Beth Harrington (pictured) talks to realscreen about her Johnny Cash and June Carter Cash doc The Winding Stream, which will have its world premiere at SXSW 2014, and shares an exclusive clip from the film.
The lives and legacies of the Carter and Cash clans come under the microscope in The Winding Stream, a documentary set to have its world premiere at SXSW Film, which kicks off tomorrow (March 7) in Austin, Texas.
Tackling the lives of country music royalty is no small order, and director Beth Harrington (a Grammy nominee for her previous doc Welcome to the Club – The Women of Rockabilly) spent more than 10 years charting a course for this film.
The documentary looks at how the Carter family rallied to help Johnny Cash battle substance abuse, and how he in turn helped promote the Carters’ name and music.
Check out a first clip from the film below, exclusive to realscreen, and read our interview with Harrington.
What inspired you to make a film about the Carter and the Cash families?
I’m a musician – a rock and roll singer and guitarist – and love music history. I’d made a documentary about the pioneering women of rock called Welcome to the Club – The Women of Rockabilly.
During the making of that, I heard that the Carter family had been a big influence on the women I’d interviewed. Also, many of them had toured with Johnny Cash and the Carter sisters.
Finally, I’d asked Rosanne Cash to narrate the film and I got to know her. And with that the idea started to form that the story of this multi-generational country music dynasty had not been told in full.
What challenges did you face in making the film?
It was all about the money this time. The family was tremendously cooperative and open, my team was great, but the funding took over a decade to secure. A sales agent I know told me I was in the midst of the colony collapse of indie documentary filmmaking.
So how did you finance the film?
The film was financed through grants from the National Endowment for the Arts, the Virginia Foundation for the Humanities, the Faerie Godmother Fund, the Roy W. Dean grant, a major donor – Christine and David Vernier – and over 700 Kickstarter donors. And I’m still raising money.
How did you secure the archival footage used in the film, and where did you find it?
The archival footage came from a multitude of stock footage houses, museums and archives, places like the Country Music Hall of Fame and the Grand Ole Opry and Eastern Tennessee State University.
What distribution rights are available for your doc, and do you have a sales agent?
At the moment all rights are available and I do not yet have a sales agent.
What are your hopes for the film?
I’d love for it to get wide distribution – particularly VoD – and I’d love for people to come to understand the important foundational role of this family in American music.
- SXSW Film kicks off tomorrow (March 7) in Austin, Texas, and runs until March 15.
- The Winding Stream has its world premiere on March 15 at 7 p.m. CST, at the Alamo Ritz Theatre.