The dulcet tones of Eva Cassidy have accompanied important moments in thousands of lives over the last twenty five years. Her inimitable stylings speaking to the universal hearts of millions of people. Who was this woman – what kind of person was she and what kind of life did she lead.
For the first time, her family want to share these details of this iconic musician; all that she did, hoped for and created in her short life. Featuring never-before seen family and performance archive footage of Eva and many previously unreleased recordings of the singer, THE ESSENCE OF EVA documentary delves into the world and work of this woman who, over the course of her life, dedicated herself to a craft that did not always give back to her.
Famously, Eva Cassidy died before her work reached the global success it eventually achieved. Diagnosed with melanoma at the tragically young age of 33, Eva passed away an obscure, gigging musician, known only to a small but dedicated cache of fans in the Washington area. Though she only posthumously achieved the “success” that she has become known for, this documentary explores all the ways in which she forged a life that valued anything but that – and, in retrospect, can be seen to have reimagined and recast what success can really look like and mean.
Through interviews with her closest friends and family, THE ESSENCE OF EVA pieces together memories, stories and songs of Eva in order to explore what it means to live an authentic life – and what it takes to defy conventional expectations of what one “should” do or be. Driven by passion, and bound by integrity, Eva’s story tells that of so many, and can inspire many others. This documentary will, in this way, show that Eva’s life was as artful, hopeful and imaginative as the music she became beloved for in her death.
Filmmakers Alex Fegan and Malcolm Willis embarked on this journey in January 2020 when they travelled to Maryland USA from their homes in Ireland to meet Eva's family members. Since then their journey involved interviewing people across mainland USA, Hawaii and Iceland and include some original band members, close friends, family and music icons Sting and Mick Fleetwood.
Where is the at film at now?
To retain as much artistic control as possible we have mainly self funded filming for the documentary, which has taken us to Maryland, Washington DC, Virginia, Seattle, Maui, Nova Scotia and Iceland. We have interviewed Eva's parents, closest family and friends, bandmates, as well as major stars such as Mick Fleetwood and Sting. We have been working closely with John Murphy, editor of Oscar nominated "The Quiet Girl", on putting together a powerful, insightful and fresh perspective on Eva. We engaged a music clearing company to successfully navigate the complexities of obtaining music composer rights for the many songs, which she recorded. We are thrilled to say that contracts have been agreed and signed with a highly respected documentary sales company, AUTLOOK FILM SALES, who intend presenting the finished film to international distributors for theatrical release and to broadcasters/streamers. The first step in this will be at the European Film Market in Berlin in February, 2024. We intend to premiere the film at an A-list film festival.
The latest edit has been tested extensively with fans, family and people new to Eva's music and here are a few of the reactions
" Wow, that was powerful, what a great story, loved it. All the things she might have done, looking forward to when everyone can see it".
"I instantly want to tell lots of people to watch it."
"This now has been the third time I have watched the film....and each time....I am liking it more and more!!"
Eva's sister said, "In fact....I want to say that I think you and Alex did a BEAUTIFUL job with this....and I think Eva, too....would be sooo pleased!!!"
A close friend of Eva's wrote, "I want you to know that I appreciate the way you have portrayed Eva with great thoughtfulness. Navigating and threading the needle with so many people remembering so much is what you have done well. That is the most important thing."
How Can You Help?
To meet the European Film Market deadline in February and present a polished film, the finished edit needs to be professionally colour graded and sound mastered. We have booked the film into a very respected finishing studio for mid January, in addition we need to pay for our music clearing company who have been working tirelessly behind the scenes for the past 6 months to obtain the rights to Eva's songs and cover immediate legal and Insurance fees. Due to limited resources and tight financing, we are now at a critical crossroads to meet these costs. We want to complete this film to the highest possible standards and so we are inviting you to join our team and become a part of this remarkable journey, so that we can make this happen.
The Story Tellers!
Alex Fegan (Atom Films) and Malcolm Willis (Icypeaksmedia) are both independent documentary filmmakers based in Ireland. Their films have won numerous awards internationally and at home and have been nominated for IFTAs (Irish Film and Television Academy Awards), including the prestigious Rising Star Award, with previous winners such as Michael Fassbender, Saorise Ronan and Domhnall Gleeson. They have won a prestigious RTS (Royal Television Society) Award, as well winning the Galway Film Fleadh, Boston Irish Film Festival, London Irish Film Festival, Irish Times Ticket Awards, Arizona Film Festival, Kerry Film Festival for Best Film and Best Documentary. Older Than Ireland and The Irish Pub playing theatrically worldwide before being released on major platforms such as Netflix, Hulu and Amazon. Both the Cassidy family and Bill Straw from Blix Street records agreed to meet us and participate in this film after viewing some of the film makers previous works and appreciating their story telling approach.
Risks & Challenges
In a world where funders, broadcasters and streamers are focussed on salacious headline stories, true crime or controversial individuals, stories about artists and inspiring people often fall through the cracks. We believe that these stories are needed now more than ever. We have fought tirelessly to tell a story that subverts the negative trends and negative storytelling that has sadly become the norm. We have always believed that this manufactured mediocrity is exactly the opposite of who Eva was! Thus, from the very beginning, we have been intent on telling an authentic and inspiring story about an authentic and inspiring artist. Indeed, Eva's gravitation towards authenticity and honesty are fundamental to every aspect of the production and post production. We are immensely proud of what we have achieved and are so excited to work with you in getting this film out to the world at large.
How Can you be a part of our journey to tell Eva's story?
We are grateful for every single donation to get this film over the line.
Other Ways You Can Help
Some people just can't contribute, but that doesn't mean they can't help:
Ask folks to get the word out and make some noise about our campaign.
The Essence of Eva documentary Funding Facebook page will be periodically updated regarding the funding. Information about the film in general can be found at The Essence of Eva documentary Facebook page.
QUESTIONS and ANSWERS
Q. If you raise more than the goal what will you do with it?
A. This would go directly towards the Composer rights / Video rights fees.
Q. When can we see the film?
A. It is our wish to initially screen in film festivals, followed by a limited theatrical release before reaching TV/Streaming broadcasters. We will update the Documentary and funding Facebook page as we know.