The Moving Picture Boys Presents

Wall Street Journal - Shovels & Rope Film Offers ‘Look Through Our Kitchen Window - October 30, 2014

Wall Street Journal - Americana Gothic from Country-Rock Duo Shovels and Rope - August 26, 2014

The Ballad of Shovels and Rope receives Nashville Film Festival's Tennessee Spirit Award for Best Feature - April 26, 2014

TAGLINE: "It ain't what you got, it's what you make."

LOGLINE: From working for tips to becoming the emerging artist of the year, a two-man family band uses hard work and ingenuity to create something out of nothing.

SYNOPSIS: Necessity is the mother of invention. Less is more. Make it work with what you've got. Two guitars, a junkyard drum kit, a handful of harmonicas, voices, and above all... songs. The Ballad of Shovels and Rope captures the tours and detours of a husband and wife as they create and release the critically acclaimed album O’ Be Joyful. From working for tips to becoming "Emerging Artist of the Year," the two-man family band uses ingenuity and hard work to create something out of nothing.

DIRECTOR: Jace Freeman

PRODUCER: Sean Clark

PRODUCTION COMPANY: The Moving Picture Boys

The Moving Picture Boys are a two-man team that independently shoots, edits and produces documentary projects. Jace Freeman and co-founder, Sean Clark won the award for best Tennessee feature at the 2013 Nashville Film Festival with their first documentary feature, Nashville 2012. Freeman and Clark are the creators of the on-going innovative web series, Nashville Docujournal, that blends local news with their unique documentary style.  

RUNTIME: 72 minutes

GENRE: Feature Length Documentary

RELEASE DATE: December 1, 2014

PREMIERE DATE: March 23, 2014 at Cleveland International Film Festival

PAST SCREENINGS: Nashville Film Festival (Winner Best Tennessee Feature and Honorable Mention Music Film), Port Townsend Film Festival (Winner of Best Feature Documentary), Newport Folk Festival, Cleveland International Film Festival, Indy Film Festival, Macon Film Festival, Milwaukee Film Festival, Heartland Film Festival, Hot Springs Doc Fest, Sound Unseen and PUSH! Film Festival







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How did you come to make a film about Shovels & Rope?
Before Shovels & Rope existed, Cary Ann approached The Moving Picture Boys in 2010 to make a couple live music videos for her solo act.  We learned that her husband, Michael Trent, backed her on her projects, and that she backed him in his solo endeavors.  We had just recently watched Coal Miner’s Daughter for the first time, and after filming Cary Ann cover Waylon Jennings’ Dreaming My Dreams, we knew we had just met a charming, down-home personality formed in the similar larger-than-life molds of a Loretta Lynn or Dolly Parton. And then we heard the songs of Michael Trent. The dude could write the hell out of a song with lyrics that just cut you to the core. The husband and wife talked of joining together and forming a duo, and we said we’d like to make a documentary about that new band. They agreed to let us tag along for the journey. 

How long did it take to film?
We anticipated that the filming would last for several months, but as it goes in documentary projects, the timeline expanded as the story became more interesting. We set out to document a grassroots band making a record within their own means, but by doing so uniquely captured a husband and wife obtaining a piece of their American dream. We began filming in December of 2010 and the last shot was recorded in September 2013.  

There are tons of rock docs, what makes this film unique?
Easy, it's shot in the present tense.  In real-time, we see the formation of a band as they go from playing for tips in a restaurant for a handful of people, to writing what will become the "song of the year", and then emerge as an Americana darling into a national music scene. There are many documentaries that feature interviews narrating a historic rags-to-riches story, but it's rare to see it actually unfold before your eyes. 

Who was involved in production? 
Jace Freeman and Sean Clark, known as The Moving Picture Boys, helmed the project. Paul Bannister started out as part of the three person production team, and mid-way through filming actually became the band’s manager and is featured in several pivotal scenes in the film. 

Is this an independent production?
Yes. Just two of us set out to make this film; funding it with credit cards and filming with minimal gear.  We were attracted to the band's DIY work-ethic because we had a similar modus operandi. Seeing the inner workings of a successful grassroots project is definitely inspiring and encouraging for other creative types.   

How were you able to fund the project?
This project was crowd-funded in the latter stages of production through a successful Kickstarter campaign that raised $43,420 backed by 832 backers.  Over $20,000 of which was pledged in the first 24 hours of the campaign. We also applied Nashville Film Festival winnings from our documentary, Nashville 2012, for the opportunity to do color correction at Ground Zero.   In a lucky twist of fate, we won the same prize again the following year at the Nashville Film Festival for The Ballad of Shovels and Rope giving us $10,000 in post-production services for their next project.  

Where can I watch the film?
You can watch the film on HULU, Amazon, Google Play, Vimeo, iTunes, VHX and DVD.

Contact: info (at) mpboys (dot) com

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In the Fall of 2010, our friend and collaborator, Paul Bannister connected us with a newly formed band from Charleston called Shovels & Rope. They were on their way through Nashville, and were in need of some live video content to pitch to potential promoters. We were in the middle of wrapping up a short documentary that we shot in Haiti and welcomed a change, so after reviewing a few songs by Michael Trent and Cary Ann Hearst, we dove in.

We hit it off immediately. The sessions went well as we captured some great moments, most notably a performance of Boxcar in an empty room of a warehouse in Nashville.

During the shoot, we learned that this two-man family-band traveled from town to town living out of their van with hound dog in tow. We learned the band was in the midst of writing their first record and intended to record it in their own home, on their own terms, through their own unofficial record label, Shrimp Records -- a moniker used by a talented group of musician-friends in Charleston. Their story resonated with us seeing as though it was our first year of pushing an indie video production company, The Moving Picture Boys, using inexpensive cameras and working out of our own apartments. Their story was our story. We were doing whatever it took to do what we love on our own terms using the resources we had, and then it clicked.

A few weeks after the release of the warehouse videos, Jace pitched the project to Michael and Cary Ann to document the recording of the first official Shovels & Rope album focusing specifically on them as artists making do with what they have. After a quick Skype call with the band and a semi-sarcastic quote from Almost Famous by Michael, "just make us look cool," it was settled. A documentary was to be shot over three months during the Spring of 2011. The team would include The Moving Picture Boys with director Jace Freeman on camera, producer Sean Clark running sound, and the honorary MPB co-producer Paul Bannister on everything else.

But things never go exactly as planned. As you've probably guessed, filming went a little longer than 3 months during the Spring of 2011. New opportunities for the band pushed back the recording, but also created new opportunities for filming. There were a couple of pit stops in LA. Their recording at home moved to recording in hotels as well as in their van. Things kept happening so we kept shooting. Why? Well, the story-telling side of us needed to see it through. The buzz was exciting, shooting was fun, and we fell in love with the music and felt part of the story. Simultaneously, the Moving Picture Boys' outside-work became more steady providing enough funds to continue to shoot until the big day of September 18th, 2013 -- the day that Shovels & Rope took home “Emerging Artist of the Year” and “Song of the Year” from the Americana Music Association (the ending of our movie), as well as being the day that our movie miraculously became fully funded during an 8 hour period through crowdsourcing on Kickstarter. Looking back, we realize how lucky we were to be part of this production.

Despite the speed bumps and zigzags, we feel that we have captured an honest narrative that encompasses the themes exemplified in the character of the band Shovels & Rope as well as other independent artists on their journey to create and make a living. This production was a labor of love on all accounts with the band investing countless hours of their privacy and hospitality. Since the Fall of 2010, we have filmed more than 100 hours in over a dozen cities throughout the US, and I can honestly say that our investment was well worth it.

To say that we are excited to show this movie is a complete understatement.

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