Sunday, June 03, 2012

Interview with the Director of Bards Of War

May 25, 2012 By bowadmin (A film has a story and behind the story is voice and vision of the Director. This is the first of a new regular feature providing discussions with Director/ Producer Scott Kesterson and a glimpse into the creative process that is driving Bards of War.) Where are you at this time? Right now, I’m in Portland, Oregon in my office, at my small desk with two Mac laptop computers and a 30″ Apple editing monitor working on the movie. Where did the name “Bards of War” come from? Another word for Bard is “storyteller”. In the days of ancient history when most people were not literate, it was the Bard who told the stories and preserved the histories. Today’s soldiers are Bards in a modern sense in that they are our modern day storytellers who keep the histories alive. It seemed to make sense to call the movie “Bards of War”. It’s a movie about soldiers telling their stories from a very personal point of view – their own. Can you tell us where you are in production right now? At the moment, all of the combat zone footage is shot and cataloged plus four of the eight interviews have been completed. We will be shooting the last of the interviews in late June. Right now, I am working on the part of the movie about the events in Zabul. Some pretty powerful material. Will we get to see any trailers or samples of the footage? Yes! With over 180 hours of footage, there’s a lot of stuff to wade through in the editing process. Things are coming together and we will be posting clips to the website soon. 180 hours is a lot of footage! Will there be clips you post that are interesting but don’t quite fit into the movie? There are a lot of interesting scenes in the library of footage that don’t fit into the movie. You can be assured that some of that material will make it to the website. There are other “war” movies that have been released this year. What makes “Bards of War” different from the others? (laughs) For starters, Bards of War is not a Hollywood production. There are no actors, there’s no formal ‘script’ in the traditional sense; nothing is staged. The people in this movie are real. They are real soldiers, real locals – nobody told them what to say or do. Second, the entire movie was shot on small, handheld HD camcorders. It’s completely unreal to think of packing a big 35mm film camera into a firefight and think you will get any usable footage. Third, Hollywood productions tend to be too clean and too sterile. That’s to be expected – it makes it a lot easier to tell the story. With the expense and liability that comes with actors, crew and locations a director has to be careful to control everything. For me, in Afghanistan, I was the director and the crew. What came out of that is a very dirty, gritty and chaotic ride through the war in Afghanistan. The footage truly captures just how crazy things can get. So, would it be fair to call this movie a Documentary because of all the realism? No. I wouldn’t call Bards of War a Documentary. While there is absolutely no fiction anywhere in this movie, there are places where the exact sequence of events have been changed to make the story more compelling. There are very specific rules and constraints that one must follow to use the word “Documentary”. Coming from a photo-journalist background, I had originally thought of making Bards of War a documentary. As the story came together and I talked it through with my team and we agred that imposing the constraints of documentary film would not help us tell this story properly. If you had to put Bards of War in a category, I think the term “Independent Film” would be best. When is the release date? The schedule is for October of 2012.