I live in a forest on the shore of the Pacific ocean.
One night I receive a call from an acquaintance. He asks if I can make a film for him in two days: “One day to shoot, one day to edit and complete; that’s all I can afford.”
“Okay,” I say.
I arrive at Lowry’s house at 5:30 a.m. Lowry loads his van with gear. I turn the camera on and start shooting. I call this no-plan-filmmaking.
The film is to be about what he does. He will put it up on YouTube. I know he is a singer songwriter. I have seen him perform several times over the years. But I don’t really know him well at all.
At 6:20 a.m. we are on the ferry heading to Horseshoe Bay.
By 8:00 a.m. we are at Forsyth Elementary school in Surrey.
Lowry sets up his P.A. system in the school gym.
At 8:30 a.m. Lowry goes into a class with 28 nine-year-old children.
And I witness something quite remarkable.
Lowry pulls an original song out of these kids – verses, chorus, bridge – records it, burns it to a CD, and then gets the class to sing it for the entire school ... in less than two hours.
That afternoon he also performs a score of songs written and recorded in a like manner – created by young people. He has more than 400 in his collection now. He puts on a full show.
I’ve spent decades of my life in recording studios producing music. I have worked with some pretty skillful song-writers and performers. But in all that time I’ve never seen anything quite as startling as what Lowry pulls off.
The show is over by 3:30 p.m. We race across the city and along the Upper Levels highway to catch the 5:30 p.m. ferry back to the Sunshine Coast and home. Lowry sleeps all the way across the water. I'm too pooped to get a shot of him sleeping.
The next day I chop together a fifteen minute film that Lowry can use on YouTube to give people an idea of what he does – one of the things he does.
But having never seen anything quite like this before I am intrigued. So a few days later Lowry and I have a big long conversation in his kitchen. I record and later transcribe it. I read what he has said about his life and his work. He says things about the world of music that I have sensed, but never brought into the forefront of my thoughts, let alone voiced.
I do an evening of additional shooting that gives a wider context to Lowry's work ... a theatre full of collaborating singer-song-writers enthusiastically performing their collaborations.
Then I spend another week in the cutting room. Lowry records a voice-over and we add it in. I record a little extra ‘film’ music. And the film is now 24 minutes.
As Lowry is surprised to discover things about the vision-for-his-life he started with as a young man, and how in such an unexpected way that vision was realised – so I am a bit surprised to discover the pleasure of putting together a film that doesn’t take months, or years, to complete... and yet has given me as much satisfaction and feeling of accomplishment as any other film I’ve ever worked on, such as the ones that took years to complete.