Pandemic Pivot: That kept The Starr in the Sky,

Movies Driven by Music


NorthStarr Media Group’s role: Director/Producer

Notes:  Pivoting is something that is a must for every business at some point, to keep the doors open. One way to go about this is to assess what a company is facing, and what problems are present or can be foreseen. June 2020 provided a curve ball with an unseen break. Some companies or organizations rely on live concerts as a source of revenue. However, as we know during the shut down all of the venues that would host the shows were under lock and key. The challenge was how can the viewing audience listen to the music from the artist that they were hoping to see and have an entertaining experience. 

The entertainment experience that was created was much different than the approach that we take as it pertains to filmmaking. Usually, a story or script is drafted and shot and the music or score is written to the images that are shown in the film. In this case, we took the opposite production direction. We matched the images to the music and the theme of the overall message that the client wanted to get across. Thus, we created a series called “Through the Eyes of Children.” In the case of the Equal Justice Society, their show was created to highlight Harriet Tubman via the vessel of jazz music originally. When faced with the challenges brought on by COVID-19 the show moved from in-person to online. During this timeframe, the US and abroad were filled with protests in support of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, and others. Thus, the effect of what is called “film and society.” This is the idea that what is permeating the country will influence the types of movies produced.

At this juncture, the sentiment aligned with a message that the Equal Justice Society could stand behind. This motivated a filmmaking approach that served as a conduit for two young girls to become aware of the history of Harrit Tubman, the Women’s Suffrage movement George Floyd, and others. The knowledge inspires them to want to join the protest after learning about what was taking place across the country. This soundtrack composed by Marcus Shelby is the true driving force behind the images. Thus, the term “ Movies Driven by Music.”  

This movie highlights two young students that guide the viewing audience through the past and present via their homework assignment. They learn about Black Women from the history of the Women’s Suffrage Movement, as well as the issues that we are facing today. Largely the film intercuts the jazz band with the actions of the young girl with footage shot during the protest and what we like to call “symbolism shots.” These are stylized shots that have elements that represent an event, timeframe, and or era.

“Symbolism Shot” from Harriet Tubman: Through the Eyes of Children

Due to the events spoken about above, the protests in Oakland CA weren’t only via marching but large murals in the downtown Oakland area. This fact influenced the second part of this series entitled Through the Eyes of Children: Martin Luther King, Jr. Healdsburg Jazz is largely known for its various concerts but due to the COVID lockdown, their tradition was interrupted. Thus, the story was born about two young girls on their way to an MLK celebration that gets inspired by not only murals but the archival images that are projected on the side of buildings on their journey. Once they arrive at their destination they decorate the location for the Martin Luther King event. Finally, they enjoy poetry and jazz music that is created in the theme of the holiday.

These themes allowed EJS and Healdsburg Jazz to entertain their audience with the performances that they were expecting to see in person with an extra storyline. The online broadcast was shown in a different but effective way. Ultimately revenue was generated so that the organizations didn’t take a loss as it pertains to their concerts. This pivot was a win-win for all parties involved which is a plus for any business. The key is to keep thinking.