Blues Man:
The Life and Times of Sean Costello

Trailer: Blues Man: The Life and Times of Sean Costello



Blues Man: The Life and Times of Sean Costello

"I had these dreams of being able to get by playing music and I was determined to make it happen one way or another." - Sean Costello

As Levon Helm said, "[Sean] was one of those artists who knew that playing music was a calling. It wasn't just a damn job, it was a calling and he had no choice. It's sinful not to, if that's what you're supposed to do."

For Costello, the blues was indeed a calling, and he played it against considerable odds. Using Costello as a protagonist, BLUES MAN explores the livelihoods of modern musicians. How do they survive? How do they get gigs, tours, and radio airplay? What role did Sean play in the development of his own career?

Costello also battled personal demons, bipolar disorder and social anxiety disorder, that made it nearly impossible at times for him to perform. And yet, day after day, year after year, he followed his calling. Even when he was sick, even when he was broke, even when his bands fell apart, he managed to pull it all back together for one more gig.

For his fellow musicians who face these issues too--the stress of performing and the struggles of mental illness--the problem goes beyond making it out on stage every night. Most musicians cannot afford health insurance, which forces them to give up their calling, go broke, or go untreated.

"Whiskey, dope and wild women didn't kill him and that's for damn sure," Levon Helm said of Sean. BLUES MAN will explore these issues, and how they affected Sean, and how they affect other young musicians who choose to play the blues.

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A Call for Footage and Stills

We are in the process of gathering all the material on Sean that we can find for our documentary and need your help. We would like to encourage all of Sean's fans to post footage and stills of him on this FB page. If you shot the material yourself and are interested in licensing it to us for possible use in the documentary, please contact us directly. If you have any questions regarding the rights and clearances of your material, please contact Michele Gouveia at micheleago@hotmail.com.

FAQ about the Film

Q. Is your project affiliated with The Sean Costello Memorial Fund for Bipolar Research?
A. No, our project is a separate entity from the Fund.

Q. Does Sean's family know about this film and if so, are they OK with it?
A. Yes. Sarah contacted Sean's family before she ever began pre-production efforts, to make sure she had their approval. They are aware of the project and have been supporting it since its inception.

Q. What does "fiscal sponsorship" with the Southern Documentary Fund mean?
A. The SDF is a non-profit agency that supports small budget documentary films. They offer fiscal sponsorship to a select number of films each year. This means that after a lengthy approval process, an accepted film project falls under the SDF's 501c3 status. For our project, this means any donations to the film are tax-deductible. It also means that the SDF will be carefully monitoring our project, from pre-production to final release.

We are a non-profit project, just as the Fund is a non-profit entity. However, we ask that if you cannot donate to both projects, please make donating to the Fund a priority.

Q. What are your plans for the film?
A. Our plan is to make the film and debut it at Sundance, in the hopes of getting theatrical or broadcast distribution.

Q. What's the status of the project now?
A. We are currently in pre-production, seeking funds that make it possible for us to go into production. Once we have our funds, we anticipate the film will take less than a year to make.


Southern Documentary Fund

If you have further questions about the project, feel free to contact Sarah Baker directly at info@sarahbaker.org.

Film Crew Bios


Sarah Baker

Sarah Baker has a degree in History and Women's Studies from Southwestern University. Baker’s first project was a seven-year labor of love—a documentary film about silent film star Olive Thomas, which she wrote and produced. Over the course of her research, Baker located ten of Thomas’ 20 films, all of which had been considered lost. The resulting documentary, Olive Thomas: Everybody’s Sweetheart, executive produced by Hugh Hefner, was released to DVD (2004) along with Thomas’ film The Flapper —the first time this film had been available to the public since 1920. Baker was associate producer and researcher on A&F Productions' Gangland: Bullets Over Hollywood for Starz Encore Entertainment and Alta Loma Entertainment. In 2008, Baker again teamed with A&F Productions, serving as associate producer and researcher on the documentary study Why Be Good? Sexuality and Censorship in Early Cinema, for executive producer Hugh Hefner/Playboy Enterprises.

In 2010, Baker's dual biography Lucky Stars: Janet Gaynor and Charles Farrell was published by BearManor Media. Her next book, Ann Pennington: Ziegfeld's Shake and Quiver Girl, is slated for publication by BearManor Media in 2013. Baker has been researching Sean Costello's life and music and working with his estate to develop Blues Man: The Life and Times of Sean Costello since his passing in 2008.


Elaina B. Archer

Elaina Archer has a degree in Film History and Criticism from the University of Texas at Austin. She was an art director on feature films before taking a position as a photo editor at New Line Cinema. Elaina then moved on to a marketing position at BMG Music before working for five years at Timeline Films as a producer, writer and co-director, while acting as the manager of the Mary Pickford library. Elaina managed the Mary Pickford Library from 1996 to 2001, where she significantly increased the holdings of the library, and raised funds for and oversaw the restoration of several endangered films. Elaina represented Timeline Films in documentary film program development. She developed and sold six documentary film productions, which she produced, wrote and edited. Included in that line-up of projects are the documentary films: Louise Brooks: Looking for Lulu , Clara Bow: Discovering the 'It' Girl , In Mary's Shadow: The Story of Jack Pickford, and Captured on Film: The True Story of Marion Davies. Three of the documentaries were produced for Turner Classic Movies and Mr. Hugh M. Hefner, and all were critically acclaimed. Clara Bow won the coveted gold Telly award in 2000, and Marion Davies won the Aurora Award in 2002.

After forming a partnership with Todd Friedrichsen in 2001, Elaina produced, edited, co-wrote and directed the film, Rita, in 2002 for TCM and Mr. Hugh M. Hefner/Playboy Enterprises, Inc. In 2004 she co-produced and co-edited an episode of Deep Sea Detectives for The History Channel entitled Pearl Harbor's Revenge, which was directed by Todd Friedrichsen. Elaina directed, co-wrote, edited and produced Gangland: Bullets Over Hollywood for Starz Encore Entertainment and Alta Loma Entertainment. She was the producer, director, writer and co-editor on promotional videos for the Jewish Home for the Aging, the Jewish Family Services, the Hollywood Fire Department and the Beverly Hills Chamber of Commerce. In 2008, Mr. Hugh M. Hefner and Playboy Enterprises executive produced a documentary study for A&F Productions on early film censorship, entitled Why Be Good? Sexuality & Censorship in Early Cinema. For this production, Elaina co-produced, edited, directed and co-wrote the film.
Elaina regularly presents films in the Los Angeles area, and she teaches classes on film history at various locations, including the Annenberg Beach House, OASIS Senior Classes, and the Santa Monica Ocean Park Library.

Elaina collaborates with renowned composer, Maria Newman to acquire silent films for scoring to benefit the Malibu Friends of Music and is the resident film historian at The Montgomery Arts House for Music and Architecture. She is currently creating promotional videos for the Mailbu Friends of Music, and is in development on a documentary film following Maria Newman as she creates music for a silent film. The film entitled, A Composer’s Journey: The Music of Silent Film presents a parallel study of a silent film being created decades ago, and a composer bringing the film to life with music for a modern audience. Elaina is also in development on several documentary film studies.


Todd Friedrichsen

Todd Friedrichsen started out as an assistant editor, gaffer and machine room technician for Rodney Benn Productions and Another TV Discovery handling all formats of film and video. He has worked as a lighting technician in production and is well-versed in the Avid editing system. Todd co-produced and co-edited RITA with Elaina. He directed, co-produced and co-edited an episode of Deep Sea Detectives for The History Channel entitled Pearl Harbor's Revenge, and he co-produced and co-edited Gangland: Bullets Over Hollywood for Star Encore Entertainment and Alta Loma Pictures. He was the videographer and co-editor on promotional videos for the Jewish Home for the Aging, the Jewish Family Services, the Hollywood Fire Department and the Beverly Hills Chamber of Commerce. Todd was the co-producer, videographer and co-editor for Why Be Good: Sexuality& Censorship in Early Cinema. Todd owns and operates an HDV camera, complete with lighting and sound package. Todd is currently freelancing as a videographer. He films all concerts for The Montgomery Arts House for Music and Architecture.


Allison Anders

A graduate of University of California—Los Angeles’ film school, Allison Anders has directed several highly regarded independent feature films, including Border Radio (1989), Gas Food Lodging (1992), Mi Vida Loca (1994), Grace of My Heart (1996), and Things Behind the Sun (2001). Anders has also delved into television, directing episodes of Sex and the City, Grosse Point, The L Word, Men in Trees, and What About Brian?

In 1995 Anders was awarded a coveted “genius grant” with the MacArthur Foundation, supporting her continued career in films. In 2003, she became a Distinguished Professor at the University of California—Santa Barbara, where she teaches film and media studies. She is co-founder of Los Angeles’ Don’t Knock the Rock film festival, and is currently directing a sequel to Mi Vida Loca.

Anders was a talking head expert in Sarah Baker’s 2004 film Olive Thomas: Everybody’s Sweetheart. Anders also contributed the foreword to Baker’s 2009 book, Lucky Stars: Janet Gaynor and Charles Farrell. She has offered her support to BLUES MAN: THE LIFE AND TIMES OF SEAN COSTELLO, acting as advisor and mentor to the project.


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