The Last Repair Shop: An Oscar-Winning Documentary Short

March 19, 2024

By Kyle Finnegan

The Oscar-winning documentary short, “The Last Repair Shop” is a 40-minute film that was recognized during the 96th Oscars.

Co-directors Ben Proudfoot and Kris Bowers partnered with L.A. Times Studios and Searchlight Pictures to tell the story of a handful of devoted craftspeople who maintain over 80,000 student musical instruments, the largest remaining workshop in America of its kind. In this documentary you meet four unforgettable craftspeople whose broken-and-repaired lives have been dedicated to bringing so much more than music to the schoolchildren of the recording capital of the world.




The significance of this film extends beyond its focus on making music accessible to children; it also challenges traditional documentary production methods. “The Last Repair Shop” has not only drawn attention to the crucial subject of music education but has also shattered preconceptions about documentary filmmaking.

What makes this documentary different?

The word documentary often conjures the idea of a long, narrated, academic piece of filmmaking (maybe an 11 hour epic about the Civil War comes to mind). But The Last Repair Shop challenges these expectations. To start, it’s less than half the length of a typical feature length film, a fact that makes viewing it on YouTube extremely accessible. This abridged format doesn’t make it any less impactful. In fact, it has as much heart as any films in the best picture category, largely because its narrative is driven completely by interviews. This decision by the filmmakers gives the audience the feeling that they’re connecting with the characters on a personal level.


It’s no secret that at 522 Productions, we’re big fans of the short form documentary. We’ve worked in this format for dozens of organizations to draw attention to their missions– from the Golden Goose Award’s mission to rally support for federally funded science, to The American Institute of Architect’s mission to give communities control over their future. 

A documentary can also be a powerful call to action, something the filmmakers of The Last Repair Shop know as well. They’ve launched The Last Repair Shop Fund to assist the characters of the film. As you consider contributing to the fund, remember that your support goes beyond the film itself; it becomes an investment in the future of music education and the lives touched by the magic of repaired instruments.

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