Watch Two Exclusive Clips From 'I Hope You Dance' Documentary

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'I Hope You Dance: The Power and Spirit of Song' by Judith A. Proffer.

When director John Scheinfeld, best known for his work on such acclaimed documentaries as The U.S. vs. John Lennon and Who Is Harry Nilsson, was first approached by producer Spencer Proffer to helm a film about uplifting country music hit, “I Hope You Dance,” he had a confession to make: he didn’t know the Grammy-winning song.

“I went home and listened to it. I could see why [Spencer] got excited about it. There was something about the [song] that really touched me,” Scheinfeld says. “ I was profoundly inspired by the message.”

Nashville Notes: 'I Hope You Dance' Film to Debut; Country Acts to Flood Small Screen in December

I Hope You Dance: The Power And Spirit Of Song, which debuts on the Hallmark Channel on Thanksgiving, looks at the 15-year old hit, recorded by Lee Ann Womack and written by Mark D. Sanders and Tia Sillers, its origins, and the song’s transformative legacy filtered through four touching stories.

In these two exclusive clips, Womack, Vince Gill, Brian Wilson, Graham Nash, and Maya Angelou talk about the power of the song and of music to move us. Angelou, who died shortly after being interviewed for the film, so loved “I Hope You Dance” that Womack sang it at her funeral.

Scheinfeld and team found more than 150 stories of people whose lives had been impacted by the song. They whittled the number down to four to focus on in the documentary, including the story of a teenage girl whose organs went on to save several people’s lives after her death, as well as a woman injured in a biking accident who found the ability to walk again despite doctors calling her situation hopeless.

The uplifting message of the song and the stories was not an easy sell in these cynical times. “Dark, depressing, grim and joyless: this is what I see when I turn on the TV and go to the movies a lot,” Scheinfeld  says. “That’s what is valued as programming these days. Someone even thought it was a good idea to make The Muppets edgier.”

As Proffer and fellow producers sought to sell the inspirational film, “what we found was that the gatekeepers are into the dark, edgy thing,” Scheinfeld says. “These kind of hopeful things are not as valued in the marketplace.” The doc was, however, the perfect fit for Hallmark Channel, which Scheinfeld says gives the film a jumping off point before the filmmakers hope to take the movie on the road and play it in 150-300-seat theaters. “We’re looking at affiliating with a brand or a sponsor and get the word out through local sources. It’s an unconventional model, but we do think there’s an opportunity there.”

Scheinfeld and Proffer plan to use the documentary as a jumping off point for more films about inspirational songs. Nash has already agreed to a documentary about Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young’s song, “Teach Your Children,” as has Wilson on the Beach Boys’ classic “God Only Knows.”  “We’d like to use this film as a model, “Scheinfeld says. “We know people need to see a success before they say yes.”

The DVD and a companion book come out Dec. 1 via Virgil Films, while a spoken audio book will be available next year. 


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