Culture Weekly

The road to goodness

September 30 - October 6, 2020

Gulf Weekly Naman Arora
By Naman Arora

Gulf Weekly The road to goodness

Conversations are set to become even more candid in celebrated filmmaker and musician Jason Carter’s latest series of short films.

The series, titled Carter in the Car, tells stories from across the kingdom, during a conversation set in Jason’s 1995 Mercedes SL320 convertible.

Jason told GulfWeekly, during the pilot interview of the series: “Globally, the Middle East is painted in one stroke based on news headlines from Yemen or Syria. However, that is not fair. Bahrain is one of the most peaceful, quiet and nicest places where I have lived.

“There are a lot of wonderful stories of goodness from this region and I’d like to help tell a few of these.

“We have a wonderful line-up, including several Bahrainis as well as an Indian, a Brit and a few Filipino expats, who will be sharing what they are working on, whether it’s a start-up, creative project or anything else.”

For each episode, Jason plans to take a resident from the kingdom for a drive, chatting with them about what is driving them towards their ongoing projects. This is then edited down to the best bite-sized portions, reminiscent of Jerry Seinfeld’s Netflix series Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee.

Across the Middle East and especially in the kingdom, cars hold a special place in most locals’ and expats’ heart. Beyond the social capital they bestow upon their drivers, the four-wheeled machines, especially during the Covid-19 pandemic have become mini social hubs by their own right, filling the void left behind by closed cafes and dine-in establishments.

The project has been on Jason’s mind for a few years but the current Covid-19 crisis has given him some time to explore creative projects like this one. He has spent the summer ironing out some of the kinks, especially on the technical side.

He added: “A convertible is one of the most difficult cars, in which to record audio, mainly due to the wind. It took me a month to figure out the optimal microphone set up. In addition to microphones in the sun visor, we have two very nice video mics, sponsored by Swiss company Voice Technologies, down in the foot well, for a full-bodied sound. And I am a big believer that good sound can make or break a video.

“Plus, recording in Bahrain’s heat has its own challenges. My wife, Lydia, actually wrote a funny song called Swallow the Hand Sanitiser which we recorded on one of Bahrain’s hottest days in the car. Not only was the temperature difficult to bear for us, our GoPro camera kept shutting down due to overheating!

“But now that we have ironed these issues out, I can put out an episode within a few hours of recording it. The editing time is quite little, which as a filmmaker, is amazing, since I can put out more content, in an engaging format.”

Among the projects that the 51-year-old filmmaker has been working on, is We Are One, a documentary about how the kingdom has always welcomed people of all faiths. It is expected to premiere at the Red Sea International Film Festival in Saudi Arabia in 2021.

Jason has also been helping his son, Xavier, channel his inner filmmaker with the launch of the nine-year-old’s own YouTube channel, Xavie Land, which has already garnered 760 subscribers in two months.

Jason said: “Xavie has a very natural articulate and engaging presence. We have been encouraging him with extra pocket money, based on the videos he puts out or the subscribers he gets.

“The thing I have learned from him is that even if the technical side of a video may not be up to a perfectionist’s mark, as long as the message is good, it will be well-received.

“And, that’s my advice to film makers, especially during the pandemic. Keep creating. Think about the content that you have in your own life. We all have stories, as do the people around us. Find a way of telling those stories and get started. That is often the hardest thing for people. Even if you are not good at it, at first, with practice, you will find the voice that works for you.”

To be notified of new Carter in the Car episodes, follow @jasoncarterarts on Instagram or subscribe to Carters Live on YouTube.

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