Funded £31,095

Campaign: The Ballad of Shirley Collins

I worked with Burning Bridges/Fifth Column Films to get production off the ground for this unique documentary.  Widely regarded as the 20th century’s most important singer of English traditional song, Shirley Collins is someone who was born to invoke the old songs.

Partly inspired by her beguiling autobiography America Over the Water, the film planned to retell the tale of the famous song-collecting trip she took around the Deep South of America with legendary field-recordist Alan Lomax, blended with a celebration of her role in the folk revival of the 50s, 60s and 70s, when – amongst many other achievements – she and her sister Dolly produced the era’s most defining monuments in their seminal albums Anthems in Eden and Love, Death and the Lady. Largely forgotten outside hardcore folk circles due to her enforced absence from the world stage, the film will also reclaim Shirley and her sister’s contribution to music for posterity.

Jo was crucial to our goal being reached… [the campaign] was enjoyable and enabled by a fantastic team of which Jo was a key and critical member, and one of the best decisions I made was to to bring her on board. She worked with the team behind the film to create a press and marketing plan for the campaign, to structure and launch the Kickstarter, write the copy, clearly define the rewards and the reward release schedule, build out budgets and forecasts, contact organisations to spread the word – in our case folk clubs, folk music organisations, morris organisations and other key folk contacts – manage social media through the campaign, write and send press releases, and promote the events we organised nationwide to bring the campaign to a local level. Our campaign succeeded in its goal to raise initial funding for our film – now complete and premiering at London Film Festival – and we achieved the prestigious Project Of The Day which boosted our campaign significantly.

Paul Williams, Burning Bridges

Since funding:

In the process of filming, the film-makers discovered there was more to the story than they’d expected, and documented Collins’ triumphant return to singing with her album Lodestar, released to critical acclaim in 2016.

“Deliberately eschewing a straightforward biopic approach, Rob Curry and Tim Plester ‘Way of the Morris’, is a lyrical response to the life-and-times of a totemic musical figure. Granted intimate access to recording sessions for Shirley’s first album (Lodestar) of new recordings in almost four decades, the film also features contributions from the comedian Stewart Lee and David Tibet of Current 93 What emerges is a meditative and carefully textured piece of portraiture. A timely delve into the arterial blood, loam and tears of our haunted island nation.”

Completed and released in 2017, the film received its world premiere at the 2017 BFI London Film Festival.

“A remarkable account of loss and redemption, sacrifice, healing and rebirth… during these turbulent and increasingly untethered times, we might just need Shirley Collins’ wise, weathered and comforting voice.” – BFI

“Music Documentary Of The Year” – Louder Than War

“A fine documentary about one of the great voices of British folk music” – 8/10 Uncut