...At least, that is what I thought I was going to do, until the first interviews I had with them. But let me backtrack a little.
It took from 1983, when I contacted Charles at the NYPO, to 2008 to bring this project into being. Over those years, I was a professional writer, not a video producer. Charles and I maintained a friendship over that long stretch of time, but there was no talk about a film.
In 1995, I began working as a part-time writer on contract for a small production company in Northern Virginia. I took some video production classes at a local cable access station in Fairfax so it would help my writing. I remember thinking at that time about someday making a film about the Rex brothers. You know, a short little film about these two amazing musicians who happened to be brothers. I remember Charles inviting me up to New York in 1996 for the premiere performance of The Paulus Double Concerto. I planned to go, but fell ill and had to miss it. Thoughts of a film fell by the wayside as I coped with working full time, raising two boys with my husband Ray, and dealing with a mother with dementia.
Fast forward to 2002. I had by this time been hired as a full time staff scriptwriter at the same small production company. In the summer of 2002, I took a documentary scriptwriting workshop in Maine and was hooked. I wanted to make my own small film at some point. Soon after that, I started talking to Charles about someday making a short documentary about the brothers. I hadn't talked to Chris since 8th grade and wasn't sure if he'd ever be interested in such a project, but Charles seemed interested.
I continued to badger Charles for years about letting me tell the brothers' story in a short film. It wasn't until my husband and I moved to Charlotte, NC, in 2007 that movement toward the making of that film began. Charles and Chris were thinking about performing the Paulus Double Concerto with the South Dakota Symphony Orchestra at some point. I knew that part of the story would include their father, a man I had met back when I was in junior high school with the brothers. I remembered their father being a charming but rather imposing figure, but I had no idea how much he figured in their lives. Charles was hoping to have a piece composed by his father premiered with the South Dakota Symphony on the same program as the Paulus. This all sounded interesting and doable to me, especially since this was going to be a very short film.
Brother Chris seemed interested in the idea of capturing all of this on film, so in the winter of 2008, I traveled to Atlanta to do a preliminary interview with Chris. What happened that day changed the entire course of the film. As Chris began to describe his relationship with his father and the turmoil that that relationship had caused him throughout his life, I knew this was NOT going to be a short documentary. The tale of the two Rex brothers, their sister Cathy, their mother Betty and their disturbed but brilliant father whom they called Pa, was going to be a complicated, multi-layered film that was not going to be easy to make.
I traveled up to NY a few months later and interviewed Charles. His description of his childhood and the conflicted relationship with his father, proved equally compelling. I was fascinated by the way the two brothers coped with their father's harsh demands and erratic behavior in completely different ways. And yet the camaraderie and love was there between them, along with the exceptional musicianship.
Without a doubt I knew I had to make this film. I knew it was going to take a very long time, but once those two interviews were done, I knew we had a compelling story that needed to be told. And so began an eight-year odyssey. If I had known then what I know now about making a documentary film, it probably would not have been made, but I can say that it has been one of the most incredible and fulfilling experiences of my life.
Attached is a photo of me taken at the Atlanta International Film Festival in April 2016, where we had our premiere of Concerto.