For Once in My Life

For Once in My Life

  • BY Jim Bigham & Mark Moormann | IN Arts & Culture
    Premiered February 1, 2011

About the Film

Meet the Spirit of Goodwill band — a unique assembly of singers and musicians who live with varying degrees of physical and mental disability. They bond over their mutual love of music, and their fierce drive to improve and play to ever-larger audiences. MORE

The 29 members of the band live with everything from autism and Down syndrome, to blindness and other physical, mental, and developmental challenges. By day they work and socialize with one another at the Goodwill Industries of South Florida. That's also where they rehearse their music with an eye toward playing sophisticated venues and garnering mainstream respect and accomplishment. As their music becomes tighter and more harmonious, so too do their lives — a testament to the healing and empowering power of music, participation, cooperation, and friendship.

Terry, the blind lead singer and saxophone player who was dropped when he was fourteen months old never fully recovered physically. But emotionally, he is determined and inspirational, fighting through setbacks and frustrations as he prepares to unleash his voice in front of a live audience.

Christian, who has autism and is blind, reveals himself to be a gifted pianist. Even through a slight stutter, he eloquently describes his wish to become a famous musician beloved by the whole world.

Nancy, a character with her thick New York accent and sense of humor, is the high-functioning but developmentally delayed soprano in the band. She works at Goodwill and cares for her two mentally disabled siblings.

Sam's mother tried to conceal her pregnancy after he was conceived, and as a result, he suffers from physical and mental issues that occasionally cause him to fly into a rage. A drummer, he is serious about his music and his life, and recently proposed to one of the vocalists, Patricia.

As they, Music Director Javier Pena, and the rest of the band struggle to prepare for a huge public concert, some have difficulty coping with the pressure or the pace of learning. But they support each other in a united effort to prove themselves as human beings and musicians.

The Filmmakers

Jim Bigham and Mark Moormann

Jim Bigham was producer of feature film SweetLand for which he received the 2007 Independent Spirit Award for best feature. Other credits include Great Expectations, Jeepers Creepers, Bad Boys, and Body Heat.

Mark Moormann's documentary work includes the Grammy-nominated Tom Dowd & the Language of Music, Once Upon a Time on South Beach, Hidden Rivers of the Maya, and Blindsided. LESS

Film Credits

Directed by
Jim Bigham and Mark Moormann

Jim Bigham

Creative Directors
Amy Foote and Javier Pena

Executive Producer
Lourdes Little

Associate Producers
Cathy Bigham and Christina Vidal

Mark Moormann

Additional Cinematography
Jim Bigham

Music Engineer
Philip Colodetti

Amy Foote

Additional Editor
Brian Bayerl

Cast (In Order of Appearance)
Javier Pena
Terry Wigfall
Melissa Cason
David Benitez
Jary Pulgarin
Juan Pulgarin
Christian Acosta
Sam Collins
Nancy Spagnolo
Godwin Lee

Secondary Cast - Main Characters' Family Members
Hector Pulgarin
Clara Montes
Segundo Perez
Ola Jones
Esperanza Benitez
Dolly Collins
Patricia Taylor Collins
Anthony Spagnolo
Diane Spagnolo
Mary Paniko
Godfrey Lee
Linna Lee

Other Spirit of Goodwill Band Members
Omar Rodriguez
Victor Pegorari
Lisa Velasquez
Anthony Locke
Rodrigo Gamboa
Rita Roberts
Leonardo Sanchez
Carlos Alvarez
Alejandro Rivera
Henry Machado
Celina Peguerro
Alex Perez
Walter Anderson
Ellen Brant
Andrew Haines
Rosanel Maldonado
Patrick Mckoy
Denise Stroud

Patricio Suarez
Brian Bayerl
Richard Samuels
Bill Randall

Concert Cameramen
Ben Centoducatti
Bruce Merlin
Doug Milt

Dan Earl

Concert Sound Engineer
Peter Yianilos

Mathew Conrad

Make Up
Victoria Amy
Tabi Barber

Production Assistants
Julianna Bigham
Javier Pena, Jr.

Location Soundmen
Ed Boharic
Steve Carlson
Chris Cimaglia
Scott Ouellette
Michael Pisano
Ray Rifice

Live Sound Engineers
Miguel Olivera
Juan Carlos Vergara

Sound Recording
Ronnie Torres

Sound Engineer
Scott Hays

Recording Technicians
Arturo Morejon
Sean Michael Olivera
Jose Ramon Garcia

Music Mixer and Recording Engineer
Philip Colodetti

Orlando Silva
Hernan Polo

Video Tech
Ben Stinson

Still Photographer
Robert Hughie

David Chaskes

Color Correction
New Art Miami

Re-Recording Mixer
Tom Hammond

Music Consultant
Joe Galdo

Post-Production Assistants
Veronica Hennig
Him Froehringer
Whitney King

Legal Services
Dan Satorius

Aimee Lyde

Title Design
George Goodridge

Music Clearance
The Rights Workshop

Trailer Editor
Kim Connell

Web Design
Caster Who

Special Thanks
Adrienne Arscht Center for Performing Arts
Afi Filmworks
Coral Ridge Media
Mayor Manny Diaz
The Edit Center NY
Emilio Estefan
Estefan Enterprises
Penelope Falk
Jennifer Fox
Greendoor Productions
Goodwill of South Florida Staff
Gil Holland
Iglesia el Buen Samaritano
Mark Nickelsburg
Oolala Productions
Dennis Pastrana
Bridget Pallango
Silvia Riorda
Riot Music Miami
George Rush
Ali Selim
Walter and Judy Shipley
St. Paul Baptist Church
Unique Producers

Funding Provided by
Leonard and Jayne Abess
WJS Foundation
Goodwill Ambassadors
Ryder Charitable Foundation
Bilzin Sumberg
Wachovia Bank
Miami Dade Dept. of Cultural Affairs
Calder Race Course
Joe Lacher
Morrison, Brown, Argiz, Farra
Peacock Foundation
The Braman Family Foundation
Bob and Penny Bromberg
The Samuel E. and Mary Thatcher Foundation
Dade Community Foundation
Al Novak
Florida Marlins Community Foundation
Rudy Kranys
Dennis Mcnenney
Sapoznik Insurance
James Spencer

And others. A complete list is available from PBS.

This program was produced by Big Blue Box Productions, Inc., which is solely responsible for its content.

© 2011, Big Blue Box Productions, Inc. All rights reserved.

Has anyone ever told you that you couldn’t do something, because you were too young, too old, too short, too anything? How did you overcome those imposed limitations, and what inspired you to prove them wrong?


  • 2011 IDA Music Documentary Award
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Has anyone ever told you that you couldn’t do something, because you were too young, too old, too short, too anything? How did you overcome those imposed limitations, and what inspired you to prove them wrong?