Songbirds Documentary Independent Film Festival Tour


A documentary made as the Songbirds Guitar Museum was set to close for good in August 2020 preserves the memory of the world’s largest collection of rare and unique guitars on the independent film festival circuit.

“Songbirds: A Documentary Film” was created by Dagan Beckett with the help of former Songbirds staff and super guitar fans Irving Berner and David Davidson, as well as many former employees and musicians who performed there. or sat down for an online “Vault Sessions” video interview.

Beckett was a frequent visitor to the museum and a film producer, and when it was announced that the museum was closing permanently due to the pandemic, he wanted to document as much as he could.

He approached Johnny Smith, executive director of Songbirds and chairman of the board of the Songbirds Foundation, with this idea. Smith told him he was a week old and Beckett had full access. Almost immediately, curator Irv Berner clung to the idea and offered to help tell the guitars stories one by one.

“I got a call from [co-worker] Jimmy Kelly who said this guy was shooting this video and we all have to be here tomorrow, and I personally panicked, “Berner said.” I always wanted to do a table book and document it all because everything what I could think of if there is no record of it. “

Berner said that an idea hit him and he walked up to Beckett and said, “I have no budget, no money and nothing to give you, but would you mind? walk from one end of the museum to the other as I take a full tour of what’s here? ‘ and he shockingly said, ‘Let’s do it.’ “

Davidson, the man largely responsible for finding and purchasing much of the private collection, also joined us in offering help and information.

Beckett spent hours on his own filming each guitar. He continued to talk to people after the museum closed, then spent an additional 10 months editing the hours of footage he shot into an almost 60-minute documentary.

Screenshot courtesy of Beckett Media Pro LLC / Great guitarist Doyle Dykes was one of the musicians who contributed to “Songbirds: A Documentary Film”.

Since then, he’s submitted the film to festivals in the hopes that if it gets picked up by enough, or some of the really big ones like Sundance, a streaming service like Hulu or Netflix could grab it.

It has been shortlisted for screening or an award at five festivals to date and has been submitted to at least as many more.

The film was a quarter-finalist at the Oniros Film Festival in New York and shortlisted for screening at the Franklin International Indie Film Festival in Franklin, Tennessee, and the Lonely Seal International Film, Screenplay and Music Festival in Boston. It was also an official selection for the Silk Road Film Awards at SRFA Cannes and the Global Indie Film Festival in Glasgow.

Beckett said he hopes to show the film locally when the festival season is over.

“I am very honestly touched by these opportunities,” he said. “When you look at these pictures and this story for a year, you go numb, so seeing the reactions of different programmers around the world gives you some perspective. It wants to push you to take it to the next level.

“I think I can speak for Irv and David and even Johnny when I say the point is that we just want to have the story of the greatest collection of guitars in the world,” Beckett said.

Contact Barry Courter at [email protected] or 423-757-6354.


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