Margaret Lauzon just figured she’d ask. The worst they could say was no, and she never really expected yes anyway.
They said yes.
Since Margaret started at Ironwood Media Group last December, she’d hoped to steer the Asheville video-production company toward music-related projects, with Ironwood owner Kurt Mann’s blessings.
So earlier this year, she put out some feelers to musicians, clubs and festivals — even shooting an e-mail to Hard Head Management, which represents Warren Haynes, and his annual Christmas Jam.
“It turns out that the biggest one of them all called back,” Margaret reports.
Hard Head said: Let’s talk. Bullseye!
“It was more like shooting out a bunch of arrows and we finally hit a target,” Margaret notes with a chuckle. “Not finally, actually, because it happened very fast.”
All along, Margaret’s dream had been to film this year’s Jam — though she suspected more-prominent national companies were also vying for the job.
The Big Apple-based Hard Head, which took its own archival footage of last year’s concert, was considering hiring a professional company to tackle this year’s Jam when Ironwood wrote, notes the management company’s Jay Bau.
Margaret knew all along that she had an ace in the hole that potential big-name contenders didn’t: The Christmas Jam is an Asheville event, and Ironwood is an Asheville business.
“I figured if Warren was like they said he was, he’d choose a local company,” Margaret reveals.
The general plan for the project is to create a sellable concert footage/documentary DVD, with all proceeds going to the Asheville Area Habitat for Humanity (as do those from the Christmas Jam itself, and related merchandise).
But beyond that, things are pretty up in the air — will it be a single DVD, or a CD/DVD package, or two DVDs?
Hard Head will pay all production costs, to include bringing in a “beta package” from Florida with, Kurt estimates, about $400,000 worth of network-news-quality camera equipment.
Which means extra people to run and coordinate it all — including freelancers like Jeffrey Ray (co-producer on the project, and experienced in collecting backstage Super Bowl footage) and WNCW-FM “Dead Air” host “Uncle Dave” Tibbs (who’s helped with research, and will serve as a “roaming producer” once filming begins).
“We have the talent in Asheville to be able to pull off something like [this],” Kurt declares.
Final editing will be done at Ironwood in collaboration with Hard Head, Margaret notes. But since Haynes’ management company will own and ultimately package the final product, it has final control.
So in real terms, Ironwood won’t profit from the venture. But no worries, they say.
“It wasn’t what we stood to gain,” Margaret declares, “but that we didn’t have anything to lose.”
First of all, Habitat will get to build more houses.
Second, Ironwood stands to score something pretty sweet beyond even warm fuzzies over helping the community.
“In the end, we will use this product to plant our flag in Asheville,” Kurt says.
Ironwood wants to show big-dog music clients outside the area that it can produce highly competitive product using WNC’s extensive talent base.
Hard Head, which anticipates that all future Christmas Jams will also be professionally filmed, has just signed a national distribution deal for Jam-related products with Sanctuary Records, Jay notes.
Margaret’s original goal was simply to archive those moments that make the annual bash so unique.
“What’s gonna happen when Sam Bush and Keller Williams get together?” she asks.
But with Hard Head’s blessing, the production she’s spearheading now as producer will go well beyond just what the public sees; cameras will be running at load-in and load-out, and backstage.