October 19, 2010 · Success Stories

6Qs with Jon Spira of “Anyone Can Play Guitar”


"Twitter is hugely powerful… You never know who's out there and might drop a huge donation, so you have to spread the word to find them. One email could be worth thousands of dollars to your project."

Jon Spira, the filmmaker behind Anyone Can Play Guitar: The Story Behind the Oxford Music Scene, shares how his grassroots efforts are leading to the success of his campaign.


Q1. Tell us about your project… your inspiration and goals! 

My film is called Anyone Can Play Guitar and it's about Radiohead, Supergrass, Foals, Ride, Talulah Gosh, Swervedriver and the little local music scene that spawned them all. Actually, it's not about them. It's about the reality of the music industry and what can be achieved in a tight community, but it uses their story to illustrate that. All of these bands are so tightly linked and nobody has ever explored that. The story of the Oxford music scene is truly inspiring and worth telling.

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Q2. What's your funding campaign all about? Who should care and why? 

I was frustrated with music documentaries. They all seem to tell the same story – a band forms, gets recognised, gets big, gets screwed up, has a dramatic split and either does or doesn't reform. I've been around bands most of my life and know that that is rarely the true story. The best bands in the world aren't strictly the ones who become well-known. They're the lucky ones. So by telling the story of where Radiohead, Supergrass, Foals and the like came from, I can also tell the story of their contemporaries. The Candyskins, Dustball, The Rock of Travolta, The Mystics, The Nubiles who were every bit as good and deserving but not as lucky.

I've spent a long time around this music scene, filming gigs, making music videos, it's a big part of my social life and I have great passion for the bands past and present who have made it what it is. I want to show the world what we've got and what's possible. I also want to show people that rather than shelling out a lot of money to go to corporate venues to see bands that have marketed their way into your tastes, it's worth going to your local dive and seeing far more interesting, exciting and raw talent either before they get huge or before they throw it all in.

I've made the film on no budget at all. Completely self-funded. I need to raise money for the post-production – the sound mix, picture grade, clearances. There have been no backers on this film at all. I wanted to make it my way – and it worked. This is a hand-made film and that's how I got all of the bands to participate. Radiohead in particular are notoriously hard to get interviews with but they could see what I was doing and why and wanted to be a part of it. This is a film for people who love music and love music documentaries. I promise it's different from anything that's out there.

Q3. How are you reaching, engaging and involving others? Your DIWO tactics, please! 

I'm lucky in that many of the subjects and interviewees of the film have their own dedicated global fanbases, so a lot of my promotional work has been reaching out to them. Radiohead fans are obviously intrigued, especially as the film covers aspects of that band's story that have never really been discussed. Swervedriver fans have been amazingly supportive too. But because of the more famous bands involved, people seem happy to spread the word. Twitter has been amazing for this.

Q4. You're rocking the fundraising on IndieGoGo. Congrats! What's working? What's not working? 

I like to think the success we're having on IndieGoGo is down to the film's own merits. I guess it sounds like the kind of film a lot of people would like to see. It's maybe a little obtuse for the mainstream but totally aimed at the kind of folks who 'get' IndieGoGo. I mean, the film is about what grass-roots community can achieve and where is that better illustrated than IndieGoGo.com?


Q5. Any surprises or especially fun moments during your campaign that you'd like to share? 

People have just been incredibly generous. I expected a small amount of support from family and friends but the bulk of donations are coming from incredibly generous strangers who are just down with the idea. People have been amazing and sent really kind messages of support, it's brilliant!

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Q6. Any tips/advice for other aspiring entrepreneurs, creators and project leaders like yourself?

I don't know what advice I can give. I think Twitter is hugely powerful and should not be ignored, in fact, it should be the focus of your campaign. You never know who's out there and might drop a huge donation, so you have to spread the word to find them. One email could be worth thousands of dollars to your project.

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