LOS ANGELES — In the heart of Los Angeles, a shop dedicated to breathing new life into musical instruments for local students caught the attention of a pair of filmmakers, and the resulting film has earned a spot on the shortlist for the 2024 Academy Awards.

What You Need To Know

  • "The Last Repair Shop" sheds light on the unsung heroes behind the scenes of the Los Angeles United School District Musical Instrument Repair Shop

  • The film has earned a spot on the shortlist for the 2024 Academy Awards

  • The shop has seen an uptick in instrument donations since the film

  • "The Last Repair Shop" is available for viewing on YouTube

“The Last Repair Shop” sheds light on the unsung heroes behind the scenes of the Los Angeles United School District musical instrument repair shop.

When Ben Proudfoot first heard about the shop, he was in awe. 

“I couldn’t believe a couple of things,” Proudfoot said. “One, that LA was one of the last in the country to have a shop like this, that this was by far the biggest remaining shop of its kind. And two, I just was so curious about what this place was like. It’s kind of like the North Pole of musical instrument repair.”

Proudfoot joined forces with decorated composer and LA native Kris Bowers to bring the stories of the shop and its staff to life. Digging into individual stories and highlighting the impact of both the shop’s efforts on local students and the effect of music on the staff, the film is a beautiful behind-the-scenes look at an essential service. 

“There’s something beautiful that happens here in the shop where the attitude is everything can be repaired,” Proudfoot notes. 

The shop’s supervisor, Steve Bagmanyan, who is featured in the film, reminisces about his two-decade journey, starting as a piano tuner, and the impact the film has had. 

“It reached many hearts,” he said. “It reached many people. And we have more people actually calling in want to donate some instruments.” 

With a smile on his face, Bagmanyan proudly unveiled the first harp to circulate in LASUD, highlighting that there was a young student eager to use it. The harp had just had its strings removed to repair a crack. 

“We’ll get it done soon and get it to the right hands,” Bagmanyan said proudly. 

One of the shop’s significant impacts is the accessibility of musical instruments for young students. Instruments are repaired and provided to them at no cost, alleviating the financial burden of music education. 

“At the end of the day, we’re doing it all for the kids and I’m very proud to be a part of this,” Bagmanyan said.

The film has already received multiple awards and recognition, but most recently, it made it to the Academy Awards shortlist for Best Documentary Short Film. 

The nominees will be announced on Jan. 23.

Bagmanyan, while appreciating the acknowledgment, humbly points out that their work is just a small part of a more extensive maintenance operation within the LA Unified School District. 

“We just take care of the musical instruments. But there are people taking care of the roofs and the windows and the asphalt. There are a lot of people behind the scene and we’re just basically representing,” Bagmanyan said. 

“The Last Repair Shop” is available for viewing on YouTube.