Charles Bradley

Starting off on his 62nd birthday, Charles Bradley: Soul of America follows the extraordinary journey of singer Charles Bradley during the electrifying and transformative months leading up to the release of his debut album "No Time for Dreaming." The 74-minute documentary feature premiered at South By Southwest in Austin and went on to play top film festivals around the world including Hot Docs, Best of Hot Docs (Vancouver), Silverdocs, Munich International Film Festival, Montreal International Documentary Festival, Seattle International Film Festival, Melbourne International Film Festival, Milwaukee Film Festival, Woodstock Film Festival and Bonnaroo. The film won a Special Jury Award at Chicago International Music and Movies Festival and continues its festival run at IDFA, CPH:DOX, Leeds and Vienna this fall.


Despite being abandoned as a child, a period of homelessness, the devastating loss of his brother and constant poverty, Charles never gave up on his life long dream to be a professional singer. With the help of producer and Grammy-winner Gabriel Roth (Daptone Records) and musician and label owner Tommy Brenneck (Dunham Records), Charles moved away from the James Brown covers he'd been performing for nearly half a century and focused on finding his own unique voice.


Earning himself an opening spot on tour for Sharon Jones, the biggest artist in the Daptone stable, Charles delivered the most impassioned performances of his life. Coming up during one of the worst economic downturns in history, Charles' heartfelt songs about tragedy, the downfall of the American dream, and hope for a better world resonated with audiences and the impossible dream he chased for 48 years started to become a reality. But, while experiencing his first taste of success, Charles couldn't escape the adversity that had followed him since birth. When the oppressive mortgage on his 87-year-old mother's house threatened to cost him everything, Charles hit a new low.


And then, following his sold out album release show, Charles' life changed completely. Championed by critics and fans alike, "No Time For Dreaming" became one of the most incredible success stories of the year, landing on Rolling Stone magazine's top 50 albums of 2011 and catapulting Charles to over 110 performances in 17 countries on 3 continents over the next year alone. In addition, Bradley picked up coveted gigs at top festivals like ACL and Bonnaroo and lit up television via spots on Jay Leno and Carson Daly. while his music video scored over 2 million hits online and played in rotation on VH1.


Following this unprecedented success, Charles' star has continued to rise. He tours the world year-round to growing crowds, pouring his soul out at each show as if it's his last and stepping off stage to give out teary-eyed hugs and acknowledge the miracle of the journey that Spin calls "…utterly amazing."






Poull Brien

ABOUT THE DIRECTOR


Charles Bradley: Soul of America marks Poull Brien's feature film directorial debut.

Brien met Charles Bradley, the subject of his first feature documentary, while directing the music video for "The World (Is Going Up In Flames)," which nabbed more than 1.5 million views online, was featured in rotation on VH1 and helped catapult the 62-year-old aspiring singer to international fame. He later directed the video for Bradley's "Heartaches and Pain" which premiered on RollingStone.com.

Brien's short narratives and documentaries have played at festivals including SXSW and Tribeca and been licensed for television. For Caroline, a 35 mm short film shot by DP Frank DeMarco (Hedwig and the Angry Inch) was picked up by IFC while Current TV acquired Prom Date, a short documentary on a senior from one of Manhattan's most exclusive private high schools who tried to find her prom date on Craigslist. His short documentary Sundance Celebrity Swag Hunt, following Gary Coleman and Dustin Diamond competing to get the most swag at the Park City fest, premiered at the Sarasota Film Festival and the New York Television Festival and marked the first of many collaborations between Brien and producer Alexander Brough. As a commercial director Brien has worked on various projects for health, real estate, and liquor brands including Bacardi, Bombay Sapphire, Corzo Tequila and Oxley Gin.

A graduate of Northwestern University's Radio, Television and Film program, Brien currently lives in Brooklyn where is he working on the script for his first narrative feature, a thriller set in Mexico.






ABOUT THE PRODUCER/EP


Alex grew up among the mountains of Aspen, Colorado and Vancouver, British Columbia. He started learning about film and the process of production from a young age, working for a production studio in Vancouver at the age of 12. After a career in event planning and promotion, he started working at Studio411, a predominant action sports content provider, as a sales and marketing rep. Recently Alex has been re-inspired by the movie industry. Since September 2010 he has produced six music video's (two featured on Rollingstone.com), five promotional ads, and the feature length documentary, "Charles Bradley: Soul Of America." He is the head of production at The Overthrow Music Authority, and a contributor for TheDailyActivist.com.






ABOUT THE PRODUCTION


Director Poull Brien first heard Charles Bradley's music while doing construction work in Colorado in the summer of 2010. A not so recent graduate of the Radio, TV and Film program at Northwestern University, Brien had essentially given up his dreams of launching a career as a film director when his friend, Alexander Brough, played him Bradley's first single, "The World." Moved by Bradley's heartfelt lyrics as well as the retro production style of the Menahan Street Band, Brien went home and sent an email to Bradley's record label offering to direct a low budget music video for free.

"I thought it would be a fun distraction from pounding nails. I had zero expectations beyond that," said Brien.

Much to his surprise, the next morning Brien heard from Bradley's drummer/songwriter, Homer Steinweiss, who accepted the offer. Two months later and Brien and Brough, who took on the role of producer, were scouting some of the most dangerous streets in Brooklyn.

"After about a week out there, Alex found a map online of the areas with the highest number of homicides in all of New York and it turns out those were the exact places we'd been spending our time," said Brien.

Aiming for authenticity, Brien, Brough and crew moved ahead with the production and although a homicide in broad daylight interrupted filming for a short time, everyone on set survived the video unscathed. Click to View video. Later that evening at Steinweiss' studio, Brien and Bradley forged a connection and talked extensively about Bradley's tragic life and his upcoming debut album.

"When Alex and I left we both knew this was a documentary waiting to happen," said Brien.






PRODUCTION CREDITS



Director
Poull Brien

Executive Producer/Producer
Alexander Brough

Co-Producer
Sam Connelly
Ovasen Post Production

Director of Photography
Stuart McCardle

Additional Camera
John Taws
Jon Chen
Kyle Walling
Valentin Farkasch
Stanislav Mitoussov
Matt Rogers
Arianna Lapenne
Zachary Halberd
Austin Paley
Poull Brien

Editors
Adriana Pacheco
Stuart McCardle
Poull Brien

Assistant Editors
Bob Officer
Keith Overton

Actors
Damani H. Young
Alex Everett

Stylist
Stacey Compton Maga

Sound Recordists
Emilie Jackson
Mitchell Bahr
Spencer Moore
Christopher Fox
Alexander Brough
Austin Paley

Digital Intermediate
Harbor Picture Company

Supervising Colorist
Zak Tucker

Colorist
Roman Hankewycz

Digital Intermediate Producer
Kellan Anderson

Title Animation
BigStar

Title Design
Robert S. Dunbar

Post Sound Facility
Ovasen Post Production

Dialogue Editor
Eli Cohn

Sound Effects Editor
Jeff Formosa

Re-recording Sound Mixer
Martin Czembor

Continuity Spotter
Sasha Awn

Online Editor
Laura Sinnott

Supervising Sound Editor
Mark Garcia

Administrative Coordinator
Jane Zvarygina

Additional Music Composers
Dylan Lauzon
Alastair Sims
Jay Hodgson

Production Vehicle Rental
Lost Soul Film Cars

Interns
Peter Hahn
Puneesh Suri
Elli Delsart
Kevin D. Ward
Ian Soroka
Krysten Pollard

Publicity Consultant
Emily Spitale

Poster Design
Robert S. Dunbar

Poster Photography
Jon Chen

Web Design
Aaron Millman
Steve Macleod
Jeff Mann