The Ballad of Shovels and Rope
There is nothing glamorous about working your way up from the bottom, but “the struggle” is what makes one appreciate any success that follows. Everything about the film “The Ballad of Shovels and Rope” encompasses this philosophy — from the Kickstarter account that funded the film to the tale of a talented music duo trying to earn its first record deal.
We are introduced to Michael Trent and Cary Ann Hearst from Charleston, S.C., a young, married couple who share a passion for writing and performing original folk songs together. They live a minimalist lifestyle and make music from inside their home and van (yes, they have a makeshift studio inside their van).
The film follows the couple through the ups and downs of trying to catch their first “big break.” This documentary should be mandatory viewing for any up-and-coming artists who think that breaking into the music industry is as easy as uploading a video or two on YouTube. At one point, while Michael and Cary Ann are camped out in a Walmart parking lot on a cold, windy winter night with the heat blasting in their GMC van, you can’t help but hope that their sacrifice pays off. It appears though, that regardless of their success, they’re perfectly contented with their situation as they munch on Chips Ahoy cookies and drink Newcastle beers together.
The ability to relate to Michael and Cary Ann is what makes this film so likable. When we meet them, they are like any other young couple starting off on their own; they have very few assets, but they compensate for what they lack in material possessions with a mutual love and a shared vision of their future. Their ultimate goal is simple: Keep on making music and keep on enjoying the creative process.
It’s captivating to see the duo work together to do what they love, and the documentary has been produced in a way that shows the duo’s growth through the filming process. It’s a genuine, feel-good film that deserves a watch.
The Ballad of Shovels and Rope is an entrant into the 2014 Indy Film Fest.