On Sept. 23, 2014 we had the opportunity to attend a New York special screening of “Keep On Keepin’ On,” at the Tribeca Grand Hotel. The evening was hosted by distributor RADiUS-TWC, the film’s producer Quincy Jones, Robert De Niro and Jane Rosenthal. The documentary originally premiered at the Tribeca Film Festival this year. We covered the film at TFF and you can read our interviews below. Notables in attendance included model Helena Christensen, Selita Ebanks, Luis Guzman, Bob Balaban, Hall Harper, Isiah Whitlock and Britne Oldford to name a few. Read our exclusive interview with the film’s subject Justin Kauflin below.
Tell me about what this journey has been like with the film.
It’s been incredible. It’s been remarkable. Just starting with two Australian buddies, and a camera and a mic and then the people that have joined in the effort with Quincy and Paula DuPré Pesmen. It’s hard to put words to, but we’re grateful that we’re here and able to share the movie with as many people that we can.
Speak about working with director Alan Hicks, who wasn’t really a director before, he was just a classmate.
He’s a good drummer. He’s a very good drummer. We were in Clark’s band together. And sort of out of love for Clark, really was driven to make this film and to showcase Clark and to show how devoted he is to teaching and mentoring and I’m glad I can serve as an example of that.
Tell me what it was like working with Clark. He spent probably the most time teaching you as of late, right? So tell me about working with him and how he impacted you as a mentor and teacher.
Well to spend time with someone who is a legendary musician like Clark, who’s the master of what he does, just to be able to be around him can be a little overwhelming. And then he cares so much. It’s remarkable to think that I can actually call this guy my friend, you know?
We see in the film that you work hours and hours and hours perfecting your craft as a pianist. Tell me about that process.
Well it’s necessary. You’ve got to do it. Whatever your craft is. For me it’s music and it’s the piano. Something that Clark instilled in me, if you really want to do it right, if you want to be great, that’s what it takes. That’s what he did and that’s what he encourages for all of his students, so you’ve got to put in the hours.
The legendary Quincy Jones has taken you under his wing as well. What has that journey been like? You were working on an album together, tell us about that a little bit.
We recorded in August and got to be in the studio with Quincy. It was incredible. You know, he’s an incredible producer. So we did that and hopefully it will be finished and ready to be released in January of next year.
And is the album primarily piano instrumental?
There will be no singing on it, but it’s jazz, it’s a quartet. So piano, drums, bass, and guitar and it’s all a collection of dedications that I wrote for Clark, for other teachers that I’ve worked with, and other musicians. So I’m really happy to share it.
And we got to see you play live at the Tribeca Film Festival. That was a beautiful night.
I mean to be able to share the stage and Herbie Hancock was there, Dianne Reeves was there … to be able to be on the stage with those guys and to be with them and for them to actually also be fellow students of Clark’s was extremely special.
We also spoke with Director Alan Hicks and Adam Hart.
We’re bringing the film to the world now. How do you feel now?
Alan: Me and Adam are stoked. We started this ourselves 5 years ago and it’s become something we could have never imagined.
Adam: It’s such a beautiful thing for us. Something that you work so hard on, something you’re so passionate about. The characters, Clark and Justin, everybody involved. For us it’s unbelievable. To get this far and to finally be out here, and get Clark’s story across to the world for us, that’s the best thing.
“Keep On Keepin’ On” is now playing. The film is powerful and you will be hearing more about it as awards season progresses.