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R.A.W. TUBA: From Sandtown to Symphony. A short Arts documentary with a hero message

From a Baltimore childhood ripped from THE WIRE to the stage of the New Mexico Philharmonic, a musician shares his inspiring story in R.A.W. Tuba.




The directors David Larson and Darren Durlac wanted to produce a film about Arts Education and how it’s under-appreciated and underfunded.

When visiting the Baltimore School of the Arts for research, they were encouraged to reach out to the tubist Dr. Richard White:  “Once connected, it became clear we needed to tell his story.”

Listen: Dr. White & the making of R.A.W. Tuba  (12′)

The Process

  • “We just started making the film.  We have our own gear and shoot a lot of work, so we just bought some tickets to Albuquerque and filmed for a week there, and then we planned a week in Baltimore.”
  • Everyone loved the idea and loved Richard.
  • The key sources and researchers were the Baltimore School for the Arts and the interviewees and the directors


  • Since the project was self-funded by Early Light Media, there were no official pitches.

Field Production

  • 2 weeks
  • Mostly verité and traditional interviews.


“We did do something very different with the reenactments of young Richard.  That process was fairly casual.  We had a casting director find King Pinnock, the 5yo who played him. We dressed him up like Richard in the 70’s and played with him in Richard’s old neighborhood.  We thought dialogue would get cheesy, so we kept it more hyper-realistic and dreamy.”


  • Three months


  • $120,000


  • 20 min


  • “We thought it would be cool to have Richard record his own soundtrack. There are also a few canned tracks too.”

Timeline (recap)

  • April 2018-2019

The Producer

  • Early Light Media (ELM) is a full-service creative video agency founded in 2013 by three Emmy Award-winning creative directors- Jody Weldon, David Larson, & Darren Durlach.
  • Mission: “To collaborate exclusively with those whose products, services & causes that elevate harmony in the world.”
  • Based in the Baltimore/DC area.
  • “However, we serve client’s the world over.  We’ve produced films and commercials in Ukraine with Microsoft, here in Baltimore with Under Armour, Vancouver for the McCann Agency and just about everywhere in between.”

The Buyer

  • Since 2005, Principal Media has been licensing its uniquely vast and always expanding catalog of content to TV networks and digital platforms worldwide.
  • The company’s Beverly Hills-based team represents a wide variety of programming genres to an equally diverse array of networks and digital platforms around the world.
  • To keep its catalog fresh, Principal Media works closely with producers of all kinds to help monetize finished programming, as well as to develop and co-produce original series.
  • More recently, the company expanded into streaming channel distribution, adding to its executive team to help established networks and new players do everything from secure distribution to implement marketing, programming, operations and more.
  • Principal Media is a subsidiary of the Libra Group, a privately owned global enterprise active in 35 countries across six continents.

“Principal Media is always looking for incredible stories with high production value to expand the pedigree of programming in our catalogue.  We were very excited to partner with Early Light Media to both increase the films reach and bring on bigger networks who were interested in expanding on this story.” Daniel Boluarte, Principal Media


Coverage of R.A.W. Tuba is a product of the focus on Inclusivity in the documentary sector by Sunny Side of the Doc and Documentary Business.


R.A.W. Tuba

Film Festival Strategy

“Our strategy was to world premiere at Telluride Mountainfilm. They had provided us with a grant the year prior to help pay for the film and we love the festival, the people and have made lifelong friends there from previous films. We also had hoped RAW Tuba would be accepted as part of their World Tour, which it was, giving it 10x more exposure. We were lucky that they did accept it at the festival and gave us a nice run.”

List of Festivals Entered (with any award)

  • Telluride Film Festival
  • Fargo Film Festival
  • Mindfield Film Festival
  • Lake County Film Festival
  • Columbia Film Festival
  • United Nations Association Film Festival
  • Mountainfilm Festival
  • Richard Harris International Film Festival
  • Albuquerque Film and Music Festival
  • DC Shorts International Film Festival
  • Washington West Film Festival
  • San Fran Doc Film Festival
  • Baltimore Black Film Festival
  • Black Harvest Film Festival


  • “After Mountainfilm we simply hopped around on Film Freeway and entered about 20 or so medium/smaller festivals to get a sense of the overall reaction. It was not accepted by all but given strong marks and some awards by a good many festivals that we’re very proud of. It seemed to be received well in general.
  • No real notable disappointments except the ever ongoing artist’s natural dilemma to never feel finished with the work. When watching at festivals there are always different ways that you see your work, especially being surrounded by different audiences and I would love to keep editing forever. We were quite thrilled to learn we had won a few nice awards. We won best in show at Black Harvest Film Festival and another award at the United Nations film festival.”

Top Takeaways

  • Every film is incredible learning opportunity. It’s a massive undertaking to get anything made and every situation is completely unique.
  • We learned so much about human resilience.
  • We learned that the people around you are just as important as your own desire to succeed. We made new lifelong friends. And we learned that we have so much to learn.

“Now is a particularly good time for an inspirational true story.  After a year of dealing with a global pandemic, watching how Dr. Richard Antoine White overcame the most challenging of circumstances as a child and young man to accomplish all he has is completely uplifting.  Though the story takes place in Baltimore, MD and New Mexico, it is universal in its appeal as everyone loves a story about individuals who find the strength within themselves to succeed against all odds.  Dr. White has done that and now is paying it forward with this film, his upcoming book, his speaking engagements and his work as an educator.” Patricia Frith, Patricia Frith Marketing

Key Creatives

  • Richard Antoine White a.k.a. R.A.W. Tuba
    With over two decades of performing on the world’s classical music stages, tubist Richard White has matured into a musician known for his clear sound and stylistic flexibility. He began his tuba studies with Ed Goldstein at age twelve at The Baltimore School for the Arts, where he graduated with honors. He then went to the Peabody Conservatory of Music to study with David Fedderly, Former Principal Tubist of the  Baltimore Symphony, where he received his Bachelor’s degree. On the advice of Mr. Fedderly, Richard traveled to Indiana University to study with the legendary Professor Daniel Perantoni. He continued his studies there receiving both his Master’s and Doctoral degrees. He is currently principal tubist with the New Mexico Philharmonic and professor of Tuba/Euphonium at UNM. Visit his personal website to learn more.
  • William Smith (Richard’s Half-brother)
    William Smith is Richard’s younger half-brother. Raised by the same Mother, William found himself living a similar life to Richard’s in his youth. As he got older William discovered his own love for music and is currently a freestyle rapper and writer. He works at Walmart in Baltimore and continues to stay in touch with Richard often. In the film is the first time William has ever collaborated with his brother musically.
  • King Pinnock (Young Richard)
    Age 5, King was born and raised in Prince George’s County. With a Jamaican and African American background, he has spent the last two years building his acting resume. He has starred in a PBS series, and a few other commercials. He enjoys playing football, boxing and spending time with his family.
  • David Larson (Co-Director)
    Dave is a disciplined photographer and an intuitive storyteller who uses the human experience as a canvas for creative expression. Dave balances technical savvy and gathering gorgeous cinematic images with his ability to blend into the background to capture real moment-driven stories making his work connect on deeper levels. Dave’s film making talents have garnered him many industry awards. Most recently, David co-directed with Darren Durlach “Throw,” a moving shortfilm that won Director’s Choice award at Telluride Mountainfilm and a Vimeo Staff Pick. LINKEDIN & INSTAGRAM
  • Darren Durlach (Co-Director)
    Darren’s tireless focus on refining footage into a beautiful and captivating narrative stems from more than a decade of meticulously crafting impactful award-winning films. His unique skill of pulling raw stories out of natural conversation is what makes his work compelling. Darren believes that motion pictures is the most powerful medium for showing fascinating stories of ordinary people and driving human connection. LINKEDIN & INSTAGRAM
  • Jody Weldon (Editor)
    Jody is always observing-people he admires, work that moves him, the emotional reactions that come when he watches his final work with stakeholders. A master of pace, finding moments, creating emotion-driven sequences and motion graphics, he lives for the creative intimacy that comes from working with a passionate and engaged team who care about what they are building. Jody has edited short films for clients all over the world and been recognized time and time again for his work with industry awards.  LINKEDIN
  • Spencer Grundler (Director of Photography)
    Spencer is a freelance cinematographer and artist. From early in his life he was raised with an interest in the arts. From studying the Masters and their use of painterly technique, to learning about analog photography, and digital filmmaking. His passion for classic literature and modern documentation has kindled a dedication towards observing the great human spirit that has pushed mankind forward from ancient times into the future. His work as a camera-man focuses on exploring the use of light and lens to reflect the human stories for both nonfiction and narrative films. INSTAGRAM
  • Patricia Frith Publicity
    A PR and communications firm that has been working with global media companies, technology companies and others. Specialties include strategic public and media relations services, including all press communications, re-branding, channel and product launches, securing speaking engagements, speech writing, ghost-writing editorials, white papers, media training, media tours, messaging and crisis management.  LINKEDIN

A Dream & R.A.W.Tuba Ranch

Dr. Richard White has a long-range plan that involves building a ranch:

“What RAWTuba Ranch means is that everyone can come to the ranch. If you’re feeling dark, blue or you’re just feeling like you don’t know what to do, come to the ranch. There will always be beer, ramen noodles and chili. The mic there will always be present and it’s open to everyone.”

Read more here…


  • Patricia Frith Publicity for connecting us to the R.A.W. TUBA and to Richard’s project.
  • Becca Wallance for editorial.
  • And to Richard: “See you in Carnegie Hall in 2022!”