Denny Tedesco, son of renowned jazz, bebop, pop and rock ‘n roll guitarist Tommy Tedesco, always wanted to tell the story of his famous father’s era of music. During the 1960s and 1970s, Tommy, along with an esteemed troupe of American session musicians who were dubbed “The Wrecking Crew,” recorded for The Beach Boys, Sinatra, Elvis, Jan & Dean, The Mamas and the Papas, The 5th Dimension and many more.
Denny began his documentary project some 15 years ago, when his father was diagnosed with terminal cancer. He brought Tommy together with other session musicians of that time for an initial interview, shooting with a 16mm camera and two dollies at a round table. Soon, musicians like Brian Wilson, Cher, Nancy Sinatra, Herb Alpert and Mickey Dolenz were more than willing to contribute their respective memories. Despite the overwhelming costs Denny knew he would face, he continued on with the project after his father’s death in 1997.
Denny finally completed the film, "The Wrecking Crew," but one obstacle remained — licensing the music. He shopped his film around the festival circuit and garnered scores of accolades, including the Audience Award at the Seattle Film Festival, but no one bought it; the budget was just too high. So, he conceived of a novel way to raise the funds to pay labels and publishers. He began showing the film privately all around the world, creating a pre-show film before the screening. It featured local sponsors who were contributing funds to the project. Much of this pre-show film is supported by footage from royalty-free stock agency Shutterstock.
Denny wanted the audience to get in the mood before the first frame comes on. The only way his crew could travel was to find local sponsors. He offered locals the opportunity to sponsor seats and put their logo and face up on the screen. They turned around and gave their seats to potential clients or customers.
Den would have a projector showing vintage footage that relates to the sponsor’s product. For example, some of his favorite clips that Denny has licensed from Shutterstock are an old lady as a DJ spinning albums, 1960s Westminster Dog show, Super 8mm swimming footage, a 1970s television set and many more.
He often finds his footage can do double-duty. The DJ clip was used for a record story sponsor as well as a radio media sponsor. The 1960s Westminster Dog show was used for a dog groomer. Swimming footage is used for a pool company.
Footage in the film is very specialized and was difficult when it came to the licensing. Shutterstock provded the opportunity to license it on the spot for his needs, no matter what time of day it is. Sometimes, Denny is creating a show five minutes before the evening starts, so knowing he can get online and pull something quickly is a necessity.
He says the hardest part, sometimes, is having too many choices. Fortunately, the Shutterstock library is smartly organized, and he can often instantly refine his search, choosing the right images for the right spot quickly. He loves to see an audience lip syncing to songs, pointing to the screen when certain period TV shows or record albums pop onto the screen. They always walk out with a smile.
Through this innovative approach, Tedesco has raised more than $250,000, half of what he needs to complete the licensing for the final film. He already has an audience of 40,000 followers, just by word of mouth. His goal is to finish the project and have it out for a wider audience by the end of 2013.