Independent filmmaker Desi Kadra has embarked on a major journey of late, both spiritually and in terms of filmmaking. The Director of Beyond the Veil and Fighting for the Wild spoke to Indy Film Library about life, death and funding.
You are currently crowd funding the post-production process for your latest film. Could you explain the idea behind Beyond the Veil for our readers?
Beyond the Veil is a feature documentary that seeks to reconnect us with our spiritual nature of who we really are, through exploring consciousness and what happens to the soul after death.
According to the Buddhist tradition, death is just a transformation from one level of consciousness to another. Beyond the Veil aims to explore this concept by offering a glimpse into the soul’s journey as told through the personal accounts of the modern day shamans and mediums, born with the ability to communicate with spirits of the dead. So far science has only ever been able to touch on this theme through studying near-death experiences. The idea with Beyond The Veil is to take the story one-step further by providing a platform for the light workers and healers of today to offer an alternative view to our current model of reality, and bring back some of the ancient wisdom that our world is in much need of today.
This seems quite different to most of your other work. What inspired you to choose this topic for your next documentary?
Like millions of people today, I have experienced first-hand how debilitating grief can be, after losing my mom five and a half years ago. The reality is that most people never truly recover from grief, they just learn to cope with it; a state that leads many people to depression or worse. This experience led me to seek answers outside of the rational approach to everyday life. Three months after my mother’s death, I saw a gifted psychic, Natalia O’Sullivan, one of the main characters in my documentary, whose work and that of her husband’s Terry O’Sullivan, along with other incredible teachers I met along the way, has opened my eyes to this reality in a way I never thought possible. It is my deepest wish that this film shines a light for many others dealing with grief in allowing you to see that ‘death’ is not the end.
A good documentary is one which can introduce an viewers to a concept that is new to them, or they had no interest in before (Senna, Grizzly Man, The Act of Killing, etc.) – what techniques does Beyond the Veil deploy to guide its audience through what, to them, is likely a new and strange set of conversations?
The film mirrors my own journey of exploring life after death as a way to heal from my own grief and to understand what happens to the souls of my loved ones who have passed. Through a VO, I will guide viewers into understanding this complex subject and how I came about all of the information presented. Beyond the Veil will also be very cinematic in nature, featuring a number of art, animation and VFX to get a glimpse into the journey of the soul as described by the main speakers. These are intimate stories of their personal accounts of communicating with the other side; that will provide a window into another reality. We will hear in depth accounts of how a born psychic sees the world. From communicating with deceased loved ones since birth, to helping the souls of strangers cross over to the other side.
Beyond The Veil Fundraising Campaign from Desislava Kadra on Vimeo.
All films that look to make a point about anything will face a backlash from people who disagree. Did engaging with this topic – which definitive, empirical proof is so hard to find for – worry you because of the criticism it is liable to prompt?
For me, someone’s personal experience is just as valid as any empirical proof. As a filmmaker, I am portraying the personal experiences of people who view the world through different eyes. My aim is to portray this world that is so foreign to me and to most in the most accurate way possible. Through my own research into this topic over the last 5 years, I have come across thousands of people around the world who are able to communicate with the other side and whose work has been helping strangers in reconnecting with their loved ones. From my perspective, it is not that there is no proof about life after death, because there is plenty – both scientific and otherwise. The problem lies in our limited perception of reality that only certain things can exist and others not. So, in answer to the question – I do expect the criticism, but that doesn’t worry me, because my aim with this film is to expand our view on reality. Unfortunately, this always comes with resistance because of our attachment to the box we have placed ourselves in.
It can often be difficult for filmmakers to put much of themselves into a documentary project; because they worry that detractors may then also latch onto that. This film seems incredibly personal, so how did you overcome those fears? Seeing how this experience of exploring this world of life after death, understand what life is all about and healing from grief has helped me and has helped others like me who have gone through loss, makes it all the worthwhile. I am here to tell my story. It may not agree with everyone, but it will with some and for me that’s enough. I know that it will always resonate with those who most need to hear it.
What do you hope your film will achieve in the end?
Beyond the Veil is much more than a film about the afterlife. The materialist view which the majority of our modern society has adopted, suggests that there is no purpose or meaning as to why we exist. As a result, people fail to find meaning or purpose in life, leading to destructive patterns and behaviours in our selves, and the world at large. Beyond the Veil hopes to challenge this limiting view, in reminding us that we are much more than this physical reality. That we are above all spiritual beings and that we can become self-empowered once again when we choose to reconnect with that part of ourselves.
What were the biggest challenges you faced during this production, and how did you overcome them?
My biggest challenge was perhaps doing everything on my own and not receiving the support from grants and funding organisations. Working on your own time and money is very tough, so it’s been a challenge to keep my belief that it is all worth it. I’ve received some great advice from a producer I recently got in touch with and who’s work I admire. Her feedback and advice on how to refocus my vision to turn into the film I really want helped me enormously in providing me with the support I had been needing all of this time.
So my advice to anyone working on their first film is to definitely find a mentor who could guide you and provide some direction. It could save a lot of time! Another big challenge for me was to explore a topic that is so heavy and emotional. While I find the majority of research on life after death absolutely fascinating, there were times when certain moments or interviews brought up my own grief, which was tough to deal with. However, this has all been part of my own healing process and it’s been amazing to work on something that really comes from the heart. I wouldn’t have it any other way.
We have spoken to award winning documentary makers from all over the world, who have told us media companies still regard their work as too much of a ‘risk’. Like them, in order to tell your story, you are having to crowd fund to get the project finished. Do you think funding for independent documentaries is becoming harder to come by?
Yes. With funding being cut everywhere, it is becoming harder for filmmakers to tell good, daring and original stories. Having worked in TV and Film, I know that both industries tend to serve audience what they want to watch, but not necessarily what they need to watch. We need content that expands our horizons, educates us and above all allows us to go outside of the box of a perceived way of reality.
Finally, if people want to help you, what can they do?
Of course, I’d love for everyone to pledge: to do this you simply visit the crowd funder, and check out the great rewards on offer, select the one you want and follow the link from there.
There other ways in which you can help, by simply supporting this important message by sharing the video with your friends and family on social media via our Facebook page.