Back to IndieWire

Project of the Day: Story of Under-the-Radar Soul Singer Syl Johnson

Project of the Day: Story of Under-the-Radar Soul Singer Syl Johnson

Here’s your daily dose of an indie film in progress; at the end of the week, you’ll have the chance to vote for your favorite.

In the meantime: Is this a movie you’d want to see? Tell us in the comments.

“Syl Johnson: Any Way The Wind Blows

Tweetable Logline:

A documentary about the best soul singer you’ve ever heard–even if you’ve never heard of him.

Elevator Pitch:

In this documentary we invite you into the world of a man who might be
the best soul singer you’ve never heard of. But you have heard his music
already, even though you might not realize it.

Syl Johnson had effectively left his music career behind him by the
early 90s when he learned that many hip-hop artists were sampling his
songs. Now—at nearly 80—Syl’s back on stage, Grammy-nominated, and not
shy about getting his credit where it’s due.

Our film follows Syl’s life from 2009 through today, incorporating
interviews, animation and archival material to illuminate his life and

Production Team:

Rob Hatch-Miller (Director) – Rob’s short films Republican Dad and A Man
Named Magick have screened at Rooftop Films, the Sebastopol Documentary
Film Festival and New York’s Anthology Film Archives and are available
online from Snag Films. He’s also worked on award-winning documentary
features such as The Oath, The House I Live In and André Gregory: Before
And After Dinner. Since 2010 Rob has worked with writer/director Tom
Scharpling as a producer and editor on music videos for Aimee Mann, Wild
Flag, Titus Andronicus, The New Pornographers and many others.

Puloma Basu (Producer) – Puloma’s first job in the film industry was on
Mira Nair’s film The Namesake. Since then she’s worked on numerous TV
shows including Bored To Death and Flight Of The Conchords and feature
films such as Brooklyn’s Finest, Arbitrage and Kill Your Darlings. She
works with Rob as a producer on music videos by Tom Scharpling (host of
The Best Show On WFMU).

Michael Slaboch (Producer) – Michael’s work at the Chicago reissue label
The Numero Group has given him the tremendous opportunity to share
rediscovered artists, music, films, and photographs with new audiences
around the world. He’s also a historical judge for the national chapter
of the Grammys and an adjunct faculty member at Columbia College Chicago
in their recording arts and documentary film programs.

About the Production:

Learning about Syl’s life creates a unique opportunity for people to
consider the history of race in America, the complexities of the music
business, and issues of creative ownership and compensation. This is more than just the story of a forgotten musician finding success
late in life. Syl is a deeply complex person and an ideal subject for a
documentary. He is, in turns, charming and combative, playful and
arrogant, paranoid and wise. We want to make a film that explores Syl
Johnson’s story with depth and honesty, while also introducing his music
to a wider audience.” — Rob Hatch-Miller

Current Status:


For more information and to support this project:

Production Company Website

Kickstarter Campaign

Be sure to check out our curated Kickstarter page for more information on projects we think you should check out.

If you have an in-the-works project and you’d like to be profiled in an
upcoming iW Project of the Day column, submit yourself by filling out this form!

Sign Up: Stay on top of the latest breaking film and TV news! Sign up for our Email Newsletters here.

This Article is related to: Toolkit and tagged

Get The Latest IndieWire Alerts And Newsletters Delivered Directly To Your Inbox