Behind the Scenes
There are a number of themes throughout the film. There’s identity. Finding a way to put your fire at the center of everything you do. There’s belonging. Finding your rightful place in the human family. There’s creativity. Finding a home for all of your talents. And there’s love. Finding the one person you don’t want your life to be explainable without.
What was the moment of conception for this project?
For the first twenty years of my songwriting life, I treated music as an escape. As a way to hide from the world. But then I discovered the tunnel. And within minutes of singing that first song, something inside of me shifted. The experience activated a chain reaction. And over the new few months, I began to crawl out of music hibernation. I started performing in the tunnel every week. Which altered my entire experience of writing and playing music. Which changed the way I related to the world as an artist. How could I not make a documentary about that transformation?
Why this tunnel?
The Meadowport Arch is over one hundred years old and one hundred feet long. The limestone tunnel has a unique double entrance onto the great lawn of Prospect Park, and it’s the most breathtaking architectural marvel I’ve ever scene . The tunnel has church pew benches built on both sides and a restored cedar sheathed ceiling, with paneling covering the entire surface. What I love most about the tunnel is, it helped me create a more visceral and spontaneous contact with my art. Turns out, the physical act of performing music in a naturally reverberated setting changes the biology of the songs. Notes, riffs, rhythms, songs and lyrics, ones that might not have worked when I was just singing in my bedroom, magically make sense under this arch. It doesn’t just give me access to the park, it gives me access to parts of myself. And by virtue of the tunnel’s natural phenomena, I can do things I never thought I could do as a songwriter. It’s like I finally let out a deep breath I had no idea I was holding.
The organizing principle of the movie was the concert. Fourteen songs played live in the tunnel, for whoever happened to walk under the arch that afternoon. Later, cut between each of the songs was a collection of vignettes. Stories about the unexpected moments that inspired the songs. Sermons around various themes that were meaningful to me. And scenes that offered a window into our daily lives.
Why choose to write, produce, direct and score the movie yourself?
I’m a control freak. A fiercely independent artist and entrepreneur who’s used to doing everything himself. But more importantly, this movie was an opportunity to fire on all cylinders. To engage in a process that drew out my full ingenuity. To take hidden skills and talents I had not yet tapped into to create value. I believe that’s why the filmmaking process galvanized me in such a profound way. It demanded that I move to a courageous place that I rarely occupy. Even though I knew nothing about how to write, produce, direct and score a movie. You learn through doing.
You financed the movie yourself. How much did it cost and how long did it take?
The entire documentary was created for $11,000. I spent two years writing the music, lyrics, stories and other content. Production lasted about six months.
Now that the movie is out, what do you plan to do with it?