Top Spot of the Week: Stept Studios, Director Jess Colquhoun, Crown Royal Take Us To "Sundays At The Triple Nickel"

By

Robert Goldrich
Thursday, Feb. 20, 2020

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Stept Studios has released a short film, directed by Jess Colquhoun and supported by Crown Royal. Titled Sundays At The Triple Nickel, the short documentary centers on a day in the life of Marjorie Eliot, a lifelong Harlem resident, retired music teacher and pianist, who used her love of music as an opportunity to heal, while giving back to the artform and community she loves. When her son Phillip passed away more than 20 years ago, she began hosting jazz concerts as a tribute to him, opening the doors to her home every Sunday to longtime neighbors and others looking for great jazz and a good time.

Every Sunday for 26 years, she’s opened her apartment, sat out folding chairs on every inch of available floor space, and performed along with her son Rudel, actors, musicians, and spoken word artists. She has maintained this ritual as a way to communicate with her son Philip, commemorating the Sunday that he passed away. She plays her piano in tribute to him, as a timeless elegy, and as a way to endure. Through her performances she invokes the past, summoning powers to build a transformative and ebullient experience that connects everyone in the room. Marjorie’s weekly concert is her saving grace.

The film’s title comes from the apartment building address--555 Edgecombe Avenue, also known as the Triple Nickel.

The Sugar Hill area of Harlem has long been home to jazz legends redefining and reinventing the genre. Marjorie’s building was one of the most significant locations in the neighborhood, bursting with musical tenants–––from Duke Ellington to Count Basie and Johnny Hodges–––who transformed their homes into stages. As a longtime musician and resident, Marjorie and her Sunday shows ensure the Triple Nickel’s legacy of jazz continues.

The film forms an intimate atmospheric portrait of the woman behind the concerts and the piano. Marjorie’s lingering voice is the backbone of the film, shot with rhythmic and haunting beauty by cinematographer Zack Mulligan. Disembodied narrative pieces together recount memories with warmth and intensity, anchored by performances and verité segments. We see the different worlds behind neighboring walls, painting a picture of collective experience with Marjorie at its core. The film is a visual poem, a cinematic celebration of community and connection, exploring its extraordinary ability to withstand grief through imagination.

Stept founder Nick Martini, an executive producer on the film, said, “Stept takes pride in developing stories from scratch with our directors, then actively seeking out brand partners whose messaging aligns with the creative vision of our team. This project is a great example of how we help bring films to life with the support of a great brand team. Everyone at Crown Royal has been so supportive, and they too are passionate about sharing meaningful stories.”

“With what began as a quest for inner hope and condolence, Marjorie’s mission has expanded to serve and comfort so many lives beyond her own,” said director Colquhoun. “This film is a tribute to Marjorie, and a story of her resilience and ability to find a light during one of life’s darkest chapters.”

Colquhoun is an award-winning filmmaker and photographer who splits her time between London and Los Angeles. She aims to explore people and subcultures with a focus on social and environmental change and impact. Her documentaries Valley Of A Thousand Hills (Best Family Film - San Francisco Film Festival 2017) and The Black Mambas (Winner Glamour Magazine x Girl Gaze #NewView Film Competition 2017) are two examples of her attention to heart and detail. Her series of photographs entitled "Fired Up!" was recently exhibited at the historic Wiltern Theatre in Los Angeles. Clients include Apple Music, FOX, Levi’s, Vice and Pepsi. 

Credits

Client Diageo/Crown Royal Production Stept Studios, Los Angeles, and Jackson Hole, Wyoming Jess Colquhoun, director, writer; Adam Rachlitz, creative director; Cordielle Street, producer; Zak Mulligan, DP; Nick Martini, Randall Bourquin, JJ Rubin, executive producers; Christian Carvallo, art director; Jasmine Chang, 1st AC; Emma Hing, camera loader. Editorial Mattias Evangelista, editor. Music James William Blades, composer. Audio Charles Cann, audio mixer. Cast Marjorie Eliot, Rudel Drears, Tesfaye Tessema, Vaughn Jelks. Band members: Nicholas Mauro, Ben Meigners, Sedric Shukroon, Koichi Yoshihara.

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