‘Bastards of Soul’ Doc Director on the Heartbreak, Hope in Capturing the Sudden Loss of a Rising Star

Fresh from its world premiere at the Sun Valley Film Festival, Bastards of Soul expanded its fanbase at an exclusive screening event and Q&A at SoHo House in Austin on March 13.

The packed screening was followed by an emotional chat among director-producer Paul Levatino and his directors of photography Jeremy Word and Zack Tzourtzouklis, the latter of whom also served as editor on the film.

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Sitting down with The Hollywood Reporter contributing editor Stacey Wilson Hunt, the trio revealed how a short film about the popular Dallas soul/R&B group Bastards of Soul became an accidental tribute to its charismatic lead singer.

“I was thinking we were going to create a five- to 10-minute piece about the making of their new album,” said Levatino. “What happened next was heartbreaking … but there was a moment after I found out [about Chadwick Murray’s passing] that I knew I had to make [a feature].”

Two years into filming, Murray was 45 and expecting his first child with his wife, Hannah, when he died of a mysterious illness in September 2021. The grief and shock of the tragedy propelled the filmmakers into an unknown creative realm.

“We loved Chadwick. … We just didn’t know we’d been capturing his story,” said Levatino.

With Hannah’s blessing, production on the feature was set into motion — this time to immortalize the completion of what would be the band’s third and final album, Give It Right Back.

Though they couldn’t have known the full scope of the endeavor while gathering their footage, “Everyone in the room knew we had something special,” said Word. It was a process that Tzourtzouklis felt also was totally free of ego. “We definitely had a shared goal,” he said.

As Levatino and his team hope for the film’s wider release, the former said the documentary’s mantra of “Don’t wait for tomorrow” feels ever more resonant.

For the full conversation, check out the video above.

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