Review by Sean Boelman
Directed by Chusy, It All Begins with a Song is a different type of music documentary in that it does not explore the people everyone knows and loves for their music, but instead, the unsung heroes of the industry. Featuring interviews with some of the greatest little-known songwriters working today, this is an interesting watch for anyone who is interested in how some of their favorite songs came to be.
The film explores the role of the songwriter in the modern music industry, taking a look at those living in Nashville, Tennessee, considered by many to be the music epicenter of the United States. For the first twenty minutes or so, it seems like the movie is going to be yet another tribute to Music City, however, it soon becomes obvious that the film is going to be something different altogether.
The main purpose of the movie seems to be to inspire the audience and make the viewer recognize the amazing contributions of the artists who write these famous songs. By introducing the world to all of these successful artists who have created these hits out of the spotlight, Chusy succeeds in emphasizing the importance of these people’s contributions.
However, even though the film clocks in at less than an hour and a half, that doesn’t stop it from feeling overly repetitive. Thankfully, the music keeps the movie moving, but for the most part, the film does the same thing over and over again. A songwriter tells the story of how a famous song was written, and then the viewer hears the song. Arguably this could have worked better as a bite-sized webseries than a feature-length documentary.
Because of this repetitive nature of the movie, Chusy ends up reusing the same technique with very little variation. As the interviewee is talking, they mention something oddly reminiscent of a song lyric or title, and then there’s a smash cut into performance footage of the famous song being performed.
Every once in a while, Chusy will switch it up and allow the songwriter to sing their work themselves. These moments end up being more emotional than seeing the original performer’s take on the lyrics. Perhaps because he doesn’t trust the audience to care about someone they don’t know enough about, the director takes the easier and less effective route.
The thing that could have helped this film pick up some significant steam would have been if there had been fewer songwriters interviewed. Since the movie is so short, it could have been nice to spend more time with a few of them than a little bit with many. As a result, common themes instead turn into outright redundancy, as many of the interviews lack depth and cover the same ground.
It All Begins with a Song has noble intentions at its heart, and is admittedly unlike most other music documentaries. Still, due to some wrong choices made by the director, it doesn’t quite work as well as one would hope.
It All Begins with a Song hits VOD on March 3.