Since the Pacific Guru Puja Festival last year, three premie film makers, Greg Dee, Kevin Andrianakis and Chris Day, under the collective title of Celebration Films have been working on two films. The main project is a 40 minute Guru Puja special, tentatively entitled "Keep on Truckin"', which features Guru Maharaj Ji in the three Guru Pujas of '75, in Essen, Caracas and Sydney Ln Melbourne recently we managed to interview the crew and find out how the film is developing.
Greg, how did you become involved in making films?
Greg: When I was about seventeen, I decided I'd really like to make films. I started off by doing a film course. Kevin was doing the course too, and we were making films together. He introduced me to Guru Maharaj Ji and the whole Knowledge experience. My final Diploma film was of the first Initiator to arrive in Australia, Gurucharnanand, in 1972.
You made the film "Power of Love" which Maharaj Ji described as one of the best satsang movies yet produced How did you come to make these films, like "Power of Love" and before that, "Metamorphosis"?
Greg: Well, by Guru Maharaj Ji's Grace I received Knowledge and hung around the Mission. I really wanted just to give myself in service. I got into films through other people in the Mission, particularly David Lovejoy, who was National Duo Director at that time.
Kevin, Chris and I went to the first Australian Guru Puja held in Adelaide in '73 and filmed the arrival of Padarthanand. We were making films of that whole era. We understood film was incredibly powerful but we didn't want to play in murky waters. We wanted to stay in Guru Maharaj Ji's shelter and not step outside.
Then I received a Government Grant for $3,000. Kevin, Mal Davey and I trucked off to Millennium '73 and shot a whole lot of film there. We were just filming Guru Maharaj Ji. We came back to Australia and waited for Guru Maharaj Ji to come. We waited and waited and waited and he didn't come. So we turned out Metamorphosis. About the same time we also made Dreaming We're Awake, which was a film about Knowledge in relation to science. It was presented along with Metamorphosis in a few little cinemas around Australia. This was our first venture and we really had a good time.
David Lovejoy encouraged us and Bob Mishler encouraged us. We shot Power of Love when we were really flying high. At that time we got the full support of the Mission. Before that we had had some rough times financially. But somehow we kept going, and Power of Love really lifted us up. We realised we could get to the point professionals were trying to get to, just through love. We had a glimpse of where we could take films to, of how films could really help people understand the value of Guru Maharaj Ji's Knowledge, by giving them visual experience of the love and the peace.
In Sydney after Pacific Guru Puja you had a conference with Bob Mishler. What direction did you receive from him about films?
Chris: He introduced us to two concepts in film, Community Development and Outreach. He said that what he wanted to do with an Outreach film was to have it as a bomb in satsang and public programs. Film is a medium that people really surrender to. You can create such a vibe for satsang to come through, because people's hearts have been tilled, simply because they've surrendered to the film so much.
What film are you working on now in Outreach?
Kevin: The Outreach film we're working on now revolves around birth and life cycles. The aim of this film is to illustrate the special quality of man, his consciousness in amongst all this cycle of life, this variation, this change. That's actually pretty close to final scripting and it'll be going over to Denver for appraisal. Bob was very keen on it, and gave us a lot of ideas when we came to Australia.
Chris: Community Development films bring Darshan closer to the premies. And they allow the community to see itself all around the world. You get the understanding that you are part of an incredible global experience. The film Bob Mishler gave us as part of the Community Development project was to put together the footage of the three Guru Pujas of 1975, in Essen, Caracas and Sydney. At the moment everything is prepared up till final editing. We feel that with this film we can do something really special. The satsangs through all of the festivals are so powerful, our sound quality is better, our image is better. And we've got more experience. Denver has sent us tapes, transciptions and photographs of all the satsangs, and we've picked out the sections we want to work with. They're sending the footage over now.
Kevin: The emphasis in these films is devotional. It's inspiring for premies.
You shot a lot of footage of Guru Maharaj Ji in Sydney. How did it turn out?
Greg: We've seen the footage and Maharaj Ji is really shining. We got good sound and image quality. It's the best reproduction we've ever seen of his skin colours, his hair. It's just really beautiful. The satsangs look good - really powerful, strong - and we can really do a number with that.
We also managed to get an incredible sequence. We tried for days to get Maharaj Ji in a casual situation. We wanted to get an interview first of all. Finally, the last day, Mr. Johnson, Durga Ji's father, took the camera in the car. He only had 200 feet of film which is two minutes and 44 seconds.
But there's footage of Durga Ji, Guru Maharaj Ji and Premlata. It's exactly what we wanted. Guru Maharaj Ji is just smiling, looking at the camera, sitting in the car riding out to the airport. It's far out footage. It's going to give premies a real glimpse of Maharaj Ji travelling around.
How much premie involvement is there in this project apart from you three?
Greg: We've got Geoff Bridgford to compose the whole soundtrack for the film. He'll be using different premie musicians from around Australia. We're hoping to use a premie animator here in Melbourne called Jonathan Puckridge. We're also using quite a few guys on a part-time level - Sam Zaid, Arthur Greeves and Dort Burley from Tasmania. Rae Dee is doing the finance and secretarial part.
Do you have a title for the film?
Greg: At the moment we've tentatively titled the film Keep On Truckin'. We felt that this was the main point Maharaj Ji was trying to convey to the premies and aspirants. To keep on doing service, to keep on doing meditation and to keep on doing satsang. He illustrated that with the "Jai satchitanand, premie ji" story. It will be about 40 minutes long so that it will fit comfortably into satsang.
How does it feel to be doing this service?
Greg: We really experienced that we're part of the international community.
Chris: What Guru Maharaj Ji has done on the level of global communications is really mind blowing. A worldly type company trying to establish this type of communication takes so much effort, so much money and so many problems. But with so little effort we've got the global thing happening.
Kevin: People are making films in the world spending millions of dollars. Film is such an incredibly powerful medium. But what are they making films about? People are scraping their consciousnesses to know what to put on film - love stories, intrigue thrillers, terrors, horror. It's just fantastic to be in our position, to be able to use a medium like film to propagate Knowledge.
The purpose of films now for us is really refined. In film you can hit on notes that warm people's hearts, really open them up. You can cram so much into film. You can take a person to the moon or you can draw from microscopic footage. You can put all these things together.
After these films are finished, where to from here?
Greg: We still haven't completely set up as a film production unit here - basically we're only doing the Guru Puja Film project. We're finding increasingly our responsibility is to just give so much more satsang to all the premies and aspirants. In that responsibility we can really grow in Knowledge. No premie can stop at a point and say, "I'm an Active Member. I give my 10%". We've I got to give our whole life to Guru Maharaj Ji. Let him decide what to do with it. It's up to us. We've found that by surrendering to Guru Maharaj Ji's agya, we can really be plugged in and use our talents. Through meditation we've got to get the motivation to manifest in our service what we're really feeling in our hearts. It's been the most beautiful thing to go to film school for three or four years and then to see all your talents, all the stuff you learnt that you thought was just junk can start to help get things rolling.