Day 14 – Dharamsala and Swannies

I woke early this morning – before sunrise – because I wanted to see the Dalai Lama's Temple at first light.

I stumbled down a rocky path in the dim pre-sunrise gloom, and finally found myself outside this gated compound that looked like anything but the Residence in exile of a banished national and spiritual leader.

It was meant to be a palace. I was expecting something grand – something with gleaming spires and colourful Tibetan flags snapping in the morning breeze, and golden rooftops.

Instead I got a jumble of buildings that looked like government offices, built in the early 1950s. It was very disillusioning.

And then I thought of the Buddhist doctrine of non attachment – and it all made sense. His Holiness does not need to live in a fancy palace with gold plated taps and marble floors. Where he lived was in absolute keeping with his beliefs.

Here's another freaky intuitive moment on this film: our assistant's name is Rachit. Every time I say his name, I'm terrified I'll call him Ratshit. Anyway, unknowingly to me, the weekend we arrived in Rishikesh, he traveled up to Dharamsala to spend three days in a remote Buddhist monastery, doing a retreat.

So he's been of enormous help to us in lining up people to speak to. But how “coincidental” that our assistant knows all about Dharamsala – and where to film etc.

This film is definitely calling the shots.

We went to the remote monastery today. It took us two hours to drive 40kms. That's how crazy the traffic was. And how bad the roads were.

We stopped at roadside dhaba which would have freaked out most people with its lack of hygiene – however it looked ok to me and we sat down and ordered thali – a mixture of curries and dahls and tandoori roties. You're given a silver tray and someone comes around with a sausepan and ladles out your curries. You can eat as much as you like. It costs 40 Rps, or approx 80 cents Australian.

Even though it all looked very scary dirty, it tasted delicious – one of the best curries I've ever had.

On the way through to the monastery we passed a car taking school kids home. I counted 12 kids in the car. And the car was tiny. Can you imagine trying to do that in Australia? You'd get locked up!

We got to the monastery and all the monks were involved in a teaching. But it looked magnificent. And we shot a great sequence there.

Tomorrow we're doing an interview with the Director of Buddhist Studies, just on the outskirts of town, and we've also been allowed to shoot in their library, which contains texts and discourses dating back to the 1600's.

It's a shame the Dalai Lama's not here, but I'm going to make another attempt when we come back to Delhi.

Even without him though, we're still getting some very solid stuff that is supporting the underline narrative we're shooting to.

All afternoon while driving out to the monastery, and while filming, my son Clancy kept sending me text messages about the Preliminary Finals, in which my team The Sydney Swans, kicked enormous butt to win convincingly.

This means we're into the Grand Finals – ou rAFL equivalent of the Superbowl. Buddha, hang with me one more week mate, that's all I need…


8 thoughts on “Day 14 – Dharamsala and Swannies

  1. Bill,
    You are on one incredible PGS journey! Reading how the film is taking wings makes me impatient for the final product.
    How long does a film like this take to complete?
    Will I be able to wait? (I know I have no choice otherwise!)
    Will you include your trip to Dallas in the film?
    Oh, I have a million questions, this process is so fascinating for me (and probably the rest of the followers as well) to watch unfold.


    • Hi Anne,

      Yes I have to admit it’s a fascinating journey.

      How long will it take to complete? That depends on funding. If we had the entire budget tomorrow, it would take about a year from now. Post production takes about six months. And yes, Dallas will be a part of it. It’s me following my intuition.


    • Yes, they did well yesterday. It was crazy. We were about to film in this extraordinary monastery yesterday and I was trying to access the internet to get the scores. Luckily my son sent me texts!


  2. Bill,
    Congrats Swannies!!
    Could you rub the Buddha’s tummy for my Seattle Mariner”s and our Seahawks! Hooly Dooly!
    Aside from the joking, we are very much enjoying your journey. It’s extraordinary! You are amassing a great amount of material for your food blog too!
    A few months back you mentioned something about another book. In your spare time (ha ha) you should do adventure travel books and films. You sure have the knack or intuition for finding all the right places.
    Hugs to you and Jen
    Dale and Lynda
    PS We nearly had tears running down our cheeks from the laughter over your need to watch the pronunciation of your assistants name. When I first saw it the other day, I mentally nearly pronounced it the same way.


    • Haha – I have to be so careful with his name!!

      I’d like to write more books, but it’s just time, really. Writing does take a long time – for me anyway – and when I write something I want to make sure that it’s damn good, not something that’s just been rushed out. Same with this film. Good work takes time, and I only want to do good work. Bit thank you, and Dale too, for your encouragement!


  3. Bill, your experiences continue to amaze and enrich. Your postings are eagerly awaited so I can follow your incredible journey. Knowing nothing about movie making, this experience of yours is nowhere near what I expect from the process involved in making a movie. I wonder.. Is that because of your intuitive approach? The nature of the film? My ignorance? I guess that will be answered when I see the film.

    Last night was glorious. The Swannies were in full flight. The game flowed and the goals flowed too. Adam Goodes was fantastic. Buddy was brilliant.
    Pity Melbourne next Saturday is out of the equation as I have the grandees and my elderly mum here for the holidays.

    Cheer cheer the red and the white.


    • Hi Anne, as for the making of this film – every film is different, and this one is certainly unusual, in that I am purposefully allowing it to lead me. Most films are very structured and worked out well before you start shooting. Bit I’ve always said, everyone involved in this film has to play by the rules, and the rules are that you have to follow your PGS – whether you’re in production, in marketing, or whether you’re an investor. And that means me too!

      I’m hoping it will be a Swans / Hawks Grand Final. Then it will be a real contest. The Hawks could win. They are a big play day team. It would be an amazing match.

      I’ll be somewhere in Italy next week!


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