“The Ballad of Don Lewis” is an upcoming documentary currently being funded on Kickstarter. The nearly completed feature-length film explores the musical life of one of the industry’s greatest unsung heroes. In this ground-breaking film, renowned director Ned Augustenborg explores the life of Don Lewis, a multi-instrumentalist, vocalist and electronic engineer that pioneered sounds, techniques, and equipment that helped to shape the future of electronic music. “The Ballad of Don Lewis” tells the true story of the enigmatic genius’ journey. His inventions, his unmatched style, and the struggles he faced in challenging the status quo will change your understanding of music forever.
Don Lewis: In the 1970’s Lewis began performing in the San Francisco live music scene. The young musician’s passion for electronics became an obsession that led him to unlock his musical style and create his own original instrument, LEO, or Live Electronic Orchestra.
LEO was a complete electric ensemble unlike anything in existence. With the always charismatic and innovative Lewis at its helm, LEO took San Francisco by storm. The one-man show became renowned and elevated Lewis to celebrity status in the San Francisco scene. His instrument was no mere toy and certainly no imitation. Don Lewis’ genius engineering created a system that inspired IkutaroKakehashi, the founder of Roland, to work with Dave Smith to create Musical Instrument Digital Interface or MIDI.
Lewis & LEO would eventually be targeted by the Musicians Union. The union felt threatened by Lewis’ instrument and his growth as a pioneer and artist. They insisted that his new technology threatened their existence and acted accordingly, protesting his performances, ultimately defaming him.
After the decline of his career as a live performer, Lewis, regrouped, dusted himself off and increased his time in working with Yamaha and Roland, sound designing many of the original voices for the legendary Yamaha DX-7 Synthesizer and Roland D-50. These historic instruments along with his contributions to the TR-808 in the early 1980’s allowed his genius to influence musicians everywhere.
Throughout his career, Don Lewis worked with the likes of Michael Jackson, the Beach Boys, and Quincy Jones. LEO is currently on exhibit at the Museum of Making Music in Carlsbad, CA.
The Director: A truly worthy storyteller, by the name of Ned Augustenborg, stepped up to take on this forgotten legend. The Emmy award-winning filmmaker has a track record of successful projects from traditional to experimental. He has maintained a consistent level of ingenuity in his documentaries that stretch across a variety of subjects.
In addition to his independent productions, Augustenborg has produced and directed for ESPN, MSNBC, CNN, The Canadian Sports Network, and CNBC. In his latest project, “The Ballad of Don Lewis”, Augustenborg will use his unparalleled passion and vision to shed light on a forgotten tale. After working on this film for close to 15 years, this is sure to be one of his greatest works yet.
What They Need
The team is putting the finishing touches on the documentary but urgently needs to raise money to finance the marketing campaign and sort out the legal requirements. The director himself has set up a Kickstarter for this purpose, hoping to find support from the true fans who want this story to be told. The crowdfunding goal is $40,000. The campaign was launched on June 12, 2018, and will end 60 days after launch.
There are a variety of enticing rewards for different levels of contribution. The team is offering everything from credit in the film, to signed posters, to an all-expense paid trip to California to see the world premiere.
Anyone can contribute for as little as $15 to pre-order the film and every small contribution counts. If you would like to see this movie succeed, consider checking out the Kickstarter campaign.
The contributions of Don Lewis to the music industry are monumental, and yet, few know his name outside of the industry. There is a fascinating story here that deserves to be told. The documentary contains amazing songs, powerful storytelling, music history, and never before seen footage of Don Lewis’ performances and adventures… All of which are punctuated by exclusive interviews with legendary artists and music industry influencers including Quincy Jones, Herbie Hancock, IkutaroKakehashi, Dave Smith, Alan Kay, John Chowning, Brockett Parsons, Bryan Bell, and many more…. Hopefully, the crowdfunding campaign will gain support so that this amazing story can be told.
For Festivals/Distribution: Augustenborg Productions