New interviews filmed for “Oracle”

by | Jul 20, 2023

Hello to all of our generous Seed & Spark sponsors – it’s time for our first major update!

We’ve been busy, jumping right back into pre-production this spring after the conclusion of our marathon, monthlong crowdfunding campaign. Unless we’re mistaken, we’re something like Seed & Spark’s third most-successful effort ever, thanks to all of you. We also took time to do a good bit of time for reward fulfillment to get your earned perks in your hands as soon as possible.

With our completed script in hand, we started lining up our next roster of key interviews, and locked in a terrific location in the San Francisco Bay Area (where most of our prime crew is based). We were all set to film in early June, but at the last minute, bassist Michael Manring had to bow out due to a positive COVID test; thankfully, he’s fully recovered, and we’ll find a future date to pick up his very important interview… – we can’t wait to have “Man-Thing” in the house, and hear his insightful thoughts on his long, lasting friendship (and creative collaboration) with Michael.

We had filled our schedule with two other interviews that day, and pressed ahead with:

Randy Lutge is interviewed by Brendan and Mischa Hedges in the San Francisco Bay Area. Photo credit: Julia Camp.


As many of you know, Randy has been a lifeline to fans over the years, with his rare (and much-loved) inventory of videos from Michael’s earliest shows in Palo Alto, California, at the New Varsity Theater run by Randy and his parents in the 1980s. We just screened half of one of those shows as part of our online screening series. It was an innocent, magical time – and quickly led to stars aligning, when Windham Hill founder Will Ackerman would head to the “Vee” to see an arthouse film on a night when Michael was playing the small upper lounge above the Varsity’s bar and restaurant. The rest is history. We’re old friends of Randy’s, and his much-anticipated interview was truly a full-circle moment for all of us. Randy can speak to those early days with authority, clarity and a warm embrace. It was just like yesterday, as Randy brought to life this critical moment in Michael’s story.

On the day after our Oakland studio shoot, we met Randy on University Avenue in Palo Alto for a golden-hour, sidewalk tour of the historic Varsity complex (now a coffee shop and meeting space), that still has its iconic marquee – which, soon enough, was lit up for one more summer evening, conjuring the nights when Michael’s music would waft through the open-air courtyard – on the verge of being discovered, with a life-changing chapter of his life about to begin.

Randy Lutge. Photo credit: Julia Camp.


Barbara was also there at the beginning, recording for Windham Hill in her early twenties with then-husband Darol Anger, releasing their terrific piano-and-violin debut album, Tideline.*  Later, along with Mike Marshall (on mandolin), they would form the group Montreux – and were often on tour sharing a bill with Michael. We were amazed to learn a bit about Barbara’s life prior to Tideline – leaving her home in small-town middle America (like Michael), making her way to Africa for some serious music archeology work, and ending up in Paris. Then we were floored by her vibrant, detailed explanation of the ‘architecture’ of Michael’s compositions. Trust us. Just wait til you hear her astounding, incisive deconstruction of “Aerial Boundaries.”

*  if you haven’t heard the awesome title track to this album, find and give it a listen

Barbara Higbie during her interview. Photo credit: Julia Camp.

These two interviews were a great kickoff as we resumed production on the film, and an invaluable day for us to begin working with our new – and immensely talented – director of photography Clare Major, whose last film, a short-subject documentary, was shortlisted for an Academy Award. 

It wouldn’t be long before we were all boarding planes to assemble again for a week of filming in the very special place where Michael grew up. This was always going to be an intense, demanding shoot: no less than ten interviews over four days, but every single one exceeded our expectations. It’s Michael’s story from the start – from ‘child prodigy’ to “Breakfast in the Field.”

We’ll tell you more about our extraordinary week in Enid, America with our next update.

Until then, we’re deep in preparations to film in Nashville in August (you’ll never guess)… – thanks again for helping make all of this possible. We’re working hard, and on the road!

Brendan & Mischa
Co-Directors, ORACLE: the Life & Music of Michael Hedges


Become a Sponsor

This film will be funded in part by Michael’s fans, angel donors, business sponsors and grant funding.

Sponsorship packages range from $1,000-$75,000 and include various benefits. They are tax-deductible through our fiscal sponsor, the Stropes Foundation.

Review our available sponsorship packages and let us know if you’re interested in becoming a sponsor of the film.

Or by check

Write a check to “Stropes Foundation, Inc” with “Oracle Documentary” in the memo and mail to: 

Stropes Foundation, Inc.
1132 Lake Avenue
Racine, WI 53403


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