Opening in theatres from director Scott Cervine and producer/writer Austin Vickers comes a film that asks viewers to listen to both sides of “The People vs. The State of Illusion”.
This film tells the story of Aaron Rogers (J.B. Tuttle) who, after losing his wife, is raising a young daughter alone. In the sadness of the situation an accident happens that changes his life. Serving time in prison, he must learn to reevaluate everything he has ever known.
While telling the story, Vickers shares with the audience a deep and compelling look at the human brain and its power of perception. Along with experts Dr. Thomas Moore, Candace Pert, Debbie Ford and Joe Dispenza, the film is an intense look at how the brain is a muscle that we have more control over than we realize.
During a recent interview with the writer/director, he talks about where the idea came from, who he hopes to reach and what on the horizon.
Thanks for talking with me today Austin.
Oh absolutely Jeri.
I really enjoyed your film. It reiterated things I already believe in so my question to you is who is your target audience?
Originally when I was making the film I was making it for PBS and so I would say that audience was our ideal demographic. It’s between the ages of 25 to 70 and typically has some education and has an interest in self-awareness issues. Also an issue of psychology and the complexity of the human mind.
What made you decide to do this?
I’ve been teaching this kind of material for the last twelve years. Multi media is such an obvious vehicle for teaching and because we are so multi media oriented that I just wanted to put together the science and things that were happening together. We have learned more about the brain in the last ten years than we have in the history of the world combined. There is an awful lot of interesting neuroscience and psychology of what we are learning about the brain that I wanted to put it together in a format in a way that people are accustomed to like television and movies to help them better understand the science we are presenting.
A lot of the terminology I understand but do you think you are at a disadvantage in showing the film because maybe the layperson wouldn’t understand it?
I’m sure that if the layperson wasn’t interested then yes but I tried to simplify many of the contexts. I have four or five hours of video footage from each one of the experts so I simplified it but kept it close to its roots. That’s kind of what a trial lawyer often does; they take complex subjects and put them in a way so that the jury would understand. That’s what I tried to do with this film. I think for some yes, it might be challenging.
With all the footage you have would the next step be for you to turn it into a series?
I am actually working on an educational model around the film for a major university that wants to include it in their doctoral program as required viewing. We are putting together an educational model that will break it down of what is going on and why the dialogues are structured the way they are and how they relate to the underlying science that is presented. That for sure will be happening along with an interactive e-book that goes with the film. As far as a series I wouldn’t produce it myself! If Oprah or Dr. Phil wants to do it I’d be happy to talk to them about it.
This has been pretty intense on you?
I really, really enjoyed the project and I want to do other things in the future but to produce a television show would be outside my expertise. It was all I can do to put this film together. I do want to do other films and such but it takes a lot of work.
How did you present this to the studio and make them receptive to an independent film?
I made the film myself and actually showed it in a theatre in Phoenix and they agreed to show the film for one week. They premiered it last September and the film played for two solid months. It was a result of that success in Phoenix that Samuel Goldwyn picked it up for distribution. I’m the producer so I got all the funding and did the film.
Will your other films be of the same genre?
I’m working on a screenplay that is a historical fiction story. I formed a film company called Exhault Films, the idea behind Exhault is that we will always uplift and inspire the human spirit. This story I’m writing is purely fictional and I’m hoping to have it more of a feature film.
Will you be doing any more of this kind of film or are you done?
No, possibly we will do others. I’ll be on the road for quite a while supporting this film. We’ve have had a lot of interest in it from different organizations and groups, especially educational institutions. I have already been speaking for ten years around it so a lot of my life will be about teaching these principles with the film. One of the things is that we want to make it available for women in shelters and populations who otherwise wouldn’t get access to it when it’s available on DVD.
Working with shelters I can see how this would important for them to see.
We’ve done that with a number of women from a shelter called Maggie’s Place. We brought a number of groups to the film when it was still in the theatre so we know we want to make it available to shelters across the country. We would be happy to send it to any that ask.
So when you’re not doing this or writing a screenplay what do you do to unwind?
I do a lot of things, anything creative around writing and speaking I really love. I teach yoga and have done that for about seven years and was teaching it at Arizona State University. Anything outdoors, I love nature so anything to do with biking and running.
That feeds into your sense of positive and staying focused yes?
Yes! I also love reading. I think people forget how much information is available to them from all over the world. There is a lot of negativity in the news with the economy, politics and wars but there is such an access of information about any part of the world so it’s an exciting time to be alive.
When I saw Dr. Thomas Moore pop up I have to say I was so happy. “To Care for the Soul” has always been a favorite book of mine.
He is exactly how you would think he is in real life. To sit down with him in his home and I could spend the day looking at all his books. He has so many great ones. He’s very real and very authentic and I’m proud to call him a friend.
Thank you for taking the time to talk to us Austin!
Others in the film include: Tad Jones as the Attorney, Amy Baklini as the young woman in the bar, Kevin McDonald as the Prison Guard and
TUBS OF POPCORN: I give “The People Vs. The State of Illusion” three tubs of popcorn out of five. It isn’t everyone’s cup of tea to be sure but in large part perhaps it should be. There is nothing wrong with learning about what goes on in our own minds so that perhaps we can understand ourselves and others a little more.
In the end – learning is everything!