Brookstock gets documentary treatment

Published 10:14 am Wednesday, December 23, 2015

It started out as a reunion and grew into an event for music lovers throughout the community. Brookstock has been a staple of Brookhaven for 15 years, and Shaw Furlow, Don Jacobs and others set out to document it in April.

This past Saturday, “Brookstock: The Documentary” premiered at the Haven Theatre.

“I was very pleased with the way the crowd turned out, and we were pleased with the response from the crowd,” Furlow said. “They laughed at the funny places; they got very quiet in the theater during the poignant places, and they clapped after the musical tunes. They were very into it.”

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The idea for a documentary came to Furlow after his experiences with another film project, “Music from the Shady Side.”

“I was promoting these four local artists, Tony, Andi, Cole and Sam,” Furlow said. “We had a good response to that, and so the idea of making a documentary about Brookstock just sort of hit me one night.

“I then went and called Don Jacobs, who is the head of Brookstock,” he said. “We started talking about it, and I called Kelli Leach, and we just sort of started making a plan. We started working on it probably in April of this past year, and it came out last Saturday.”

The Brookstock Music Festival expanded into a three-day event this year when it took place in July.

“The Thursday night event was the singer-songwriter night where we had six singer-songwriters on stage, and they all did a song just one after another after another,” Furlow said. “We did that at Recess. The following night was Brookstock Too, which is the teen Brookstock. We put in a lot of young bands.”

Saturday night was the big Brookstock concert, and it was held at the FEMA building.

“So it’s three venues, three nights, three different types of music,” he said.

Furlow said the documentary focuses on a personality-based approach that contains interviews with several of the performers. The director for the film was Kelli Leach from Brandon. According to Furlow, bringing Leach into his film projects was something of a happy accident.

“We had a videographer lined up, and suddenly that videographer could no longer be involved in the project,” Furlow said.

He happened to be in conversation one day with Trisha Walker, who is the director of the Delta Music Institute at Delta State University. Walker told Furlow about one of her students, Leach.

“Well as it turned out, Kelli’s brother was playing in my band at Co-Lin, and so we just started talking and boom,” Furlow said. “It fell into place. It was the best thing that happened to me as far as this goes. She really knows her stuff.”

With over two hours of interviews, the group whittled it down and looked at what they thought was important to the story of Brookstock. Furlow credits Leach with all the heavy lifting.

“She has the expertise,” he said. “Don Jacobs and I just sort of pointed her in a direction every now and then. As producer, I guess that’s what my job is, to sort of oversee it and make sure it gets done. But Kelli and I shared the same vision.”

Furlow said the team worked on the film right up to Saturday’s premier, and they hadn’t given much thought to what would happen after. Furlow suggested that they might enter the film into state competitions before making a full release, but he did say some kind of release is coming.

“I think eventually we’ll have DVDs. Maybe we’ll even have it up on the Internet. I don’t know what all we’re going to do with it yet.”

“Brookstock: The Documentary” was funded by the community. Furlow said more than 35 members of the community responded after he asked for contributions on Facebook, and the film would have never been made without their help.

“You go to downtown areas in most cities this size, and they all look like ghost towns, but Brookhaven’s downtown is vibrant,” Furlow said. “The people are proud of their city, and their pride shows by helping fund projects like this, which they certainly didn’t have to do. If they hadn’t, the project wouldn’t have been made. If the people who love Brookhaven and love Brookstock hadn’t come through with the funding, then this project would have never been made.”