When Visit NC asked local producer and filmmaker Taylor Sharp to create a short documentary about his most rewarding experience in North Carolina, he had no hesitation about the story he wanted to bring to life.
In five minutes, the documentary “Jacob’s First Mandolin” captures the beginning and success of the musical career of Jacob Sharp, Taylor Sharp’s older brother and member of the band Mipso.
The idea for the film was born out of a family memory of a fishing bet between Jacob Sharp and his father, Will Sharp. The bet ended with a mandolin in Jacob’s hands.
“It’s definitely a family tale that we’ve clung to for a while, but we really felt it was time to let more people hear it specifically because it has such a connection to history. origin from Mipso, which is a band that a lot of people have seen Jacob play with that mandolin,” said Taylor Sharp.
Mipso played its first show in 2010, after a group of four UNC students — including Jacob on mandolin — got together to create a folk band for a philanthropic event. The event, hosted by Taylor Sharp, was to commemorate the life of the brothers’ late mother, Amy.
The event not only marked the start of Taylor Sharp’s nonprofit, Casting For Hope – which helps women living with ovarian and gynecological cancers – but it also helped Mipso find its sound. and his passion for moving people through music.
Jacob Sharp said the band had no idea they would be playing more than a few gigs. However, after a reporter from the Daily Tar Heel called asking for the name of the band, which didn’t exist at the time, they landed on Mipso within minutes.
“As far as we know, it’s totally made up,” said Jacob Sharp. “It just means the meaning we gave it.”
Today, Mipso has performed more than 1,200 concerts and released six albums, said Jacob Sharp.
The film consists of interviews between father and son as well as a revisit of the past, with many scenes taking place on the same wharf as the famous fishing bet.
Beyond the story, the film also includes a soundtrack by Jacob Sharp himself, which he says adds to the documentary’s aesthetic and connection with the audience.
“After we filmed everything, we went into the studio with Jacob and communicated to him what we wanted the sound of his mandolin to represent,” said Taylor Sharp. “It could be the melody of childhood and the warmth of getting to the beach or the excitement and anticipation of spooling in the line and waiting to see if there’s fish on it.”
The Sharp brothers grew up in Morganton, western North Carolina, and were surrounded by folk music, a supportive family and a creative atmosphere, Jacob said.
This childhood reminiscence brought another relevant theme into the documentary: the relationship between parents and children and how to support a child in their interests and passions.
“Children have a lot of wishes and desires and things they talk about growing up and one of the challenges at least for us as a parent was figuring out which one was real and which one was just the talk of the moment,” Will Sharp said in the documentary.
Taylor and Jacob Sharp both attended UNC and credited the school with their success as producers and musicians.
While in school, Taylor Sharp met Holland Gallagher, and the two went on to co-found Blue Cup Productions in 2018. The production company has since created several films and documentaries, including “Jacob’s First Mandolin.”
Gallagher said his and Taylor’s willingness to try something new and collaborate was important to him.
The “Firsts That Last” film series competition, organized by Visit NC, features twelve documentaries about North Carolina experiences created from the artistic vision of various producers. The winner will receive $30,000 in recognition of their work.
Will Sharp said if Blue Cup Productions won, $2,000 of the proceeds would go to Casting For Hope.
People can vote for “Jacob’s First Mandolin” in the contest on Visit the NC website.
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