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VanderVault Studios began pre-production on the documentary “Grace VanderWaal: I Now Know My Name” back in the late Summer of 2018, and here we are in 2020 and still haven’t released the film…actually, it’s now been split into two separate projects (thanks COPPA and YouTube).

As you may have guessed by now, yes, this is another article about how the movie(s) are going to be delayed yet again.

If you care to know why, please read on.

In November of 2019 Grace dropped a bombshell, very low-key, when she responded to a fan on Instagram who criticized the evolution of her music, claiming that she had become like everyone else and no longer had “the magic” she once did.

Her response was, to say the least, revelatory. In it she stated that many of the creative decisions regarding her music, up until 2019, were not her own, but belonged to others who refused to allow her to fully express herself because her ideas were “too mature”, “too weird”, and so on. To some extent that’s understandable because she was relatively inexperienced just after getting signed (she’d only been properly songwriting for just a little over a year at that point), and there was money on the line, but it was heartbreaking to hear that a natural music prodigy was being held back from fully expressing herself artistically, and to be allowed to push her own boundaries.

Grace was not specific regarding what creative decisions were made on her behalf; did they relate to her songs, her music videos, her concerts, and if so what aspects of those, or which songs, were most impacted by the meddling?

We’d already written/filmed/edited a great deal up to that point (nearly an hour of footage), but once that peek behind the curtain was given by Grace, we pretty much had to go back to square one and re-examine what we had put together. This was devastating, but also wonderful in that now, if we extrapolated on the reveal, our documentary would have far more heft and depth than it would have had before.

I had already committed us to a release date that coincided with the one for “Stargirl”, and then YouTube’s solution to its problem with the FTC and the enforcement of COPPA, happened. Read the following editorial written back in late November when that all went down…

COPPA Impacts on the VanderVault Grace VanderWaal Documentary

The new YouTube policy essentially forced us to split the documentary into two volumes, the first would focus on Grace’s career from its inception up until the release of “Stray”, the second volume would bring us up right to the release of “Stargirl”. It was, and still is, a solid creative decision, but not one that would prove entirely realistic considering our limited resources and time.

To top it all off, we also had several key production crew members leave the project at about the same time, though for different reasons. Our orchestral score arranger became overwhelmed by his own already busy schedule and had to quietly opt out. Our narrator, and my co-writer, Maureen Holley, had to, quite understandably, drop out due to health issues, and replacement efforts, thus far, have failed to stick.

I found myself scrambling to get “something” out by January 30th for Volume 1 of the documentary. We did have a considerable amount of footage, enough that the first part of the series alone would have qualified it as a feature-length movie, but it was a rushed effort, and felt like one.

Frankly, Grace deserves better than to have an octagonal peg forced into a square hole because of an arbitrary release date.

I haven’t given up on the project, but in order to put out a quality product, I need time to regroup, re-staff, and take the time to properly restructure the documentary to suit the new narrative of Grace’s career that we’re becoming more aware of day by day.

Again, Grace deserves our best efforts, and not a rushed mess.

I do have several candidates I am looking at who can fill the now vacant roles in our production crew to get the project solidly back on the rails, but I’ve learned over this past month that we need to work with new personnel for a few weeks to determine if we’re a proper fit.

It is still my aim to have something out by the time “Stargirl” is released, but it may not be the full documentary as I’d hoped.

Rest assured, however, that we will put out something in time for “Stargirl”, and will eventually release a feature-length documentary that will be worth your time once all is said and finally done. Stay tuned.