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March 23, 2014 | posted in Filmmakers
Husband and wife. Guitars and drums. Shovels & Rope.
“‘The Ballad of Shovels and Rope’ is about pursuing your passions in the face of doubt and uncertainty,” explains Jace Freeman, the film’s director. The screening at the Cleveland International Film Festival is the film’s world premiere.
The musical act, Shovels & Rope, is a husband-and-wife duo, Cary Ann Hearst and Michael Trent—“two hardworking, creative people paving a way for themselves in a difficult environment,” says Freeman.
Freeman and producer Sean Clark met the couple via a mutual friend and produced a few videos for them to use for promotional purposes. During the video shoot, everyone hit it off, plus the filmmakers really enjoyed the music. After the initial project was completed, Freeman and Clark knew they wanted more.
“It was evident that this was a unique combination of talents,” says Freeman. While filming one of their songs “that had this Bonnie-and-Clyde, you-and-me-against-the-world feel,” Freeman decided to capture the story of these two young lovers setting off across the country to pursue their fortune.
The duo, plus their dog, were travelling from town to town playing gigs and living out of their van while writing their first record. Freeman and Clark followed them on the journey to over a dozen cities throughout the U.S. and filmed more than 100 hours of them recording their music in hotel rooms and in their van.
Being in such close quarters with their subjects, the filmmakers had to establish trust. They also wanted to be as unobtrusive and as observational as possible.
“It is difficult to try to insert yourself in the most intimate of relationships,” says Freeman. “Being on the road together for extended periods of time definitely helped to develop a feel of solidarity and kinship.” The hard work is paying off for the musicians. Shovels & Rope made their network television debut on the “Late Show with David Letterman,” in January 2013. Producer Clark was so proud. “It was the first tangible indication that this crazy plan of theirs to make a sustainable career by playing music may actually come to pass,” he says.
Even those who are not fans of Shovels & Rope’s music, this “fun musical journey with a great soundtrack” is still for you.
“If you don’t come out of the film loving the band,” he continues. “I promise at least you’ll be in love with Michael and Cary Ann.”
—Anne M. DiTeodoro
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