On Monday back from spring break we came back swinging making phone calls for our last few interviews. We lined up interviews for a psychic, a psychologist/spiritual healer and a spiritual dance instructor. We already had footage of two of our interviewees leading different ceremonies in our previous shoots and knew we needed to couple that with background information. We met on Monday evening to recap what we had done so far and narrow our focus. We finally found our angle and started to visualize the order of our documentary.
On our interview with the psychologist, we learned more about his past and how religion and spirituality have a connection in his life. We realized he is going to be a prominent character for our documentary because of his openness to many spiritualities and how he tries to incorporate all in his life.
On Friday, we went to talk with a woman who instructs a dance ceremony at The Foundations of Light. We experimented with different shots, with B-roll as well as with interview techniques. For example, we had her walk around the space and explain about their function.
This week we also filmed a new section of our doc that we are excited to include, especially after the interviews. We went down to The Commons to get some “man on the street” interviews where we had people quickly tell us their past religions and what they practice now.
We got a wide variety of people and religious/ spiritual backgrounds and we are so excited to start putting the doc together. Next week we plan on finishing all of our interviews and filming so we can start editing.
Monday night, Carolyn and I went to the Namgyal Monastery in downtown Ithaca. It’s an old victorian house with Tibetan flags strung around the exterior–it so happens that it’s also the North American seat for the Dalai Lama.
The Namgyal Monastery
Here, we videotaped the meditation session and got some great, vivid images and interesting chanting audio. There, we started meeting more spiritually searching people–which is our goal after having interviewed so many religious leaders. We met a man there who was at the Dances of Universal Peace at the Foundation of Light, so we’re going to officially interview him at a later date. We did some on-site interviews of Cornell students, one of which used to be Catholic and is now creating his own religion, and another who is now Buddhist but grew up a Jehovah’s witness.
Was it fate that we met these people to interview? We think so. Our next plan is to go to more religious ceremonies and find people to piece our documentary together!
Over the weekend Mary and I shot at a spiritual gathering called, “Dances of the Universal Peace.” We had our first experience getting permission from a large audience, but were successful and got a lot of great footage for b-roll. We also interviewed a middle aged man who grew up practicing Judaism but was at the dances to express his spirituality in a different kind of way. We interviewed him before the ceremony began and then were able to shoot him in the midst of his spiritual experience. We also talked with a psychologist and one of the leaders of the dances that approached us about their interest in talking to us more for the documentary. Overall the shoot was very successful.
We were planning on shooting more b-roll Sunday, but the weather did not permit. Today we have two more shoots, one, a meditation session at the Monastery downtown, and one at the Foundations of Light for “Cherokee Medicine Mondays.” Updates on those to come.
It is customary to take off your shoes at the Foundation of Light