Nasir Sobhani is an Aussie barber giving free haircuts to those in need on his day off. By giving them a clean cut, he’s also giving them a clean start.

The Streets Barber Stories follows Nasir as he creates a human connection with people of all backgrounds who are rarely spoken to or thought about by most in the community.

It’s a series about human beings coming together in an interesting way to share stories, ideas and inspiration.

Director Vidad Narayan spoke to MWF about the creation of such a moving series.

What inspired your web series?
We were inspired by what Nasir was doing on the streets. What you see is what you get with Nas, and he just has so much energy. His ability to be genuinely open with the people around him is really the key. He connects with people of all backgrounds, and never once have we seen him shun someone away. Nasir is a close friend of ours, and at first we originally tagged along and take photos, and eventually pitched him the idea of video based shorts.

Your series highlights the importance of humanity and compassion. How did you first approach these people to ask if they would be interested in sharing that human connection?
You’d be so surprised how much people want to share! Most people are touched that people are interested in hearing about their lives, and Nas has that unique ability of opening himself up to everyone he meets, and in return they respond in kind. We are also completely honest in what we are using the footage for. We often show them our work, as well as getting their approval at the end of the process. And of course, there are those that aren’t always willing to be filmed and have their stories publicly shared, which we respect, but we don’t stop them from getting a free haircut and just end up sitting and chatting to them anyway!

What are the challenges you came across when making your series and how did you overcome them?
There were two big challenges in creating each episode. The first is with sensitivity and protecting the subjects – people see a camera crew and assume they’re going to be misrepresented for the sake of ‘entertainment’. Which is a shame that society has descended to that point where some get joy out of judging. We take a lot of precautions and think about how we want to present each of the subjects.

The second challenge is then how we piece everything together – and this is the most rewarding and most difficult part of the process. We literally film as much as possible when we follow Nas, and then when it comes to editing it’s basically scripting and directing the piece; it’s like a giant puzzle that can be refitted a million ways. For us, we want to be the strongest narrative it could possibly be, captivating but also succinct. And so, we choose the more interesting parts of the subject’s story that best expresses their personality as well as touching on issues that perhaps a general audience might not be confronted with – the true stories of people living in extreme hardships.

How did you fund your series?
The series is self-funded by our company Round 3 Creative, as well as through the donations of people’s time and contribution. For instance, in the latest episode, Offshoot Rentals (the best rental house in town!) have been kind enough to contribute equipment and time for the shoot.

Do you have any future plans for this series?
We want to see the series grow further, and the beauty of it being online and self published is that it’s super flexible, which is very exciting. We also have tonnes of plans for collaborative ideas with Nasir for how we can push things bigger and further, but right now we’re focusing on simple character episodes, while we build a bigger project behind the scenes.

What do you want your audience to take away from this series?
Check your judgements at the door! Everybody has a story to tell – and we should be open to listening to our community rather than shutting the door on them, no matter who they are. We were all born the same and all born equal; some of us have just ended up on a harder, different road.

What is unique about your series?
The unique thing about each episode is how unpredictable and organic they can be. It’s filmed on the streets, and the only thing to expect is the unexpected. It’s also based around authentic human interactions, where people can be in vulnerable situations in their lives, and often they are genuinely grateful that someone is willing to give them a little bit of their time and an open ear to listen about their lives. It’s unscripted and sometimes that can be raw, but that’s life!

How did most of your interviewees feel after their haircut? Where you ever overwhelmed by the response?
That is definitely one of the highlights of the day! It’s usually at the end of the shoot too when the haircut is finished, and we have just spent the whole day with them. By the end of the cut, there’s definitely joy expressed when seeing themselves in the mirror, but I don’t’ think it’s just from the haircut. It’s a combination of Nas’ kindness and the connection he has been able to make with someone, combined with the point of making someone feel like they are worth it, that they are given this chance to feel special again, I think that’s why there is this huge change in their spirits by time the hair cut is finished. Nas hasn’t had an unhappy customer yet!