“The Shopkeeper,” a documentary that sets local producer Mark Hallman’s long-running Congress House Studio against the backdrop of the music industry’s downward spiral in the digital age, has its Austin premiere on Sunday, Feb. 12, at 4:30 p.m. at the Alamo Drafthouse on South Lamar.
Hallman, who worked early in his career with Carole King and more recently has been the go-to producer for Austin mainstay Eliza Gilkyson among many others, came to the attention of California singer-songwriter Rain Perry about a decade ago. Perry, whose song “Beautiful Tree” was the theme for the CW network TV show “Life Unexpected,” has recorded her last three three albums with Hallman.
She’s the director of “The Shopkeeper,” a project she explains early in the film was motivated partly by her increasing uncertainty about the future of making music in the digital age. “I’m mot making another record right now, I’m making a movie,” she says, “because I’m trying to figure out what to do with my dream.”
The film features interviews with Gilkyson, Ani DiFranco, Tom Russell, Sara Hickman and others Hallman has worked with over the years. Jon Dee Graham turns up in one scene to provide a brief primer on declining record sales.
Hallman, also an accomplished musician, frequently contributes to his artists’ recordings on everything from guitars to keyboards to percussion. As he puts it, “Congress House is an instrument, basically. One giant instrument.”
Here’s a YouTube trailer for the film: