Updated: Jan 19, 2020
I was a bit nervous in the lead-up to doing the Q&A’s and interviews for The Portal. On the night of our Sydney premiere screening I’d got pretty worked up and a girlfriend was doing her best to calm me down, shift my energy, and help me regain composure etc. I felt like, I'm not ready for this! I said to her, "I don't need this kind of personal development!" She looked at me firmly and lovingly, hands moving about as she madly energy cleared the zone, and said, "you are ready for this, that’s why you’re here.”
So I pulled it together and, she was right... it went fine.
That first week travelling around the country, screening the film with audiences and doing q&as ended up being one of the most enriching, enjoyable, eye-opening, and unity-forming experiences of the last few years. I think the main thing that shifted was I stoped worrying about what I would say. I finally realised it didn't matter too much, I just needed to say something. It would be different every time, and the question would be different every time, and whatever it was would be great. This short interview with Caroline from HushHushBiz was recorded after the Brisbane screening and was a gorgeous chat.
(interview with Caroline from HushHushBiz)
On the release tour we had a different host most nights, both in OZ and USA, though sometimes it was just Tom and I. On those occasions we’d ask each other some questions to kick it all off. Sometimes we were on via Skype (like with NZ) which was it’s own fun, technical adventure. Sometimes sessions were sold out, other times there were fewer people. So it was a fantastic thing to just let go of expectations about what it would be like and truly enjoy it for what it was. In the US some of the incredible individuals who are featured in The Portal were able to attend. Amandine Roche was with us in LA. Heather Hennessy and Dr James Doty in SFO and the Bay Area, Booda was with us in NYC. Due Quach in Philli. Chatting robotics/love/AI with Dr Julia Mossbridge present in Sebastopol was an absolute highlight and something I’d been looking forward to for ages.
I was definitely always curious about who the host was going to be and what they would say. Would they get it? And so I’d get to experience the film through their eyes, with their unique angles and insights revealed through the questions that they asked. Plus the audience was different every time so it was just a fresh unexpectedness that emerged out of the different combination of cities and people. I love that. My favourite part was looking into the eyes of people after the film ended and seeing them radiate from such a deep place in their being.
People were curious about all sorts of things. The standards were: what was the inspiration? How did you find the people? But I loved it when it got deeper. Exploring other people's questions prompted me to to rediscover different aspects of the film and the experience every night. People were definitely interested in Sophia and how AI could be used to upgrade our ability to experience and transmit Love. They were interested in how we personally changed throughout the process of making the film. About how transformation ripples outwards. About what I learnt from the people I interviewed. About why I chose that particular animation style. Did I think about what consciousness was when I was working with the team, designing our meditative visual device? Was Stanley Kubrick an inspiration? When was the first time I meditated? And a really interesting one, how do I deal with the instinct for perfectionism when creating a film like The Portal. Well perfectionism is something I’ve been working to let go of for the last 10 years, and that project really tested me.
Post-film conversations revolved around mental health, creating foundations, how to subtly encourage other people to meditate when what you know it’s good for them (and they don’t want to listen), how to create films capable of giving people an experience of unity, what the Portal really means to people on a personal level. All sorts of things came up when chatting one-on-one with people. It was really beautiful
In Philadelphia Due Quach, one of those featured, was with us for the Q&A, which is super cool. There were a bunch of students there from film school who stayed afterwards to have a chat. They really loved how the film was constructed and asked us to do an interview with Film Matters Magazine. We just did that recently, I think it's coming out in a few weeks and this weekend I've actually just submitted a few follow-up questions they asked for so I'll let you guys know when that is going to be out.
I’ve had a few more interview requests lately so I won’t be able to rest on my laurels. It’s all good practice for the interview series I’ll be doing this year. So after all the concern about how it would turn out I’m glad to have been thrown in the fire and to have started getting more practice at something that has been an area I’ve needed to develop for ages. I feel I’ve been challenged and I’ve expanded. What a great side-benefit.