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The BIG RELEASE is Coming!

The BIG RELEASE is Coming!

“Chasing the Sun” has been a whirlwind adventure and, like any adventure, it’s been a roller coaster of emotions. Lately there’s been a deep sense of satisfaction at the process moving to the next stage. We hit another milestone recently with our cast & crew screening in LA. While nothing can beat the feeling of our premiere in Key West with Trop Rock fans and musicians in the audience, sharing the film on the big screen with the folks who put it together was a special moment.

Making a movie is like creating the pieces of a puzzle. Editing a film is putting that puzzle together. Oftentimes the crew and actors toil in creating those pieces and don’t see the final image of the puzzle until years later. “Chasing the Sun” is no exception to that. While it’s always nice to get laughs in a comedy audience, it’s also fun when we’re all collectively laughing at memories of our shared experience making the film. Since we shot five endings to the film, some of the cast didn’t even know the fate of their characters, and where they ended up! It’s certainly quite a unique perspective.

The LA screening is just one of many screenings around the country that we’ll be doing this year, and it signifies the closing of one chapter and the start of another (or more appropriately, “the draining of one Piña Colada and the pouring of another”).

As such, it’s now time to turn our attention to the wide release of the film. I’m excited to announce that our film will be available digitally live on all Amazon Platforms on Tuesday, April 23rd. So far, we’ve been focused primarily on selling our DVD to the true fans of the Trop Rock genre. Now we’re gearing up to release to the wider world. It’s always been my intention to make a film that works both for fans of the genre and for those who don’t know anything about the music. Whether you are a fan of the tropical lifestyle, Jimmy Buffett, or just fun inspirational movies in general, a wide release will let any and everyone connect to the film.

We’ve thought a lot about the best first digital step. We considered iTunes, Google Play, and a host of other platforms but we decided that the best first step is to release on Amazon. A movie bought on the Amazon platform is available for both Android and iOS devices, and a great many people find their Home movie watching content by using Amazon’s Fire TV.

On a personal level, I’m beyond excited that in a few weeks I’ll be able to raise your Fire TV remote control and say, “Alexa, play Chasing the Sun.” That brings a big smile to my face.

All of us – the director, cast, crew, and the entire team who put this film together – want to thank you for following our journey. Here’s to April 23rd!


When Music Paints a Scene

Eric Stone’s music permeates the film. His songs tell tales of pirates and sailors on the seas. Unlike some artists Eric has actually lived in the Islands, playing all around Tortola. He owned his own bar in Marathon, Florida, and now he’s embarking on his first novel.

We chose Eric’s Song “Endless Summer” at the point in the film where there is a montage showing the characters flying down to Florida. The scene builds as the music does, working harmoniously to increase the beauty and drama of their journey.

His Song “Gary’s Island” is a wistful song and is one of my favorites. The song comes on at the moment when Bob’s wife discovers he is in Key West and yells at him. It’s the first moment in the film where Bob truly starts to question his life and choices. It has an almost surreal feel to it. This was not a song I would have thought of for this moment but my editor, David, chose it. When I saw it in the cut for the first time I thought, “this fits perfectly.”

Very rarely does a filmmaker know the songs for each scene before they are filmed and this is certainly true of most of the songs in the film. The only exception to this would be Eric’s song, “Calling in Well.” I have been a fan of this song for some time. I can remember driving in my car, thinking of how to shoot the final few scenes of the film, and that song came on. The song has such a driving beat that goes on for a longer time than normal and builds to such an exciting chorus. I thought that it could be perfect for the ending. It starts softly and builds. I thought I could put slowly crescendo the song as we move from seeing Bob in his office to his drive to the Keys and onto his ultimate destination: pursuing his dreams.

It’s impossible to know how a scene or series of scenes will play until they are finished, but I had a hunch it would work – and it was fantastic. The entire sequence came out exactly how I envisioned it thanks to Eric’s song. The driving beat only contributes to the lyrics, which seem tailor-made for the scene:. “I’m not sick, I’m just sick of this job, in case you couldn’t tell, I’m calling in well.”These lyrics speak not just to that moment, but the entire film as well.

If you want to check out Eric’s music and tour, you can follow him here. Keep an eye out for his new music and book as well!

Thanks for joining me on a jaunt down memory lane as I open up about the ‘why’ behind the film and the music!

Keep Listening,

Todd

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Why I Interviewed Thom Shepherd

One of our favorite parts of Chasing the Sun was getting to know so many talented trop rock artists, and now we get to share the fun with you! This month we’re featuring Thom Shepherd, who added his own flair and talent to our film. Read more about him, and be sure to check out events and more below!

Thom Shepherd is a songwriter at heart. He is somewhat unique in the Trop Rock world in that he had a vibrant career as a songwriter in Nashville prior to going out on tour. Some of the songs he’s written have been massive hits, such as “Riding with Private Malone” and  “Redneck Yacht Club.”

Thom’s been on board the film for a long time. We talked about him writing an original song for the film, but due to scheduling issues, we weren’t able to make it happen. I am pleased that we were able to put his song “Always Saturday Night” into the film. The song is one of my favorites, and is the perfect description of what a first day and night in Key West feel like.

My original goal was to play the song as our main characters are driving down to Key West. Either that, or in one of the many drinking montages. But film editing being what it is, scenes get shuffled and move about. We ended up having the song be the first Trop Rock song played while the characters are on the road. Bob wakes Steve up playing the song on his phone. It seemed like a good way to wake the characters up on their first full day in Florida as they start their journey!

I also used another of Thom’s songs, “Pier Pressure” as the menu background music on the DVD. My editor David picked this song and when I heard the opening of the song on a loop over the menu I thought, “This is perfect!”

What I’m most excited about is that our tour for the film starts with Thom’s “Lone Star Luau” in Marble Falls, Texas, on February 3! There’s a number of acts who are in the film who’ll be playing at the event, including Sunny Jim, John Patti, and of course, Thom himself! 

So will I see you there?! I hope so! Head over to this link and RSVP now!

An Interview with Tiki Man Radio


Our director, Todd, recently had the pleasure of taking part in an on-air interview with Tiki Man Radio to discuss the release of Chasing the Sun. We highly encourage you to listen to the whole thing (it’s an easy 20-minute conversation!) by clicking here. Here are some of the highlights from their discussion:
• The film and Trop rock have a lot in common – and not just the music genre! Find out what Todd is doing at the last minute that is also the hallmark of band album releases.
• Discover Todd’s real vision for the movie (hint: it isn’t just about releasing a movie!) and how a unique storyline allowed him to make that vision come to life.
• Curious what the lead actor, Art Hall, is now obsessed with as a result of filming? We’ll tell you during the show!
• If you’ve ever wanted to know how Todd fell in love with Trop rock music in the first place, he tells the story…and it involves Jimmy Parrish and a trip to the islands.
• Who inspired the film? There are a lot of answers to that questions – and they’re all revealed right here.
• Rather than creating a film that makes you think, Todd wants to create a film that makes you _____________. (The answer is on the show – and it’s not what you have in mind!)

While those are some of the big things covered during the interview, Todd and Tiki Man Radio will take you on a journey about the film and the heart behind it. Give it a listen and, if you’re in Key West, we hope you can make it to the premiere!

Chasing the Sun Film Premiere

Chasing the Sun Film Premiere

There’s nothing more exciting than seeing a dream realized that has been in the making for so long. When this weekend wraps up, the film our team has been working on for years will finally be complete and ready for its debut.

The work has been hard, even overwhelming at times, but it has all been worth it to get to the finish line. What began as an Indiegogo project so long ago is now a feature film, with opportunities just on the horizon. Almost as exciting as the completion of the project is the opportunity to show it at the annual Meeting of the Minds in Key West, Florida, next week. This is the perfect platform for us – fans of trop rock music, Jimmy Buffett, Margaritaville, and the island lifestyle are exactly the audience we had in mind as we created Chasing the Sun.

Now that the filming and editing is over, our attention is turning to the launch – and what a day that will be! We are excited to be at the famous Key West Theater for the big premiere, supported by our friends with the Southern Drawl Band. After the screening – which is free and open to the public! – they will play a show featuring the best of their Americana style.

So what can you do?

If you are in Key West, come to our screening! It kicks off at 4:00pm (get there early to grab a seat!) at the Key West Theater. It’s free to everyone, and we have special love for our friends already at the Meeting of the Minds. Click here to RSVP on Facebook.

If you are NOT in Key West that week, share this blog post or our Facebook event, which you can find here. The more excitement we can build now, the bigger our launch will be when we release the film on platforms for everyone to see – think iTunes, Amazon, etc.

Thank you for your loyalty, excitement, and support. We can’t believe the big day is so close – and we can’t wait for you to see the results of our hard work!

Island Time to Chasing the Sun

Well hello Tropical World! It’s been years since I’ve updated this blog. A lot has changed in this little tropical adventure.

Years ago I set up to direct a big fun tropical feature film called “Island Time.” The logline was: 

After discovering that his struggling musician friend has used his funds to buy a dilapidated beach bar in the Florida Keys, an uptight workaholic finds his only course of action is go to Florida and try turn the bar into a successful venture or risk losing everything to – the “Sandals” like resort on a neighboring beach.  

It was big, broad and a lot of fun. Something perfect for a Vince Vaughn, Owen Wilson type comedy. It celebrates the music and lifestyle of Jimmy Buffett. I worked on raising the money for the film and took a lot of meetings. We held readings throughout LA. And we got a lot of bites from investors who wanted to invest much more than I originally intended. And in truth a movie like that – filmed all over the Caribbean – was not something one could do on a small budget.

Along the way I discovered a fantastic genre of artists who sing in the style of Jimmy Buffett. They sing about tropical escapes, following your dreams, ditching your current life and finding adventures somewhere warm. This is called Trop Rock. It’s filled with amazing indie artists.

What is Trop Rock? Well the official definition is: ‘Tropical Rock (Or Trop Rock) Is A Genre Of Popular Music That Incorporates Elements Of Rock And Roll, Country, Caribbean, Reggae Or Other Musical Genres To Create A Laid-Back Or Escapist State Of Mind.” But it’s really so much more.

It’s a way of life.

In addition to the artists, there are independent radio DJs, all of whom work tirelessly to promote the music. And every year, the artists and the fans all go down to Key West for “Meeting of the Minds” to celebrate the music and lifestyle. There are the Trop Rock music awards which are awarded to the artists, the fans, the house concert venues, and even the radio DJ’s.

Realizing that my “Island Time” film was going to be taking much longer to make than possible, I set out to do a short film. One that took place in the world of “Island Time” but that could be done on a lower budget. I didn’t want to wait around any longer. Artists and fan alike were wondering, “What’s going on? Where’s the film?” And so I set out to shoot a small project which celebrates the music.

That small short became, over time, the feature film “Chasing the Sun” which I am close to releasing. The original film has a “Greek Chorus” of a tropical Radio DJ. I wanted to tell this guy’s story. How did he get to Key West? And that story became much more of a celebration of the music than “Island Time” could ever be. Because he was a radio DJ I could weave in the actual artists into the story in a much more organic way. The music itself could tell the story.

“Chasing the Sun” is the story of a small Tropical Radio DJ who is up for an award in Key West. With the encouragement of his wild cousin, he lies to his fiancee to attend the awards and follow his dream, along the way meeting many of his tropical songwriting idols, who inspire him as he comes to a crossroad in his life.

I’m super proud of the movie. In many ways it’s a far more heartfelt, character based, and down to earth movie than “Island Time” was. It’s a movie that is like a Trop Rock album or Buffett album: that is to say there are tracks that are drunken and fun, tracks that are goofy, tracks that are wistful and others tracks that are hopefully inspirational.

The very meta result of it all is that we’re premiering the film during “Meeting of the Minds” the week of the “Trop Rock Music Awards.”

It’s a real treat to finally be here and so close to releasing the film.

It is my hope and goal for this small project, “Chasing the Sun” to serve as the wind to push the project of “Island Time” into fruition. “Chasing the Sun” will be a test case to explore the viability of a “Trop Rock movie” and help us raise the final additional money we need to make the bigger film a reality. To show the world that there can be many tropical cinematic stories.  In regards to those of you who have donated and have perks such as a role in the movie, T-shirts, or other items, we will reach out to you when we are in production for that film.

Thank you to everyone for your encouragement and support along the way.

Fins up!

 

Our Key West Adventure

Our Key West Adventure

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Filming Jimmy Parrish’s show at “Willy T’s” in Key West.

This film we’re making is all about people following their dreams & passions. And thanks to you, this first week of fundraising the campaign has been a big success. We attended the “Meeting of the Minds” annual Parrothead bash down in Key West. Words cannot describe what you get when you mix 3,500 Parrotheads on an island a little over seven square miles. Suffice to say, Hemingway would be proud.

While we were in marketing mode most of the time, we did get a chance to see some amazing Trop Rock artists. We kicked it all off with the Crab Island Mambo Welcome Party. This was a blast and a perfect way to start the week. We attended Kelly McGuire’s Songwriters Showcase at the Lighthouse court. It was an intimate gathering of music enthusiasts who gathered to listen to musicians sing their songs and just as important, tell the stories of their songs. In some ways listening to these songs are dangerous, as they just might make you want to leave it all and escape south!

We visited “Island Dogs” bar seeing a lot of great acts as well. All of these were sponsored by “Songwriter’s Island Radio.” They’ve been a big help in promoting the film. And they won a Best Trop Rock Radio station award!

I had a chance to film the shows of some fantastic musicians, including Jim Morris, John Patti, Jimmy Parrish, and Jimi Pappas. While it was a lot of work running around with two cameras and a heavy shoulder mount for these four – five hour shows in the Florida heat, it counts as some of the most fun nights of the year. Being up close and on stage filming these great tropical performances – there are worse ways to spend an evening.

 

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Shooting the Jim Morris show outside at Hog’s Breath in Key West.

 

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Shooting Jim Morris by the beach. Yes, those are pink fish shorts I’m wearing.

Some of the shows I shot right near the beach, with the ocean breeze blowing. I also had chance to get up in front of the crowd and talk about “Island Time” – the story of the film, our fundraising goals, and my own love of this music.

In between the music and fun we had a chance to chat with many people inspired by the music of Trop Rock and Jimmy Buffett. People who have actually sailed away, who have followed their dreams and live in Key West or South of St. Somewhere.

I love talking with people about this since that’s the theme of “Island Time.” About some friends who leave it all to start a beach bar in the islands.

I’ve been gearing up for this project for well over a year now, and returning from this trip has gotten me even more excited about it. I’m overwhelmed by the positive response and enthusiasm from everyone we met – and excited to shoot the film as we move closer to our goals.

THANK YOU to everyone who has helped make our first big campaign push such a big success. Thank you for donating, thank you for sharing, and most of all thank you for your enthusiasm in bringing this tropical story to life.

Thanks for your support! 

 

 

Book Review: BumFuzzle

Have you ever wanted to escape your life? Buy a sailboat and travel the world? This book is about a couple who actually did just that. Even more amazing, they had no deep sailing experience prior to leaving. They just bought a boat, up and left.

Not only is it an inspirational story, it’s a great read.

I’ve read a lot of traveling and sailing books, but I like about this one is that you really feel like you’re on the boat with them, as they go around the world over the course of a few years.

If you need a book for your next vacation this one is highly recommended!

Costa Rica Volcano

 

When talking about places in the tropics it’s quite standard to use the word “Heavenly.”

Having said that –  Life in Arenal, Costa Rica comes close. Many people chose a day on the beach, but for me a day in Arenal is perfect.

This tropical paradise sits at the base of the Arenal Volcano, and Lake Arenal.

Besides breathing in the fresh mountain air one of the best things to do is spend the day at the hot springs. The hot springs are like no other hot springs in the world. It’s almost like an adult Disneyland. There are hot pools scattered up the hill, including water slides and swim up bars.

If you’re looking for a little adventure instead, Arenal has one of the first and greatest zip lines. It’s so big and safe, even former President George Bush (the first) went zip lining there.

Hot Springs baths. Ziplines.

Heavenly.

Why leave?

A Swim Up Bar

 

There’s something unique about a pool with a swim up bar. Anytime you can stay in the water in your bathing suit without getting out for your drink is a good thing.

Here are five amazing swim up bars.

1) Warwick Fiji Resort & Spa, Viti Levu, Fiji

 

 

 

 

 

 

2) Sheraton Mirage Resort & Spa, Gold Coast

 

 

 

 

 

 

3) Kivotos Club Hotel, Mykonos

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

4) Hotel Punta Islita — Costa Rica

 

 

 

 

 

 

5) ClubHotel Riu Negril — Jamaica