TT – In his documentary SteelPan Now! Notes on Where Pan Gone, Ryan Saunders and his co-producer Aaron Astillero trace the spread of the steelpan beyond the shores of Trinidad and Tobago.
The documentary, which premiered at the Trinidad + Tobago Film Festival, looks at the growth of the steelpan but from a foreign perspective.
The documentary follows several steelpan pioneers, inventors, players, composers, arrangers, and pan makers of various backgrounds across several cities in the United States who’ve spent decades involved in the steelpan movement.
Among the people featured in the documentary is the late Ellie Mannette, Arranger and lecturer Liam Teague, Renegades arranger Duvonne Stewart, Johnathan Scales, composer, musician, founder of the band Fourscales and Kyle Dunleavy, an American pan builder from Philadelphia.
“My co-producer and I got around to talking about my film Bacchanal Time, and I believe I told him about it and he was looking to do a project and we started brainstorming. We had these grand visions and he told me when he was at Penn State he saw a Jamaican Steelband and was blown away by the performance. I said you haven’t really heard Steelband if that band was from Jamaica and we got around to talking about the Steelband and we decided to look at steelpan music,” said Saunders, a Trinidadian.
“That was 2014 or 2015. We were going around to a couple of different places and ended up in Virginia Beach, where there is an annual steelpan competition for high schools and colleges. We went there and that was when I saw American youth from the ages of seven to nine playing steelpan so comfortably and with knowledge of the music and skill. It blew me away and I said to myself this is where pan gone, a sort of realisation of that whole question from back on the day,” he further explained.