EXCLUSIVE: It was 10 years in the making, but a feature documentary about Sly and The Family Stone and their impact on the development of funk, soul, rock, and psychedelic music is on its way. Dance to the Streaming Music, from Winter State Entertainment, will include exclusive interviews and footage of Sly and the Family Stone and other artists – and their reversal of fortune in the wake the Music Modernization Act. The project is wrapping up for release in 2019.
The last anyone heard of Stone, one of the pioneers of funk music as mastermind for Sly and the Family Stone,
was after a series of legal and financial problems who was destitute and living out of a camper van in Los Angeles. But due to the Music Modernization Act, enacted in Oct. 2018 which gives royalties on digital streaming, things have changed for him.
Sly and the Family Stone has been referred to as the first major rock group to have a racially integrated, male
and female lineup; the group’s core line-up led by singer-songwriter, producer, and multi-instrumentalist Sly Stone.
The doc is directed by indie filmmaker Brady Spensor who first met Sly Stone in 2008, when Stone agreed to Spensor’s documentary pitch for over the phone after being introduced by Sly’s son, Sylvester Jr. His son worked alongside Spensor for about 5-years on separate (and unrelated) studio projects, but Stone embraced the idea.
“When I was big enough to reach the piano, I thought that everybody had to do it in the world. This documentary is a chance to share my story with all the wide-eyed dreamers,” he said in a statement provided to Deadline.
Added Spensor, “It took months before Sly even remembered my name. But soon after, I would get called at all hours, day or night. This was at a time in his life when things were really difficult for Sly. I became his friend at his most down and out, most financially broke and feel incredibly grateful for Sly’s trust and participation allowing me to document the end of a tragic spiral, then the transition and the outcome of Sly winning a significant lawsuit that may have influenced The Music Modernization Act.”
“This production has been more than a decade in the making and seeing it all coming together is a dream come true,” he continued. “The time we spent together was treasured and any opportunity to be around Sly was exceptional, and I wouldn’t pass it up for anything. When Sly finally collected his royalties after years of being financially strapped and homeless, it warmed my heart.”
The film chronicles the past decade of of Sly and the Family Stone and the journey up to the Music Modernization Act. With fellow producer Willem Alkema, the filmmakers shot new footage of Sly Stone and other artists who were influenced by his music. Other producers are Camille and Hamid Torapbour and Dr. Mark Smith at Winter State Entertainment, and Billie Feldman.
Winter State Entertainment is handling global sales, currently in conversations with distributors with an eye toward SVOD. Winter State is the company also behind the Rosa Parks biopic. The rest of its slate includes recently announced projects Elijah, directed by Brett Leonard, Summertime Dropouts (the Vans Warped tour film), Brother’s Keeper, starring Laurence Fishburne and Milo Gibson, and Outbreak Z, directed by Chris Brewster (renow stunt performer with credits including Marvel’s Daredevil on Netflix, Black Panther, Guardians of the Galaxy, and Captain America: The Winter Soldier). Winter State is based in the Midwest in Minnesota and run by the Torabpours.
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