Crowdsourcing push for The Banjo Project

We posted earlier this year about The Banjo Project, a feature-length documentary about our beloved banjo, the most American of American instruments.

The film, produced by five-time Emmy winner Marc Fields, is a look at the history and development of the banjo, and the many styles of music it has been used to play this past 300 years. Tony Trischka serves as Musical Director for the project, which will include interviews with banjo legends like Earl Scruggs, Béla Fleck and Pete Seeger, plus historians, instrument makers and folklorists.

Trischka and Fields put together this brief video overview to explain the goals of the project.

Fields has produced the film as a wholly independent project, relying on such funding as he has been able to obtain through grants and private donations. He has high hopes that the finished film will be televised by PBS or some other niche channel, but with no firm commitments as yet.

But before any of that can be seriously contemplated, Marc needs to raise the necessary funds to complete the editing process and deliver a final product. To that end, he is utilizing the services of to see if he can find several hundred people who will make small donations to The Banjo Project. If you are playing Buzzword Bingo, the terms are crowdsourcing and microdonations.

If the funds can be raised, Fields says that he will need an additional 9 months to finish editing, allowing him to start screening it at film festivals next fall. Beyond that, and the possibility of airing on TV, he is investigating a number of distribution models such as video podcasting through iTunes, online video-on-demand, and DVD.

“One way or another, I intend to get the banjo’s story out there for folks to explore and enjoy. Now if I could just get 800 people to give $25, I’ll be able to get back to working with my editing team to get the heavy lifting done…”

There it is folks… If you can spare a few dollars for such a worthy project, pledges are being accepted now, with a number of reward incentives offered depending on the level of commitment. As of this morning (12/7), they have received pledges for just shy of $6,000 with a goal to raise $25,000 by January 23.

You can find more details about the film at

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About the Author

John Lawless

John had served as primary author and editor for The Bluegrass Blog from its launch in 2006 until being folded into Bluegrass Today in September of 2011. He continues in that capacity here, managing a strong team of columnists and correspondents.