Doylesong (2016)

Feature length musical/documentary film
1hr 40m, HD

Directed by Matthew Doyle and Chase Alexander
Edited by Chase Alexander and Matthew Doyle
With cinematography by Chase Alexander

Starring Matthew Doyle, Benjamin Doyle, Eric Doyle, Beth Marshdoyle, Jay Doyle, Chester Curme, Emily Jane Rosen

Matthew Doyle returns from Los Angeles to his hometown Weston, Massachusetts for a few reasons: his best friend is getting married, there’s a family reunion. But, he’s also returning to make his first film, ‘Doylesong’, a coming-of-age film musical starring his family. Everything is ready: his brothers and his parents have all written their own songs. As Matt’s control over the situation disintegrates, the plan falls to the wayside, and the film takes on a life of its own.

What, then, is ‘Doylesong’? It’s hard for us to say. It neither fulfills its musical premise, nor is it solely in the documentary tradition. Given the circumstances this film was made under, one might reasonably ask whether it is a film about failing to make a musical (and in many respects it is).  We think it's  perhaps best thought of as a particularly ambitious home movie: one that circles around themes of music, communication, technological shifts, privilege, improvisation; but most of all, about intimacy and love in all of its different forms. This is our first feature film, but it’s also the last film in a series of films made in the family home – a document of the twilight of a time when the family is the atomic locus of creativity, anxiety, and play.

‘Doylesong’ is about the relation between identity and conversation: between finding oneself in dialogue and finding one’s voice as an individual – finding ones song. We feel this in the film's constant, playful tension between the scripted and unscripted, the symbolic and the real. As we experience tectonic shifts in our understanding of a political commons, cinema is remembered as a place where we once experienced the power of shared speech – talking about them, re-enacting them. Just as the film asks questions about failure and the (im)possibility of communication, it is itself a living testament to the power of our little communities to invest daily life with meaning.

When we let go of our claim to control the world, when we cease to see only ourselves in what is around us but still see a little of us in everything else as well, the world appears. Appropriately, and perhaps paradoxically, the film's final scenes were shot at Walden Pond, a symbol  of withdrawal in the American natural imagination. The film as you see it only appeared through our letting go of the story we started with, and that's why we like to think of it as an ecological film. With that in mind, we offer our work to you humbly, a hymn to the ordinary (Doylepsalm?): “Don’t you know what I mean?/it feels like a dream/together we’ll make it come true”

Contact As If, Otherwise for full-screener.