I started back in editing this week on my mammoth undertaking – a film on intuition. I’m calling it: PGS: Intuition is your Personal Guidance System.
For those of you who don’t know, I’ve been making this film since 1999. At the time, I was in New Orleans working on a movie, and I was driving to the airport very early one morning when a voice told me to slow down.
I was approaching an intersection – it was before dawn – there were no cars on the road at that time of the morning, so there was no sense of impending danger. But this voice was insistent, so I slowed down.
As I entered the intersection, on a green light, a truck suddenly hurtled through running the red light on the cross street. Had I not listened to that voice, I would have been killed.
My intuition saved my life.
Ever since, I have been determined to find out what that voice was, and why it saved my life. And being a filmmaker, that determination has expressed itself in the making of a film.
After years and years of researching, then trying to get the film financed in a traditional way, without luck, I started shooting in September 2014. I went out and bought a camera and started shooting it myself.
That’s not as crazy as it might seem, because I have been a professional photographer since the age of 17 – I’ve shot second unit on most of my movies – I’m an Associate Member of the Australian Cinematographers Society as well as an Accredited Member of the Australian Institute of Professional Photographers. Plus I’ve been directing feature films since 1983. So I know my way around a camera.
Even so it was daunting – and I had to skill myself in a lot of areas, particularly sound, in a very short period of time.
I decided I would look at intuition from three viewpoints: science, religion, and spirituality. That took me to India several times, and Italy – to the Vatican, and to Bhutan, to interview the Prince of Bhutan and his Spiritual Advisor (a Buddhist Grand Master), I went to Dharamsala to the Dalai Lama Palace, to Turkey to talk to Sufi Masters and a descendent of Rumi, and several times to America to speak to scientists and psychics and spiritualists.
On some of these trips I took cinematographer extraordinaire Pieter de Vries. He’s better than me at camera stuff…
Anyway, I ended up with about 90 hrs of footage for a 90 minute film.
Last year I started editing, with a wonderful editor, Rishi Shukla. Rishi is a skeptic – which is what I wanted. (During the making of this film though he has become less of a skeptic!) We edited for 20 weeks last year. I ended up with a cut of 87 minutes. It was good – but I wasn’t happy with it.
It didn’t excite me as a piece of cinema.
I went overseas late last year, to do some more filming in America and Germany – and showed the cut to some select people. I got very positive feedback – but some notes too.
They wanted more of me in the film – more of my journey. I’ve been reluctant to put myself prominently in the film – because I’m no expert, I’m just someone who’s curious.
But I took their notes on board.
I came back just before Christmas, exhausted from all the traveling, but also very confused. What do I do now? I knew I had to finish the film this year – 2017. But I couldn’t see how. I couldn’t see a clear way through the film. I couldn’t see an elegant way through the film.
I knew I had to start editing on Feb 6th – this last Monday – and as the day approached I got more and more panicked.
What was I going to do?
And then things slowly started to come to me. In dreams, and in moments of insight while I was contemplating, and meditating. I started to see the film on two levels – a search for this voice, and a search for myself. My true self.
I immediately started organising a two week shoot out in the desert next month for what I’m calling an existential magic-realism road trip.
On Monday morning, this Monday past, I walked into the editing room and I said to Rishi:
So I played with some stuff. With an unconventional editing technique which I’ve been excited about for a while. Something very bold. Something quite unusual for this kind of film. I haven’t been this excited with an editing technique since coming up with the cutting style for my thriller KISS OR KILL many years ago.
This new approach scares the crap out of me.
I don’t know if it will work.
It’s a painstaking process that is very time consuming –
And it’s in-your-face.
It’s audacious and goes against the grain of films of this type.
Wussy spiritual films.
This won’t be wussy.
I walked to work that first morning listening to Deepak Chopra on my iPod.
I walked home listening to The Who.
I’m scared, but excited.
Cinema is exciting me again…
And it occurred to me this morning that I’ve spent all this time trying to find the film – when in fact I should have let go and let the film find me.
Which is what’s now happened…
The film has found me.