A glimpse behind the scenes of Road to Peace
“Making a film about the Dalai Lama has changed my life, in ways that I could never have predicted.
When I became interested in Buddhism, I started looking for films about the Dalai Lama. I was told by friends and family who had glimpsed him that he was someone special; that he had an incredible energy or presence. I didn’t want to convert to Buddhism but I did want to find a happier, more peaceful life. He sounded like a man who was an example of how we can live life in a very different way.”
When I started becoming interested in Buddhism about 15 years ago, I started looking for films about the Dalai Lama.
Of all the films I watched, I couldn’t find one that captured the ‘spirit’ that people spoke of. There were glimpses, fleeting moments following him around. Or there were films that had intimate moments with him but they concentrated on The Dalai Lama as a political leader.
This wasn’t the man that I’d heard about from people who spoke of meeting him; A man who is always laughing, a man who radiates peace and compassion. A man who made such an impression on the people he had met that it changed their lives.
Fast forward a couple of years to 2007 and whilst fellow film-maker Scott Samson was speaking with the Office of Tibet in London, they asked if we’d like to put forward a proposal to film the Dalai Lama’s UK visit the following year. I immediately knew the film we should make.
We created our pitch: an intimate fly-on-the-wall film that asked the question “what is it like to meet the Dalai Lama?” We couldn’t believe it when the Office of Tibet accepted our proposal.
We had to finance, produce the film ourselves. With such a rare opportunity, we went ahead nonetheless. After all, we were going to spend nearly two weeks with the Dalai Lama!
The filming was incredible and the access we had was unbelievable. On top of that we were granted an interview with him. We couldn’t quite believe our luck. We were so close to the Dalai Lama for 11 days. We had a truly unique perspective of how he was with people every day. Access like this was rarely given.
The process of editing and test screenings took four years. During that time I met the love of my life and we had two children. Whilst juggling parenthood, I was financing Road to Peace with freelance documentary editing work. This meant the process was slower than a typical film production, but instinctively this didn’t seem to matter.
“What started as a curiosity shifted my whole perspective on life.”
At the heart of the Dalai Lama’s message is “Universal Responsibility”. We all have a responsibility for our own well-being and the environment in which we live. From there we can create peace and harmony, but we need to start with ourselves. But it is my hope that Road to Peace shows The Dalai Lama as a living example of how we can all live a more loving and compassionate life and has captured his spiritual and humanitarian message for this and future generations.
Director and Producer, Road to Peace.