Fear the beard: Movie celebrates facial hair and those who wear it

They weren’t the first people to try to get permission to shoot the biennial World Beard and Moustache Championships. They were the first to try to tackle the subject seriously.

“I had to convince the bearded panel that I would do it professionally,” said Jeffrey Tocci, a 2009 James Madison University grad who directed a full-length feature documentary on the 2009 World Beard and Moustache Championships that will premiere this week at the Virginia Film Festival.

“Beardo the Movie” was produced by Tocci and the Harrisonburg-based DIGICO. Tocci got the idea for the film while interning at DIGICO.

“Jeff pitched us the idea at first to seek some advice on what gear to use and how to handle it technically,” said Ryan Berry, the managing partner at DIGICO, which produces TV shows and a variety of commercially-oriented spots, ” but it’s not often that we are approached to fly to Alaska to make a film about beards,” Berry said, “so when the opportunity arose we were all over it.”

The championships chronicled in the film were held in Anchorage, Alaska, in May 2009. Tocci and DIGICO assembled an eight-member crew to conduct one-on-one interviews with contestants and also shoot the actual championship event.

“We knew that there was going to be something, that there was going to be a story, with the contest,” said Joey Groah, a managing partner at DIGICO. “But what developed into the story of the documentary was these guys being open and straightforward with how they’re viewed in society, how this affects their jobs, how it affects their relationships, how they’re viewed by random people on the street. Getting inside their lives – why do you choose to have a beard that’s down below your belt buckle? You get inside the layers – it’s hard to keep a girlfriend. It’s amazing how open they were on camera.”

“The idea behind it is to find the people behind the beards, and what kind of person would it take to become a competitive facial-hair-grower,” Berry said. “There are some weird and very cool people, and some of them are very, very normal. And that’s sort of what the movie explores – is the stigma of people having giant beards or weird facial hair, and how society and how people look at that, and how it affects their life, or does it affect it at all? And also just how cool it is to travel around the world, and this is sort of their hobby.”
 

Sneak preview

 
On the web

  • BeardoTheMovie.com
  • Story by Chris Graham. Chris can be reached at freepress2@ntelos.net.


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