When You Are Wild: A Day in the Life of J. Willis Pratt.
--A story of community, friendship, redemption and rock ‘n roll--
J. Willis Pratt is a rock icon virtually unknown outside his home state of Vermont. He’s lived a difficult life, including extended bouts of homelessness, but he’s never abandoned his rock ‘n roll dreams. That’s attracted a legion of friends, fans and music collaborators, including Jon Fishman, drummer for the band Phish. When Willis was diagnosed with cancer, his band came together to join him for a benefit concert in Plainfield, Vermont. Filmmaker Greg Hemmings was there to capture that show and the story of truly remarkable friendships that have endured for decades.
Longtime member of Phish, the film’s co-producer and drummer for Willis’s band, Jon Fishman, ends the film by reminding the live audience that, “no one lives to rock like J. Willis Pratt. Let this be a lesson for us all to internalize.” Willis once lived out his rock dream as an opening act for Phish in Albany, New York in front of nearly 20,000 fans.
“This film proves that music can heal the soul,” says Greg Hemmings. “It’s one of the most emotionally charged stories we've ever had the opportunity to film. Willis is a remarkable person facing a very difficult challenge, but it’s his passionate approach to rock that keeps him going and has attracted so many friends who care so deeply for him.”
The band’s bass player, and co-producer John Kasiewicz says of the film, “This documentary shines a light directly on what makes Willis one of the most prolific and passionate rock songwriters the world has ever known. His ability to take on significant challenges in life while never compromising his sense of humor and compassion is a story that needs to be told.”
The film is currently screening at film festivals around North America. It will be available again on the Hemmings House YouTube
later this fall.
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