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$4,743 pledged of $75,000 goal
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By Gene Smith
$4,743 pledged of $75,000 goal
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About this project

"It is clear that Gene Smith can make an excellent and thought-provoking movie. I think he proved that in his kickstarter video. I am anxious to see how he expands on the ideas put forth in this trailer. There are interesting concepts that connect the realms of religion and science. Are there underlying associations? I'd like to hear more." - Jim Thieman, Scientist, NASA

Ultimately this is a film about seeking. It is about looking for answers in a world that offers differing and competing versions of "The Truth." Most all of us go through some version of this God vs. no-God tug-o-war. My version has included a childhood in a rather conservative church, physics classes in college (as a fine arts major no less), and a collection of experiences that tells me that none of these have got it quite right. In the meantime, I've studied religion, I've studied science, I've studied history. I've worked on films about near-death experiences and modern-day miracles and angel encounters (and motor oil?), and, by the way, I've had some pretty strange experiences of my own. I want to make some sense of this. And since I am trained in the film-making arts, I want to make some sense of it for everybody else as well. Maybe not everyone will see things my way, but that's not the point. The point is insight, it's understanding, it's thinking I can stitch these things together in a way that will make some sense and help us in this crazy experience of life.

Science is making some pretty interesting discoveries these days - like the Higgs-Boson or God-particle. Hmmm. Why would somebody call it that? And quantum science says that measuring a particle changes its nature, yet science as a whole will not accept findings unless they are measurable and repeatable. When I asked an astrophysicist about it, he agreed that it's a conflict. I don't want to live my life just waiting for an iPhone with a 20 megapixel camera to come out. I am just too curious about the world, the universe, and this crazy experience we are having. At this point I am pretty certain that the way we think the world works figures prominently in the way we go about our lives and interact with other people. That makes this a pretty important issue. In our age, the ancient religious teachings that guided people seem to have lost a significant amount of their relevance. I have a sense that if we translate ancient teachings through the language of science we can find some prominent points of agreement and enhance the relevance of both in our lives.

Topics that interest me (among others):

  • The topic of light keeps popping up. It pops up in near death experiences, in ancient teachings, and is the constant that Einstein tied his theory of relativity to.
  • Belief implies a certain alignment of our consciousness. Some theoretical scientists like Max Planck, one of the founders of quantum theory, thought that consciousness was at the base of our material world. He said, "All matter originates and exists only by virtue of a force... We must assume behind this force the existence of a conscious and intelligent Mind. This Mind is the matrix of all matter." Hmmm.
  • Einstein called the presence of "non-local" interactions "spooky actions at a distance" and he did not like this idea. However it has been shown conclusively that when particles share the same state they become linked no matter how far apart they are. Can this be a model for telepathic communication? 

Now don't worry if you don't get what I am talking about here. One thing I believe I have is the ability to explain complex topics in terms most people can understand and find relevant. You don't have to be Einstein to get this.  In fact, the important thing is not the specific information, but rather that many ancient teachings correspond in interesting ways with modern theories. I have a bit of a theory of everything (a TOE) to compare concepts against and use as a conversation starter, so here is my plan:

  • I am intending to make this a feature length presentation to be shot in high definition video for distribution as pay-per-view and DVD. I have had some interest from other distribution options and that picture may not be totally clear until the film is finished.
  • I will find people - experts- to engage in conversations about this TOE. I want to film not just the conversations, but also the process of gathering the information. The experts will be scientists, theologians and religious/spiritual leaders.
  • I will find some people with experiences outside the realm of things normally explained by science, such as near death experiences , or apparent miraculous healings.
  • I will find some of those interesting renegade experimenters and people with out of the box ideas of all sorts including artists and musicians.
  • I will travel and acquire conversations with these folks from the frame of reference of the TOE, paying special notice to artwork and music I may encounter
  • Then I will weave all of this into a story that will make sense.
  • I will add graphics and create animations to help explain difficult concepts
  • With my colleagues, we will compose music to carry the story
  • Have the whole thing finished by the end of 2014

About my big TOE

Most of the information I want to present has been around for a long time in one form or another. A different approach that my Theory Of Everything takes is to focus on processes rather than products - on essential interactions rather than the stuff that those interactions produce. And when you look deeply at those you begin to realize that the same process that organizes beach sand into something that will run your computer in some ways is echoed in humans when we do things like learn to play the piano, excel at a sport, or take on a spiritual practice. It all comes down to one essential process, and that is where we find the footprint of God.

It's a bit of a cliff-hanger, I know.

Yeah, but I won't do that in the film. I promise. And here's what happens to the money. This is pretty much the minimum I think I can get this done for. Since I am doing most of this myself I can keep the cost pretty low for a film this long. Conversations will most likely require a cameraman other than myself for those days. (I do like the idea of Skype conversations as well.) What it does is free me up for a year to concentrate on this, pay for some music and the rewards, travel when I need to, and maybe get a bit of help on any heavy animation I might need. If we go above the goal I can create more complex animations, possibly get higher profile guests, and hire a second cameraman for conversations. It will also allow for some promotion. The money that comes in gets dedicated to this project.

And in the end

This is not idle academic chatter. These are important conversations for our time because this has an effect on how we look at the world and so has an effect on how we approach our lives and our relationships. The world is the way it is because we have all in some way agreed on it. When we can change that agreement we change the world, however incrementally. 

Check out our rewards as well. Ron Kristy will be our music coordinator and is an amazingly versatile composer and veteran of many film scores, as well as half of the critically acclaimed Americana duo, Burns and Kristy. I am planning for music to be a big part of this presentation, so the soundtrack will be able to stand on its own. Kathy Van Kleeck, who will design and produce our medallions, was just chosen by innovative Project Runway alumnus, Fabio Costa, to design the jewelry and accessories for his Spring 2014 collection. And if you would like me to speak with your group I think I can challenge your notions about our world and what part we play in it. Join us today and contribute to our vision. I am grateful and excited about the prospects of your joining us in making this film a reality.

Risks and challenges

Making a film is something akin to raising a child. You make your best plan and get ready for the surprises. Some degree of flexibility is essential. Delays and work-arounds are pretty standard, so part of the film-maker's art is knowing what to do when your plan didn't work out. Another part is recognizing when serendipity is trying to help you out. In general, good planning, which includes compensating for possible detours, helps minimize the scary surprises. Another area that is a consistent issue is deadlines. The rule of thumb is "just get it done." Not that I am expecting to do this, but I have worked 24 and even 36 hours at a stretch to finish a project on time. I don't forsee that happening, we just work a little harder. In the old days you didn't know for sure that you had your footage until it came back from the lab. These days we can check our footage before we leave a site and we can upload to cloud storage for reliable backup.

In terms of my abilities, I think I have demonstrated that in my trailer. I have been in the film and video business for a long time, so my ability to complete a project is a matter of record. There are two quick shots in the trailer, the city aerial shot and the shot just before it, that I did not take.The shots I am in I set up in a monitor or shot with a rig I can wear on my hip. I wrote this, edited it, and built the graphics as well. That is how I can keep the costs down.

I am giving myself a year to make this project, starting in January and finishing in December. That will be broken up into thirds with 4 months in the winter for planning and scheduling, the next 4 months for production, and the final 4 months for editing. There is, of course, some overlap with these. I may get to October and realize I can use another shot of something or another. If I was hiring editors and animators this would be faster but I will be doing most of the work myself. I'm just me however and I'd rather build in a good amount of cushion. Also this is not likely the only thing I will be doing, though it will be the predominant thing.

I will also get production insurance to cover mishaps and what they call errors and omissions and I will also get a completion bond.

Other than that, look at what I have done here and decide for yourself. I have had to make bridge paint interesting, so I think I can do something with this.

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    For groups, thank you card, digital download of the film and soundtrack, DVD, and 10 free tee shirts with the F.O.G. avatar (more tee shirts can be purchased) and a skype call to coincide with your screening, plus end credit as a V.I.P. booster.

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    Thank you card, monthly updates, digital downloads, DVD, greeting cards, ball cap, silver medallion on silver chain, opening credit as a sustaining booster, dinner with Gene Smith (I'll buy dinner, you provide the travel and lodging if you're more than 4 hours from St. Augustine, FL.)

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Funding period

- (40 days)