Only The Source (2017)

I'm a co-founder of a new Bay Area based production company called "Only The Source" with Stu Zimmerman, Leah Diamond, and Cameron Mark Lewis.

The venture's purpose is to awaken, inspire and empower humanity to a more peaceful, delightful and loving life through our programming. Entertaining, thought-provoking, heart-warming and occasionally outrageous, our content offers our global audience new insights, direct experiences and reliable practices to create positive change in their lives.

Check out www.onlythesource.com for more info.

Some Escapest Horror Worth Your Time

As human beings we are inherently scared of certain things. Horror is a genre which plays off those fears through the art form of filmmaking. Since horror films most often times only require a small cast and found locations, they are generally cheap to make and the majority of films in the genre are rubbish as a result. Yes, many horror films are trashy garbage, yet I'm still a fan of a well-done piece of terrifying cinema and have a guilty pleasure of watching horror movies when my wife is away and I'm home alone. Thereby I am pleased to come across a good sleeper piece of horrific cinema!

The genre suffers from many problems. Mainly a lack of originality. With most horror movies following the trends. Such as the slasher flicks of the 80's, hot douchebags on college campuses of the 90's, torture porn or psychological thrillers of the early 2000's, and found footage of the 20 teen's. So nothing pleases me more than a non-paint by numbers horror movie that is both original and memorable while being out of the wave of what's popular at the time.

There are several important elements to get right with a horror movie. Outside of the usual script and character, a quality horror film really needs to be helmed by a quality filmmaker. The American remake of the Japanese film The Ring is a great example of this. Resulting in a project that's not cheap scares with a when is something going to happen factor. An original horror movie is also is not allowed to have a spirit or entity after the child. Please never show that again all of Hollywood. Success in horror must play on our already pre-existing fears. Example, a giant spider-like face hugging alien latching onto you jizzing down your throat and having its offspring burst out your chest cavity. That's because we're naturally afraid of arachnoids, parasites, and childbirth.

When skimming through horror trailers, if it doesn't have high production values I immediately turn it off and won't even give it a moment of my time. Here's a short list of high production value yet not very know horror movies which I've gathered that are worth your time if you're willing to lower your consciousness with some distraction to escape the horror of the Republicans running all three branches of Government.

Our short film Supervised had a significant horror element to it which was tons of fun. As someone always interested in making films with lower budgets, I do admit my bucket list includes making a single horror movie. It must be fantastic, with a compelling and original story, well paced, well shot, and memorable.

Midnight Meat Train - http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0805570/
The Boy - http://www.imdb.com/title/tt3882082/
[Rec] - http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1038988/
Martyers - http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1029234/
Hostel - http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0450278/
The Descent - http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0435625/
The Skeleton Key - http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0397101/
As Above So Below - http://www.imdb.com/title/tt2870612/
The Uninvited - http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0815245/?ref_=fn_al_tt_1
Trick R' Treat - http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0862856/
Eden Lake - http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1020530/
The Shrine - http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1341710/
Paranormal Activity - http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1179904/
Trollhunter - http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1740707/
Jeruzalem - http://www.imdb.com/title/tt4552524/

Psychedelic Milk (2017)

Joined comrade Ed Liu for Episode #43 of his podcast Psychedelic Milk to discuss the documentary series Shamans of the Global Village.

Ed Liu is a podcast host and a music producer - previously charted on the Beatport Top 100. He is currently the host of the Psychedelic Milk podcast, a long-form conversational interview with interesting and influential guests from all over the world to discuss topics of consciousness, psychedelics, and new emerging technologies.

This was a really fun free-form chat. From moment one it just flowed as Ed and I are on similar wavelengths. Thanks so much for having me Ed buddy.

 

Read Through Your Ears

Reading is very important. Wisdom and knowledge comes from life experience while information gathering comes from reading. People who are "well read" are generally more interesting to talk to and have a much broader range of depth than those who never read hardly anything. Many people won't even read this blog post let alone a magazine article let alone a fluffy fun book let alone a book of knowledge. Thus Donald Trump is the 45th president of the United States and the comedy Idiocracy has become a documentary. Which is understandable since we're so programmed to move a mile a minute and not ever slow down. Reading takes time and requires one to slow down. In order to be a good writer, you must read a ton more than you write. I'm constantly baffled how unwell read many "filmmakers" are and a huge part of being a filmmaker instead of just a person with a camera is writing compelling fleshed out characters of depth. Hence, so much of the problems with indie filmmaking is a lack of good writing.

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Technology has made it so we get information a mile a minute. Sadly most of it's crap because people seem to want to play Farmville on Facebook rather than read something juicy and yummy for their mind. The best information one can consume on a page or screen comes from books of knowledge. Usually old books or else books which retell old themes. 

For example, "The Art of War". A not easy book to read but something that requires one to spend time with it over and over again over long periods of time. Much like university study, it can take a long time to sit down with The Art of War and really get information out of it. And that requires not only that slowing down, but also a focused mental concentration.

As someone who is mildly dyslexic, this is an even greater struggle. The McDonalds for the mind B-level accurate Wikipedia definition of dyslexia is "difficulty in learning to read or interpret words". Which sure as shit was true here in this brain's real estate. In the mind control conform boot camp of public and private school I remember trying to read and having so much problem not remembering what I had just gone over two lines before. This was mainly in reading non-fiction and also meant being lost in place and time within reading fiction. However, it wasn't so much the information in the text but more the process of extracting it off the page and into memory that was the difficult part with a gear lodged in the mental cogs. However, being read that same text out loud was a different story. Hence books on tape saved me in the 80's and 90's.

Reading involves all your time. Listening does not. When you listen you are in your own world and can often times DO other things. I always have ear buds in my ears whenever I'm by myself in my spare time being a non-creeper street photographer. Either at home or on the move, or even getting various autopilot works done at the keyboard. If I'm alone and without headphones in, I feel weird like walking the dog through a park partially naked not wearing pants. The time is so valuable to be in-taking yummy information and life is too short to spend all your time listening to someone else's crap they would be all to happy to spoon feed to you over some ghastly live broadcast full of deplorable corporate commercials. I'm allowed to say that being someone who has occasionally directed commercials and has worked on and off in the commercial industry. 

Audio books and podcasts are quite ubiquitous these days. However many old texts that are packed with excellence have not been transcribed to audio book. The modern version of books on tape is the spoken word version of text on the page. Either read by a human and translated digitally into an audio file, just like a book on tape. This is a technique called text to speech. A secret weapon of excellence. Older versions of the Amazon Kindle allowed most if not all books you purchased on Kindel to also be transcribed to you as an audio book. An outstanding feature they very sneakily and slyly removed in later versions because of conflicts with publishing companies over copyright of audio book vs regular book. Who would have thought those running an industry would act like profit based capitalist dicks? The best solution I have found to mimic this is text to speech. There are pieces of software which allow you to copy text and have it read out to you, often but not always by a robotic Stephen Hawking like voice. For numerous years I would highlight text and copy it into a reader and push play. YUGE.

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These days I will give credit to Apple and mention that the latest versions of Mac OS have an incredible feature where you can simply highlight any text, be it the full pros on an entire novel or a single article, then right click on the highlights text and say "Add to iTunes as spoken track". After a short bit of processing... BOOM! You've got an audio file that's essentially an audiobook. Created quickly from ANY text you can copy from. Alchemical mind gold! A life-changing process for the autodidact we will all one day come to be.

Being a couple years into listening to self-created audio book files, I've started to incorporate a time-saving technique of listening to them at faster speed. A feature which YouTube as added to their videos as well mind you.

Music requires being listened to at proper speed but a human being's voice does not. In fact, most people's voices and speech patterns have caused them to deliver oral information quite inefficiently and work better sped up a bit. Rather than spending 3 full hours listening to that latest epic podcast at speed, try it at a 1.5x speed or even a 2x speed. You'll get just as much out of it in a much more efficient time frame. This process will allow your yummy intel sponging to increase daily. It also works well on mediocre films. Such as kind of boring documentaries or Michael Bay action films where the dialogue just doesn't carry the visuals. Like all muscles, mental processes require exercise and building up the ability to listen quicker will rapidly move you to become more Jedi and less Muggle in no time. 

New Means Little

With any piece of hardware that you use to advance an art, it's easy to get lost in the technology loop of acquisition syndrome. Caring so much about the latest + greatest newest thing. While there's an understanding of getting more for the same price, which is what happens with the latest model, in reality very little does change when you upgrade to any piece of technology.

For example, I use two cameras for street photography. A Leica M rangefinder series and a Panasonic micro 4:3:

 

Each has its own advantages and it's nice to switch it up between the two day in and day out. The Leica prides itself by maintaining and old design style, while the micro 4:3 camera is essentially a more compact SLR camera. Just like the rangefinder, the micro 4:3 is over 5 years old now and still producing great images. Getting battle hardened lots of use, but still there are only so many shots it can take before it will die.  My motto of late, shoot it till it dies and only upgrade then and there. Zen minimalism all the way.

Transmutation Teaser Trailer (2017)

Moon / Feminine , Sun / Masculine , Earth / Feminine + Masculine

Transmutation is a documentary film I've been working on as the main side project for the last 3/4 years with my friend and colleague Neil Kramer. A British philosopher and esotericist. Neil explores the relationship between inner development and the many social and cultural factors that influence our lives. Attention is drawn to embracing truth, confronting challenges, and transforming self. Neil shares his ideas in writings, film, audio, seminars, and individual teaching.

At a surface level this film is about not following the "normal" prescribed path society and culture lays out for us in the first world. At a deeper level, it's about spiritual philosophy. At an even deeper level it's about Hermetic philosophy. At the deepest level, it's about the alchemical transmutation of the soul, changing the individual from lead to gold which is the purpose for each and every one of us over many lifetimes as we evolve and grow. Minus any woo or fluff.

It's been absolutely life-changing for me making it and the official site can be found here:

www.transmutationfilm.com

Third Eye Drops (2016)

Fantastic chat with friends Michael Phillip and Michael Garfield (The Michael's) over at the Third Eye Drops podcast. Purveyor of interviews, outerviews and wonder-mongering for sentient sapein seekers.

We chat about my background and the struggled of transmuting your life energy into dollars for others while at the same time always wanting or trying to make you own content.

Being a Documentary Photographer + Filmmaker

As a street photographer, I'm often out in public, lurking in urban areas in an attempt to find interesting subjects to candidly photograph. 

Building up your guts to go up to people cold is a skill I will never stop needing to work on. Occasionally when photographing someone and having it go well, they'll ask me to send them their picture. When speaking to the remarkable John Siegel on the podcast, he mentioned that he's learned to have a business card to hand out. This gives subjects some quick insight on who he is and also writes the photo number on the back of his card when he get's asked by people to share their portraits he's taken of them. Genius idea. So here I am making my own. 

As someone who realizes and appreciates the importance of one condensing and conveying their brand to others, it's important to solidify and streamline what you do professionally or for hobby. The further along I get in the craft of capturing still images of unknown subjects, the more I realize documentary photography is a major part of my life, if not the primary passion of my life. Outside of my spiritual development of course. Which if you're scared off the the word "spiritual" just switch if out for "life" and call it life development. With filmmaking being the occasional side hobby that only happens periodically. I've also come to realize how much my street shooting effects my directing style in the way I work with subjects and lens a scene. Being chipper and upfront and proactive to make those I've just met and are pointing a camera at comfortable being on screen, while at the same time developing a shooting style of cinematic documenting. With a kit of specific visual cues that re-occur as one finds their style. For me, that style is psychedelically influenced hyper-saturation with beautiful bloomy optics. High contrast ratios and ethereal skies. Think conscious multidimensional art meets Makoto Shinkai. All done lite and lean to support what is hopefully always paradigm-crushing content.

#199 – Grimerica Talks “Shamans of the Global Village” with Rak Razam & Niles Heckman (2016)

Rak Razam and Niles Heckman join Darren and Graham of the Grimerica podcast to talk about the first episode of “Shaman’s of the Global Village”. We chat about the making of this and about the global growth of shamanism. We also chat about many of the different medicines, holding space, duty of care, ancient practices, and the earth being a live ecosystem. People from all walks of life from all over the globe are finding various healing from this process. Addiction and PTSD just to name a couple.

Micro Four Thirds Anamorphic - SLR Magic

Recently acquired my first Anamorphic lens. I've always loved the iconic look that type of glass yields and have been playing around with a way to shoot anamorphic affordably with adapters and what not for the past couple years with limited success. However SLR Magic recently released three true anamorphic lenses which are actually some-what affordable. A 35mm, 50mm, and 75mm series that come in both PL and Micro Four Thirds mounts. Here's the 35mm T2.4 2x Anamorphot-CINE Lens in micro 4/3 mount version which I picked off eBay barely used for under $2000. Not bad for a technology that 10 years ago would have cost $200,000. 

Here it is on the Panasonic GH4:

Here's the first two initial still images tests from the rig. The 2x yields an aspect ratio twice the width of the standard 16:9 sensor. Which is over 3.50 : 1.

My entire life I've never understood why the standard film back and now image sensor is 16:9, or about 1.77 : 1 aspect ratio. Not just for moving, but still images as well. Even worse are resources like Instagram which think it's acceptable to have the native aspect ratio of images be a square as some gross attempted throwback to the vintage 70's era. I'd nearly rather stab myself in the eyes than look at square images all day. Same thoughts with paintings in galleries that were painted on square or narrow width frames. For portraits sure, but landscapes and vistas to not be in very wide aspect ratio canvases has just never computed with me. Now that I've shot these tests, I already predict this will be a life-changing workflow for what I shoot and going back to flat glass will be tough. Even the 2.40 : 1 aspect ratio I usually work in now seems like it could be wider. I'm ultimately thinking the perfect sweet spot is 2.76 : 1 which the old Ultra Panavision 70 anamorphic formats from the 50's and 60's resulted in.

I've also long since been searching for a way to shoot street photography in a native, much wider aspect ratio. My street photography always tries to be as cinematic as possible and it seems like most street photographers are perfectly fine with not only ugly stark black and white but hardly anyone else seems to be shooting street on wider native formats. Since the lens ultimately requires it's own custom camera body and rig build, the next rig built using this lens will aim to accommodate both video and stills in the smallest and most discreet way possible. Stay tuned...

Rogue One - Lucasfilm (2016)

Worked as a visual effects artist for a brief month helping finish up the first STAR WARS side story ROGUE ONE at WiskeyTree. A content creation company that which lives up to its claim as purveyors of master crafted computer graphics.

I have a ton of respect for the film's director Gareth Edwards. I also must say he and I are similar. Versatile filmmakers with a background as artists who actually do the behind the scenes work hands on completing entire projects nearly by ourselves. He shot and directed the 2010 indie film Monsters and then spend numerous years completing all the visual effects in post-production by himself. Sounds familiar. It paid off as well because it was a very well received and launched his directing career. Although most directors are egomaniacs, he seems like a quite humble bloke as well.

In A Perfect World # 114: Shamans of the Global Village (2016)

Rak Razam, host of the new online TV show, Shamans of the Global Village www.shamansoftheglobalvillage.com, chats with the show's director Niles Heckman about the resurgence in shamanic traditions across the world and why they made this groundbreaking new series. Indigenous people across the globe have used sacred plant medicines for millennia to heal, illuminate and connect them to the web of life. But each of these psychoactive medicines needs a healer to connect them to their patients: the shaman. This investigative-adventure documentary show examines not just these shamanic medicines, but the shamans that wield them–both indigenous and Western men and women learning to become shamans. We examine what drives them, what their backgrounds are, and why the role of the shaman is vital in the 21st century. If, as Marshall McLuhan said, we are now a “global village”, then we need our own healers that understand the deep power and sacredness these plant medicines can reveal. Tune into a provocative discussion about global shamanism, documentary filmmaking and the role of conscious media in our own awakening. Shamans of the Global Village is a independently produced documentary series focusing on indigenous entheogenic medicines and the Western shamanic resurgence. It is a project that has been a long time in the making, has gone through many challenges, but because of the passions and unique skill sets of its creators, is like nothing you’ve ever seen. 

The 2016 World Ayahuasca Confrence

The pilot episode of Shamans of the Global Village Episode screened at the World Ayahuasca Film Festival at the 2016 World Ayahuasca Conference in Brazil.

The conference combines individual and organizational supporters are working together to create a memorable experience. More than 100 speakers shared knowledge and expertise through presentations and cross-cultural roundtables, and participants have the opportunity to learn more about the diverse indigenous communities participating in the conference, and to take in film, music, art and more.

Shamans of the Global Village Q&A (2016)

Shamans of the Global Village is a independently produced documentary series focusing on indigenous entheogenic medicines and the Western shamanic resurgence. It is a project that has been a long time in the making, has gone through many challenges, but because of the passions and unique skill sets of its creators, is like nothing you’ve ever seen.

The following is a conversation between the show’s director, artist & filmmaker Niles Heckman, and show host, writer & journalist Rak Razam which can be found on: