ABC has agreed to televise a documentary about Nashville that was produced by the city itself.
It’s an hour-long film titled “For the Love Of Music: The Story Of Nashville” created by the Convention and Visitors Corporation.
“It’s not a one-hour infomercial or tourist film,” Butch Spyridon says. “It’s a program.”
Spyridon is the CVC’s president and the man behind the film project, credited as its executive producer.
He hired out-of-town director Zach Merck to get a fresh take on the city’s history. Over the course of 18 months, Merck interviewed 30 artists who consider Nashville their home. The documentary starts with the Fisk Jubilee Singers and the origins of the Grand Ole Opry.
As people around the country grow more aware of the city through ABC’s primetime drama “Nashville”, Spyridon says he wanted to “set the story straight.” The town, he says, is not an overnight success or a flash in the pan.
‘The Right Buzz’
“The worst thing that could happen is everybody writes about you for a year and then – next,” he says. “I worry about that.”
Spyridon says the motivation was not about creating more buzz but getting the “right buzz.”
Everything we’re built on is about an authentic, real Americana experience, and there aren’t very many of those destinations left in the country. Disney is a great destination, but it isn’t authentic. Everything about it is fabricated.
The film is clearly also about keeping Nashville from being pigeonholed as just a country music town. Interviewees include Preview Changesrockers like the Kings of Leon and Ben Folds.
Dan Auerbach of the duo The Black Keys appears seated in a studio control room to explain why he moved to Music City.
“There really are no parameters,” Auerbach says in the film. “There are no walls. You can do whatever you want to do in Nashville.”
The film was made for $300,000, paid for by a federal grant originally intended for marketing the city after the 2010 flood. Spyridon says he wasn’t sure how the project would be funded even when the first interviews began.
“It was a gamble, make no mistake,” Spyridon says.
The Convention and Visitors Corporation also didn’t have any distribution deal before production started. At first, the CVC had hoped to go the film festival route and possibly strike a deal with a cable network. Instead it made an agreement with ABC, which won’t charge to air the documentary. Spyridon says that’s huge, considering it cost his agency $100,000 to air a 15 second ad during the premier of the “Nashville” prime time drama last year.
The documentary will be up against stiff competition on a Sunday afternoon Nov. 3 – NFL games on other channels.But Spyridon contends the marketing value is worth several million dollars. And there could be more.
This week the city signed an agreement with a cable network in Australia, which will run the documentary for six months.