Conversations #10 - Rob Harper
|Nicholas McCay||Apr 13|
A conversation with Filmmaker Rob Harper—
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Hey Eclectic Spacewalkers!
This coming Sunday is a more esoteric holiday than yesterday’s Easter festivities. Each year, April 19th, brings forth Bicycle Day. The day we remember Albert Hofmann, and his infamous bicycle trip while being the first person ever to trip on LSD. Recently, I wrote about the second psychedelic renaissance, and how today psychedelic-assisted psychotherapy has renewed interest in treating mental ailments such as addiction and the fear of dying.
Last fall, while in London recording another podcast with Vinay Gupta, I had the supreme pleasure in interviewing director, producer, and screenwriter Rob Harper about his most recent film - Journey’s to the Edge of Consciousness.
Take an animated trip into the depths of the human mind with three brave pioneers of the 1950’s/60’s Aldous Huxley, Timothy Leary and Alan Watts. The film presents three psychedelic trips by these three world-famous authors that together changed them, and Western culture, forever. - via website
The film follows three revolutionaries in the science of psychedelics: Timothy Leary, the disgraced Harvard professor who said “Turn on. Tune in. Drop out,” the renowned English author Aldous Huxley who later wrote about his trippy experience in Doors of Perception, and lastly Alan Watts, the philosopher who arguably was the main reason why eastern philosophy has became popular in western countries.
"What can expanded states of mind teach us about ourselves, the world and our place in it?"
That was the question Rob Harper asked twelve leading thinkers. A who’s who of pyschonauts like:
Physician & author Dr. Gabor Mate
Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies (MAPS) founder & director Rick Doblin
Director of the Beckley Foundation Amanda Feilding
Ethnobotanist & famed brother to Terrence - Dennis McKenna
Author Graham Hancock
and many others in the fields on psychiatry, psychology, and neuroscience.
Their expert answers are interwoven in between stylish animation, immersive soundscapes, and a cinematic experience that trys, and succeeds, in mimicking the richness of a psychedelic experience. It is indeed a “journey”!
Sixty or so years years after the first psychedelic renaissance was squashed from authority, culture, and political figures, we are currently in a resurgence of interest in how psychedelics could be used to expand our consciousness, but also heal from past trauma.
Rob and I discussed his journey into the psychedelic realm, the film making process, and the promise of therapy among other topics. I thank Rob for his time, research, and eclectic mind. Enjoy the conversation, and until next time - Ad Astra!
Below are timestamps of the conversation to skip around (or just clear your mind and press play to hear a thoughtful conversation).
Stanislov Grof’s Realms of the Human Unconscious and Graham Hancock’s The War on Consciousness banned TED talk was two of Rob’s biggest influences in being interested in the subject of psychedelics (00:38)
What does psychedelics have to do with consciousness? (03:20)
Why did you partly animate the film? (09:00)
How did you decide on which experts in the field to interview? (14:10)
How did you keep the flow of the film fresh? (17:15)
Tell us about the logistics & funding of the film making process. (20:00)
How was the viewer’s journey of watching the film supposed to be intended? (22:19)
“Fundamentally, this is not a film about psychedelics. In so many ways it is completely, but actually beyond that it’s not. It is a film about consciousness…This film is really about the painful process of making contact with yourself in a world where we are not invited to spend much time in contact with ourselves.” (25:10)
Rob describes the “edge” of consciousness (27:35)
How did you come up with the question: "What can expanded states of mind teach us about ourselves, the world and our place in it?" (31:05)
How have perceptions on psychedelics changed in the last 5 years? (32:40)
What does our psychedelic infused future look like? (36:30)
How have your expectations changed throughout the film making process, and since it has been released? (42:00)
What have you learned about yourself during this journey? (46:50)
Watch Full Film:
Producer/Director/Screenplay/Editor: Rob Harper
Animation Artist: Henry Lambourne
Interview Music Composer: Bruce Gainsford
Interview Cinematographer: Luke C. Harper
Sound Design: Adam Woodhams, Thomas Blazukas, Louise Burton
Re-Recording Mixer: Aidan McCarthy
More on Rob Harper:
Film’s Website: https://www.journeysmovie.com/
Film’s Twitter: https://twitter.com/Journeys_Movie
Rob’s IMBD: https://www.imdb.com/name/nm1236148/