ABOUT THE FILM
HISTORY OF THE FILM
In the spring of 2011, there was a production of The Gospel at Colonus at Spoleto Festival, USA in Charleston, South Carolina. It was there that Sam Butler, Jr., Adam Larsen, and Lee Breuer met and began a discussion about making a documentary about Clarence Fountain and the Blind Boys of Alabama. A few months later, they found themselves in Clarence Fountain's living room in Baton Rouge filming what would be the key interview of the film, and also a series of intimate renditions of gospel songs performed by Clarence and Sam. This lead the small filmmaking team and band to film powerful performances in a local church, featuring Don Dillon on additional vocals .
Three years later, Lee Breuer approached Eric Marciano with the idea of producing a feature film from the 2011 material, as well adding new material. Together, they went to executive producer, Jo Mellicker, who had collaborated previously on Lee Breuer and Maude Mitchell's production Mabou Mines' Dollhouse. He agreed tosupport the project.
In the summer of 2014, with Lee Breuer as director, Adam Larsen as cinematographer, and Sam Butler, Jr. and Eric Marciano producing, they embarked on the next stage of the project - filming a small band playing Clarence Fountain's favorite songs in churches in Louisiana and Mississippi, as well as recording new and old songs in studios in Baton Rouge and and Birmingham Alabama. The other key component to the film, kidney disease and kidney dialysis, were also brought into the mix, as Clarence visits to dialysis were filmed.
Over the next year, additional interviews with the Blind Boys of Alabama at the New Orleans Jazz and Heritage
Festival were filmed, as well as other green screen special effect scenes, and then the editing process was started. Eric Marciano has been editing the film for the two years with Lee Breuer. The film is not yet complete, but it is close, and it is hoped that the film will be finished in the fall of 2016.
When you get old, you start to see life as a pilgrimage. You see where you’ve been and how you got to where you are
going. And when you come to realize that you haven’t the faintest idea where you’re going, you look around for
somebody heading the same way, only a few steps ahead of you. You look for a guide.
When Dante looked around he found Virgil. When Virgil couldn’t go where Dante wanted to go he switched to
Beatrice. Clarence Fountain found Sophocles in the persona of Oedipus. He found a spiritual guide, an old, blind
sinner who was looking for a happy death and redemption.
Clarence was given the gift of finding his guide in a virtual world, in an adaptation of a Sophocles’, called The Gospel
at Colonus, in which he as Oedipus found his happy death in the world of music. Now, forty years later, the
mythological roles have been exchanged. Clarence, now 85 years old and sick with diabetes and end stage renal
failure, has himself become a guide in the search for a happy death, and I, pushing 80, have become his follower,
This film is an attempt to follow Clarence Fountain, to see how he does it, what tools he has, and how he uses them.
What helps the most on the journey? Is it his faith? Is it his Art? Is it Love? Is it his indomitable personality? Is it
possibly, his affliction, his blindness?
This is The Book of Clarence. A pilgrimage within a pilgrimage, where a mythic hero, Oedipus, becomes a guide for a
mythic singer, who in turn becomes a guide for the ‘creator of the book’ – and the very act of creation becomes the
journey and the film.
New York, December 2015
Work-in-progress length: 120 minutes
Format: High Definition 1080i Video
Concept, Director: Lee Breuer
Producer, Editor: Eric Marciano
Producer, Music Director: Sam Butler, Jr.
Director of Photography: Adam Larson
Executive Producer: Joseph Mellicker
Music: Sam Butler Jr.
Sound: Jean Linden
Production Assistant: Emilie Whalen
Recording Engineers: Dominic Bazile
The Blind Boys of Alabama (Founding Members)
Vocals - Clarence Fountain
Vocals - Johnny Fields
Vocals - Guitar - George Scott
Vocals - Olice Thomas
Vocale - J.T. Hutton
Vocals - Velma Bozman Traylor
Clarence Fountain and the Boys
Vocals- Clarence Fountain
Guitar, Vocals - Samuel Butler, Jr.
Voice - Donald Dillon
Bass, Vocals - Caleb "Bobby Butler"
Guitar - Bootsy Williams
Drums - Samuel Butler III
The Blind Boys of Alabama (2016)
Vocals - Jimmy Carter
Vocals - Eric "Ricky" McKinnie
Vocals - Paul Beasley
Vocals - Ben Moore
Guitar - Joey Williams
Manager - Charles Dreibe
Special Thanks To
PreSonus Studios, Baton Rouge, LA
Sound of Birmingham Studios, Birmingham, AL
Lawrence Stam, M.D., Associate Chief of Nephrology at The New York Methodist Hospital, Brooklyn, NY
Greater King David Baptist Church, Baton Rouge, LA
Promised Land Baptist Church, Baton Rouge, LA
Rose Hill Missionary Baptist Church, Covington, LA
New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival