Irish filmmaker Graham Jones has released a new ‘anti-feel good film’ called Sunshine Ukulele.
His new movie tells the story of a young Irish boy who receives the gift of a ukulele from his uncle and proceeds upon a comic, suburban, mini-odyssey in which he struggles to properly identify with the nineteenth century instrument.
“I wanted to make a film about the impact of the internet upon music and movies,” Jones explains. “The web has caused some problems, but it has also brought gifts. We’ve all migrated online nowadays, art and entertainment have become increasingly unmoored and rudderless – it’s easier to distribute our work, yet harder to make a living out of it. This is a rather paradoxical, bittersweet era that we are living through together. So I wanted to really riff on that in a film – ask what it all means, not merely for artists but ultimately for children and young people.”
Jones says that despite the importance of this theme to him personally, he didn’t want his film to simply be about filmmaking.
“To be honest, making a movie about movies just didn’t grab me. That would have felt too immediate or internal to me. So I turned to the music industry for allegory. Music and movies are very intertwined, almost like sibling mediums and ukulele players sometimes remind me of indie filmmakers! Any fears I had of losing an audience with deep questions were greatly alleviated by the uke, which was the perfect vessel for a deep sea expedition.”
Jones adds that he even saw similarities between ukuleles and cine cameras themselves.
“Like the cine camera, the ukulele is an instrument that seems old but in terms of art history is really a baby,” he continues. “It’s incredible to think both instruments were prematurely written off during the twentieth century! People were saying their golden ages had passed. Clearly, in the twenty first century many art forms are experiencing a great resurgence due to the internet and I would say that some young art forms are only entering their true golden age.”
In recent years, Jones penned a blog post about online cinema entitled Nuascannán which has been widely shared among microbudget filmmakers.