Private Project

Frank Bey: All My Dues Are Paid


In 1977 soul-blues singer Frank Bey quit performing after a deal went terribly wrong with James Brown, the “Godfather of Soul.” Forty years later Frank is invited to record a solo CD in Nashville with Buddy Guy's record producer, fulfilling the dream of his life. Posthumously, in 2021, Frank's final solo CD, "All My Dues Are Paid," is nominated for a Grammy.

Our 86-minute feature documentary film, also titled "Frank Bey: All My Dues Are Paid," presents an unknown, impoverished, Black kidney-transplant survivor who also is a much-loved, gifted soul-blues singer, preparing for the 2016 Memphis Blues Music Awards, his third time nominated for excellence by the international blues-music community.
Our film documents Frank’s day to day life for two years, using film verité, archival material, and interview. We follow Frank to concerts in small, local church basements as well as to international concerts in front of huge audiences.
Early in the film Frank describes the struggles he faces with the West-coast band he fronts, believing he progressively has been losing stature in the band.
Throughout our film we see Frank continually dealing with post-kidney transplant health problems, severely complicated by an underserving health-care system.
After we see Frank perform in Switzerland at the 2017 Baden Blues Festival, he is invited to Nashville, Tennessee, to record the CD of his life, a solo recording with Buddy Guy’s record producer and an all-star studio band. Footage from the recording sessions serves as a thread to hold scenes of the film together.
The aforementioned Nashville CD, "Back In Business," is nominated for the Best Blues Recording of 2019 by the Blues Music Association, and Frank is nominated as Best Male Soul/Blues Recording Artist of 2019. This is Frank's first CD released as a solo artist.
During some off-time while in Memphis in 2019, Frank records a song in a hotel room for his next (and final) solo album; that CD, "All My Dues Are Paid," is nominated for a 2021 Grammy.

  • Tom Dwyer
  • Lisa Palattella
  • Tom Dwyer
  • Frank Bey
    Key Cast
  • Tom Hambridge
    Key Cast
  • Toni Bey
    Key Cast
    Frank's wife
  • Kid Andersen
    Key Cast
  • Lisa Palattella
  • Lisa Palattella
    Music Editor
  • Project Type:
    Documentary, Feature
  • Genres:
    Black social concerns, Health System Inadequacies, Aging in America, Black Men and Kidney Disease, Blues Music, Inspirational Human Interest
  • Runtime:
    1 hour 26 minutes 5 seconds
  • Completion Date:
    January 15, 2024
  • Production Budget:
    700,000 USD
  • Country of Origin:
    United States
  • Country of Filming:
    United States
  • Language:
  • Shooting Format:
    4 K
  • Film Color:
  • First-time Filmmaker:
  • Student Project:
  • 24 Winners, 4 Finalists, 6 Semi-Finalists, 3 Honorable Mentions
    USA, Canada, Europe, Japan, Africa
    United States
  • Berlin New Wave FF
    September 19, 2023
    Official Selection-Festival Winner
    Hello Thomas, Berlin New W(from the New Wave FF) Dear Tom Dwyer, Lisa Palattella, and the dedicated team involved in crafting the documentary centered around Frank Bey's remarkable journey, I wish to extend my appreciation for the documentary you have crafted, which thoughtfully illuminates Frank Bey's extraordinary life and musical odyssey. The film beautifully portrays the themes of tenacity, devotion, and the relentless pursuit of aspirations. The documentary adeptly encapsulates Frank's evolution from encountering adversity to the realization of his lifelong ambition in the vibrant musical scene of Nashville. The comprehensive interviews and live performances provide an intimate glimpse into Frank's world and underscore his remarkable artistry. The somewhat ironic note of a posthumous Grammy nomination for his final CD, "All My Dues Are Paid," lends a profound emotional depth to his narrative, highlighting his enduring impact on the music industry. Your documentary stands as a touching homage to Frank Bey's legacy, certain to resonate with audiences worldwide. We are genuinely thankful for the opportunity to experience this remarkable story.
  • Detroit Film Festival
    United States
    September 15, 2023
    Semi Finalist
  • Macon (GA) Film Festival
    Macon Georgia
    United States
    August 20, 2023
    2023 Special Mention-Music Category Award
  • 2023 Baden Blues Festival
    May 27, 2023
    Swedish Premiere
    Invited for 2 screenings as Centerpiece of Festival
  • Venice Independent Film Festival
    January 5, 2023
  • Film Haus Berlin Film Festival
    November 25, 2022
    Award Winner
  • Sherman Oaks FF
    Sherman Oaks, CA
    United States
    November 15, 2022
    Official Selection/Audience favorite
  • Liverpool (UK) Official Selection
    United Kingdom
    November 6, 2022
    Official Selection
  • Lonely Seal FF
    Boston. MA
    October 7, 2022
    Winner Best Documentary
  • Greater Cleveland Urban Film Festival
    Cleveland, OH
    September 16, 2022
    Special Invitation to Screen twice at Fest.
  • Docs Without Borders Film Festival

    United States
    August 15, 2022
    2022 Winner for Excellence
  • New Hope Film Festival
    New Hope
    United States
    July 22, 2022
    Winner-Best Documentary Film
  • Manhattan Film Festival
    New York City
    United States
    June 10, 2022
    Winner-Best Historical Music Documentary
  • LA Independent Film Fest.
    Los Angeles, CA
  • Boden Intl. Film Fest.
  • Cannes World Film Festival
    Winner-Best American Film
  • Toronto Black Film Festival
    North American Premiere
    Official Selection
Director Biography - Tom Dwyer, Lisa Palattella

I (Tom) am a 74-year-old, first-time film producer and director. I taught English for 35 years in an exceptionally good, suburban Philadelphia high school before retiring from a career that I loved. In class I often used music and film to enhance classroom lessons and discussions.
Post-retirement found me singing semi-professionally with "Peter Nero and the Philly Pops" as well as learning mandolin and then joining weekly "traditional Irish" music sessions. I took acting lessons for five years, and simultaneously began working in film as an actor, most often in college film-student theses films, some commercial industrial films, and several professional, “Hollywood” films. In 2016, when a friend introduced me to the music of Frank Bey, I was invited to work on a documentary film about Frank, learning the craft as we moved forward. In spite of the work and expense entailed in agreeing to become a filmmaker, I will never regret that decision.

Lisa Palattella is an experienced, accomplished editor and director of documentary films, having worked in film for 35 years and having won or been nominated for a number of prestigious film awards.
Some Samples:
“Citizen Koch”. Editor. Sundance nominee. Theater release in 2014.
“Wish Me Away”. Co-producer and Editor. 5 prestigious festival wins. 2011.
Lisa also is an accomplished guitar player who fronted
several bands in LA, bands that were made up of top, west-coast session players.

Add Director Biography
Director Statement

I received a wonderful gift when Frank Bey opened his life to us and agreed to allow us to film his day-to-day life for 2+ years with no-holds-barred. Frank's determination, resilience, and intelligence led him, in spite of the ruthless forces that pushed him around for most of his life, to become a man whose story should be seen and heard by many, for his life story is inspirational and should speak to everyone.
As we follow Frank throughout our film, we are reminded not only of how difficult living a life as an elderly artist can be, but also of how important it is to try to “never say no” to what lives in one’s heart.
Frank’s story is an elixir for these unprecedented, troubled times; there has never been a better or more important time for the world to hear Frank’s singing and to hear about his story.
To have known Frank Bey and to have become a friend of his is a gift that I will always cherish.
I am privileged to have played a small role in keeping Frank’s legacy alive through his recordings and our film.