War and Priest

Filmmaker Q&A with Director Karin-Bam Stowe and Co-director Hanna Adcock

Is there a particular video, film, campaign or filmmaker that had a major influence on your career?

There’s been a lot of influences from Robert Capa to Hunter S Thompson- I seek out interesting forms of storytelling and auteurs!


What motivated you to make your impact video?

We came across the story when researching Georgia and felt that it was such a clever and innovative way to ‘beat the system’.


Please tell us what camera(s) you shot with primarily – and any other special equipment that you used and why you used it.

We primarily used a DSLRS, GoPros and gimbal and a glide. We wanted to be unimposing with kit as we find that it gets the best out of our contributors.


Please tell us about any special styles or techniques that you used during the production of your impact video to help tell your story.

We wanted the film to be visually interesting and capture and reflect the personalities of the contributors. We had really long exploratory interviews with loose structures to let the story run naturally. The story was about more than conscription – it was about the emergence from soviet times, social structures and social change. We approached it with humour, but there was always a serious undertone.


How did your story evolve from day one, to the very last day in post? Is your story what you thought it would be?

We originally planned a much more complex film, with dream-like scenes playing on the idea of religion and priesthood. We also wanted perspectives from the state and church (who didn’t reply). A short time in to filming, the protest happened and the schedules of all the participants really changed – some ended up in prison – so we ended up focussing much more on one element of the story.


Please describe the most rewarding experience you had while making this impact video.

It was a privilege (and great fun) to be around all the activists and young people who had opted out of conscription. Their passion for the cause was infectious.


What advice can you give to other impact filmmakers?

Although you can have creative ideas going in to a story, it’s really about listening and researching once you are there. Try and stay clear of purely fact-finding interviews. What are the other elements in that persons life that has influenced them? You may have a story, but what is the overarching story – what is the feeling, the message, the humanistic element that will resonate with your audience?


What’s your favorite part about the filmmaking process and why?

The spontaneity of stories in flux, the quick thinking, and creative decision-making when filming.


What’s the one item you always take with you when working out in the field and why?

A flask of coffee, plenty of humour and a level(ish) head.


Please provide a brief description of the work or organization featured in your video:

Girchi is a liberal and libertarian political party in Georgia. In March 2017, Girchi formed the officially recognised church, the Christian Evangelical Protestant Biblical Freedom Church of Georgia, in 2017. Georgian legislation provides special privileges and exemptions for the clergy and students at theological schools, including the deferment of compulsory military service. Biblical Freedom used the provision, the so-called legislative loophole, for the benefit of young men and issues state-recognised documents to those who do not wish to join the army, certifying that they are priests.


What have you learned about the value and impact of the project?

The Christian Evangelical Protestant Biblical Freedom Church of Georgia continues to face opposition, and it’s important to keep talking about conscription.


Please share a personal story about your experience making this impact video.

We heard murmurings of a protest on the day, but didn’t expect it to escalate the way it did. We were watching local news in our rented flat and could hear the crowds from the window. We ran with our cameras down to the square. It was an incredible atmosphere. Impassioned people from all ages and backgrounds. As the night went on, the rubber bullets and tear gas canisters increased – we found a floral cushion on the ground. It became our protector as we ran around filming. In retrospect, it would’ve been completely useless! But it adorns our sofa at home now, a little charred, but a lovely reminder to be passionate and brave in what you believe in.


What do you want audiences to take away from this video?

Knowledge on the subject, the importance of personal freedom and the importance of thinking a little bit differently, of solving problems from different angles.


Please list key points that should be covered in a post-screening discussion:

– The role of conscripts – especially in light of conscription in Ukraine

– Russian influence and post-soviet states

– The role of state and church


Please provide information on any recent developments regarding the issue or subjects of the video. How have things changed or not changed?

There have been divisions within the party, Herman has run for election, they are still facing challenges to the church – The Ministry of Defense of Georgia has developed a draft law that clergy of all denominations will be subject to military service. They are going to fight this.


Please provide any additional resources (websites, links to additional videos, forms, articles, etc.):

A libertarian Georgian “church” aids young draft dodgers




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