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East and Western

Documentary on rise of country music in Japan seeks funding

Japanese country musician Charlie Nagatani, from “Far Western”

James Payne, producer of the popular Oklahoma-centric documentaries “Okie Noodling” and “Sweethearts of the Prison Rodeo” (not to mention the viral-hit-writ-large, “Winnebago Man”) is currently raising completion funds for his latest film as a director, “Far Western.”

The documentary centers on the unlikely adoption of classic country and western music by the Japanese in the wake of that country’s post-WWII reconstruction. American radio gave rise to a nearly anachronistic subculture of musicians who, today, occupy a distinct niche in a homogenized society whose subcultures are deeply rooted in their sense of freedom and individuality.

It’s a great story, the kind of enigmatic and pleasing slice-of-life revelation that only movies can make possible. 

Payne has filmed in Japan on two different occasions. Now he’s turned to Kickstarter to fund a final return to the Land of the Rising Sun and capture the rest of the footage he needs to complete “Far Western.” As of this writing there are only two weeks left to fulfill the project’s $35,000 goal, and they’re less than a third of the way there.

I want to see this movie. I think many of you would, too. While I would normally use this space for films that are complete and already on their way to Tulsa, really it should be meant for projects like this. Local filmmakers with vision and talent, laying the groundwork for a more vibrant Okie film scene and utilizing the skilled people around them who want to create here.

So go and check out “Far Western’s” Kickstarter page and have a look at the video. I was charmed immediately. If it grabs you too, donate. Support local filmmakers. You won’t get points off the back end but you could have a crucial hand in the creation of something that might not otherwise get to exist. And that, Grasshopper, is its own reward.

Click here for more information or to donate

Hear Joe and the Videodrone Tulsa gang talk with James Payne and Matt Leach about the making of "Far Western":

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