Fingerstyle Movie – Easy to Learn, Hard to master

Drew Roller had one great difficulty. He wanted to learn more about fingerstyle. The problem was that the Internet did not give him the information he was looking for. So he decided to travel around half the world to talk to the people who are active in the scene. The result is this honest documentary “The Fingerstyle Movie”, about a young and very talented group of guitarists. The film will be out this summer and we had the opportunity to talk to Drew about his project.

Can you first introduce yourself?

Drew Roller filmmaker
Drew Roller shot a documentary about fingerstyle

My name is Drew Roller. I am from Melbourne, Australia and I like to create. I’ve worked in the web development industry for 10 years but my real passions are things like music and movies.

How did you get the idea to make a film about fingerstyle music?

I became obsessed with FingerStyle in 2014. It changed the way I looked at the guitar.  I was so excited by it that I found myself hunting around the internet for long periods of time looking for more information than was actually out there.  I decided I needed to fix that problem and that became the FingerStyle Movie project.

You financed the whole thing through a crowdfunding, how did that happened and how did that work out?

Well not really. Film making is very expensive and especially living in Australia did not help as most of the talent is overseas. The film was partly funded by the Kickstarter but also personal investment and some sponsorship and equipment donations. The project is not finished either. We still have some music licensing costs, marketing and distribution expenses, but we are very happy with how the project is going.

What is your personal highlight in the film?

My personal highlight in the film is the Michael Hedges sequence which features all the great modern players of today. It became very easy to tell a great story because they all agreed Michael was a catalyst for a revolution…also Andy Mckee’s tribute is incredibly touching.

You portray a young scene of guitarists. Who did you get in front of the camera?

Fingerstyle MovieWe got some incredible young talent in the film that I just know will play around the world. They have so much raw talent and are so young, I can’t imagine them not getting a lot of attention. I wish we could spend more time with that youth but they will appear in the promotion for the movie.

Some people to check out immediately:

  1. Jacky Bastek from Frankfurt Germany
  2. Leo Aram-Downs from London, UK
  3. Ali Deniz Kardelen from Istanbul, Turkey

All these people blew me away. I’m looking forward to sharing more of them with the world.

Fingerstyle Movie in the Alps
Once a year Andreas Leeb is hosting his Fingerstyle Bootcamp in Austria

Why did you film the whole movie in Austria?

We actually filmed in 10 countries. Some of them didn’t make the end film but we collected footage from Austria, USA, Korea and many more. Austria was such a beautiful way to demonstrate the passion and love the people have for the guitar.  The beauty of the Thomas Leeb Bootcamp really is a mirror of the beauty of the style.

You’ve been looking at the fingerstyle scene the last time and probably spent a lot of time in it. How would you describe the scene?

It’s an eclectic mix of people who all share a common love for the acoustic guitar. I would describe everyone as caring, generous, humble and outrageously devoted to their craft. We didn’t have a bad experience.

Has your view on it changed over the course of the shooting?

My view on the scene has definitely evolved. I see many of the FingerStyle people as friends now and I am so proud to have been invited into this community to help share their story. Their connection to each other and their instrument is very inspirational and I was surprised by just how deep that connection was between them all.  It really is a big family.

If you take a look at the entire guitar world, where would you put the fingerstyle scene there? In terms of what role does this genre or the scene play.

I believe FingerStyle is a symbol of the power of the guitar. It is the world’s most popular instrument because it enables people to really challenge themselves.  There’s a saying that goes “Easy to Learn, Hard to Master”.  This is so true in the world of FingerStyle and I think demonstrates why it’s one of the purest forms of musicianship. 1 person, 1 instrument, so many possibilities. A very rare thing.

The film will be out in summer, what are the plans with it (for Germany and Europe in general)? How can we get the film?

The film will be premiering in July, August around the world and will be releasing digitally for all in the last quarter of 2017. We are really excited to share the film with the world and will have a few different ways people can view the film from streaming, downloads, extended cuts and even independent cinema events organised by people around the world.

Thanks for the answers.