A unique documentary about the underground heavy metal scene in Saigo will be released on March 31st, 2020. The team spent three years exploring the history and future of Vietnamese metal, and present it through the lives and struggles of three different generations of Saigonese metalheads.
Full press release on documentary is following below:
We believe that great documentaries are made by fully immersing yourself in the world of the subject, so we spent three years up to our necks in the Vietnamese heavy metal scene to document the untold story of a far-flung community of extreme musicians battling against arduous circumstances.\n\nWe’re passionate about making original films that don’t follow the well-worn paths taken by other works in the genre. Yes, this is a film about metalheads. But we can assure you it won’t be like any “rock doc” you’ve seen before. Raw, real, guerilla-style, and filled with humanity, we do hope you enjoy our irregular film.
The musical landscape of Vietnam is a dismal place for a metalhead. After the liberation of Saigon in 1975, the new government saw rock music as a dangerous western influence and banned it for over a decade, dealing a near-fatal blow to a thriving scene in its infancy. Saigon Metalhood is the story of three generations of headbangers who hung on through the post-war prohibition of Vietnamese rock, right up to the scene of today and their battle to make up for lost time and finally achieve relevance in their own society.
The story is divided into three chapters: Past, Present, and Future, told through a combination of personal interviews, archival footage, and concert narratives. Grizzled grandfather of the scene Trung Thanh Sago shares his unique insight into the untold history of Vietnamese metal. Trung Loki was the brooding vanguard of the scene’s most successful era, but will his mistakes during a dark past leave him with an isolated future? And finally, the young metal entrepreneurs who formed an agency with an ambitious goal. Is it possible to make Vietnamese metal internationally relevant?
CHARACTERS / SYNOPSIS / CHAPTERS
Trung Thanh Sago
A local legend who began his career playing rock music for US soldiers at age 14, Sago’s life is inextricably tied to the story of Vietnamese rock and metal. He chronicles the origins of the scene, living through the prohibition of the music he loves, and the turbulent struggle he has endured. Still active to this day with his eponymous band Sagometal, and even at the age of sixty he can still put on a hell of a show
Arguably the pioneer of extreme music in Vietnam, his grindcore band Wuu seemed like they might just do the impossible and take off outside the borders of Vietnam. But the band folded instead, like many promising Vietnamese bands before them. Why? In Loki’s case, addiction and instability derailed his towering status and leaves him an outsider on the scene he helped to build. Could this be the right moment for his redemption?
Legacy CO Agency
The future of metal in Vietnam was looking bleak… until a group of young metal musicians resolved to team up and raise it up to unprecedented levels. They stumble into the murky world of international band bookings with surprising success, despite toying with complete disaster on several occasions. Legacy decide to turn it up to eleven and book the biggest metal band ever to play in Vietnam. Can the boys cap off their ascendancy with their biggest win yet?
When we decided to make a film about Vietnamese metal, we had the goal of going beyond a quirky snapshot of Asian metalheads. We wanted to make a human film that really put you in their shoes – and I think we succeeded. This project was a labor of love for its small but dedicated team, simply due to our belief that there were a few stories here that needed to be told.
I have been a music lover for my whole life, though I couldn’t call myself a true metalhead. But as an independent filmmaker, I still felt a kindred spirit with the metal scene of Saigon in their desire to fulfil their passion in their own way, even if they never garnered much recognition or support. We could not have made this film without the very generous support of many bands and musicians in the community, so a big thanks to them for that.
The hardest part of this film was knowing when to stop. A localized music scene is ever-changing, there’s constantly old bands breaking up and new ones forming. What we captured was just one chapter of the larger story, and we hope there are more chapters of success to come.
Director / Producer / DP
After finishing our debut film, Faces You Forget, Will and I kept coming back to the idea of making a documentary about the metal scene in Saigon. We set out to answer our first and most important question: where the f*ck was it? Without wanting to give away too many spoilers, we found it and so began a 3 year journey into the heart of the underground.
As a teenage metalhead that had lapsed somewhat in his twenties, filming Saigon Metalhood brought me right back to the height of my fandom. These days I can’t exercise properly without high-decibel Vietnamese grindcore blaring in my ear.
We were warned off this topic by other filmmakers and told the scene is too insular, too exclusive, that we wouldn’t get meaningful access, but they couldn’t have been more wrong. I’ll always be so grateful to the boys and girls from this scene for the way they took us in and accepted us while we were making this thing. They trusted our intentions, opened up to us, and allowed us to make a film I think we’ll all be proud of.
Director / Producer
Will grew up in Houston, Texas and received a B.S. in Radio-Television-Film from the University of Texas in Austin. Unexcited by domestic prospects, he moved to Vietnam in 2014, where he teamed up with Sean Lambe to start producing independent documentary films as Irregular Film. Will shot and edited Faces You Forget: Nights Out in Saigon, and went on to direct and produce Saigon Metalhood, the team’s first feature.
Sean Lambe is a director, writer and producer from Tralee, Ireland. He founded Irregular Film with Will in 2015 and has since become a specialist in documentaries. He co-directed Faces You Forget and Saigon Metalhood, and is currently located in Myanmar working on a new film about the brutal fighting art of Lethwei.
Mateu hails from Mallorca, Spain, where he taught himself about filmmaking. He moved to Vietnam in 2013 where he became well-known in the hip-hop scene for his tight music videos, as well as tackling numerous commercial jobs and editing multiple feature films. Mateu met Will and Sean in 2017, and started collaborating with Irregular Film as editor of Saigon Metalhood.
Documentary is available for pre-order on Vimeo on Demand. Metal Addicts readers can use “metaladdicts” coupon code for 50% off a pre-order.
Trailer can be seen below.