This Time | The Sweet Inspirations


 

This was the official website for the 2012 documentary film about the lives of The Sweet Inspirations, back-up singers for Elvis Presley, Aretha Franklin and Dusty Springfield.
Content is from the site's 2012 archived pages as well as from other sources.

 



The Sweet Inspirations perform "Sweet Love" from the documentary "THIS TIME"

 

Storyline

IMDb

An unflinching look at a music industry that exists far from the overnight sensations of television's "American Idol" and "The X Factor," THIS TIME follows six diverse recording artists on the verge of their next moment in the spotlight. They've sung back-up up for Elvis Presley, Aretha Franklin, Dionne Warwick, Dusty Springfield and Jimi Hendrix, been homeless while their songs were on the charts, struggled to fill tiny cabarets and fight against the odds of the music industry -- all while holding tight to their dignity and dreams. Accompanied by a soaring soundtrack of extraordinary music, the film tracks their gut-wrenching determination to turn up the volume on their careers. From the streets of South Central Los Angeles to New York's Park Avenue, THIS TIME takes you on a unique musical journey, in this story of the transformative power of creativity. The musicians living on the flip side of this music business are legendary recording artists The Sweet Inspirations (best known as ... Written byVictor Mignatti

REVIEWS

Donna Walker, KPFK PACIFICA RADIO

“Worth its weight in gold records!”
Chris Rizik, SOULTRACKS

“Riveting… emotional and edgy.”
Jeri Jacquin, MOVIE MAVEN

“This doc is one of immense triumph… polished, informative and entertaining.”
Terra King, INDIE MOVIE EXAMINER

“The most genuinely inspirational film of the year!”
Justin Truax, LIVING IN CINEMA

“The footage in THIS TIME is astonishing.”
Tris McCall, THE STAR-LEDGER

“A compelling music documentary.”
Alex Simon, THE HOLLYWOOD INTERVIEW

“There’s no shortage of inspiration.”
C.J. Perry, FILMSLATE

“Haunting, moving and thought provoking… recommended.”
Mark Maxwell Abushady, CREATIONS MAGAZINE

"Inspiring and powerful… I enjoyed it so much that I watched this documentary about five times in the last week."
Dennis Amith, J!-ENT

“Showcases extraordinary talent matched by… the treacherous tale of second chances.”
Courtney Nichols, FruitFlyLife/Out.com

“An inspiring, music-filled documentary… a soulful tale of undiminished hope.”
Michael Andrzejewski, PHILADELPHIA FILM SOCIETY

 



 



The Sweet Inspirations sing "I'm Coming Out" from "THIS TIME" Music Video

 

Every dream has a soundtrack.

This acclaimed music documentary follows six recording artists on the verge of their next moment in the spotlight. They’ve sung back-up up for Elvis Presley, Aretha Franklin, Dionne Warwick and Jimi Hendrix, been homeless while their songs were on the charts, struggled to fill tiny cabarets and fight against the odds of the music industry -- all while holding tight to their dreams. With a hot soundtrack of extraordinary music, THIS TIME takes you from the streets of South Central Los Angeles to New York’s Park Avenue on a unique musical journey in this uplifting story of the transformative power of creativity.

Starring the legendary recording artists The Sweet Inspirations (best known as back-up singers for Elvis Presley, Aretha Franklin and Dusty Springfield), New York cabaret sensation Bobby Belfry, soul diva Pat Hodges (Hodges, James & Smith) and composer-producer Peitor Angell. As they battle self-sabotage and the brutality of the music industry, THIS TIME celebrates their widely ranging gifts and experiences in this inspiring story of hope, persistence and faith. Also featuring original Sweet Inspiration and gospel music star Cissy Houston.

DIRECTOR’S STATEMENT

How do we define success? Why do certain gifted artists make it while others languish in frustrated obscurity? Why are artists often their own worst enemies? I had been haunted by these questions for a very long time as I tried to grapple with my own daily frustrations of a career in film and television.

THIS TIME is a film that found me. For many years I had been intrigued by the world of New York cabaret and the artists who attempt to launch their music careers via those tiny stages. I’d also been fixated on female R&B vocalists of the late 60’s and 70’s, just before the disco beat took over, when dozens of gifted R&B artists were signed to major record labels, given the opportunity to record a few marvelous albums only to be neglected and forgotten by the same labels. Tax write-offs for the labels, in many cases.

When my friend Peitor Angell phoned to tell me he was producing the legendary “Sweet Inspirations’” first album in 23 years and Pat Hodges’ first album in 25 years, I had a feeling there was a film to be made. Peitor gave me limited access to film some of the recording sessions, photo shoots and other working sessions. “The Sweets” had been through over 40 years of career ups and downs, losses, betrayals and successes. Their voices were in the background of countless hit songs that were, effectively, the sound track of my life (and possibly yours). Pat Hodges, who had tasted brief fame with the group Hodges James and Smith in the late ‘70s, was now homeless in South Central Los Angeles while having a hit on the club charts. These “women of a certain age” embodied the definition of the word survivor, pure artists that lived to sing and fearlessly make their art. Peitor was also one of those fearless people. He had created a recording studio in his bedroom and was determined to “keep alive the magic of records,” by self-financing all of his recordings. At the same time, I discovered Bobby Belfry and his deeply personal, spirit-filled songs. Bobby’s work and struggle for success, creative fulfillment and spiritual certainty mirrored those of Peitor, The Sweets and Pat Hodges. I quickly became committed to telling the story of these artists’ process by focusing on their present careers and their determination to “keep on keeping on” despite the often illogical and cruel dictates of the music industry and the ever present need for daily bread.

I shot the film as a one-man crew over a period of four and a half years. The film was edited to unfold gradually and almost episodically, supported and carried along by the music. Like the artists in THIS TIME, so many of us harbor long-buried dreams. Many of us unwittingly self-sabotage our lives by avoiding happiness, fearing success and failing to live in the promise of our potential. By illustrating the creative process, struggles, triumphs and deep faith of these gifted artists, I hope that THIS TIME will not only entertain but help awaken the faith and long buried dreams in our audience.

Victor Mignatti, New York, NY

BIOGRAPHIES

THE SWEET INSPIRATIONS

If there was a soundtrack album of your life, the unique blend of The Sweet Inspirations may very well be the background vocals. Somewhere in the world, The Sweet Inspirations are being played on the radio at this very moment. The Sweets were background session singers on dozens and dozens of hit records and albums, including among others: “A Natural Woman”, “Spanish Harlem”, “Chain Of Fools”, “Don’t Play That Song” (Aretha Franklin), “Moondance” (Van Morrison), “Do You Know the Way to San Jose?”, “I’ll Never Fall in Love Again”, “Alfie”, “I Say a Little Prayer”, “Don’t Make Me Over” (Dionne Warwick), “Son Of A Preacher Man” (Dusty Springfield), as well as singing with Jimi Hendrix, Nina Simone, The Drifters, Wilson Pickett, Luther Vandross and backing-up Elvis Presley in concert and recordings throughout the last eight years of his life. Perhaps the most famous back-up group in history, The Sweet Inspirations were also solo artists with seven albums on Atlantic, Stax and RSO Records from 1967 – 79.

Originally from Newark, New Jersey and members of the New Hope Baptist Church, Cissy Houston (mother of Whitney Houston, and aunt of Dee Dee Warwick and Dionne Warwick) was the first member of The Sweets. Houston had been a member of the gospel group The Drinkard Singers before forming a back-up session group with Dionne and Dee Dee Warwick and Doris Troy in the early sixties. Soon, however, Dionne and Dee Dee began having success as solo artists and left the group. Sylvia Shemwell then joined the group and the girls quickly found their way onto records with the likes of Wilson Pickett, Garnet Mimms and Aretha Franklin, who was then struggling to make a name at Columbia Records. In 1965, Myrna Smith (also from New Hope Baptist Church) and Estelle Brown (from Harlem) came in to form the line-up most remembered today.

The group, known informally in the New York recording community simply as “the girls”, recorded an enormous amount of material as back-up singers for Atlantic Records. In an attempt to keep them in-house and always available to back-up their artists, Atlantic president Jerry Wexler signed “the girls” to make records by themselves and were soon named, The Sweet Inspirations. At first, in order to save money, the label would have The Sweets record their solo vocals over instrumental tracks that were intended for, and discarded by, other artists. As a result, they were often working in keys and with arrangements that were not always best suited to them, but using their inventive musicality, they always managed to make it work.

In the summer of 1967 the Sweet Inspirations recorded versions of “Why (Am I Treated So Bad),” and “Let It Be Me,” which reached number 57 and number 94 on the pop charts respectively. On the R&B charts, moreover, the songs reached number 36 and number 13, establishing the girls as major recording artists. A stunning version of Aretha Franklin’s “Do Right Woman-Do Right Man” was next up, but it failed to chart so closely after it predecessor. By now, the Sweets had recorded enough songs to make their first album, and the title track, “Sweet Inspiration,” became their biggest hit yet. It peaked at number 18 on the pop charts and made it all the way to the Top 5 on the R&B charts. The group went on to record four more albums on Atlantic, often featuring cover versions of older songs including, The Bee Gee’s “To Love Somebody”, the Righteous Brothers’ “Unchained Melody,” and Dionne Warwick’s “What The World Needs Now Is Love”.

In late 1969 the group underwent some radical changes. Cissy Houston left the group in order to pursue a solo career. The group’s fifth album on Atlantic, SWEET SWEET SOUL, was completed by the remaining three Sweet Inspirations and Ann Williams, a friend of Estelle Brown. Throughout this time, the group had been touring the United States but were showcasing more frequently on what was known as the “chitlin circuit”, driving themselves from gig to gig. Tired from the grind, danger and low pay of the road, they jumped at the opportunity for stability when Elvis Presley called and proposed blending their unique gospel vocals and a full orchestra with his rock and roll. For the next eight years they would sing back-up in his concerts and recordings, often opening the show for Elvis.

During this time, they continued recording on Stax Records. After the death of Elvis, The Sweet Inspirations recorded one more album on the RSO label in 1979, then retiring for a period before re-emerging in 1994 to perform worldwide in Elvis Presley tribute concerts including “Elvis - The Concert”. In 1996, Portia Griffin joined the group as lead singer and in 2002 they began recording a new album, IN THE RIGHT PLACE, with producer / composer Peitor Angell on Frixion Records, as documented in THIS TIME. Their first single off the album, “Celebration” reached #32 on the Billboard Club Chart.

PAT HODGES

Los Angeles native Pat Hodges recorded her first record, the single “Playgirl” at age 15 for Keymen Records owner/producer Fred Smith. A few years later, in 1967, she had her first taste of local fame when she recorded ”What’s Happening” with South Central LA’s legendary FIRST WATTS 103RD STREET BAND. After finishing high school, where she sang in the choir and played clarinet in the band, she attended Cal State Los Angeles receiving a BA in Theater Arts and Music. Hodges’ recording career took off in the early 1970’s after signing, along with Denita James and Jessica Smith, to form the group HODGES, JAMES & SMITH.

HODGES, JAMES & SMITH (HJS) was the brainchild of William “Micky” Stevenson who had a vision to create a nightclub act more spectacular than that of the Supremes. Stevenson had been Motown’s director of A&R during the glory years under Berry Gordy. He modeled his training and development of HJS on the time-honored Motown system of “wood shedding”; teaching the girls everything from vocal technique to what is now known as “media training” and grooming them to play the top posh clubs. In 1975 alone, they played the legendary nightspots Copacabana, Hi Chaparral, Twenty Grand, The Roxy, Disco 9000 and The Troubadour as well as singing back-up and opening for Ann-Margret in Las Vegas.

Although much of the history of HJS has been lost to memory, their first single was ‘Nobody’ on Stevenson’s Mpingo label. He then signed HJS to 20th Century Records recording the album INCREDIBLE in 1973 and, in 1975, POWER IN YOUR LOVE. In 1976, they signed with London Records recording the albums WHAT’S ON YOUR MIND and WHAT HAVE YOU DONE FOR LOVE. Although the last two albums received much promotion, including a stint on SOUL TRAIN, the timing of the act, with it stylishly sophisticated harmonies and grand orchestrations, was not in sync with the direction the music industry was heading at the time – the emergence of beat-heavy disco – and was not embraced by the record-buying public.

The lack of record sales, though, did not entirely douse the HJS flame as they continued traveling, with much success as a live act in Japan, Italy and the UK. They also sang back-up for many other acts including Bobby Womack and Sylvester. But after a few more years of career frustrations and internal discord, Pat Hodges left the group and the trio disbanded.

On her own, Hodges recorded a number of songs under her own name, including “Love At First Bite” from the movie FLY BY NIGHT for Casablanca Records. She sang on cruise ships and began to work as an actress appearing on LA LAW, BAYWATCH, EQUAL JUSTICE, COP ROCK, THE PRACTICE, and the Showtime Original Movie, THE RIOT starring Mario Van Peebles and Cicely Tyson. She has also appeared on stage in many plays and musicals including her portrayal of Bessie Smith in SANG SISTA SANG, the BLUES BROTHERS SHOW at Universal Studios Hollywood and her recent one woman show, BESSIE AND FRIENDS.

In 1997, Pat Hodges began recording with producer/composer Peitor Angell on Frixion Records. Together they created three top ten singles on the Billboard Club Chart: “You Make Me Feel G-O-O-D”, “Love Revolution” and “Saving My Love” which stayed at #3 on the Billboard Club Chart for two straight weeks.

BOBBY BELFRY

A native of Long Island, Bobby Belfry is an award winning singer/songwriter, whose latest album, LIVE: IN THE HEART OF THE UNIVERSE has recently been released to great response. The live CD/DVD combination, features songs written and performed by Belfry and his band the last several years on the New York club scene. “LIVE” is garnering airplay on Free FM in New York and around the USA along with Belfry’s debut album IMPERFECT RHYMES. Chuck Taylor of Billboard Magazine wrote: “Bobby Belfry is one to savor, embrace and lend the hand of fame to…smooth jazz outlets will have a ball with this shrewd offering.” Two cuts from IMPERFECT RHYMES have been included on a popular jazz compilation, IN LOVE WITH JAZZ, released in Poland and Korea in 2009.

In the mid-1980’s, Belfry was lead singer of the rock band TELL which played New York City area clubs including The Cat Club, China Club and CBGB’s. He worked briefly as an actor in musical theater, eventually leading him to Brandy’s piano bar on the Upper East Side where he has worked as a singing bartender for 15 years, belting out everything from Springsteen to Gershwin. Belfry returned to writing his own songs in 1999 and has since brought his unique brand of emotion driven rock-cabaret to Feinstein’s at the Regency, The Metropolitan Room, Lincoln Center, Town Hall, The Russian Tea Room, The Rainbow Room, Smoke, The Fairmont Hotel in Dallas, The New Jersey Performing Arts Center, The Kennedy Center, and The Cinegrill in Hollywood.

Belfry has appeared on national television on “The Morning Blend”, a news/talk show on MSNBC, and is a frequent guest on WOR Radio’s The Joey Reynolds Show, whose theme song, penned by Belfry, is played for an audience of 5 million listeners, nightly.

Belfry is the recipient of the Back Stage Bistro Award for Outstanding Vocalist. IMPERFECT RHYMES and “So What”, a cut off the album, were 2nd and 3rd place finalists for the Just Plain Folks Independent Music Awards, in a field of 10,000 submissions. He has also received the MAC Award for outstanding Pop/R&B Vocalist and several Critics Choice Vocalist Awards.

In 2012 Belfry released a new CD entitled “One Lucky Day” with The David Budway Trio and became the newest member of the 1960’s singing group The Duprees.

PEITOR ANGELL

Peitor Angell has been writing, arranging and producing music for records, film and television for over twenty years. Born in Iowa, he began his formal training on piano at age six. At age nine he moved with his family to Italy where he continued his studies with Arturo Rubenstein protégé Josephine Brandt in Florence.

Angell has the unique ability to embrace multiple genres and styles with a knowing affection, freshness and attention to detail rarely seen. Primarily self-trained in both classical and contemporary music, he considers himself fundamentally a conceptualist. Angell explains, “I love the adventure of searching for and discovering an intriguing combination of elements for whatever I am working on. I enjoy creating music that is delightfully unexpected.”

Nowhere is this more evident than in his two unique Summer 2010 releases for alter-ego Monte Carlo & His Orchestra, the first of which features an original soundtrack composed for a 1960’s motion picture which has never been made, KISS YESTERDAY GOODBYE. Even though the movie does not exist, Angell assures his listeners, “The film’s beautiful story inspired me to compose a score which ensures that everyone will be able to see the movie in their imagination as they listen to the music.” The second CD continues his work in the 60’s Pacific Coast Jazz genre fused with a European flavor. THE INTERNATIONAL SET features Kristi Rose on vocals in French, Italian, German and English.

For film, Angell scored Columbia/Tri Stars’ THE VELOCITY OF GARY (starring Salma Hayek, Ethan Hawke & Vincent D’Onofrio), Sony Picture Classic’s FACADE (starring Eric Roberts) and Fox/Searchlight’s MAN OF THE YEAR. His songs are featured in numerous films including, the United Artists Release, IT’S MY PARTY (starring Eric Roberts and Gregory Harrison) and Fox/Searchlight’s THE CLEARING (starring Robert Redford and Helen Mirren).

For television, he has written for many shows including ENTERTAINMENT TONIGHT, AMERICAN MOVIE CLASSICS, MISS TEEN U.S.A., MISS U.S.A. as well as MISS UNIVERSE, ORDINARY EXTRAORDINARY, INTIMATE PORTRAITS, The Sci-Fi Channel, Montel Williams, and The History Channel just to name a few.

For live performance, he wrote the theme and finale music for the Olympic Ice Skaters at Madison Square Garden, “Angels On Ice”, directed jazz standards for Pat Hodges at the Beverly Hills Four Seasons, and programmed drum & bass tracks for “The Main Event” in TIMELESS, Barbra Streisand’s Millineum New Years’ Eve concert in Las Vegas.

Peitor Angell began working in New York City in the 1980’s, writing, arranging and/or producing for recording artists including THE IDOLLS, SHANGHIA EXPRESS and NOCERA whose “Let’s Go!” went to #7 on the Billboard Dance Chart.

In 2000, he started indie label Frixion Records in Los Angeles. In addition to Frixion artists Pat Hodges and The Sweet Inspirations who appear in THIS TIME, Angell has recently written, produced and/or remixed for artists including Thelma Houston (the Shoutfactory release A WOMAN’S TOUCH), Charo’s latest Top 20 Billboard Hit, “Espana Cani”, MCA’s, Chante Moore, and Res. As seen in THIS TIME, the songs he’s written and produced for Pat Hodges include“You Make Me Feel Good” (Top 20 Billboard Club Chart for 6 weeks), “Love Revolution” (#9 on the Billboard Club Chart) and “Saving My Love” (2 weeks at #3 on the Billboard Club Chart). He also produced IN THE RIGHT PLACE, the entirely new CD for label mate The Sweet Inspirations, with its lead-off Top 20 Billboard Hit single, “Celebration”.

CISSY HOUSTON

Cissy Houston started singing at the age of five with the family gospel group, the Drinkard Singers, in Newark, New Jersey. She is mother to the late singer and actress Whitney Houston, aunt of Dionne and Dee Dee Warwick and a cousin of Leontyne Price. After years of singing gospel, she crossed over into the pop world by forming the group The Sweet Inspirations with Estelle Brown, Sylvia Shemwell and Myrna Smith. In 1969, when the Sweet Inspirations were asked to backup Elvis Presley on tour, Houston left the group to perform on her own and to concentrate on raising her family.

In 1969, Houston signed a recording contract with Commonwealth United Records and recorded her solo debut Presenting Cissy Houston which was released in 1970. After her contract was sold to Janus Records, Houston recorded several more singles in the early 1970’s and another album, which included the original recording of Jim Weatherly's "Midnight Train to Georgia," later a number one hit for Gladys Knight & The Pips.

In 1977 Houston signed with Private Stock Records where she recorded the disco hit "Think It Over," which climbed to #32 on the Billboard R&B chart. She represented the USA at the World Popular Song Festival in 1979 with a track called "You're the Fire," landing second place and winning the Most Outstanding Performance Award. In 1996 Houston received the Grammy Award for Best Traditional Soul Gospel Album for Face to Face.

When her daughter Whitney Houston skyrocketed to superstardom, those in the music industry knew that Whitney's role model was her mother with whom she performed numerous times over the years. In 1996 Cissy Houston contributed a song to the gospel soundtrack album for Whitney Houston’s film The Preacher's Wife.

In 1998 Cissy Houston won her second Grammy for her album He Leadeth Me. For many years, she has been the choir director of the New Hope Baptist Church in Newark, New Jersey.

VICTOR MIGNATTI

director / producer

Film director Victor Mignatti specializes in comedy with a strong heartfelt emotional hook as well as documentary work notable for a sensitive and honest cinema-verite style coupled with moving, intimate and revealing interviews. Mignatti has directed everything from singing gangsta’s in the ‘hood and Sondheim-obsessed college grads in Greenwich Village to what is perhaps the most famous pimple cream commercial ever made. He occasionally works in reality television as a producer/director.

His feature film work includes the Award-Winning romantic comedy BROADWAY DAMAGE which critic Rex Reed called, “One of the best American Independent films in years.” Mignatti was nominated for a Grammy A100ward as director of the pop-culture phenomenon R. Kelly’s TRAPPED IN THE CLOSET 13-22 distributed by IFC. This outrageous “hip-hopera” was the Billboard #1 platinum music video DVD in sales 5 weeks in a row, inspired countless blogs and two major articles in the New York Times, which called it “extraordinarily entertaining.” TRAPPED is one of the most viewed music videos in Internet history.

He brings to his work a solid postproduction background as an editor and multi-faceted directing experience in a variety of disciplines including feature film, television, commercial, music video, documentary and internet content. Having studied film at New York University and acting at Circle in the Square, Mignatti. He often edits his own work as well as working as an editor only.

In addition to THIS TIME, his other documentary work includes the award winning films ACLU: 75th ANNIVERSARY, celebrating the 75th year of the American Civil Liberties Union and GMHC: A PORTRAIT, a sobering look at the fabled AIDS service agency.

Recent commercial work includes spots for clients such as Macy’s, Estee Lauder, Bloomberg, People’s Choice Awards, History Channel, Major League Soccer, Kirshenbaum Bond and DraftFCB. In the realm of “real people” programming, he directed the People’s Choice Award nominated MTV’s THE REAL WORLD NEW ORLEANS and other reality programs, specials and pilots. In 2009, he produced and directed the hit season of MTV’s THE REAL WORLD BROOKLYN.

Mignatti majored in film production at New York University then launched his career in the sound department of Du-Art Film Labs where he enjoyed the opportunity to study the dailies of Martin Scorsese, Woody Allen and the Maysles Brothers. Later, at Jupiter Films, he met TV commercial impresario Mason Boyd who encouraged him to edit by assigning him director’s cuts of commercials. He has edited for such clients as CBS News, ABC News, Cyndi Lauper, Pink Floyd, Anne Klein, Ralph Lauren, Elizabeth Arden and Showtime. Gradually some of his editing clients gave him a shot at directing commercials. Since then he has become known for his tongue-in-cheek point of view, directing spots for such clients as Macy’s, Sega Genesis, Lifesavers, Cablevision, PBS, Major League Soccer and Dreyfus Financial, his favorite being the notorious Clearasil “Pizza Face” spot that ran for years on MTV.

Mignatti has also directed many award-winning public service announcements and image films. His work is in the permanent collections of the UCLA Film and Television Archive, The Paley Center for Media, the Museum of the City of New York and the Clinton Presidential Archives.

MARK BOWER

producer

Mark Bower was born and raised in Baltimore and attended Emory University, in Atlanta, where he majored in philosophy and economics with a minor in history. For almost a decade, he has worked in the financial industry in New York City, focusing his efforts on international investments, with an emphasis on the developing world. Bower has traveled to five continents and almost forty countries while evaluating potential investments.

A long time fan of movies and the movie business, Bower has been following with great interest the evolution of the independent film industry and the growth of new methods of distribution. "This Time" is his first feature film production. Bower also serves as a director and consultant to Life & Soul Pictures, a production company based in London focused on family and faith based films. He speaks Portuguese , French and Italian and currently resides in Brooklyn.

PRODUCTION / TECHNICAL NOTES

THIS TIME was filmed over a period of 4 1/2 years in Los Angeles, New York City, Atlanta, Boston, Las Vegas, Nyack and Long Island.

Photography and sound recordings were made simultaneously by Victor Mignatti, as a crew of one, filming nearly 300 hours of footage. The only time there was an assistant or additional crew was during scenes that involved large crowds such as nightclubs, casinos, bars and public spaces when large numbers of appearance releases needed to be signed. In those instances there were Release Coordinators / Production Assistants.

The film was imaged in the Pal DVCAM format using a Sony PD-150 shooting in the 16X9 anamorphic mode. Except for a handful of interview sequences, the film was shot direct-cinema / cinema verite style entirely in available light, on rare occasions pushing the gain to +12db. During the first six months of filming, audio was recorded using only the camera microphone, then a single wireless body microphone was added. As the budget increased, 3 Sennheiser Evolution G2 wireless mics and a Sound Devices mixer were added, mixing to one track of the PD-150 with a Sennheiser camera mounted shotgun feeding the other track. Certain live performance and recording studio scenes were simultaneously recording stereo board-feeds to a Sony HD-Mini Disc recorder in the PCM mode or to the house CD burner or DAT recorder.

The film was edited by Mignatti on Final Cut Pro, using LaCie fire-wire 800 hard drives and output as a single strand sequence in reels to DV-CAM tape, except for graphics and FX sequences which were output in separate strands. Digital Intermediate, conforming and compositing were performed by Goldcrest Post in New York. Extensive color-correction and scene painting was performed by master colorist John J. Dowdell, III on a Quantel IQ in the Goldcrest DI Theater. Still photographs were re-animated in the Quantel. Motion graphics were created in Live-Type and After Effects. The film is mastered in High Definition SR and is prepped for film out.

Sound editing and mixing were also performed at Goldcrest by supervising sound editor Michael Suarez and re-recording mixer Peter Waggoner in Goldcrest’s Theater A in 5.1 Surround.

THIS TIME



FAN MAIL

 

What a film, what a feat and a treat!! It was such tremendous insight into the music artist experience - so intimate, colorful, and actually ... inspirational.
KENNY

This movie is magical! It truly makes you have a deep feeling of hope and joy and also to remember to never EVER give up your dreams, no matter how hard the tests or how long the wait. It's fun, deep, kind, true and STRONG in its message and if that where not enough: the music is FANTASTIC!!! I LOVED IT!
ERIC

At once uplifting and brutally honest, "This Time" is a heartfelt peek into the hearts of those who dare to dream...and that most important element of the human condition... hope, pure and simple.
SCOTT

A moving and inspiring work. A rare and intimate invitation into the lives of musicians struggling with the creative process and the challenges of the business. I loved it.
GARRY

It’s weeks after I saw THIS TIME, and it’s still with me. I really felt that I was right in there with those totally full-of-life characters, right with them on their journey.

It touches on so many themes that anybody who’s wanted more than what they have right now can understand—what it takes to reach a dream, how to get out of your own way, keep hope alive, work with others, and deal with regret. And finally, THIS TIME is about how to live a life and find joy as you reach for that dream. It has a wonderfully combination of the inspirational, cautionary, and delightful—all at the same time.
FRANCIS

Honest and Inspiring. Makes you want to fight for these artists and their success, in every way. The intertwined stories of the cast provided great insight into the hard work and dedication needed to make it in Music and Show business. Even with the star power of Elvis behind you, a little luck goes a long way! Very captivating and entertaining. I can't wait for the soundtrack!
GEORGE

Your movie is very powerful! I enjoyed the film just as much the second time as I did the first time. My friend Frantz was also very moved by the film. After the film ended, I turned to him and asked him what he thought, he couldn't respond, and tears just welled up in his eyes. I especially loved Bobby, he seems like such a great person with so much to give. I would buy his cd on the spot after seeing this film.
FRANK

It is a powerful film. The subjects in your movie are all such strong and interesting people, and you intimately captured a depth of the multi-faceted struggle they are going through as they pursue their art. I'm glad to have been at the screening and to have had the opportunity to see the film with such a good audience. It looked great. It's hard to believe all of that was just one guy with a camera!

I was very impressed by the film. The material, the story, and the emotional involvement with the characters are all very captivating. All of the characters are such inspiring people. The film does a great job of demonstrating what talented artists all of the characters are and getting you invested in them emotionally so that you really feel for them (and with them) as the challenges and obstacles and losses pile up. Then, by the end, each of them rises up and shines with determination and inspiration that you feel in your guts. I was (pleasantly) surprised to see how much it is a film about faith, in dreams as much as in God. It is an impressive and moving film.
RICK

As over-the-top as it sounds, “This Time” changed my life. To see the struggles, heartaches and highs of being an artist - hearing Peitor Angell say "you have to be a warrior with dreams"- encouraged me to take my painting seriously, and to become an advocate for myself as an artist. The portraits of the Sweet Inspirations and other singers - other artists - captures the sometimes painful process of creativity and the reality of today's marketplace. “This Time” is a terrifically moving film, and not to be missed. Thank you for making a film that kicked me in the butt!!!!
CYNTHIA

It was shocking to realize just how much The Sweet Inspirations have been in the background of most of my favorite music. The film tells their story with a fearless grace, revealing fiercely talented women who can't get out of their own way long enough to achieve the success that is so obviously their birthright. I was surprised at how quickly I became drawn in by the emotional storytelling and how thoroughly I was invested in the lives of these amazing artists by the time the end credits rolled.
LUKE

Every bit as gripping and cathartic as 'Standing In The Shadows of Motown...' this documentary deftly weaves the stories of Bobby Belfry, the Sweet Inspirations and Pat Hodges to poignantly illustrate that for every success in the music industry, there are equal parts tragic fall and inspirational comeback.
JONAS

The film had a high energy level that kept me hooked to the screen. The characters were real and touched my emotions. Throughout the movie, I rooted for each character to achieve success and felt loss when they failed to achieve their goals.
ANIS

LOVED. The two hours flew by and I really cared about those talented people in the end.
TOM

A real treat for the ears. I have a whole new appreciation for those who struggle both financially and emotionally to entertain us.
LISA

Truly awesome and moved me... the photography is very beautiful, and beautifully detailed as you gave a very "intimate portrait" of the delicate nature of these brilliant performers. Bravo!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
GEOFF

Your film was so amazing.
DAVE

The movie is great, the characters, music and messages!
ROB

I really enjoyed the movie. It was so full of hope and funny too.
JOHN

I just wanted to congratulate you on a splendid review of artists' passion and the hard time it takes to feed the fire. Most of all, I wish you all the best to Peitor Angell, Bobby Belfry, the Sweet Inspirations, and Pat Hodges. The forum you afforded these professional artists moved and inspired me and left me with a deep and lasting impression of their enormous will. Sometimes it is hard to remember that one does not have to stop a tragedy to be a hero.
PATRICK

Your film is wonderful. I felt so many things listening to Pat Hodges, the Sweet Inspirations, Peitor Angell and Bobby Belfry. I have a small store in Soho - I felt like I would like to carry the sweet inspirations - and the Pat Hodges cd....but alas the Pat Hodge - why is it not out? Would not even a small group of songs be enough? Thanks again - it was wonderful.
MEG

The movie was phenomenal. I'd like to highlight the ways in which it was extremely interesting.

The cinematography gave this immediate sense that you were right there in the studio or in the club or at the church or in the car with Bobby or at his cabaret performances... it was very real......there was no sense that the cameramen were intruding or making a movie or artificial.

All artists are metaphors for all human beings who strive to excel and in large part never reach the stratosphere of extreme recognition and achievement....and so even the most insignificant musing by Bobby or Portia or Pat or Myrna or anybody was actually full of significant and application to everyone's personal lives where we all struggle to reach higher ground...

the juxtaposition of two seemingly disparate situations of artists were formerly the top of their field and an artist who never really blew up was intriguing...

the music was amazing and personalities of Pat and girls are magnetic.....
MO

THIS TIME was a delightful treat. It was both sweet and inspirational! I felt like a voyeur in witnessing the behind the scenes of the hard work it takes to mount a musical endeavor, "comeback", or even an "I'm still here, damn it!" I found myself rooting for each singer musician. It was especially moving to learn of the hit making Sweet Inspirations successes from back in the day and see where they are today, strokes and all. I know I will be making a special trip to Manhattan's Upper East Side to go to Brandy's piano bar to root for Bobby Belfry and sing along!
GARY

THIS TIME is great! Fantastic sound track and such gripping story-lines that you can't help but get emotionally invested in the characters' struggles and triumphs.
BRIAN

Oh! the music! It is so wonderful I wanted the film to go on and on and on.
BARBARA

I loved the film. The Sweet Inspirations are Fantastic!
ELIZABETH

It's hard for most of us to think that stardom isn't the goal of every performer. However, in the very loving hands of writer/director Victor Mignatti, “This Time” introduces us to a disparate group of performing artists whose careers comfortably nestle around the fringes of celebrity. Edited to perfection, we watch the “everyman” struggle unfold of being true to oneself while balancing all the expectations and doubts we harbor within. What results is a story that is as much heartwarming and uplifting as it is tribute to the indomitability of the human spirit.
BILL

"This Time" takes the viewer on an eloquent, emotional and extremely entertaining journey inside the minds and lives of several musical artists dealing with the highs and lows, trials and tribulations and successes and failures of devoting their lives to the volatile world of the current music business in the 21st century. While documenting and contrasting artists such as formerly famous and successful backup singers for international superstar hit makers but who end up homeless, or a struggling pop singer-songwriter working in a cabaret bar to make ends meet, or a music producer striving to create a comeback hit, director Victor Mignatti expertly brings the viewer inside their various worlds while also giving us an exciting soundtrack full of infectious fun performances to see and hear. Anyone who is an aspiring musical artist or a music lover or fan should see this film.
ELLIOT

You've put together a film that is not only visually beautiful, but incredibly inspiring. I was mesmerized the whole time. The music by all the artists is great and the message that they bring is clear. For me it was about realizing I have to do what I was put here to do and the discovery of that is as easy as following my passion. What a rich, fulfilling way to live life.
BILLY

This Time helps convey something essentially American about struggling in the pursuit of one's deepest held dreams. I think the film's explorations of success and vocation and faith and heart will resonate with a wide audience. The struggle is especially intense for performers -- and I think this movie captures a slice of the capriciousness and brutality of the music industry well.

We see in the film how one can be 'on top' by some measures, like having a hit record, and still be nowhere by other measures, like financial security. There is no success in show biz that inures one to financial stress or career dips, or self-doubt. Frankly there is no success in any industry that does that, though we pretend there is. In the music business there is no pretending. What we see in the film is that its subjects are forced, time and again, to confront their own definitions of success, to re-consider their choices, to re-commit to their careers, to accept or reject standard markers of who and how they should be. It seems to strengthen them, even in the face of setbacks. (And it's interesting that faith -- in an outside source, in themselves, in each other, in the value of their art -- comes up for all the subjects as an anchor amid that constant re-examination.)

I think in this country we're still ingesting the '50s stories about how life is in America, and we cling fast to them. Stories like: 'if you're good at what you do, you will naturally ascend'; 'once you hit your stride you are set for life'; 'you have total control of your success or failure'. I had a very interesting conversation at a post-screening gathering with one of your friends, whose subconscious operating mantra seems to go something like: 'setbacks happen to other people because of their poor decisions, but they won't happen to me, because I won't make those mistakes'. I think this film challenges that notion, especially the story line about the producer credit. We see in the film that the best laid plans can be upended, and that many of our assumptions are false. Doing what you love, without structure and progress, is not gratifying in and of itself. Great singing is gratifying, but clearly doesn't necessarily lead to money or fame. Fame by itself wasn't success for anyone in the movie. Working hard doesn't necessarily lead to financial reward or career advancement. Being savvy about the business and having a written contract doesn't make other people honor it.

In the end, it seems like the focus shifts from the external rewards everyone is still actively seeking to the internal rewards they have already created for themselves; staying connected to the essential truth of one's dreams, keeping an open heart amid the daily toil, building the sort of character which allows one to survive and thrive no matter what the weather brings.
ELAINE

 

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