Editor’s note: Stephen Simon is currently directing and producing the film version of Conversations with God [www.cwgthemovie.com]. Lisa Schneiderman, publicist for the film, is presenting a diary of the progress of the film. Stephen’s regular column, Movie Mystic will resume in early 2006.
ASHLAND, Ore. – Participating in a film that can have a significant impact on humanity was the theme that inspired several hundred people to show up during the casting week of Conversations with God. The buzz of people waiting in line to audition outside of the Ashland Springs Hotel was inspiring. I found it quite eerie and also wondrous to discover that Stephen Simon’s classic film, Somewhere in Time, had actually inspired the owners of the hotel where the auditions were taking place to develop their entire decor around that film. And here he was conducting the auditions upstairs. No accidents, indeed!
People came from all around the world for auditions and everyone had a captivating story to tell. What inspired me most was to hear the depth of each soul’s yearning to make a difference. That intense emotion went hand-in-hand with an even deeper desire to be a part of something that will touch the hearts of millions.
I found myself asking such questions as: What made you decide to audition? What inspired you about the possibility of being involved in a film that swept the nation for nearly three years on the New York Times best-seller list?
Elizabeth Yaskin from L.A., who auditioned for the role of "Carly," said, "After my first Spiritual Cinema telecourse with Stephen Simon, I knew I had finally found my tribe. I have no choice anymore. I can only be a part of projects that make a difference in the world."
Another actor who auditioned, Stephen Halls from England, who now lives in Pasadena, Calif., shared with me that he had been an atheist all of his life. Then, one day he was perusing through Barnes & Noble and stumbled across one of Neale Donald Walsh’s books. It changed his life forever. His belief in God is now stronger than ever.
Many shared the same feeling that this film, this story, is ready to be told so that people can be ignited in a way that allows them to embrace who they are – who we are, as a human race – finally realizing or at least being open to the idea that God DOES, in fact, live inside us all. That we do have choices. That we don’t have to believe anymore that we are simply being submissive to a greater power outside of ourselves.
The story being told here is one of courage. It sets a resonance that it’s time to believe in ourselves. That it’s time to finally touch upon our inner resources, that still small or loud voice inside, instead of so much of the world which is driven by fear, resistance, conditioning and programming that is no longer valid.
Neale Donald Walsch, when asked about what this film is all about, said: "There are two important messages of this film. One is that God IS talking to all of us, and therefore this can happen to any human being. And, two, is for us to accept the fact that God talks to us all, all of the time. If God had one message to the human race it would be ‘You’ve got me all wrong.’ The human race is losing patience with itself."
Director Stephen Simon noted, "This is going to a very emotional, provocative and surprising journey. The character of Neale (to be played by celebrated character actor Henry Czerny) literally falls into the abyss and rises up with a very controversial message that resonates throughout the world."
I was lucky enough to also spend some time with a spark of light, Zillah Glory, who was chosen over almost 600 other hopefuls to play the role of "Carly." Zillah has been living on the road, as a traveling actress touring for theater companies. She grew up in Minnesota and is the eldest of seven children.
"I didn’t expect to get such a kind reception," she said, "but then I thought for a project of this kind, done for these reasons, it would have to have these kinds of people around it. I like the spirit of the film. It’s the driving force."
Suki Dev, a Spiritual Cinema member from San Diego who auditioned for both "Taylor" and "Carly," echoed the sentiments of everyone who auditioned. "There’s been so many of us for so many years with a common goal of bringing consciousness to the media. It touches us more deeply. It’s wonderful meeting everyone with a common vision…with the same level of heart and integrity. You do not find that in Hollywood. I’ve never met a director like Stephen who exudes that."
It is my experience that everyone on this film reflects that sense of being a part of something new and very special.
Next month: Production begins!