Would you put your life on the line for music?
Interview with Writer/Director Travis Beard
Congratulations! Why did you make your film?
I made this film to show the world that Afghanistan is not only a place of conflict, drugs and poverty. I also made this film to show Afghans that metal music is not satanic music 99% of the time it is just good old rock and roll that the teenage youth want to explore and use as a form of self-expression.
Imagine I’m a member of the audience. Why should I watch this film?
An audience member should watch this film to learn more about a part of the world they may know very little about because the mass media seldom reports on a thing else besides the human casualty numbers and attacks when those numbers reach over 10 fatalities.
If someone wants to know more about the Islamic world and countries which are deemed to be on the list of state sponsored terrorism then this is a film that can show you the other side of those societies.
Also, this film can teach the audience a little bit about American foreign policy as well as the other 52 Nations that we're part of the NATO Alliance that entered Afghanistan in 2001 and the Mechanics behind that campaign.
How do personal and universal themes work in your film?
Our film is told from the first person perspective as I was lucky enough to have access to these five young Afghan men and their pursuit of musical exploration.
Due to this personal relationship between filmmaker and the band members, we can show the audience a true depiction of life in Afghanistan on a civilian level by people who lived in the country. Universally we can look at foreign policy and how it impacts the everyday person on the ground in a conflict zone and not just in the offices of the politicians that make those decisions.
How have the script and film evolved over the course of their development?
The film took 5 years to film and another 2 years to complete the story so it went through many revisions. On top of this, characters left the country and the political situation in Afghanistan was in constant flux so the story had to adapt to those ever changing environments. I believe that we have told a story that is as close as possible to the actual events, while still creating an entertaining and informative film for different audiences.
What type of feedback have you received so far?
We've had more than thirty screenings internationally, particularly in Europe and everyone says "I never realised that there was this type of movement both musical and artistic in a country like Afghanistan" and they are also quite impressed by the sheer determination of the band to try and make music under such harsh conditions. It makes people reflect on how lucky we are in the Western World.
Has the feedback surprised or challenged your point of view?
There have been a few questions that were interesting but they are always welcomed. One was "Why do all the boys speak in English and sing in English? Were they educated outside Afghanistan?
Another was "Are all the boys from middle class families, is this how they accessed music and were able to access music in their home environment?"
No one asked very much about the political situation that underlies the narrative of this film and I guess that's what has given me motivation to make another film about Afghanistan and dig deeper into the mechanics of why conflict happens and why countries like Afghanistan have been in such strife situations for so many decades ...if not centuries.
What are you looking to achieve by having your film more visible on www.wearemovingstories.com?
We want people to come to our Melbourne Premiere at ACMI as part of AIDC (Australian International Documentary Conference) on 6 March!! It is the first screening in my home town.
Who do you need to come on board (producers, sales agents, buyers, distributors, film festival directors, journalists) to amplify this film’s message?
It would be great to get some press now to help get the message out to ensure we have a strong interest and following in the film. We are looking for ANZ Sales, distributors, buyers and festival directors.
What type of impact and/or reception would you like this film to have?
I hope this film will have an impact on the audience in a way that they will get involved in helping Afghans who are still in Afghanistan. I also hope the Afghan community that lives in Melbourne will receive the film well. I hope the film helps the Australian government to change their foreign policy in Afghanistan as well as the refugee policy for Afghans and other migrants coming to Australia.
What’s a key question that will help spark a debate or begin a conversation about this film?
Why should we bring western culture to Islamic republics like Afghanistan?
Should foreign governments get involved in complex situations like Afghanistan?
Seeing that there is now no music scene in Kabul was all the risk worth it to make the music scene that existed for only for 4-5 years?
Would you like to add anything else?
I hope this film can end up being a historical and educational tool for generations to come who want to learn about not only foreign policy and the history of Afghanistan but also to show the same audience that the notion of armed aggression does not always work in liberating an oppressed society.
What other projects are the key creatives developing or working on now?
I am currently in development on The Afghan Bug which explores the political mechanics of the situation and why various expats ended up living and working in the conflict zone when they could otherwise have lives of relative peace in their home country. It also more deeply explores foreign policy in Afghanistan - particularly in relation to the current peace talks.
Interview: February 2019
We Are Moving Stories embraces new voices in drama, documentary, animation, TV, web series, music video, women's films, LGBTQIA+, POC, First Nations, scifi, supernatural, horror, world cinema. If you have just made a film - we'd love to hear from you. Or if you know a filmmaker - can you recommend us? More info: Carmela
Would you put your life on the line for music?
Director: Travis Beard
Producer: Brooke Silcox
Writer: Travis Beard
About the writer, director and producer:
TRAVIS BEARD was originally a photo journalist but ended up in Afghanistan where he fell in love with the country and wanted to make a difference through arts, music and culture.
BROOKE SILCOX has a passion for humanitarian stories and saw that this film was important to help the West see how privileged and lucky we are to have the freedoms we do.
Key cast: Lemar, Yosef, Qais, Pedram, Qasam
Looking for: buyers, distributors, journalists, sales agents, film festival directors
Made in association with: Argus Productions, No Thing Productions, UpNorth Films, Tigernest Films
Funders: Screen Australia
Where can I watch it next and in the coming month? Sharm El-Sheikh Asian Film Festival - Egypt!