PAN! Our Music Odyssey: The Feature Length Steelpan Film

Written by Kim Johnson, the 90-minute docu-drama, PAN! Our Music Odyssey, is a feature length steelpan film aimed at local and regional markets, as well as international theatres and film festivals.

A Steelpan film based in Trinidad & Tobago

It intertwines re-enacted vignettes of pivotal moments in the pre-history and history of pan from 1820 to 1963, from the banning of slave drum dances, to the first Panorama, with today’s “reality” narrative of the competition, in which various pan players from Trinidad and Tobago and abroad join the bands to prepare for the big stage.

Jevanni, a 10-year-old ghetto boy, struggles to qualify to play in Trinidad All Stars, the band founded by his grandfather. Eva, a footloose 27-year-old Frenchwoman in Trinidad for the first time, hopes to play on the big night—the Panorama finals, the dream of her recently-deceased father. But her band, birdsong, has been eliminated at the semi-finals so she must quickly learn a new tune well enough to get into another band. Raven, 19, known as a “crackshot” for illegally playing in several bands under different names, can learn in hours what takes others days. But he is on the verge of being thrown out of his first love, Phase II Pan Groove. Also knocking on the Phase II door are Yukari, Sayori, Kentaro and Chihiro, who are from Japan and can barely speak English but sacrificed job security to be here.

Will they get on the team? If they do, will their team win? This story of the adventure and passion of pan derives its momentum and drama from the intersecting lives and ambitions of these and other characters as they prepare for battle in Panorama: the Olympics of music. Their stories are interlaced with re-enactments of the rags-to-riches tale of the steelband movement, which was born into poverty and violence but climbed to the highest levels of social and artistic acceptance without losing its life-or-death urgency.

The audience at home and abroad will experience this spectacular event, the Olympics of music, 50 years old in 2013 and understand how it creates such passion.

A Timely Project about Trinidad’s National Instrument

The time is ripe for the production of such a high-quality film on the national instrument. The need for economic diversification into the field of cultural exports, the international promotion of brand Trinidad and Tobago the development of a tourism industry, the development of a film industry and the marketing of our steelband movement all make this a timely project.

The potential of this approach is demonstrated by the documentary Calypso Rose: Lioness of the Jungle. The broadcast of that film on the Public Broadcasting Service (PBS) to over 150 US television stations immediately led to a dramatic revival of the calypsonian’s career to the extent that she is the most toured Trinidad and Tobago artist today, moving far beyond the diaspora audience.

PAN! Our Music Odyssey builds on this experience to carry pan much further, leveraging the thousands of passionate pan-lovers scattered throughout the globe. This way the project will bring the world to the home of pan.

    PAN! Our Music Odyssey is a transmedia project promoting the steelband movement internationally with an 80 minute docudrama, telling the human adventure of Pan from its genesis, through reenactment stories, to its propagation all around the world.
Premiering Monday January 25th at 8:00pm (Eastern) on PBS World Channel