In some communications over the past two years with pipe organ purists (those who consider digital or combination organs to be abominations) who have cynically praised my film for "celebrating mediocrity", I have simply said that they have failed to grasp what the film was intended to do. After explaining it to them, they were more receptive although still holding grudges against the instruments. Several of them gave me suggestions of pure pipe organs to film next or even suggested a re-make of the film using better instruments!
While I do greatly admire full pipe organs and crave the sound, I also greatly admire companies who produce digital and combination organs -thereby making them more affordable for small or poor church congregations, schools and universities, and even home owners. I ask these people the question "Does it really matter what kind of organ people are playing as long as they are learning the art and keeping it alive? In this economy, with the expense and maintenance costs of full pipe organs, I believe that digital and combination organs have kept the industry alive. They have even protected the pipe organ itself by preserving the art of playing and making organs accessible to more people than ever before. My film doesn't celebrate mediocrity. It celebrates passion.
Therefore, I measure the success of the film by different standards. Has it brought in thousands or even millions from box office and DVD sales? Nope. I haven't even recuperated my production costs. In financial terms, the film was a box office bomb which hasn't even netted a positive return yet. Does that bother me? Absolutely not. I didn't make the film to get rich and be famous.
I have indeed created a name and reputation for myself as well as received commendations from many of the organ community's hierarchy of performers and local / national leaders. My reputation has preceded me in some instances where people I just met ask me "Are you the guy who made that movie about all those organs?". In some cases people have been a little star-struck. In spite of all this attention for myself, my underlying hope is that I become known for my efforts in trying to save the art and beauty of organs (in all their forms) and inspire younger generations to learn how to play them. This film has simply opened the door to that cause for which I stand firmly and will advocate to the best of my ability.
Congruent with this belief, in partnership with Rodgers Instruments Corporation, I have recently finished filming five initial mini-documentaries for an on-going web series featuring young organists. The web series, which will be announced and made available by Rodgers in the coming weeks, showcases young organists who describe their passion for learning and playing the organ. Some of them hope to make a career of it. Some just play for the joy and satisfaction. Regardless of their intentions or what kind of organ they play on, their passion is what matters. This passion is what I believe in and what I want others to see. This passion is what will inspire a new wave of appreciation in younger people.
Let's face it, the organ community and the art is aging....literally. Soon the organ virtuosos of today will be gone and who will the legacy be left to? Will it die? Will it survive? Or will it flourish? I guess that much is up to us. I attended an organ symposium a few years ago in Salt Lake City where this very issue was brought up. A gentleman stood up and with a lot of vigor and emotion in his voice he reproved the pastors, ministers, full-time organists, and others who tell a curious person "No." when they ask to see or play the organ. He said this, more than anything, is killing the art. Being told "No." or "It's too expensive." or "You don't know what you're doing." only reinforces the stigma that "organs are for old people".
The organ isn't some fragile china doll that will break with mishandling. You would have to use a sledge hammer on the console or tap dance on the keys to damage the instrument beyond repair. (Obviously I would be extremely selective of those allowed to enter the pipe chambers.....that goes without saying.) I've been in the factory and have seen how consoles are built. They are solid machines that last decades. There's a better chance that an act of God will destroy the instrument than someone who is simply curious about it. So, if you've ever told someone "No.", then shame on you. You're a hypocrite. How can you advocate for the organ, but deny access of it to those who want to learn. Be open-minded. Be willing to teach. Be willing to inspire the passion.
Hopefully this posts sheds more light on the intention behind the making of this film. After reading this, hopefully those who have seen the film, those who watch it again, or those who watch it for the first time will understand it's message and see the film for what it is. That is how I measure the success of the film. Now you see the bigger picture.