Filming began this week on a documentary film that will feature the Oak Ridge High School Wildcat Band, ORHS Band Director Spence Milligan announced Monday.
The film, entitled “TRADITION: A Year in the Life of the Oak Ridge High School Wildcat Band,” is being produced by Oak Ridger and award-winning documentary filmmaker Keith McDaniel.
According to McDaniel, he and his film crew will follow the band for the entire 2013-14 school year, from band camp until the final band performance of the year at graduation next June. He said, “We want to capture the hard work and determination it takes to be one of the best high school bands in our region of the country.”
McDaniel said the film will combine interviews with students, teachers, parents, and community leaders along with band rehearsals and performances.
He said the idea came to him about making the film after attending ORHS band concerts this past year. (McDaniel’s oldest son Ethan is a percussionist in the ORHS band, and his youngest son Bailey is a percussionist in the Robertsville Middle School band.)
He said: “I am so impressed with these students. Not only are they great musicians but they are good kids. Usually you will see a film about underprivileged kids who overcome great obstacles, but it’s not very often you see a film about kids who come from good homes and a supportive community who really excel at what they do. For the most part, Oak Ridge is that kind of community with those kinds of students.”
The film will also feature the history of music and the arts in Oak Ridge.
“Oak Ridge has a rich tradition of valuing artistic endeavors. From the creation of the town during World War II until the present day, our city has always had a vibrant arts community and much of that comes from the commitment to music and the arts in our schools,” McDaniel said. “From early in elementary school through the senior year of high school, our school system provides unique opportunities for students to become involved in music and the arts. I think that is rare.”
Milligan said he is very enthusiastic about the film.
“My entire team is extremely excited about this opportunity to showcase our program and our students in this documentary film,” he said. “With so many area band programs facing cutbacks, we are thankful for the community’s commitment to our program. Keith is a well-respected and accomplished filmmaker, and I feel our story couldn’t be in better hands.”
According to McDaniel, who makes his living as a filmmaker, the film is being produced as a “labor of love,” which means he is not being paid to make the film. However, he said some funding is required in order to cover the expenses of producing the film. He said he is currently seeking corporate sponsors to help underwrite production costs as well as seeking individual donors to help underwrite the film’s expenses.
Milligan said: “I want to encourage everyone in our area—businesses, families, former band students, and our entire community—to support this project financially. It is not only important to our schools, our students and our band program, but, especially now, I think it is vital to show how important a vibrant music and arts program is to our school system.”
Anyone who wants to support the film financially can do so by visiting www.igg.me/at/TRADITION.com. Corporate sponsors who wish to be involved can contact McDaniel by phone at (865) 742-8783.
About Keith McDaniel
In addition to being the founder of the Secret City Film Festival 10 years ago and now co-founder of the Knoxville Film Festival, Keith McDaniel is an acclaimed documentary filmmaker whose films have screened at more than 100 film festivals across North America as well as broadcast on television outlets worldwide. His award-winning films include “THE CLINTON 12,” “SECRET CITY: THE OAK RIDGE STORY” (Parts 1 and 2), “VALLEY OF INDEPENDENCE,” “RSCC: 40 YEARS OF CLASS,” “OPERATION OPEN SESAME,” and others. Keith is also the host of the PBS television program “TENNESSEE FILMMAKER” and an advocate for independent film production in East Tennessee.