Remember Steve Taylor? (Revolutionary Christian rock musician, record producer for The Newsboys, director of the upcoming Blue Like Jazz film.) Well on August 1st GFU professor Sarah Gibson along with four students launched their interactive documentary Steve Taylor’s Digital Clone. The iPad-friendly site takes a look at the ups and downs of Steve’s amazing career. I sat down with Sarah and asked her all about the project.
How did the documentary come about?
Six years ago when I was in grad school, our first year we had to write a proposal for a documentary. I didn’t know what to do, so my husband suggested Steve Taylor. I had never heard of him, so my husband told me his story. Steve’s life just pushes the limits, and then he gets shot down. I thought to myself, “This is a documentary!” I started emailing journalists in the Christian music field about the potential documentary and someone forwarded the email to Steve. I got an e-mail back from Steve and he said, “I’d love to talk to you about it.” So right after finals in December, we drove straight to Nashville and had breakfast with him at a pancake house. We pitched the film and he said, “Yeah, let’s do it!”
You intended to make a full documentary, correct?
Yes, I did. I made a 40-minute film for my thesis called Steve Taylor Is Not Dead. By the time it was done three years later, there wasn’t a whole lot of people interested in it at that point so we put it on the shelf. He had been working on Blue Like Jazz while we were making the documentary and it wasn’t getting momentum. When the production stopped, I thought “Well, this is the end, my documentary is just going to keep sitting on the shelf.” But within a week, production started back up and that momentum made me think, “Maybe there’s something we can do here.”
How did the interactive documentary come about?
I’ve always wanted to do something on the Web. I almost ditched the Steve Taylor film to do a Web film for my thesis, but the Web three years ago was nowhere near where it needed to be to pull it off. Now at GFU, I had the opportunity to pitch an idea to the grant committee. The timing seemed perfect for a Steve Taylor online interactive documentary. I think the project fit Steve perfectly, because he’s always been ahead of his time…way ahead of the curve. So I pitched the idea to the committee and when it was approved I thought, “Wow! Now I really have to make this!” So that’s how it came about.
What was the goal/mission statement for the film?
Steve Taylor’s Digital Clone is an online companion to the documentary Steve Taylor Is Not Dead. Our goal is to create a quality, interactive, iPad-compatible website that provides a wealth of material and allows the user to learn about and experience the music and films of Steve Taylor.
Who was involved in the production of the interactive documentary?
We had all of the footage from the original documentary. We did 10 interviews, so we had over 10 hours of interviews. Steve graciously gave us access to all of his archives, and I digitized all of that. I began thinking, “I’m going to need help with all of this!” I began talking with several students who were in my documentary filmmaking class at the time. We had Tyler Robertson, who did all of the Web design and programming. Aubrey Ferguson, who was interested in taking her own documentary online, stayed around to help out and learn the process. Danielle Geiger did a little bit of everything, including animation and Web work. David Reid, who is an incoming freshman, also volunteered his time. We had a few pre-production meetings before school ended, and we officially started on May 1st. Our work ended on June 30th and we went out to dinner to celebrate on July 1st.
Any future projects on the horizon?
I would love to do two more interactive documentaries. I want to do them a little bit different this time, where we’ll do the Web programming first and then we go out and film them next summer. I want explore this interactive medium more. I don’t think we got it perfectly right the first time. I think there is more to be done. As technology evolves there is going to be more and more tools that we can use.
Make sure to check out Steve Taylor’s Digital Clone at: http://www.tobeaclone.com