“Recording in Progress,” recently released on 22 cable, digital/VOD and educational distribution endpoints, and currently at No. 5 on iTunes documentary list, is directed by Justin Fisher of Dark Echo Films in St. Louis, and produced by Wood River native and Glen Carbon resident, Scott Stoltz, of Scs Studio Filmz.
The film discusses issues facing recording studios in the digital streaming age, as well as the music business, in general. Topics include the role recording studios still play in producing professional sounding music and as a creative space for musicians, and how changing technology has altered recording studios’ way of doing business.
“I think anyone who has a curiosity about music and how music is created will get a lot out of this film,” Fisher said. “We’ve all watched the ‘extras’ on a DVD or peered into the special effects or behind-the-scenes aspect of a film. It’s that curiosity of how things are made.”
Anyone who plays or is a huge fan of music will particularly enjoy it as they can see some of the top people in the industry give insight into that process, Fisher added. “If you can present anything in an entertaining and digestible way, people will enjoy learning, but if it’s about music … it’s a lot more fun!”
“I’m a member of the Recording Academy, and a few years ago we spoke to our congresspeople and got them to unanimously pass the Music Modernization Act to help artists get paid the money they’re owed,” Fisher said. “How many bills can you think of that get passed unanimously? If the one thing our current politicians can agree upon is music … I think that’s a good indicator of how important music is to our culture! And that’s what this film is about.”
Stoltz loves the entertainment business, originally beginning as a musician. He found himself working on music videos for his own band and others, and it wasn’t long before that transitioned to films and documentaries, as a writer, director and producer. He said “Recording in Progress” has been quite a journey, and he and Fisher can’t wait to see what heights (and charts) it will climb.
“Justin and I first worked together on the Emmy-nominated documentary, ‘Joe’s Place,’ and we also worked on a spiritual album, ‘Many Voices’ that I produced, recorded and engineered, then Justin came on as the final audio mastering engineer, in conjunction with Smith Lee Studios,” Stoltz said.
“I expressed my interest in it since I had common ground on all aspects of the film’s message. I had owned a recording studio, and through the years I had embraced the digital transformation in recording technology as a musician, recording engineer and music producer,” Stoltz said. And he had produced several albums at various studios, using a wide array of tools rooted in both analog and digital technology.
Stoltz said the film will help viewers embrace the future of the music industry by learning how technology has changed the landscape of recording forever, and to be open to the new and old technology to capture the best sound, feel and energy possible for your music.
“If you love music as a fan, as a listener, as a musician, as a producer, as a recording engineer, then take a look at the film, featuring Grammy- and multi-award-winning music producers, such as Steve Albini (Nirvana), Vance Powell, Chris Stapleton, Jack White, Steve Lillywhite (U2), Richard Fortus — guitar player for Guns and Roses, Steve Ewing of The Urge, and Doug Firley of Gravity Kills, and many more.”
Fisher said there are a lot of great people in the film who have made some amazing records that are ingrained in our musical lexicon and history. But in the general sense, the film is about technology changing (any) industry.
“This film is about the music business, but the concepts easily apply to many other industries,” Fisher said. “Film, print and graphics, advertising, photography, even things like agriculture. The world around us is changing so fast with new technology and sometimes, we forget who those changes affect the most.
“‘Recording in Progress’ shows how changes in the music business, like streaming, digital recording technology and the internet have dramatically affected those ‘temples of sound’ responsible for all of our favorite records,” he added.
Once the project was completed, they started looking at film festivals. It made it into the St. Louis International Film Festival and the St. Louis Filmmakers Showcase, winning Best Editing and Best Documentary awards as the filmmaker/director’s first film, and it aired on HEC TV.
“I put the film in front of a multitude of sales reps and indie distribution companies with a wide array of offers that started coming in for the project in 2017,” Stoltz said. “However, all of the offers fell short of what we were looking for to take the film to the next level and put it in front of the right audience.”
In 2019, Stoltz attended the Cannes Film Festival, focusing on three projects, of which “Recording in Progress” was one. The intent was to secure a sales rep, negotiate and secure a signed contract for global sales for the film. They achieved that goal with Porter Pictures, based in Beverly Hills, California.
“Justin and I worked to deliver everything that Porter Pictures needed to present and sell the film, then we waited, and waited some more. We set our sights on the American Film Market in Santa Monica, California, in November 2019, and Porter Pictures went to bat for our documentary film!” Stoltz said. “It was presented to over 80 distribution companies around the world; 27 offers came in, which was exciting, but also daunting, knowing the next move was not an end, but yet another beginning - 2020 was going to be our year!”
“By then, many states had shut down, with others soon to follow,” Stoltz said. “After all that we had been through and all we had accomplished, we were nervous as to what would come of our film in light of all the chaos.”