Brad Spurgeon's Blog

A world of music, auto racing, travel, literature, chess, wining, dining and other crazy thoughts….

5-Minute Documentary About Dad at Open Mics by Daughter: Me by Emily

February 17, 2015

PARIS – Regular readers of this blog will be familiar with my ongoing project making a film about open mics around the world. Well, guess what? My daughter, Emily, beat me to it! As a student at the Ecole de la Cité film school outside Paris, she had a class exercise to make a 5-minute documentary film portrait of a person. She decided to choose as a subject her wacky, crazy Dad who travels around the world doing open mics – while writing about Formula One car racing as his real job….

One of the main riddles she had to solve in doing the 5-minute film, called “Rebellious Youth,” was what story to focus on in the telling? My bizarre past working in a circus, acting on TV and in films, in bit-parts, or busking in London and working as a bartender at the National Theatre, or writing about Formula One car racing and writing short stories and novels, etc. Where to start? So in order to find coherence to the story within the 5-minute limit, she decided to focus entirely on the story of a guy in his 50s who has a straight – or actually really exciting – day job writing for a major newspaper, who spends his spare time singing in bars at open mics with a generation that is generally many times removed from his own.

So that’s why there is the emphasis on the “old guy” playing music with young people…. Check it out for yourselves. I’ve been given permission by Emily to put it up on the blog. There are a few moments of pretty average sound quality, but keep in mind that Emily filmed the whole thing by herself with no crew, and then she edited it too. Thanks a million to the Coolin, the Galway and the Escargot Underground venues for letting her film during the open mics – and thanks to the people she interviewed for being so nice about what you say about me!!!!


  1. Honestly, what a brilliant 5-minute video that went too quickly. I loved your point about when you play music you’re communicating emotion and emotion has no borders; it’s ageless. You may well have prompted me to write a post about Casey’s Open Mic in Stamford CT where I’ve been playing for four years since moving over here from Edinburgh. The Open Mic has been going for at least 10 years. All ages, all styles, originals and covers. At the age of 48 I had never played on a stage until four going to Casey’s. I learned pretty quickly that for those who love music, there are no borders. To this point, three of us are getting together tomorrow to write a song. Two of us are in our 50’s and the third is mid 20’s.

    • AND… thanks for that one! Yes, what’s age got to do with it!?? I’m delighted this film got through to you. My daughter received a pretty negative comment about it from her teacher for whom it was done! I was brushed off as coming off looking like someone having a second adolescence. Oh well!

  2. Seriously? I don’t know why her teacher could have said that. All stories have beginnings, middles and endings. Emily introduced you and your evening life; the middle gave us a focus in on this evening life of musicians and open mics and in doing so gave the viewer joyous energy, like you wanted to get up there yourself. That fuzzy feel was then rocked in the third chapter/ending: that Collin would be no more. However, we’re left feeling thankful of good times and camaraderie. Anyways, my humble opinion but I was sold.

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