Give The Drummer Some
Clyde Stubblefield—a former drummer for James Brown—is heralded as one of the world’s most-sampled musicians, but he never received any credits or royalties, leading to a life of obscurity and hardships. Give The Drummer Some is an enlightening story of an unsung pioneer in American music history.
Mission StatementThis documentary's mission is to provide the long over-due recognition to an unsung musical pioneer, who as an African-American man during the civil rights era, played a significant role in the evolution of popular music on a global scale.
About The Project
Clyde Stubblefield is probably one of the most heard musicians in the world, but hardly anyone knows his name. Clyde's innovative style of drumming transcended the genre he and James Brown helped pioneer, and became a cornerstone of what's now the most popular genre in the world—hip-hop. However, Clyde's contributions to the world went unrecognized, and resulted in him missing out on substantial earnings, leading to a life of perpetual exploitation, missed opportunities and health issues.
It’s widely known and irrefutable that James Brown was a pioneer in the world of funk music, however, it’s not as commonly known just how much his band played a part in that sound and overall creative process. Players like Clyde, Jab’o Starks, Fred Wesley, PeeWee Ellis and Maceo Parker all contributed majorly to James Brown’s catalog and in many ways brought just as much to the table, if not more, as James Brown himself. A huge element in what made Brown’s music so revolutionary was the rhythm section— the beat. Clyde came up with his own patterns and played the way only he felt was right. Nobody, including Brown, would tell Clyde what or how to play. James Brown’s vision and the band’s unorthodox style of play together made history.
The foundation of this documentary will focus on the phenomenon of Clyde's most recognized song, Funky Drummer, and give an analytical breakdown of how and why the iconic breakbeat influenced hip-hop culture—from the DJ’s, producers and b-boys—along with generations of drummers to come. Through a series of interviews with Clyde, his family members, and some of the most prominent figures in the music industry, we'll analyze the impact that Clyde has had on hip-hop music and uncover the root causes of why he never received the credit he deserved for all those collosal records he played on, particularly as it pertained to Funky Drummer.
We’ll get insight into who Clyde was as a person—both the good and the bad. Viewers will see insightful testimonials, rare vérité footage, archival media (film, photos, audio) animated reenactments and graphic depictions that analyze the music theory of Clyde’s incomparable playing style. All of this will allow us to drive the film’s narrative in a way that remains engaging, authentic and digestable.
What specifically about the Funky Drummer break made it so iconic? Why was this particular drum break recycled so many times? Where would hip-hop be with it? What would Clyde's life be like if he got the credit he deserved? These are the types of questions we'll strive to answer.
"I was fortunate to get to know and spend time with Clyde Stubblefield starting at a young age in my hometown of Madison, WI. Clyde embraced me at a point when I hadn't fully comprehended just how impactful his work was. I not only cherished our friendship, but I cherished his existence. His willingness to invite me into his life to tell his story is a priveledge I'll never take for granted.
As our relationship developed, not only did I become more concious of his undeniable influence on modern music, but I began to see the complexities of him as an idividual that lead me to the conclusion that he was—and I don't say this lightly—nothing short of a musical genius.
These revelations only heightened my frustrations with the lack of credit he recieved for his contributions, thus further motivating me to ensure that not only his full story be told, but that his legacy as a pioneer and innovator becomes cemented within American music history. This year marks the 51st anniversary of "Funky Drummer" and I couldn't think of a better time to celebrate the man behind the groove that we've been dancing to for half of a century."
-Trevor Banks, Director/Producer
Production on this film began in 2015, and since then we've been lucky to capture some incredible interviews with George Clinton, John "Jab'o" Starks, Fred Wesley, Fred Thomas, Bret Stubblefield (Clyde's nephew) and of course Clyde himself. In additon to these interviews, we have hours of candid footage of Clyde throughout the final years of his life. We've already gained verbal agreements to conduct interviews with a few other influential figures in the music industry, including Harry Weinger, Sweet Charles Sherrell, Kurtis Blow, Daru Jones, DJ Spinna, Yung Guru, Christain McBride, Ben Sidran, Dylan Wissing, Joe Wong and Richard Mazda. We will continue pursuring even more interviews that remain on our list.
As proud as we are with the progress we've made so far, the reality is that in order to affectively move forward we will need financial support. Production has been at a stand still due to a lack of funding, and the Covid-19 pandemic further delayed our ability to even consider jumpstarting this project. This is where your role as a contributor becomes essential to our success. All funds raised during this crowd funding campaign will be a direct injection into the next round of interviews slated for the east coast. Any funds recieved that surpass our campaign goal will only enbale us to push forward even further into the production process. Every single dollar will be put to use.
We also want to make it clear that we will be taking every necessary precaution when it comes to following Covid-19 guidelines to maintain the safety of our crew and talent. Our crew's footprint will reamin small and in addition we'll require masks on set, practice social distancing and require testing prior to every shoot.
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About This Team
Trevor Banks (Director/Producer)
Trevor was a kid when he met Clyde Stubblefield at a local music festival in his hometown of Madison, WI. It wasn't until nearly a decade later that he really understood how influential Clyde was to the landscape of American music history. Not long after this revelation is when Trevor decided he needed to tell the world about who Clyde really was.
So here we are...
A seasoned filmmaker with over 10 years of experience in the industry, Trevor has a broad skillset spanning across all stages of production. As a producer, director, cinematographer and editor, he's collectively worked on a wide spectrum of project types including short documentaries, television, commericals, music videos and live events. Notable figures and brands he's worked with include DJ Jazzy Jeff, Nike, Boiler Room, Budweiser, SoundCloud, Tidal, Fila, Amazon, The Racontuers, De Leon Tequila, Under Armour, New Balance, DKNY, Wesley Matthews (Los Angeles Lakers).
His short documentary, Racing Against BRCA, was a 2018 selection in the NYC Independent Film Festival.
Give The Drummer Some will be Trevor's feature length film debut.
Michael Neelsen (Producer)
Michael's experience as a filmmaker will be immeasureable to our succes, as he already has two feature length docuementaries to his name. His directorial debut began with his film, Last Day at Lambeau (2012), a film that depicted the divorce of Brett Favre and the Green Bay Packers in 2008. It was an official selection to the Austin Film Festival 2012, Milwaukee Film Festival 2012, Minneapolis-St. Paul Film Festival 2012, Wisconsin Film Festival 2012, Duluth-Superior Film Festival 2012, Flyway Film Festival 2012, Driftless Film Festival 2012, Green Bay Film Festival 2013 and Gasparilla Film Festival 2013. Michael's most recent documentary series, Beyond Human Nature, chronicles the Tom Monfils murder investigation.
Jeff Springer (Director of Photography)
Jeff Springer is an Emmy nominated documentary filmmaker and cinematographer who has worked with PBS, NBC, Al Jazeera, ESPN, the Sundance Channel, Sony Pictures, and Lucasfilm. His latest feature documentary, Rodents of Unusual Size, about giant swamp rats invading coastal Louisiana, was funded by PBS, was broadcast nationally through Independent Lens, is rated 98% on Rotten Tomatoes, and was featured as an answer on Jeopardy. He also edited the music documentary Everyday Sunshine: The Story of Fishbone, about the legendary funk-punk-rock band, which was narrated by Lawerence Fishburne and is listed as one of the 100 Best Documentaries by Rotten Tomatoes.
Riley Dengler (Director of Photography)
Riley Dengler is a Brooklyn based Director of Photography who has helped major brands like Amazon, Spotify, Under Armour and New Balance execute major campaigns and commercials. From artist spotlights and short documentaries to video podcasts and commercials, his work has been displayed on digital billboards in Times Square, accumulated hundreds of millions of views on social media, and even been the #1 trending video on YouTube. Although Riley enjoys himself most behind the camera, his foundation in the video industry has formed himself into a swiss army knife of sorts who is well versed in editing, sound design and color.