THE WHALE GUITAR: INSTRUMENT OF CHANGE, 10min., USA
Directed by Shawn Terault
Inspired by Herman Melville's epic tale, "Moby-Dick or The Whale", a late-blooming singer/songwriter and former toy designer, Jen Long, acts on a startling vision and commissions the design and build of a remarkable custom electric guitar. It's body is "The Whale" itself as it snags the mad Captain Ahab in the tangled ropes of his own obsession, and prepares to launch a boat of his whalers to their doom.
Get to know writer/producer Jen Long:
1. What motivated you to make this film?
@@@...That's a story of generosity in my community. I had been taking The Whale Guitar around Providence for several years, and a local magazine, Motif, took notice and published a couple articles about my project. In winter of 2022 Mike Ryan, Motif publisher, called me to ask me if I had a film because they were launching a monthly film screening series which always opened with live music performances. For Earth Day they wanted to present my film if I had one and asked me if I would bring The Whale Guitar and invite some musicians to play it. I said yes of course to bringing the guitar and musicians, but I didn't have a film. What I had was years of footage, but it had not been tied together into a film. Mike immediately said, "Don't worry - we'll make if for you. Just send us your footage and work with our videographer Shawn Tetrault"! Talk about generous! I had always had it in my mind that I'd make a film about this project someday, but it was such a foreign world and I thought it was extraordinarily expensive - beyond my means. But Mike and Shawn made it easy and free.
2. From the idea to the finished product, how long did it take for you to make this film?
@@@... If you start from the moment I started filming about the making of The Whale Guitar and the players, it would be a decade. From the time of Mike's call til the first screening it was literally two weeks! They really dedicated their time and resources. We added one day of filming at The Providence Public Library to the footage I had already shot, and it was hours of editing and Shawn's artistry and wed were done.
3. How would you describe your film in two words!?
4. What was the biggest obstacle you faced in completing this film?
@@@...that's easy - I had a roadblock emerge when the luthier, an amazing rare female luthier who used to be in my band and is rally a big part of the guitar story, (it was one of the first guitars she ever mad) let me know that she didn't want to be linked to the guitar because she now only creates her own very innovative acoustic designs. Innovative as in using beeswax and mushrooms! She's quite extraordinary, and has pieces in museums now! Since The Whale Guitar was designed by William Schaff from a vision I had, not her, even though she brought it to life beautifully, it no longer represented the kinds of guitar projects or customers she wanted to attract. She did not want to be approached for electric customs. So I really did not know how to proceed! This was one of her very first guitars, she was in my band, she was also an Industrial Designer in her previous career just as I was, and she was my friend. But she wouldn't even answer my emails or texts about this. And in no way would I ever want to not credit someone who was such a major part of this project. Or be perceived as not crediting an outstanding woman! It just clashed with my values and I was heartbroken and stalled. So we only showed a photo of her masked, and went forth after a lot of me dragging my feet. Our not giving her a title line was not our choice, it was just the best we thought we could do at the time to honor her preferences and still carry forward this story!
5. What were your initial reactions when watching the audience talking about your film in the feedback video?
@ I experienced a feeling like gates opening and letting the water flow again. Everyone was so appreciative in an honest and meaningful way. They got it! They understood! And it was like medicine. So many of us artists have "imposter syndrome" and I'm no different. But the audience's comments melted it away. I could see my film and even myself through their eyes and it gave me so much courage to keep going.
6. When did you realize that you wanted to make films?
@Winter 2022! Although honestly I'd been bits of them for a decade!
7. What film have you seen the most in your life?
@@@...Raising Arizona. It's just the best! I might watch it again tonight now that this question made me think about it again!
8. What other elements of the festival experience can we and other festivals implement to satisfy you and help you further your filmmaking career?
@@@...maybe a little coaching! I think the feedback is so helpful and I'm do driven to keep learning and growing!
9. You submitted to the festival via FilmFreeway. How has your experiences been working on the festival platform site?
@@@...I think Film Freeway is amazing. When my friend, filmmaker Sara Archambeault told me about it, I looked it right up and...MIND BLOWN!! It's the hub to the world of film festivals and made it so easy to begin applying.
10. What is your favorite meal?
@@@...I love so many kinds of foods its hard to say! OK mussels in a white wine and garlic broth is a big favorite! And salads - I love to eat them and try new combinations, but I hate to make them for some reason. So when I go out, I often choose a salad.
11. What is next for you? A new film?
@...I now have the bug and there is so much more of this Whale Guitar story to tell. Maybe we make a full-length film. I'm also realizing that one of the greatest problems in my life as a very collaborative artist is my own inability to understand what to do when a collaborator withdraws. It seems insurmountable and maybe it is, or maybe it indicates an area in which I need to learn and grow the most if I want to keep being the collaborative artist I feel I am. Maybe that is my next topic! And maybe it will help other people as well.