Interview with Filmmaker Barak Laub (VOLUNTEERS NEEDED)

VOLUNTEERS NEEDED, 36min., Nepal, Documentary
Directed by Barak Laub, Raymond Steege
Volunteers Needed is the first in-depth documentary focusing on international volunteers in children’s homes and orphanages.

Get to know the filmmaker:

1. What motivated you to make this film?
Originally we were looking to make a different film entirely. We wanted to make a film/docuseries showing how easy it was to travel inexpensively and how you didn’t need to go online and book a private tour or experience. I also wanted to interview people and show all of the different options and experiences one could participate in, I accidentally stumbled upon the child trafficking and voluntourism aspect, and while originally we wanted to keep going with the docu-series we realized this was far too important of an issue for us to focus on ourselves and so we came back to Nepal to focus exclusively on Volunteers Needed

2. From the idea to the finished product, how long did it take for you to make this film?
It’s funny, because at one point we were in India and we met another filmmaker who had been making his documentary for 5 years, I laughed because I thought there was no way it would take us two. It’s taken over 7 so far.

3. How would you describe your film in two words!?
Unintended consequences

4. What was the biggest obstacle you faced in completing this film?
I think the biggest obstacle was not having money or funding from the outside, it meant me and my partner could only work on the documentary when we weren’t working on our day jobs, and finding outside help was really difficult. I’m incredibly proud of the group and team that came together and supported us and it wouldn’t have been possible without them.

5. What were your initial reactions when watching the audience talking about your film in the feedback video?
It was amazing watching audience feedback about a film we created, seeing that what we were trying to get through to the audience was actually getting through. It’s hard getting feedback from friends and family because you always feel like they are just going to be supportive no matter what, but seeing strangers genuinely excited about our film was a great experience.

6. When did you realize that you wanted to make films?
I’ve been making some form of travel documentaries since I was 20 (16 years), I think more than wanting to make films I’ve always wanted to be a story teller, and filmmaking this the best medium for that, for sharing experiences and thoughts with others.

7. What film have you seen the most in your life?
The 5th Element by Luc Besson, Luc Besson makes great movies but this was by far my favorite. I usually have a hard time watching movies a 2nd or 3rd time because it’s the story and the twists that captivate my and I can anticipate them the second time around. The 5th Element has just the right mix of action, comedy, romance and sci-fi that I feel like it’s never a bad choice.

8. What other elements of the festival experience can we and other festivals implement to satisfy you and help you further your filmmaking career?
I would enjoy an opportunity to meet with other filmmakers in person and find ways we could collaborate, I’m incredibly lucky to have come across the team and made the connections I did however I imagine there are lots of other filmmakers who don’t have those connections. I’d also love to find a way to get genuine feedback and criticism from a large group of people and I think other filmmakers could be perfect for that.

9. You submitted to the festival via FilmFreeway. How has your experiences been working on the festival platform site?
Filmfreeway has made applying to Festivals much easier than it would be otherwise, it’s quite seamless. My only question is there are so many forms and things to fill out, and I’m not sure how much is necessary or viewed by the festivals.

10. What is your favorite meal?

11. What is next for you? A new film?
I have a few projects I’d like to work on, I’ve decided that I won’t focus on anything until this film is complete, which doesn’t just mean it’s done with post, but that I’ve completed the Festival Circuit and found the best home/streaming service where it can have an impact on people.


By matthewtoffolo

Filmmaker and sports fan. CEO of the WILDsound Film and Writing Festival

Leave a comment

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: