Bahar - Exploring Sound's Psychological Impact Through Film

S8 E1 - 4/18/2024
Bahar, an Iranian screenwriter and filmmaker, talks about her short film 'Quarantine Redemption.' Bahar doesn't have misophonia, but she's intrigued by the psychological impact of sound in everyday life, which she explores in her work. 'Quarantine Redemption' is a dialogue-free musical comedy set during COVID lockdown, portraying a man with misophonia finding solace in music that matches his wife's movements, leading to peace at home. Bahar discusses her artistic process, emphasizing non-traditional sound design to advance the narrative creatively and potentially therapeutically. She mentions her educational background in electrical engineering and marketing and her plans to pursue an MFA in filmmaking in the U.S. Adeel and Bahar also touch upon misophonia awareness in Iran and contrast with it with other sound-related conditions like ASMR, which Bahar uses to alleviate migraine pains. The episode concludes with Bahar's intention to explore themes of sound and psychology further in her future feature films, drawing inspiration from various sources, including her personal experiences.


Adeel [0:04]: episode of Season 8. My name's Adeel Ahmad, and I have Misophonia. To kick things off, I'm talking to Bahar, a screenwriter and filmmaker based in Iran who created the short film Quarantine Redemption, a 13-minute musical comedy with no dialogue set in an apartment during the COVID pandemic about Misophonia. We talk about her interest in exploring sound and psychology in her work. She explains that while she doesn't have Misophonia herself, She believes that sound plays a significant role in everyday life and emotions. Her film follows a man who suffers from misophonia and finds solace in music that synchronizes with his wife's movements. Bahar also mentions her plans to make feature films that explore the theme of blocking out outside sounds, and she is currently deciding on a film school in the United States to pursue her MFA in filmmaking. After the show, let me know what you think. You can reach out by email at hello at or hit me up on Instagram or Facebook at Misophonia Podcast. By the way, please head over, leave a quick reviewer rating wherever you listen to the show. It really helps drive us up in the algorithms, which helps us reach more misophones. A few of my usual announcements. Thanks going into season eight for the incredible ongoing support of our Patreon supporters. If you feel like contributing, you can read all about the various levels at slash misophonia podcast. This episode is also sponsored by the personal journaling app that I developed called Basil, B-A-S-A-L. Basil provides AI-powered insights into your journal entries and guides you with new writing prompts based on those insights. You can even explore many different therapy approaches, modalities, and philosophies. It's available on iOS or Android. Check the show notes or go to All right, here's my conversation with Bahar. Bahar, welcome to the podcast. Great to have you here.

Bahar [2:03]: Thank you. I'm happy to speak to you.

Adeel [2:07]: Yeah, so before we get into obviously, you know, the film and whatnot, maybe you can let listeners know kind of where you're located.

Bahar [2:15]: Currently, I'm in Kazakhstan. It's the capital city of Kazakhstan. But I split my time between Tehran, my hometown, and here.

Adeel [2:29]: Oh, gotcha. Okay. Interesting. Great. And yeah, let's talk about what you do. I mean, we were connected through seeing the film, but you want to give a little bit of background of kind of what you do for a living?

Bahar [2:44]: I sell screenplay. That's what I do to gain some money. But I, I make short films and documentaries. And you know, there are not, they don't bring in so much profit. So it's not my job. It's kind of it's a hobby or investment for for the future, I guess. yes i earned money by selling a screenplay in my country yeah gotcha so you're a screenwriter by trade and yes yeah okay yeah i just think no that's great i mean yeah many of us have you know creative hobbies yes i hope i can raise fun to make more films or maybe future but i'm just in the beginning of this career so i don't know

Adeel [3:41]: No, it's great. I mean, your quarantine redemption has been playing all over the world. Maybe we can kind of jump into that. Well, first of all, I mean, I think you told me before, but you don't have misophonia yourself, correct?

Bahar [3:55]: Yes.

Adeel [3:57]: Yeah. So I'm curious kind of how you came across the term. Maybe we can start there and how you came across what misophonia is.

Bahar [4:05]: Actually, I have three different feature length screenplays, and I hope someday I can raise funds to make them. And the three of them are based, it's not that they're based, but they use a lot of playing with the sound. So I was looking for a story that I can put it into a short film to use sound. I mean to practice playing with sound as a prerequisite for the future films. The future films. This story gives a lot of opportunity or space for me to play with music and sound. So I developed it. a character who suffers from misophonia would be a good character for this purpose.

Adeel [5:07]: Yeah, very interesting. Yeah, so, okay, so yes, you decided to use misophonia as a platform, this short film as a platform to learn more about how to...

Bahar [5:21]: do sound editing sound design in movies for your future big it's not just a sound design it said it's a technical term I meant I use sound as a dramatic element in my story yes I don't suffer from misophonia but I think here the sounds have a significant role in everyday life and our emotions. And I don't see many films with that focus. The sound has a dramatic role in that short film and the future films. It's not just the design or technical term.

Adeel [6:12]: Gotcha. So it is about trying to find the deeper effects of sound.

Bahar [6:18]: Yes, the effects of that, the sounds, the environment sounds on people or on their states of mind. So misophonia is a good subject to develop that idea.

Adeel [6:30]: Absolutely. I'm fascinated by that. And you're right. I think there isn't enough dramatic or creative work in general that's kind of exploring the many dimensions of misophonia and stand-on psychology. Do you remember how you came across the actual term misophonia and kind of the whole world of misophonia itself?

Bahar [6:53]: I guess, although I don't suffer from misophonia, I have a high sensitivity to the sound. So I think a character who has been influenced by the sounds and the music and even the intonation of the dialogues, think all my characters are like that maybe I am like that but I think that the sounds are not that disgusting for me or not that exaggerated like him is like a person who suffers from misophonia but I have a great think for the sound, I guess.

Adeel [7:47]: Do you know anyone with schizophrenia?

Bahar [7:49]: Were any of the actors... Yes, actually, before this short film, we practiced a shorter one, and the DP, the guy who... he who who ran the camera he was suffering from misophonia so um yes and the extent of his sensitivity was so high that during the shooting he was suffering Because we made a lot of noises to record and he didn't enjoy that. So I changed the DP for the main short film.

Adeel [8:35]: He couldn't stand that. Yeah, so maybe we should, yeah, we should, first of all, anyone who's, you know, I recommend everyone seeing Courtney Redemption, but trigger warning, there are a lot of sounds that are typical triggers. Do you want to maybe talk about kind of how you came up with the story of it? We should say it's not like a, it's not a feature length movie. It's a 13 minute short film. There's no dialogue. And it's basically what's most interesting, I think, is it's a musical comedy without dialogue.

Bahar [9:09]: Yes, and I think that's the interesting part, the film about sounds that doesn't have any dialogue or words. I guess if I remember, I think I was searching for some reason I couldn't record the sound. at first you know um in you you can add you you know certainly you know you can add some sound in post-production and you can use the sounds that you record during the shooting for for the background or you can enhance them by technical devices I think we were in a situation that we needed to prepare a three-minute short film, and we just had the camera, no sound recording devices. So I developed this story that a man who suffers from misophonia, he has a wife, she's very noisy and loud. And in that story, she fell in love with a guest who she also suffered from misophonia. I mean, a mutual understanding. Because just a three-minute short film, we didn't have much time to develop the story. But that one came out pretty good. So I wanted to extend the story to a good film. And during COVID, I thought it's a great situation for the people. to to set up this story because um for most people who suffer from misophonia i i guess um being stuck in a closed small space would be a challenge Yes, with a noisy person. So most people can relate to that. So the setup of the story is that a man is stuck in his small apartment with his noisy wife. But I needed something to develop the story to make the middle and ending of the story. So I came up with the idea that music could be his saving grace, I guess. He tried to filter, maybe to block the noises with his headphone and some music. And one day by accident, he finds out that his wife works within the apartment. She does everything with too much noise and sounds. And she's a little aggressive. dramatic movements. And the man finds out that the movements of his wife are synchronized with the music he chooses. So he decides to, he finds a solution. He tries to find new musics appropriate to his wife's movements.

Adeel [12:52]: It's a fascinating kind of premise. I mean, this is all stuff that I absolutely know. I don't think anyone has thought of before in terms of like capturing this in a story. So, yeah.

Bahar [13:04]: So literally the wife dances with his music, but it's unintentional. I mean, at some points the man can choose the musics, all of the more classical musics. And I mean, during the cooking or anything, typing and anything she does are synchronized with the music that we can also hear. And this gives the man the peace of mind and he can make peace with his wife. And after that, he can also enjoy doing household stuff.

Adeel [13:50]: but synchronized with the music in his um headphone you know what's fascinating about this is this is actually a legitimate um form of um therapy where one of the um and it's in it's also been written in the book sounds like misophonia that dr jing gregory uh did and i helped on his uh one of the um ideas is trying to reframe the source of the sound that's bothering you and one of the suggestions is kind of like um kind of being the conductor of an orchestra of your triggers and so kind of relating kind of changing the the um obviously you know it's still a trigger sound but kind of changing the idea of the idea of where it's coming from into something else, like a musical instrument. So it's kind of related to kind of what you've portrayed in the film, which I find kind of fascinating. Interesting, I didn't know that. Yeah, no, and it's part, yeah, so it's, you know, it's definitely helped a lot of people. So it's interesting that you, yeah, you really captured that. uh visually um and i don't know if you're familiar um there was an old uh show i think on nickelodeon in the 90s here in the united states where um they were kind of like i think they were also kind of five minute short films where there was no dialogue and the guy was uh would be sitting in a barber's chair i think sometimes there's a barber chair sometimes there's other locations and There was no talk about misophonics. The term wasn't coined then, but he would be triggered by scissors and other combs dropping into water. But in his mind, I guess he would kind of... turn them into beats and music as well i haven't seen it but definitely it could help yeah i'll send you a link just because it's an interesting uh interesting parallel um anyways um you know very very cool um and uh so yeah so the film uh maybe tell me about kind of like how the film has been received like obviously it's been at film festivals what kind of talk about uh

Bahar [16:01]: yeah how did you meet more people with misophonia what was the reaction actually some people wrote to me that they relates to the film But I think most of the festivals, because of the innovative, creative approach, yes, I think the creative, innovative approach was the most interesting part of the film for them. I don't remember any of the festivals mentioned about suffering from misophonia, just the artistic point of view.

Adeel [16:42]: Gotcha. Yeah. I mean, there isn't as much awareness in this point as we would like. So it's not surprising that maybe they didn't know and they were more interested in the creative aspect of it. Actually, I'm curious because I use Logic Pro to edit the podcast and do some music. And I worked at Avid before in the past as an engineer on Pro Tools. So I'm kind of curious maybe on a technical level, like were there... You know, what was maybe the process? Any interesting tidbits you want to share about kind of how the editing went? And maybe, I don't know, some of the plugins maybe you used, if you used any to do any of the mixing.

Bahar [17:23]: actually i'm not the sound designer or something yes yeah but the guy who did it he's perfect in his area but i was involved in the editing because we needed to actually we first we chose the musics because um it's we needed some choreography but we cut the dances So both editing and choreography was important to narrate this story. So I had to get involved with the editor. But for sound designing, I don't know what plugins he did. Yes, I don't know.

Adeel [18:07]: No worries. I'm curious kind of how, so we talked a little bit about the reception at film festivals. Can you talk about, I don't know, misophonia awareness in Iran itself? Like, is there any awareness? What's, you know, what's the situation with misophonia in Iran?

Bahar [18:30]: I really don't know. But I know most of the young generation know that term. And most of the time they are disgusted by the sound of eating or drinking or munching or something like that. But I don't know any... NGO or anything about Misophonia. Yes, organization or some awareness or something like that. I don't know. I don't guess there is any.

Adeel [19:09]: And is your DP the only person you know that has Misophonia?

Bahar [19:17]: Yes, in the severe form, yes. He was the only person.

Adeel [19:22]: What about in Kazakhstan, where you are right now? Since you split your time, I'm curious if you've heard of Misophonia there, or is there much awareness there?

Bahar [19:34]: I don't know, honestly.

Adeel [19:36]: Probably not, yeah. Gotcha. Yeah, I mean, there's not enough around here, but definitely in other parts of the world, it seems to be even less. Maybe let's talk about the, I don't know, these feature films that you're wanting to do. I don't want to kind of give away too much of the ideas, but did the reaction or the process of working on Quentin Redemption, kind of um um change or give you i don't know new urgency to kind of like try to get these these future films out there um because they're related to psychology and sound

Bahar [20:16]: Yes, they're not about misophonic people. It's something else. Yes, there are characters that block... Actually, it's the main idea. They block the outside sounds, the outside world by listening to something else. This is the idea. But the root is not the misophonia. It's... different stuff for example one character does not have a personal space I mean the physical personality a physical environment for himself so he needs to isolate himself by listening to something else different than the environment so I needed to play with sounds and music to learn, but it's not people who suffer from misophonia.

Adeel [21:21]: Kafka in his literature had a lot of, there's a lot been written about how he, first of all, he did have misophonia, but he also kind of used sounds and sound effects in his writings to kind of like portray the psychological state of, you know, the characters. I'm curious if you've kind of looked into that or maybe even just other ways sound has been used to portray psychology.

Bahar [21:47]: I didn't get your question, actually. I don't know what's the question.

Adeel [21:52]: I was curious if you'd heard of Franz Kafka, the author, and how he used sound in his literature.

Bahar [22:00]: Actually, I know him and his writing, but I didn't pay attention to his usage of sound in his writings. This is the first time you mentioned that. I should refer to them again, but...

Adeel [22:19]: Yeah, I was curious because I didn't know until recently, after being a longtime fan of his, but I just actually had to return it because it was overdue. But I did borrow a, there's a book of just a lot, like a huge book of essays on how, like criticism and analysis, I should say, on how he used sound. And actually, the book also gets into... how sound is used to portray psychology in film as well. Maybe I'll get the title for you.

Bahar [22:51]: It might be interesting for you. Yes, yes. Very interesting. And it would help. But if you're looking for some inspiration, actually, I suffer from migraines. And sometimes I can ease the pain with some ASMR. meditation stuff like that so the idea of easing the pain with hearing with listening to something was from my own condition but it's not misophonia but I think ASMR videos or you know this new movement it's very similar to to people who suffer from misophonia. Some people try to distract themselves from their psychological situation or their pain by listening to just the sound, meaningless sound. I think that's the opposite of misophonia.

Adeel [23:54]: Yeah, some people have tried to use ASMR, but then it seems like a lot of the popular ASMR sounds tend to coincide with trigger sounds for a lot of people, so it ends up not helping.

Bahar [24:07]: Yes, it's exactly the opposite, but it's sound related.

Adeel [24:11]: Right, absolutely. Well, that's great that at least it's, if it helps you with your migraines, along with meditation and whatnot. Well, maybe, yeah, I mean, we're, I'd be curious to, you know, now that we've talked about, you know, this particular format, you know, we could spend a little bit of time maybe just talking about your, kind of your background. I know we talked a little about your screenwriter. kind of how you your education like did you go to school for filmmaking or writing and kind of a little bit about kind of your background and how you grew up sure

Bahar [24:48]: My bachelor is electrical engineering and my master's degree is in marketing. Oh, wow.

Adeel [24:54]: Okay. Yeah, I have a bachelor's in electrical engineering too.

Bahar [25:00]: I guess most of electrical engineers try to escape. Yeah. from their major and my master's is marketing i mean mba but after many years i tried to start cinema and I took some courses writing and filmmaking. But I'm going to start my MFA in September.

Adeel [25:33]: Oh, wow.

Bahar [25:33]: Yes, another master in filmmaking. Hopefully.

Adeel [25:37]: In Tehran?

Bahar [25:39]: No, in the United States.

Adeel [25:41]: Oh, so you're going to be coming to the United States. Okay.

Bahar [25:43]: Yeah.

Adeel [25:45]: No, that's great. Can I ask where you're going to be going to school?

Bahar [25:48]: Actually, I haven't decided yet. I have admission from NYU, Columbia, and Emerson College, but the scholarships are different, so I'm in the middle of decision-making.

Adeel [26:04]: That's amazing. Those are good schools. Yeah. Okay. Okay. If you said Minnesota, then we can meet up for coffee or something. But I don't think we have as good of a film school as you'll find in New York. That's great. Yeah, we'll definitely have to stay in touch.

Bahar [26:22]: The money is the problem now. Right.

Adeel [26:26]: They're good schools, but yeah, not super cheap, I'm sure. Very cool. And yeah, maybe I'm curious, do you know, obviously the amazing films coming up, come out of Iran. Are you in touch with the Iranian filmmaking community? I'm just kind of curious what your thoughts are there and kind of what movies you would recommend people see.

Bahar [26:53]: Yes, actually, I have a lot of Iranian filmmaker friends. They are young, although I don't think you know them because they're not famous yet, but hopefully they will be in the following years.

Adeel [27:13]: Well, cool. I mean, let me just say thank you. Yeah, thank you for, you know, doing the film, raising awareness, kind of, and especially kind of trying to be innovative and exploring different, you know, sound and psychology from different angles. I'm heartened that you've got other stories coming up in the kind of general space. I'm excited to see those when they get produced. And yeah, I hope to see you in the United States sometime soon, making films.

Bahar [27:42]: Thank you. Thank you so much. Thank you for giving me the time.

Adeel [27:47]: Thank you again, Bahar. Amazing to talk to people about Misophonia all over the world. If you liked this episode, don't forget to leave a quick review or just hit the five stars wherever you listen to this podcast. You can hit me up by email at hello at or go to the website It's even easier just to send a message on Instagram at Misophonia Podcast. Follow there or Facebook at Misophonia Podcast. And on X or Twitter, it's Misophonia Show. Support the show by visiting the Patreon at slash Misophonia Podcast. The music, as always, is by Moby. And until next week, wishing you peace and quiet.

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