By MinTze Wu
MACAU – The Keymaster: A Story of Patrick Olwell, a new film about a master flute maker and his instruments by Jem Moore from Lyons, and Blayne Chastain, will premiere at the Boedecker Theater at the Dairy Center for the Arts, 2590 Walnut St., Boulder, at 8 p.m. on February 28. A second showing will take place at the Lyons Farmette on March 1. Master flute maker Patrick Olwell will be present for the premiere. Admission is $20.
The film tells story of Patrick Olwell, one of the greatest wooden flute makers of all time. His flutes are played by some of the top Irish musicians in the world, including Matt Molloy of the Chieftains and Seamus Egan of Solas.
With a quirky sense of humor, The Keymaster has Olwell recount his journey from a liberal arts college in Massachusetts to the foothills of Virginia’s Blue Ridge Mountains where he became an instrument maker living in a cabin with no electricity or running water. In his climb to prominence his flutes became some of the most sought after instruments in Celtic music. The film is a portrait of an intelligent, passionate craftsman, and even more so a precious archive of a rich musical heritage. In a voyage of discovery, the film weaves together Olwell ‘s story, the many steps in reviving a centuries-old craft in the making of a traditional flute, some rare wood trivia, Irish sessions, archery, swimming, laughter, tears, and interviews with some of the most dynamic Irish musicians out there today.
Two Colorado filmmakers, Jem Moore of Descant Productions and Blayne Chastain of Tekoa Films, collaborated for this film, which was directed and edited by Jem Moore, who has been an airline
pilot for ten years. A multi-instrumentalist with 15 albums ranging from classical to original music, Moore also has an unequivocal passion for making documentaries. When choosing the subject of his first feature-length documentary, the name Patrick Olwell kept coming back to his mind, so in November 2011 Moore decided to make the film happen between his tightly scheduled flying trips.
He reconnected with Chastain for the first interview. The two had played together in a friend’s wedding years ago, and Chastain had also been playing on an Olwell flute. Very soon they also realized that they not only have the same flute maker in common, but their vast interests in life also cover aviation and filmmaking, which they both take very seriously. In December of 2011 they ran a successful Kickstarter campaign to help offset some of the travel costs, and in the next eleven months they eventually finished over 30 separate interviews, with trips to Oregon, Toronto, Chicago, Boston, and ultimately ten days in Ireland.
Besides talking to the Who’s Who of Irish traditional music, (Matt Molloy, Seamus Egan and others) they also captured the shared enthusiasm amongst those who play Olwell flutes, from sheep farmers and hobbyists to professional musicians and All-Ireland Champions.
The Keymaster is a film that shows what can happen when you never give up on pursuing your dreams. It also rings true for Moore, who despite many obstacles has insisted on birthing this first documentary, and a new life of a full-time filmmaker. After ten years of commuting and flying and wearing uniform, he has chosen another path, one that also rediscovers the connection in art and film as meditation and an expression of life.Back to Top