If you don’t know Shane Leonard or his company Solid Rock Studios by name, you’ve probably been introduced to his work through the numerous community videos he’s produced over the years.
Hailing from Pt. Pleasant, W.Va., Leonard has donated his talents to a variety of Gallia County organizations to create “docupromos” in an effort to help them spread their message to the masses and promote their activities. Some of the local organizations include Gallia CPR, God’s Hands at Work, Field of Hope and his church.
Now, after 10 years of honing his craft, Leonard is ready to launch into producing his first feature-length documentary and, like most independent filmmakers, he has launched a crowdfunding campaign to help fund the project. In exchange, Leonard is offering supporters different levels of involvement in the production, ranging from shout-outs to visits to the set, depending on the tier they choose.
What is the name of the film and what is about?
“Mandolin Rain” tells the story of master mandolin luthier Jonathan McClanahan. A luthier is someone who builds or repairs string instruments. In McClanahan’s case, he has built guitars and mandolins for musicians all over the world, both as a luthier for Gibson’s custom shop for 20 years and through his own business. The film not only features McClanahan’s skills as a master luthier, but also the trials he’s faced over the years to get where he is today.
Why this story?
McClanahan got his start as a craftsman right across the river in Pt. Pleasant, W.Va., where he would make pocket knives, pipes and walking canes in his youth. Leonard graduated with McClanahan from Pt. Pleasant High School in 1989 and, while they lost touch over the years, they reconnected through Facebook and Leonard discovered the young man he remembered making custom pocket knife handles had taken those skills to Nashville and grew into a talented master luthier.
When he decided it was time to pursue his first feature-length documentary, Leonard wanted to focus on a local story.
I think we’ve got a lot of stories in this area,” said Leonard. “I think our community is just loaded with them. There’s not a lot of people around here to tell them, at least in video. Jonathan’s story had all those charms. It was a local story. It was kind of a rags to riches story. Jonathan has that southern hometown charm to him and he’s a master craftsman at what he does. You’ve got the music piece. You’ve got craftsmanship. You’ve got a story of a small hometown boy making it in Nashville.”
In addition to telling McClanahan’s story and making his mark as a documentary filmmaker, Leonard’s hope is “Mandolin Rain” kickstarts a filmmaking movement in the region.
“I’m really hoping that Mandolin Rain is a jump-off point where people take filmmaking more serious in this area and start to look at it as a viable source of employment. Just something different we can do in this community. I really believe in a bigger calling in all this. I’d like to see filmmaking make its way into Gallia County and Mason County in a larger way. We live in an impoverished, drug-ridden area, that sometimes feels a little hopeless sometimes. Sometimes, I’m not saying all of the time, but sometimes,” said Leonard. “We could use new, fresh ideas. New, fresh types of employment out there. I want to bring filmmaking to this area in a bigger way. We need something else. The factories are gone. People are desperate. They’re moving away. They can’t find jobs or employment, they’re turning to drugs. We need something else.”
Mandolin Rain is Leonard’s first crowdfunding attempt for a project, which is common with independent films, but he didn’t just want to ask people for money. He wanted to make sure they were able to be a part of the process. Each level comes with a perk, ranging from an online thank you to credit as a backer in the film, depending on the level chosen.
Funding the project will also help create jobs, as Leonard will be using the majority of the funds to hire crew members. The remainder of the funds will be used for promotion of the documentary, as well as additional equipment that might be needed.
“Filmmaking is expensive and to do it right is expensive. Could you go out and film something with your phone and probably make a documentary work? Well, sure. You could do anything with as little as you want, but what does it look like?” said Leonard. “In order to tell a beautiful story via video, it takes money. It would be really cool at the end of the day to say we made this awesome film, we made it entirely from local funds, about a local guy and it’s all about our community.”
To help Leonard make the project a reality, visit https://www.indiegogo.com/projects/mandolin-rain-a-documentary-film
Mandolin Rain Facebook page – https://www.facebook.com/RAINMANDOLINS/