“Our goal is to pay tribute to a great artist. Through this film, future generations will discover, enjoy, and find inspiration in the sights, sounds, and themes of “Moody’s Mood for Love: the Story of a Song.“
It’s said every biographer sees something of himself in his subject, and that’s certainly true in the case of Dièry Prudent and James Moody. Like Moody, Dièry was born black and poor and, like Moody, he’s managed to improve his life circumstances exponentially – and to travel the world in the process – on the basis of nothing more or less than his own talent and drive. Since 1994 Dièry has been developing a feature-length documentary, “Moody’s Mood for Love: the Story of a Song,” devoted to Moody, his musical hero and creative mentor.
It is his first film.
As a young Brooklynite in the Seventies, Dièry first heard King Pleasure’s “Moody’s Mood For Love,” then the theme song to Frankie Crocker’s super-popular radio show on New York’s WBLS-FM.
“Each night at 8:00 on the dot, it streamed from every window, boombox or passing car,” Dièry says. “You could set your watch to it. When it came on people would sing along, couples would get all mushy, and everyone had on a big smile. It definitely changed the vibe in a room in a way I couldn’t put my finger on. It was a thing.”
Curious about the world of adult romance, “Moody’s Mood” struck him as a model of raw, unfettered sophistication and irresistible savor-faire.
“I learned it word-for-word, note-for-note, every riff and drum beat,” he recalls. “You knew that everything coming out of your mouth when you sang that song was gonna be a winner with the honeys. You could be the goofiest mutha on the block and start singing that song off-key… and you’d still win.”
At the University of Mass., Amherst in the early Eighties, Dièry got more deeply into jazz and into Moody in particular. “I loved Dizzy, Clifford Brown, Dinah Washington, Coltrane, and Miles,” he says, “but Moody’s music was so personal. It felt like he was just talking to me, in a very anecdotal, knowing, reassuring tone. He befriended me through his music. Listening to Moody, I felt I knew him.”
Backstage at Harvard’s Sanders Hall in 1983, he met Moody in person for the first time. “He gave me a warm smile, a big hug, and a kiss on both cheeks,” Dièry says. “He exceeded all my expectations in a brief encounter.”
Influenced by recurring themes he found in literature and music, Dièry pursued an academic year of political science study in Paris that stretched into a two year residency. There in 1988, during his stint as a translator for BMG/Novus Records, Dièry met Moody for the second time backstage after a gig.
Moody remembered him.
Back in New York in 1991, Dièry hung out with Moody for the third time during one of the musician’s week-long stands at Sweet Basil. By then, he’d learned a lot about Moody’s life: the musician’s disability (Moody was hard-of-hearing), his experience of racism, his victory over alcoholism, his superhuman devotion to his music, his spiritual humanism and bon vivant globetrotting.
While there were volumes dedicated to other jazz giants, Dièry’s research on Moody revealed mostly liner notes, press notices and interviews. An idea was born.
Though he’d never made a movie before, Dièry began to think that there was a great untold, film-worthy story in Moody’s life.
“Moody was a great spirit, but he was human, too. He’d been taken advantage of and he remained on guard the rest of his life,” Dièry says. “After all, this was a guy who wore a special glove and put razor blades on the handle of his horn-case to stop some wise guy from stealing it. But onstage, backstage, off-stage, in person he couldn’t be sweeter.”
Dièry’s decision to make a film about Moody reflected his appreciation of Moody’s story, his lifelong love of cinema and his grounding in journalism at the Boston Globe in the late Eighties. It also reflected his friendship with filmmaker Eric Marciano, which began in the early Nineties.
It wasn’t long after they met that Dièry persuaded Eric to team up with him on the Moody film. The pair filmed their first interview with the artist in New York in 1994, continuing to film the jazz legend for the next 16 years until shortly before his death in December of 2010.
Meanwhile, like most independent filmmakers, Dièry never gave up his day job. He was publicity director for the Globalvision production company in the early Nineties, when they were producing the PBS television show “South Africa Now” and the independent documentary “Nelson Mandela: Free At Last.”
He then spent four years in PR and Institutional Relations at New York’s LaGuardia Community College (CUNY). In 1998 Dièry started a new full-time high-end fitness training firm, a decision that allows him to express his independence, creativity and entrepreneurial spirit.
In the year before Moody died, Dièry and Eric signed a documentary licensing agreement with the musician and with Linda Moody, his wife, who survives him. The filmmaker is now looking to finish his film. He’s shot many hours of Moody performances and interviews with Moody and his famous admirers (including Jimmy Heath, Chuck Mangione, Dr. Billy Taylor, Ed Bradley, and Harry “Sweets” Edison).
Dièry and Eric are now starting post-production and seeking the financing necessary to shoot a few more key interviews, edit, release and distribute the film. It will be a fitting tribute: a love note to a love song — first interpreted by an underrated American youth of color — that’s touched people’s ears, hearts and minds around the world for the last 60 years.
“I am drawn to projects that include social and cultural awareness and that have a high standard of craft. I know that even today in our media saturated environment motion pictures are a very powerful thing; you should try do positive things with them”.
In 1984, Eric Marciano graduated from the School of Visual Arts film school in New York City, and soon after founded American Montage, inc, his film and video production company. As a multifaceted filmmaker he writes, produces, directs, edits and consults on film, television and broadband projects, including documentaries, commercials, music videos, corporate films, narrative programs and special media projects. Regardless of the chosen medium or genre, the approach is always straight-forward and intimate with a focus on the large issues.
“There is no greater film-making joy than sitting down with 100 hours of raw footage knowing that there’s a great story waiting to be discovered” according to Eric Marciano who has devoted himself to the documentary genre for 20 years.
Literally thousands of commercials, documentaries, corporate films, music videos, narrative films and new media projects have been completed at American Montage, Inc.
AMI’s clients include HBO, The Discover Network, ESPN, A&E, Volvo, TV Guide, Philip Morris and Bloomingdales. Marciano and his creative staff combine their vision, experience, and ambition to create an atmosphere where both independent filmmakers and large media corporations can work together.
Visually compelling, his documentaries have garnered numerous awards.
Eric Marciano on IMDB.