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The local musicians behind “How to Break a World Record”

Stephen Oliver broke the Guinness World Record for longest mandolin playing session, and made a documentary called “How to Break a World Record” about the process. You can now stream it on Amazon Prime.

Three young men standing in front of a movie poster for "How to Break a World Record"

Dan, Stephen, and Andrew (in that order) want to see you at the premiere. | Photo by GVLtoday

Local musician Stephen Oliver, along with his brother Andrew Oliver (also known as Brother Oliver) set out to break the Guinness World Record for longest mandolin playing session. Not only did Stephen Oliver break the record, but they made a documentary to prove it. “How to Break a World Record” is available for streaming Apple TV + will be available soon on Amazon Prime.

We sat down with Stephen Oliver,Andrew Oliver, and co-director Dan Johnson to chat about the movie.

Q: What’s something you really want people to know about this movie?

Andrew Oliver: It’s actually out, like, it’s actually happening right now on major platforms.

Johnson: It’s actually a real movie.

Stephen Oliver: Yeah, it’s not just on YouTube.

Andrew Oliver: And it’s 100% filmed in Greenville.

Q: What does it take to get a movie onto a streaming platform?

Andrew Oliver: You have to get a distribution deal. After we finished the movie, there was no deal. An agent actually reached out to us after a film festival with Freestyle Digital Media. Then we had to get insurance and trademarks and clearance on people and music. It was a lot.

Stephen Oliver with his mandolin

He said the songs didn’t have to be played well, just played. | Photo via Andrew Oliver

Q: Why did you choose the mandolin?

Stephen Oliver: It was really a spur of the moment thing. I went to Guitar Center on a Black Friday like 10 years ago and was like, “I’m gonna buy something cool.”

Andrew Oliver: And it became his forte.

Stephen Oliver: We actually had the idea to make a funny YouTube skit of me trying to break the Guinness World Record and then comically fail, like, 10 seconds before the end. I started looking into the rules to make the video more realistic, and I realized it could actually be done.

Q: We know it was tough, but how tough was it?

Stephen Oliver: About five hours in was almost my breaking point, but like, everyone I knew was there. I couldn’t just stop. Eight to 12 hours in, the pain in my fingers plateaued and I got used to it.

Q: We know there’s some drama with the former record holder, Kuntal Raj Chakraborty.

Andrew Oliver: Okay, don’t give too much away, but Kuntal held the record for five years. When he found out we were trying to break his record, he decided to re-break his own record at the same time. He said he was going to go for 48 hours, and we were going for 27.

You’ll have to watch the movie to find out what happens.

Q: Let’s talk about the local ties this movie has.

Andrew Oliver: We filmed all the interviews and did the private premiere at Swanson’s Warehouse. That’s where Stephen actually broke the record. And all the music in the movie is from Indie artists, a bunch are from Greenville.

GVLtoday How to Break a World Record

Stream it today on Apple TV + Amazon Prime. | Photo via Andrew Oliver

Q: What’s your wildest dream for this movie?

Stephen Oliver: I want it to be a cult classic, like “King of Kong.”

Andrew Oliver: The logical next step, too, would be to have an exclusive on a streaming service.

Q: If someone made a biopic about this movie, who would you want to play you?

Johnson: A young Steve McQueen

Andrew Oliver: Matthew McConaughey

Stephen Oliver: Josh Peck from the “Drake and Josh” era.

Q: What’s one thing you wished I asked you that I didn’t?

Andrew Oliver: The movie follows the whole journey, from the inception, the training, the planning, the aftermath, it’s more than his attempt. The actual playing was less than 30 minutes in the movie. It’s not boring, he’s not just playing the mandolin the whole movie.

Johnson: And you don’t have to fit in a Hollywood mold. Just share a fun story and make a movie with people you like to hang out with.

The official movie premiere is Thursday, June 27, and you’re invited. Doors open at 7 p.m. and the movie starts at 8 p.m. There will be live music, a Q+A, and a cash bar.