Small doc crew spanned the world

Traveling light helped the Global Metal gang shoot their sequel doc in Israel, Dubai and Tiananmen Square, though they were turned away from Iran

The follow-up to Metal: A Headbanger’s Journey by Sam Dunn and Scot McFadyen was prompted by metalheads around the world.

The fans loved the 2005 doc, ‘but told us there was more to do,’ says Dunn. ‘We’d neglected to look at countries outside the west, and they wanted to be heard.’

For Global Metal they filmed ‘a cross-section of cultures from China to Israel and Indonesia to Dubai,’ says McFadyen. ‘We tried to get into Iran, but that was around the time a Canadian journalist had been killed and western tourist visas were few.’

Interviews with members of Metallica and other bands including X Japan and Tang Dynasty mix with comments from worldwide concert-goers as the film explores globalization through the lens of heavy metal music. ‘Not only how metal performances vary across the world, but how the music speaks to larger issues, from power and class to religion and tradition,’ says Dunn.

The resulting 93 minutes is a whirlwind of juxtapositions. Bollywood clips mix with the pounding fists of an Indonesian metal crowd; Kiss takes the stage and is likened to kabuki; sweeping landscapes give way to seas of sweaty fans rocking out.

Global was shot on a $1.5-million budget through the fall of 2006 and spring of ’07, under the banner of Banger Productions, and is distributed by Seville Pictures. The doc has already screened at roughly 25 film festivals and has opened in Quebec. It played last week during Toronto’s NXNE music festival and arrives in Toronto and Vancouver theaters on Friday.

A six-person crew allowed the team to leave a very small footprint and travel inconspicuously.

‘Any bigger a crew and you start to raise alarm bells when you walk into places like Tiananmen Square,’ says McFadyen.

Dunn and McFadyen again produced, wrote and directed, working with DOP Martin Hawkes and editor Christopher Donaldson. Victoria Hirst coproduces with execs David Reckziegel, John Hamilton and Noah Segal.

Dunn found that in cultures with a longer history of heavy metal, cultural traditions and influences are moving into the music. ‘You couldn’t put traditional Israeli music into westernized rock, but they can,’ he says.

In Japan, Megadeth ex-guitarist Marty Friedman created a unique collaboration, adding vocals from a dozen Japanese school girls — singing ‘Death Panda! Death Panda!’ — to his guitar skills, set against a cartoon video backdrop.

‘It’s kind of metal meets Japanese girl choir meets anime, all creating this hybrid of the musical genre,’ says Dunn. ‘It’s interesting, heavy metal in Japan. The rules are totally different. You could never do that here, but there, it works.’

Global Metal has sold in 30 countries, with Warner Bros. set to distribute it in the U.S., the U.K. and Mexico.

New projects for McFadyen and Dunn include editing over 450 hours of footage into a two-hour doc on Iron Maiden. Expected to premiere in October at the London Film Fest, the project was commissioned by the U.K.’s EMI. Also on the go is a doc about Rush, for which they are finalizing financing.

‘They’re Canada’s biggest metal band, but they’ve never had a doc,’ says Dunn.