January 31, 2009

Spirit doc searching for funding; June premier targeted

Filmmaker-piper John MacDonald of Pasadena, California, is still searching for enough funding for his documentary on the Spirit of Scotland Pipe Band for a premier and ongoing screening of the movie in Scotland in the summer of 2009.
Entitled ON THE DAY, the documentary follows the band during its one and only week together so far in August 2008, as the group of more than 40 pipers and drummers assembled and practiced for the Grade 1 World Pipe Band Championship at Glasgow Green. [Disclosure: the editor of pipes|drums is a Spirit of Scotland member.] MacDonald and his crew followed the band almost every step of the way, from initial meetings, to practices, to receiving uniforms, and ending with the band’s celebration after the August 16th contest.
John MacDonald, Pasadena, CaliforniaMacDonald has just completed a sixteenth revision of the near-nine-minute promotional trailer that he has used for fundraising.
Apart from initial funding from a private party that enabled MacDonald and a cameraman to travel to Scotland, he has not obtained additional money, outside of relatively small contributions from the piping and drumming community. He says that the total budget for the film is more than $200,000.
“I have been dumping my personal money into the project to pay for my editor, something my wife is not too happy about – but, hey, she married an artist!” MacDonald said.
The project has non-profit status through a fiscal sponsorship with the International Documentary Association (IDA), making contributions tax-deductible for US residents. Donations can be made via the IDA website, and MacDonald has just launched a website specifically for the project at
While MacDonald had hoped originally that the documentary might be picked up by a major network, he says that there’s not much chance of that happening. “BBC Scotland and the CBC have told me they would not be interested,” MacDonald said. “There’s a glut of documentaries right now and all the TV outlets are being very selective. Bottom line: bagpipes are not sexy enough.”
MacDonald did say that some cable television outlets like Bravo or Discovery might be interested. “Ultimately, I think the film will find its niche audience through word-of-mouth, and hopefully make some money with DVD and download sales.  In the end, very few documentaries even make their money back.”
One of MacDonald’s aims is to complete the documentary for a premier and ongoing screenings at either or both the Edinburgh Film Festival in June and/or Piping Live! in August.
“[The Edinburgh Film Festival] is very prestigious and would be the perfect place to launch the film and get some buzz,” MacDonald continued. “They have expressed an interest in showing the film if I can get it completed in time. It would be great to then premier it at Piping Live! in Glasgow in August.”
Spirit of Scotland competing at the 2008 World Pipe Band Championships [photo: Derek Maxwell] 
MacDonald is a piper with the Grade 4 Pasadena Scottish Pipe & Drums, and is a professional filmmaker with a degree in cinema from the University of Southern California. He has won several awards for his work.
The Spirit of Scotland Pipe Band was put together from some of the world’s top available pipers and drummers in early 2008. The band has played together so far only during the week before the 2008 World Championships, getting through the Qualifying competition and placing eleventh overall in Grade 1. The Spirit of Scotland’s future plans are not known at this time.


  1. aye it will…lets have documentary about a no mark pipe band that didnt get in prize list..thatl really grab the attention of the pipe band world..why not have a film about all the other bands that didnt get in the top 6

  2. oy cammy. put a sock in your puss. you sound like a whingy wean. I hope this film gets made. Not my cup o tea either but still more positive attention for the art. Positive” means good cammy.”

  3. As usual, much ado about nothing. Nobody is going to watch it, except for people already familiar with the Pipe Band world. But, what the hay? Might as well make it anyway…….



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