Conversations with God: An Interview with Neal Donald Walsch & Stephen Simon

 

Film is a mighty medium that can deliver powerful messages. They can move us all toward a greater good. Or they can leave a negative impact in their wake. Today so many cinematic experiences proffer sexually explicit and violent content that sensationalizes without substance. They just plain lack heart. What if we movie goers more often left the theater feeling entertained as well as spiritually uplifted, wanting to honor our connections with one another and inspired to become better people?

Natural Awakenings caught up with two members of the Spiritual Cinema Circle team currently transforming the film industry during a Portland, Oregon screening of their latest picture. It’s early days of an 18-city U.S. tour launching the movie, Conversations with God, which opens October 27 in theatres nationwide. Stephen Simon is director and producer. Neale Donald Walsch authored the international book series of the same name. Both are committed to a mission of service to humanity. The just released Conversations with God screenplay follows the true story of Walsch (played by Henry Czerny) who asks God hard questions and receives profound answers. More than an adaptation of the book, the show presents an inspiring tale of Walsch’s dramatic journey from homelessness to best-selling author and spiritual messenger.

NA: Tell us more about the tour.

SS: Response to the film has been terrific. We started in Vancouver, British Columbia and continue to enjoy sellout crowds. People are coming out to screenings to show that they will pay to see a movie about love and compassion instead of the usual Hollywood fare of fear and violence. Plus it’s an extraordinary emotional story. Those who have read Conversations with God will be surprised. Here we show the poignant transformation of Neale’s life, first living as a homeless man, with a broken neck, collecting cans in a park, then transcending that. This film shines a light for anybody seeking to get through a “dark night of the soul.” His story serves as metaphor for our own hearts and emotions. At the end, I hope and believe that people will walk out feeling better about being human.

NA: How did you two hook up?

NDW: We met shortly after the opening of What Dreams May Come in 1998, a movie I was invited to see prior to its big-screen opening. I loved it and fell in love with all the people who made it. We became friends and our friendship has grown through the years. About two years ago, an interesting opportunity arose when our mutual friend James Twyman decided to do a movie about Indigo children. One part in Indigo called for an old curmudgeon, and Stephen thought, ‘Hey I know an old curmudgeon in real life!’ He called and asked if I would like the role. Of course, I said I’d love to. Making a movie can bring people together fast.

By the end of 2004 The Spiritual Cinema Circle had achieved such remarkable success in providing movies with a spiritual content to people worldwide that the company was able to finance the making of its own production in Conversations with God. For years I’d dreamed that one day this would happen, though up to that point I’d been unable to find interested investors. So when the Spiritual Cinema group came to me and said ‘You know, we think you can make this movie,” by golly if Conversations with God didn’t turn out to be there first. Now my dream is that they’ll produce many more. So early last year Stephen and I got together at my house with scriptwriter Eric Delabarre and script consultant Vicki King to explore how this could become a movie. Have you seen the screening?

NA: Not yet. It’s sold out this Saturday!

SS: We hope next time you’ll get your tickets early. But you can still go to the theater this month, which is what we want to urge people to do. We all have an incredible opportunity to show Hollywood, theater operators and other media that people want truly good pictures at our local theatres. So it’s vital that we show up on opening weekend, a key marker in determining the success of any production. Today we’re asking everyone interested in the idea of Conversations with God and other spiritual material to download the trailer from www.CWGthemovie.com, email it to their friends and urge people to come out in support. Even if you’ve seen the screening, we invite you back to opening weekend.

NDW: You know what’s interesting? All the time we see people leaving a typical movie shaking their head and tsk-tsking, wondering ‘Why can’t we get any decent films on the screen?’ The reason is that Hollywood is not convinced that people will pay to see them. So now we have an opportunity to vote for decent movies free of that tired old formula of violence and fear. It’s like going to the polls. SS: We actually feel like we’re on this 18-city tour to get out the vote, to encourage those who care to show up at the polls and prove that we will go see these films.

NA: We know that What Dreams May Come and Somewhere in Time are considered love stories. What about Conversations with God?

NDW: Is this a story about love? Boy, is it ever. But it’s not just a love story between two human beings. It’s a story about a huge kind of love, the love between humanity and divinity and, as a result, the love human beings can have for each other. You come out of the show feeling an enhanced sense of love for life and all of humankind. You can’t escape it and you shouldn’t be able to. That’s the main point of the original book, that love is all there is.

SS: A second message is that it’s never too late. No matter what you’re going through, there is a message here for you. If you get the message you can transcend circumstance and lead the happy life you’ve always dreamed of. In this film we see Neale go from being homeless and near hopeless to manifesting all his dreams. And that is a great metaphor for everyone. 

Stephen Simon, a veteran Hollywood producer for 25 years and co-founder of The Spiritual Cinema Circle, has long been passionately committed to making movies with meaning. His credits include Somewhere in Time and What Dreams May Come. Release of Conversations with God brings a 10-year dream to life. Neale Donald Walsch sees himself as a modern day spiritual messenger. Extensive travels take him throughout the world sharing the messages in Conversations with God. His book series has been translated into 34 languages, touching millions and inspiring helpful change in day-to-day lives. 

For more on the movie visit www.CWGthemovie.com . For more information on The Spiritual Cinema Circle visit www.SpiritualCinemaCircle.com.

Source: By Erin Lehn Floresca, Co-Publisher Natural Awakenings Portland, Oregon Edition

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