In 2020, members of Fogo Azul, an all-woman and non-binary, samba reggae drumming group traveled to Brazil to learn from Banda Didá, the first female samba reggae drumming troupe. Then Adriana Portela, the leader of Didá, came to New York to drum with Fogo Azul. Our film follows the joyous results.
Mission StatementAt a time of national divisions and heated conversations about diversity and inclusion, our film shows how music, and drumming in particular, can bring people together and can elevate all our voices.
About The Project
LIVING LOUD is fiscally sponsored by The Film Collaborative, a 501(c)3 organization. ALL donations to this campaign are tax deductible.
In 2016 Stacy Kovacs formed Fogo Azul with just fifteen drummers. By 2020 they had a hundred and ten members and they formed a powerful and loud leadership at the resistance marches, including the Dyke March, the Women’s March and Pride Marches, and to causes such as BLM and Pro-Abortion protests. The band also brought together drummers of every race, sexual persuasion and income bracket - united in their shared values of racial and gender equality and justice for all.
Our film begins in February 2020 with Stacy and 40 members of Fogo Azul arriving in Salvador, the center of the Black community in Brazil, to learn more techniques from Banda Didà - the first all-Black, all female samba reggae drumming group, run by the world-renowned Adriana Portela.
The Brazilian Black community were originally not allowed to drum in Carnival - and women were not allowed to drum at all - but Adriana became the first woman to conduct a samba-reggae band in Brazil, and since then Didá has played with national and international music celebrities and in music festivals around the world.
Adriana has always seen music as the driving force for social change and as a tool capable of crossing boundaries and enabling the knowledge of diverse cultures. Didá is not just a drumming group. Their headquarters in Salvador functions as a center for women’s drumming and as a meeting place for classes for members and after school programs for children. 130 women and children take drum lessons in the house today for free.
The trip to Brazil changed the lives of many of the Fogo Azul members. For Sara and Selma, the trip enhanced their new relationship, and they got married on their return to New York and, inspired by the community efforts of the women of Didá, started a community fridge in the Bronx.
For Bia, a young Brazilian Fogo Azul member studying at Columbia University, the trip provided an opportunity to share her culture with the group of women who have been a vital support during her time in the States. In the US, Bia has felt free to come out in a way that she could not have in Brazil, and the strong queer community in Fogo Azul has given her a home and an acceptance that she would not have had at home.
Then in 2022 Adriana Portela traveled to New York to rehearse with the drummers of Fogo Azul and to lead them in the Mermaid Parade in Coney Island. Stacy has long admired Adriana and considers her a mentor, and as Adriana entered the rehearsal room, over 100 drummers welcomed her with an exuberant drum roll. The excitement and energy were palpable, and Adriana later admitted that she was overwhelmed by the response. She also reflected on the difference between the drummers of Fogo Azul, who are not afraid to live their true selves or to speak out politically, to the drummers of Didá whose lives are more constrained by the limitations of racism, traditional gender norms, and poverty in Brazil. She is working on changing that.
On the day of the Mermaid Parade the weather was cool, the crowds were huge and over 3,000 people, dressed as mermaids, took part in the parade along the roads and boardwalk of Coney Island. Fogo Azul is a powerful addition and hugely popular with the crowds, which energized everyone.
And then just as the parade was getting towards the end, Stacy suddenly led her members straight towards the beach, and 50 musicians drummed in the waves. The crowd followed, cheering. As a finale to an amazing day, several members of Fogo Azul stripped and swam out to sea. Adriana had never seen anything like it and was overjoyed.
Why Us, why this, why now?
As both a member of Fogo Azul and a photographer, Carin van der Donk (Producer/Director) was able to be an intimate part of the filming and to have the kind of access that only comes with trust. Sarah Teale (Producer/Director), Carin’s neighbor and friend, has been producing documentaries, mostly for HBO for decades and has 4 Emmy nominations and one Prime Time Emmy nomination. She is committed to making intimate, social issue films that can help to change attitudes.
Isabel Vega, our camerawoman and co-director, flew to Brazil from her home in Colombia and, although Spanish is different from Portuguese, was able to communicate well with our subjects and integrated herself quickly into both Didá and Fogo Azul. She then flew to New York to film with everyone here.
The trip to Salvador, Brazil came just a month before Covid-19 shut down the world. As we reviewed the footage in our separate homes, we realized how vital and life changing that trip had been. Everyone who had traveled to Salvador felt how privileged they were to drum with a world renowned and ground breaking group of Black women, who were struggling to be heard.
Back in New York, the women of Fogo Azul were also inspired by Didá’s commitment to community and solidarity to strengthen their own friendships and to help their larger communities navigate the restrictions and deprivations of Covid.
As the world emerges from the pandemic, it is important to celebrate those shared perspectives and lessons and to show how women from different countries, genders, race and economic backgrounds can come together in political solidarity and to forge lasting friendships.
Documentary films are best made from the inside and with commitment and love and that is what our team brought to this project.
Where we are now:
We currently have a 40-minute final cut of our film. 40 minutes is the required length for a short documentary if you want to submit it for Oscar consideration and why not?
We need $8,000 for the all-important sound edit and mix which will ensure that the drums are loud and the sound is perfect. You cannot make a drumming film without perfect sound! We are working with Ken Hahn from Audio Post, who is a sound master, and he has already taken a look at some of our footage and is on hold.
We also need $17,000 for the color correct. Every film needs the color to be evened out and heightened and Ken Sirulnick, the senior colorist at Goldcrest, has worked his color magic for Sarah’s last three films. He will also edit in the credits, complete the final edits for the music and the graphics and will make sure the film is broadcast and festival quality and transferred to broadcast digital tape. This is a two-week long process and requires very detailed, fine work that Ken is excellent at.
We have also hired Jamie Lawrence – five-time Emmy award winning composer – to compose the music in between the drumming. Funds raised past our initial goal will go towards that $8,000 cost.
We have applied to several film festivals, including Sundance, and so there is an urgent need to complete the film before the end of this year, 2022. We will hear from most festivals in December and will have to have the film ready to go by January – hence the crunch!
ALL donations to this campaign are tax deductible. In accordance with IRS regulations The Film Collaborative (TFC) issues tax receipts. Crowdfunder admin fees and credit card processing fees are deducted before TFC receives the funds. TFC issues tax receipts on the amount they receive minus the fair market value of the incentive you select.
Finalizing a film is an expensive endeavor but we believe this film is worth it and hope you will consider helping us to get to the finish line. Thank you!
Spread the Word!
In order to reach our crowdfunding goal, we need your help to reach beyond our networks. Please share our campaign on your social networks, email, word of mouth, or bang a drum. We can't do this without you!
Don't know what to say? Here are some examples you can copy and paste:
Help filmmakers @tealeprod and @vanderDonkCarin by supporting their empowering short film LIVING LOUD about a group of woman and nonbinary folks who discover joy, community, empowerment and unity through drumming. Join them on @seedandspark: bit.ly/living-loud
I just watched the teaser for this short documentary about the amazing @FogoAzulNY. If you like joyful women-centric, queer and BIPOC stories with strong disability representation, you've got to support this doc! @seedandspark: bit.ly/living-loud
Follow and tag us on social media at
You can also explore more photographs and stories on our web site: www.livinglouddoc.com
Use the WishList to pledge cash and loan items - or - Make a pledge by selecting an incentive directly.
About This Team
Sarah Teale (Producer/Director) was a Producer/Director of Kill Chain: The Cyber War on America’s Elections which aired on HBO on March 26th, 2020 and was nominated for an Emmy for Outstanding Investigative Documentary in 2021. She was a Producer on the HBO series The Weight of the Nation, which was nominated for a Prime Time Emmy. Other HBO films she produced and directed include Dealing Dogs, (Emmy nomination Outstanding Investigative Documentary); Hacking Democracy, (Emmy nomination Outstanding Investigative Documentary); Death on a Factory Farm; Bellevue: Inside Out, a year inside the locked psychiatric wards at Bellevue Hospital; and Mumia Abu Jamal: A Case For Reasonable Doubt?, Cable Ace Award nomination. She has also produced and directed documentaries for the BBC, A&E and Discovery. She most recently produced and directed Grazers: A Cooperative Story with Lisa F. Jackson, being distributed by Collective Eye and Passion River and Patrimonio, which premiered at the Berlin International Film Festival and Full Frame and is being distributed by First Run Features.
Carin van der Donk
Carin van der Donk (Producer/Director) is a Dutch photographer and camerawoman, based in NYC. At 15 she became an international fashion model, working with photographers like Richard Scavullo, Kurt Markus, and Jean Loup Sieff. After settling in New York City, she became an assistant-producer for Art + Commerce, working with photographers Ellen von Unwerth, Frank W. Ockenfels III, and Mary Ellen Mark, followed by becoming an agent and producer at Julian Meijer et Associes. Her photographs are used by political organizations, including Sister District, Future Now, Housing Justice for All, NoIDC, and Councilmember Carlina Rivera. She contributed stills to the HBO documentaries The Sentence (2018), and Kill Chain: The Cyber War on America’s Elections (2020). A solo exhibition of her photography was held at the St. George Church, NYC in 2018. Her portraits of Vincent D’Onofrio appear in Mutha, a book of the actor’s poetry (Cameron Books 2021). She is co-producing a documentary about Fogo Azul, an all women, transgender, non-binary, gender non-conforming Samba Reggae drum line (she is a band member herself). She is a 2021 graduate of the International Center of Photography program in Documentary Practice and Visual Journalism.
Isabel Vega is an award-winning filmmaker with a solid background as director/producer/shooter and storyteller. Isabel has worked on film and TV projects for HBO, Bravo, Lifetime, Own, Oxygen, TLC and FX. Her film, La Corona, is a documentary about a beauty pageant in a high security female prison in Bogotá, Colombia. The film was nominated for an Academy Award (2008), received an Honorable mention at Sundance (2008), won the IDA Award for best short film (2008) and was acquired by HBO.
Vega co-produced two episodes of Morgan Spurlock’s series, 30 Days(FX) and was an associate producer on Thin, (which premiered at the Sundance Film Festival in 2006). In 2005 she worked with Maryann De Leo on her documentary about domestic violence, Terror At Home. Vega’s latest film (currently in production) is about a local election in Jackson, MS.
Angela Gandini is a New York based film editor. She has edited numerous documentary films and television shows for HBO, Discovery, PBS, TLC and many others. She has worked almost exclusively for HBO Documentaries for the last 10 years and most recently, edited the critically acclaimed documentary Adrienne, which the New York Times called one of its “2021 Streaming Gems,”and Breslin and Hamill: Deadline Artists, which won the Emmy for Outstanding Historical Documentary. Angela is a graduate of Columbia University with a degree in Film Studies and lives in the Hudson Valley with her family.