A St. John's man who worked as part of the production crew on an Oscar-nominated film will head to Los Angeles for the Academy Awards in February.

Terry Stone was the first assistant director on Buzkashi Boys, which is nominated in the live action short film category.

"It still seems very surreal," he said. "I haven't really slept very much, tossing and turning, just thinking about it."

Buzkashi Boys is a coming-of-age story about two 12-year-old boys — one is a street urchin, the other is the son of a blacksmith — who both share the dream of becoming Buzkashi riders.

'That's one of the biggest things about being there, was meeting people in Kabul, meeting Afghan people, and seeing the hope in their eyes.' —Terry Stone

The 30-minute film is centered around Afghanistan's national sport of Buzkashi, where 50 to 80 experienced horseback riders play a game similar to polo, where players use their hands instead of mallets.

But instead of a ball, they pick up a goat carcass that has been beheaded and disembowelled.

"You basically have to lean in, and try to pick up this goat carcass, get out of the scrum, gallop all the way up around a green flag at the other end of the field, which is bigger than a football stadium, all the way back, throw it in a winner's circle made out of chalk, and then you get a point, and some rich man in the audience gives that rider some money," Stone explained.

"There's always broken bones during every match."

Fascinated by footage

Stone learned of the project through an Afghan Canadian friend from Halifax, who was doing documentary work in Kabul. When Stone met up with his friend in late 2010 to look at some test footage, he knew he had to get involved.

"I got fascinated with the images of Kabul and the sport, and I said, 'If you need an assistant director at all, give me a call.'

"He called me in January, and then I ended up going there in February."

Stone said Buzkashi Boys is about hope.

"That's one of the biggest things about being there, was meeting people in Kabul, meeting Afghan people, and seeing the hope in their eyes. There's destitution all around, there's bombed out buildings, et cetera, and just a war zone since the '70s. But you see hope, and they smile with their eyes," he said.

"That's what the film really encompasses. It shows us a part of that part of the world that's — it's a universal story, and we have a connection to them."

The 85th annual Academy Awards will take place in Los Angeles on Feb. 24.

Stone, who also works as the first or second assistant director on Republic of Doyle, will be flying to California a few days before the awards show.

Here's the trailer for the film:

Buzkashi Boys Trailer from Sam French on Vimeo.