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the film


"Art consists of limitation. The most beautiful part of every picture is the frame."  -G.K. Chesterton

This feature-length documentary will chronicle the life and musical works of Romantic British Composer Rutland Boughton (1878-1960) as a lens through which to view the modern-day music festival scene. By introducing this enigmatic figure to a new, younger generation, we intend to explore the elusive euphoria that all are looking for at music and arts festivals with the timeless question: Do the arts have the power to change people and move audiences to make the world a better place? 

The facts


With the support of the Rutland Boughton Music Trust, this documentary will explore Boughton’s life and his role in establishing the first Glastonbury Music Festivals (1914-1926). We will also examine Boughton’s efforts to transform the ecstatic spiritual experiences of his youth into a form of musical drama that evoked those same experiences for a wider audience. One way Boughton sought to do this was by a clever repurposing of the Greek Chorus, the ancient dramatic method that poetically brought the voice of the people (audience) into the telling of the story. Similarly, Boughton wanted to connect his audiences directly with the blissful and transformative experience of music. For Boughton, music and drama were intimately intertwined, and their interaction has the potential to craft a type of spiritual joy that provokes audiences to change the world instead of indulgently escaping it. The result was the Choral Drama, a new type of dramatic musical performance that departed from traditional opera and had the power to rouse the masses into becoming inspired musical activists. By bringing the masses into the act of artistic creation, he believed that music could succeed where religion had failed in saving the decaying world. We believe that his view is astonishingly prescient and even more relevant to new generations.

The mission


Taking Boughton’s bold project as our starting point, this documentary will frame the present-day music festival through a similar approach. We will present an engaging and ecstasy-filled production of Boughton’s life and work as the Drama (story), and then use the current context of today’s Glastonbury and Burning Man festivals as the Chorus (framing context that connects the audience to the story). We will achieve this by spooling two main story strands: 1) Boughton’s biography as told by family members, scholars, and historians, along with poignant dramatic reenactments and a tasteful sampling of his own musical creations interwoven into the drama, and 2) a robust and earnest look into the present-day music festival scene at Glastonbury and Burning Man. We will conduct interviews with popular contemporary musicians with the goal of drawing parallels between their own artistic struggles and Boughton’s. And we will delve into the experiences of the common festival goer, questioning them on why they have such a burning passion to experience these festivals, why it is important to their lifestyle, and why they will sacrifice anything to attend. 

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