A Documentary Film
US Broadcast Premiere, 17th August at 8pm (east) on HBO. Here’s the trailer:
Almost two years ago now I received a surprise call from Johnny Burke, a good friend and one of the directors of this excellent film. Having worked together in the past and thinking he had left filmmaking it was a pleasure to hear that he and Andrew Hinton had a project they wanted to share with me.
When I first watched a rough cut of TATM, I was spell bound. The story, the photography and the beautifully sensitive edit all struck me a very emotional blow. I knew immediately that I had to get involved. Documentary filmmaking is a very unique area of the media industry and one that I would almost go as far to say I enjoy the most. You are dealing with the real world and some very real and difficult issues but you are also attempting to convey a story in the most imaginative and engaging way possible. When a film comes along that has been mostly self funded, is free from the shackles of a broadcasters remit and was discovered by two passionate filmmakers such as Andrew and Johnny, it feels like film making utopia.
TATM is a film about a brave social experiment taking place on a remote mountain top in the foothills of the Himalayas. Buddhist Monk Lobsang was trained under the guidance of his Holiness the Dalai Lama but 8 years ago left behind a life as a spiritual teacher in the United States to create a unique community which rescues orphaned and neglected children. 5 year old Tashi is the newest arrival. Her mother recently passed away and she’s been abandoned by her alcoholic father. Wild and troubled, Tashi is struggling to find her place amongst 84 new siblings. Lobsang has channeled his own unhappy childhood into an opportunity for other “uninvited guests of the universe” to avoid a similar fate. But can the community’s love and compassion transform Tashi’s alienation and tantrums into a capacity to make her first real friend?
I spent almost a month stealing time around other projects to write music, sound design, and help finish this film. We had Jerome Alexander aka ‘Message To Bears’ on board early on and we collaborated on the opening theme. He wrote the core of a beautiful instrumental and then after some discussion with Andrew and Johnny we knew we had to get the voices of the children involved. With a writing partner, Klara, I recorded a series of vocal phrases which we broke down and sent as little audio files to the school. I asked the music teacher at the community if she could teach the kids these phrases and then with the help of one lovely volunteer, Spencer, we set about recording them. Using the old musical form of call and response and Spencer huddled in the throng of kids they sang back the phrases and those glorious chaotic sounds eventually found their way back to me in my studio in London.
This documentary has been on an epic journey since that first phone call from Johnny. 8 film festival awards, nearly all the way to the Oscars, and now it’s first full broadcast on HBO in the U.S. Long may it continue to help raise money for such a wonderful project.
I look forward to meeting Lobsang one day and shaking his hand.
If you would like to read more about this documentary you can visit the website here and if you would like to hear the music you can get it here on iTunes, just click on the image below.