Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Uke-can Do It!

We interview Tony Coleman, co-director of Mighty Uke, playing opening night (Friday the 12th) at the fest.

BS: What made you interested in making this film? Do you have a musical background? Did you simply find it an engaging story you wanted to tell?

TC: I was a professional musician in my salad days, but got in film-making so I wouldn't starve. My big sister was a nursery school teacher and played ukulele for her kids. She passed away about a decade ago and I inherited her ukulele. The music coming out the darn thing was so joyful, I couldn't put it down. When I started searching the net for more info about it, I discovered this secret world of players and fans that just kept growing and growing. My partner Marg and I had been looking for a project to work on together and voila, MIGHTY UKE presented itself to us.

BS: Any interesting tidbits about the film?

TC: We originally intended to make a short film about the revival of the instrument. Then one day we were in a coffee shop in our hometown Toronto having our morning espresso when documentarian Ron Mann walks in. Jacked up on caffeine I shamelessly introduced myself and started blabbing on about this uke film we were making. Ron was intrigued and asked us to send him what we had. He liked it and suggested that he could get some broadcasters interested. Not long after, we had two broadcast deals and real money to make the first definitive doc about the ukulele.

When we started this film a couple of years ago, one of the first things we did was set up a google news alert for the word "ukulele". At first, we would get one or two notices a week, telling us that the word had appeared in a newspaper or magazine. Today we get between 10 and twenty a day.

Marg and I shot, recorded, edited, animated, and produced the film in our living room in HD and surround sound. I still marvel that this is all possible with a Mac and a couple of very affordable HD cameras.

BS: Where else is the film showing this year?

TC: Toronto, Denver, Seattle, San Francisco, Santa Cruz, Los Angeles, Honolulu, New York, Melbourne Australia, New Zealand, Great Britain, France, Germany, Japan and many more.

BS: Do you, in fact, play the uke?

TC: I do play and have had the opportunity to lift the tricks of some of the greats of the instrument in our film. I would edit with the uke within arms reach. Marg had no musical background but started playing because of the film. Now she is a wonderful player with her own rhythm and style.

BS: Why documentary?

TC: I have edited feature films, tv shows, music video and documentaries for the CBC in Canada. I find docs to be the most creative and interesting of all of these types of media. The magic happens in the edit suite to a much greater degree.

Mighty Uke, a film about the resurgence of ukulele playing, will screen this Friday at 10pm.

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