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The Mountain Minor A Project of Feature Films

Behind the Scenes

The Mountain Minor, a beautiful film of Appalachian heritage and music.

As we Americans get further from our rural and ethnic roots it is more and more necessary to look especially at the good, the true and the beautiful in our various heritages and to celebrate, appreciate and renew them. Mountain Minor will help us do this with regard to Appalachian music and family traditions which, I believe,are still a vital source of energy in our efforts to improve our lives and communities. This is a powerful film that will touch hearts as well as minds.
Michael Maloney, Convener, Urban Appalachian Community Coalition

"The idea of using musicians as actors is a gutsy choice, but ultimately I think the right one in a film where old time music is so central to the story. Can't wait for the final cut."
John Lawless, Bluegrass Today


In the mountains of depression era Eastern Kentucky, Oza and Vestal Abner face the decision of their lives—leaving the life and home they love and moving with their young son Charlie to the industrial town of Cincinnati, Ohio to find more opportunities for work. 50 years later, Charlie is planning to return to that mountain home, and finds himself facing the same struggles of uprooting a life. First, he must pass along to his grandchildren the musical traditions that have connected the Abner family to their Eastern Kentucky home for generations.

Our Project

Featuring the music of: Elizabeth LaPrelle, Dan Gellert, Asa Nelson, Ma Crow, Mike Oberst, Trevor McKenzie, Susan Pepper, Warren and Judy Waldron, and The Tillers

The film centers on the matriarch and soulful ballad singer, Oza Abner (played by Elizabeth LaPrelle), who migrates from Eastern Kentucky in the 1930s; and her son, Charlie Abner (played by Asa Nelson and Dan Gellert) who, fifty years later, plans to move back. The film follows several generations of the Abners across different time periods and landscapes—from the 30s on a remote farm in Eastern Kentucky to a live stage today in Cincinnati, Ohio.

This film is based on true stories that were passed on to Dale Farmer (writer and director) by his grandparents who themselves moved away from Eastern Kentucky in the 1930s to Southwest Ohio. During the 1920s-1950s, Appalachian Americans migrated in great numbers to Northern and Midwestern urban centers. Since then they have been stereotyped and misrepresented by popular culture. But the truth is that these resourceful migrants became the core of the northern auto and milling industries. They brought with them a strong work ethic, deep family ties—and enduring music that has shaped the sound of American culture. However, this is not a documentary.

We have chosen the media of narrative film to provide immediacy to history and sharp insight into the experiences and dilemmas of a particular family in a particular time in American culture. This film is also the migration story of Appalachian music; it is the who, what, when, where and why behind the genres of old-time and bluegrass music.

This is the story of a changing but persistent mountain music tradition. This is a story of singers, flat foot dancers, and fiddlers shaped by their musical heritage, and who in turn helped shape this heritage for the next generation.

Our Mission

We seek to pay tribute to the struggle and resourcefulness of generations of Appalachian migrants—and to bring to life in full color the music and stories that sustained and connected them. To honor the ballad and fiddle-playing traditions of Appalachia, The Mountain Minor features traditional musicians in the main roles. They are not actors with the real musicians dubbed over them—they make the music of the film.

The Mountain Minor illuminates music as an integral part of community and daily life. The cast and crew of the film are committed to bringing a moving story of resilience, belonging, home, family and music to a broad audience. We hope that our film will be shown in schools and cultural institutions to educate about Appalachian history and culture; and that it will become a resource for young musicians in Old-time and Bluegrass genres to better understand the origins and substance of Appalachian people and their music. Most of all, we hope to respectfully and accurately portray the spirit of the culture and people whose story we tell.

Learn more about The Mountain Minor, meet our cast and crew and follow our blog at and please help spread the word by liking and sharing our Facebook page The Mountain Minor

How your tax deductible contribution will be used:

We are currently seeking Corporate Underwriters and Executive Producers whose philanthropies share our mission of promoting musical heritage through creative performance.

Our film company Wonderland Woods Productions and professional musicians are passionate about telling this story. Our team is dedicated to achieving the highest standard of excellence in artistry and filmmaking. The film will be completed with the highest production values in digital 4K format.

We completed shooting the film in July and August, 2017. Though producing our film on a micro budget, there were significant costs. From the many generous donations already received, We were able to fairly compensate artists, videographers and film editors. The remainder of our donations were used to:

·pay the production company and musicians
·compensate travel and lodging expenses
·provide meals for the cast and crew during the 14-days of shooting
·location fees
·period props
·equipment rentals
·hard drives
·memory cards

The producers and writer-director were NOT compensated from this funding source.

Now that we've begun post-production we are seeking additional funding to:

  • pay editing costs
  • secure music licensing
  • pay for advertising and publicity
  • film festival fees
  • first run DVD/Blu-Ray authoring and duplication

501(c)3 Status

Our project has 501(c)3 status, thanks to fiscal sponsorship through From The Heart Productions, based in Oxnard, California. This is very exciting and means that...

Any dollar amount that you donate can be used as a 1:1, 100% tax deductible dollar donation.

From the Heart Productions will take a 7% service charge (5% for checks by mail) and the rest of the dollar amount will reach our production. From the Heart will provide a receipt which you can then use under the itemized deductions in the donations portion of your taxes. You can then use the 100% tax deductible amount to adjust your gross income.

Our remaining budget total is $50,000. We have a goal of reaching $6,000 of that amount from this crowdfunding campaign. Foundations and Corporate Sponsors may send a check directly to From the Heart Productions. A 5% service charge will be deducted. Only credit card donations processed through Network For Good are displayed in the total on this website. Donations from checks are accounted for in a separate account. Potential donors may contact Dale Farmer at (937) 545-2608 or by email at for a financial status of fundraising at any time.

We would love to recognize you or your organization for your contribution in our movie credits.

$100 First "Thank You" list in the end credits
$50 Second "Thank You" list in the end credits

The following categories include all access film premiers in North Carolina and Ohio.
$500 Associate Producer
$1,000 Co-Producer
$10,000 Producer (Your organization's logo in the end credits)
$15,000 Co-Executive Producer (Your organization's logo in the end credits)
$25,000 Executive Producer (Executive Producer credit will appear at the beginning of the film and again toward the beginning of the end credits. Organization's logo with production companies prior to opening credits. Contact us directly for additional information.)


At this time, the producers intend to self-distribute this project. We plan to make the film available through DVD sales and Video on Demand sources. But first, we will submit the film to select film festivals. We are also excited about theater and non-theatric screenings. We will travel to several cities and spend the evenings showing the film accompanied by performances from select musicians from our cast. We'll be looking for promotion partners when the time comes.

From the Writer-Director

One day when I was 14, I was rooting through my grandpa's "junk" closet and found his old banjo. I opened the case and smelled the musty old wood and calfskin head. I tightened up the three rusty old strings and began trying to pick out some simple melodies. Grandpa heard me and said that if I would learn to play it he would give it to me. From that day on I became obsessed with this music and my Appalachian heritage.

I spent as much time as possible with my grandparents who told me countless stories of playing music and of the life back in the mountains of Kentucky before they migrated north. Those stories and the experience of this music have been so instrumental in shaping me into the man I am today. Playing this music, particularly those haunting old modal tunes, gives me this transcendent connection with that life. To this day I can close my eyes and play those melodies and feel like I'm in another place and time long gone, connecting with my ancestors who played those same notes back in the hollows of Eastern Kentucky.

The Mountain Minor is a collection of those old stories and tunes that move me the most. I have cousins, nieces and nephews who never knew my grandparents and the lives they lived; the sacrifices they made to make our family what it is today. I want them to know our story. But, this story is not unique to my family. There are many thousands of Appalachian migrants and their descendants that I want to share this with. I hope that after experiencing this film they will be inspired to explore and embrace their heritage as much as I do. There are thousands of banjo players, fiddlers, dancers and ballad singers, who never had the good fortune of having these arts passed down directly to them, and could benefit so much to know where it all came from.

The Mountain Minor has become my passion, and seeing the cast and crew make it come to life and embrace the soul of this project has been one of the most rewarding experiences in my life. I can't wait to share this story, our story,with all of you.

Dale Farmer, Writer and Director

Supported by 85 Donations:

  • Lori L.
    I Gave $100
    My ancestors were from NC and MO and I'm looking forward to seeing the completed film!
  • Doug H.
    I Gave $500
    Can’t wait to see it
  • Jeff C.
    I Gave $100
  • Heather L.
    I Gave $50
    - Because Dale is awesome and has done so much to make this world a better place.
  • Jeff C.
    I Gave $100
    When you have music, you have friends for life.
  • Jean P.
    I Gave $100
    To honor our Appalachian heritage
  • Sarah  R.
    I Gave $100
  • Max & Pat  H.
    This music is a part of our heritage & culture. I like the fact that local musicians are playing an important role in the movie.
  • Michele  S.
    A beautiful project I look forward to seeing.
  • Christine D.
    I Gave $50
    We love Asa and think he will be a big star one day.
  • Gerry H.
    I Gave $100
    Let's celebrate our heritage and celebrate our music.
  • Silhouette
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  • Michelle R.
    I Gave $100
    Looks like it's going to be a great film!
  • richard s.
    I Gave $50
  • Bonnie and Greg S.
    I Gave $100
  • Mererdith & Chuck  D.
    I Gave $100
    What a great project, preserving a piece of Americana!
  • Tammy B.
    I Gave $100
    I love the trailer and can't wait to see the movie.
  • Travis C.
    I Gave $100
  • Stephanie L.
    I Gave $100
    What a wonderful project!
  • Stephen R.
    I Gave $100
  • John P.
    I Gave $25
    Best of luck - looking forward to seeing and hearing the film.
  • Masha and Geff C.
    I Gave $100
    Thanks for sharing the love of old-time music.
  • geoff e.
    I Gave $100
  • Scott G.
    I Gave $25
    Good luck Dale! Sorry I can't make show at Southgate......but wanted to donate to your very worthy cause.
  • Winnie  B.
    I Gave $50
    Asa Nelson! So proud!
  • Kevin J.
    I Gave $100
    A whole lot of talent !
  • Diana B.
    Looking forward to the film so much!!
  • Pete W.
    I Gave $100
    This is the kind of movie I can really relate to, and I think a lot of people will relate to.