davis and Thelonious Monk as a kid," he says with a laugh. "I was really a pretty serious kind of teenager, I guess."
Then he began to work on films. "Thatís when I started to think that I wanted to be a film maker," explains Graham. Doing "tons and tons of different things," Graham worked as a casting director, camera operator and general studio hand. These days, he benefits from the well rounded education he received while learning on the job.
One of the things Graham picked up - teamwork is key. Without a doubt, "Road to Equinox," is a group effort. Ginger Sheehy, Grahamís longtime partner in creativity, and Phil Spell, a jamband connoisseur with a head for numbers, are both instrumental in making the film. Like any team, everybodyís got their roles. Graham met Sheehy at a small college where they were both theater majors. "Thereís just a connection that we have," he explains.
In addition to collaborating on numerous projects, the two enjoyed checking out live music together. Thatís how they met Spell. All three were friends with "Everything," a popular local groove unit, and somehow or other, the met at an "Everything" show. Graham already knew that Sheehy was an excellent video editor. When he discovered Spellís vast knowledge of the jamband scene and also his business background, the pieces to the puzzle of producing the film were all in place.
A lot has transpired since then. As we go to press, the film is being edited. "Itís the final stage of making the movie," says Graham. "We are going to start with editing the sound, then the pictures. We have about eight hours of footage which weíll edit down to about an hour."
"The premise of the film is actually going to be more music driven than anything else," says Sheehy. "Weíve been interviewing people and getting their ideas about the festivals, and about things that have happened to them at the festivals, what their experiences were, and that audio will be the narration."
"One of the things about these festivals is that the diversity of these bands is great," says Sheehy. "It used to be that you couldnít get your hard core jazz people to listen to any of that hippie music, you know? I think a really great thing about these festivals is that they bring together all these different types of people. Plus, thereíll always be that one band that youíve never heard before and then that will lead you to twenty other bands youíve never heard before... I always feel that whenever I go to one of these shows I always come out with so much more than I went in with."
Many viewers of the film will have the same experience. "Road to Equinox" will feature an array of stylistically diverse live performances from a cross section of local and regional bands who played the festival. Although the final decisions havenít been made, some of the likely performers to find their way to the silver screen include: Keller Williams, Lake Trout, Deep Banana Blackout, the Recipe, Karl Denson, String Cheese Incident, Charlie Hunter, Leftover Salmon, and Fat Apple, among others.
The actual filming was done on the "DVC" digital video tape format, a cost effective and easily edited technology which Graham credits as the salvation of low budget filmmakers everywhere. "Itís the only way we could do it," says Graham. "If we had to go the traditional 16mm route, it would just be impossible for us. As it is, this film was made through bartering. Itís the fundamental economic structure of the culture weíre making this about and the film was made that way primarily."
"Road to Equinox" is scheduled for release before the end of the year. Like the production of the film itself, the marketing behind it will be a grassroots campaign. In addition to placing the film in select theaters around the country, with a long term goal of eventually being shown on network or cable TV, Graham and his co-producers plan on setting up a booth at shows, festivals and any other place where like minded folks might gather. Says Spell, "Whether it be in the parking lot of a Phish show or at the Wetlands or someplace like that... weíre just going to get it out there."
Anyone interested in more information on "Road to Equinox" can contact Gaspotchio Entertainment at: (703)998-7533 or e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org.