New Canaan filmmakers traveled the country to highlight musicians

After graduating from college, two New Canaan natives decided to hit the open road to highlight the diverse music scenes across the country.

Over the course of four months, Austen Deery and Samuel Reynolds traveled to 15 cities to film and interview roughly 300 musicians for their 189 part documentary series.

Deery and Reynolds grew up together in New Canaan and have been friends since they were in middle school. Together they make up the two-man team, Sadrday Studios, which is in the process of releasing the 189 short documentaries they filmed during the course of their road trip.

“Sadrday is, above all else, a platform for relatively unknown musicians to showcase their music, and to do so not only in the company of other passionate artists like Sam and I, but for no cost to the musicians whatsoever,” Deery said. “The inspiration and humbleness that comes with working with close to 300 artists in 17 different cities, and doing it all for free, remains the only motivation behind this project.”

When asked what inspired the two filmmakers to embark on this ambitious self-funded project, Reynolds said they both had an interest in music videos and making documentaries and decided “to give it a shot.”

“Music is one of the most telling and specific forms of art that you can find anywhere,” Reynolds said. “You don’t have to have knowledge of music to enjoy it. It’s highly personal, very specific while very universal. For me, this road trip was kinda a study of different places and different genres.”

Before heading out on their trip Deery and Reynolds reached out to more than 1,000 musicians on BandCamp, a platform dedicated to helping musicians share their music and turn a profit. Reynolds said that after contacting the musicians, “we kept our fingers crossed that they wanted to work with us.”

Once on the road, the duo worked with musicians in Philadelphia, Burlington, Baltimore, Charlotte, Nashville, Memphis, New Orleans, Houston, Austin, Phoenix, Los Angeles, Portland, Denver, Madison, Chicago, Columbus and New York City.

When asked about the genres of music featured in their short films, Deery said that Sadrday wasn’t focused on working with any particular genre.

“We kinda seek out the genres that are less covered. We gravitate more toward the experimental side. The most prolific art and music that we cover is singer/songwriters,” he said.

Reynolds added that Sadrday tried to be open to genres that the filmmakers were less familiar with, like the metal/desert rock scene in Phoenix.

“Nothing was really off the table,” he said.

Both filmmakers described their road trip as being grueling at times, but said that because they’re friends and they work well together, it wasn’t too much of an issue.

“It was unbelievable, traveling the country right now the way the country is divided is ... very unique and incredible,” Deery said. “You learn that music is some sort of universal language. Music is a path forward.”

While Deery and Reynolds said they enjoyed their trip, specifically traveling around the Pacific Northwest, their trip, like any road trip, wasn’t without its hiccups. “There were a few disasters, so we drove across the country and there were a few moments whether from lack of sleep or just being exhausted from working, we just forgot something,” Deery said. “The one that stands out is that our Thule flew open when we were on the highway on our way to Charlotte. It was all of my shoes and a lot of the film equipment and it flew out in the middle of the highway.”

Now that they’re in the process of editing the estimated 12 terabytes of footage they shot, Reynolds laughed when asked about all of the footage; “rest assured it’s a lot,” he said.

“It’s really hard to wrap your head around 189 short films but you gotta take it one step at a time. You can’t make a feature film in a day. We took four months to take that trip, the editing process is going to take double that,” Deery said. “Editing is where the films are made, editing is also where you get burned out because it takes so much damn time.”

In addition to showcasing musical talent from across the country, the duo said they hope that watching their documentaries inspires people to check out their local music scene.

“There’s an endless pool of creativity in this country, they’re local, they’re DIY and most of them have full-time jobs. They’re just making music, not to make it big but to make music,” Reynolds said. “There’s all these secret worlds — not even secret but lesser known — where people are making music so you just have to know how to tap into it and it opens up.”

Deery added that he hopes Sadrday’s films will encourage people to appreciate the musicians highlighted in the documentaries.

“I want people to appreciate the honesty behind what we’re trying to do, we want them to appreciate the process behind the scenes, “Deery said. “For me, the way you present and frame your art is a large part of how people acknowledge it. We just want people to appreciate the music that we’ve filmed.”

For more information about Sadrday, visit its Patreon page or its YouTube channel.