Three Friends, One Great Idea:
The Making of the Movie INDIGO
By Heidi Metcalfe
Three best friends — one, a man who makes a living by talking to God, another a traveling peace troubadour, and one a veteran film producer — decided to risk their friendship and their reputations by making a movie together. A movie called INDIGO.
January 29th, 2005, 100 AMC theaters nationwide will open with the one-day premiere of the movie INDIGO. Co-written by “Conversations with God” author Neale Donald Walsch and peace troubadour James Twyman, and directed by Hollywood veteran Stephen Simon, INDIGO was a labor of love for these three best friends.
As a traveling peace emissary, recent travels led Twyman to Israel, where he led a 3-day meditation for peace deep within the confines of an isolated cave. However, it was his work with Indigo children at a secluded monastery in Bulgaria that made an indelible mark upon his consciousness.
“I had an idea, to blend messages of peace and enlightenment from all of these children into one story. I wanted to put them together into a dramatic story about the healing of a family, brought about through one Indigo child,” says Twyman, the film’s executive producer.
“I’d never done a movie before, but it was already something I felt passionately about,” says Twyman. He brought the idea to his good friend and fellow Ashland, Oregon resident, veteran movie producer Stephen Simon. Simon, producer of 25 plus mainstream Hollywood films like “Somewhere in Time,” “What Dreams May Come” and “Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure,” loved the idea.
“We began to talk about how much fun it would be to do a smaller scale, very intimate movie — where Stephen wouldn’t have the pressures of a studio and distributors trying to tell him how to make a movie — where we could make a movie with integrity that would hopefully get out there in a big way,” says Twyman.
Simon, who fled Hollywood in 2001 for the more “soul” ful community of Ashland, was ready to get on board. He brought the idea to another Ashland resident, friend Neale Donald Walsch, best-selling author of the “Conversations with God” series.
“When my friend, Stephen Si-mon, called and asked me to play a part in the film, I wanted nothing to do with it,” jokes Walsch. “I’m kidding. I was THRILLED.” Walsch took a look at the script and re-wrote a portion of the dialog. Before he knew it, he had rewritten half the script, bringing his gift with words to Twyman’s story of a troubled family who was healed through the magic and light of a 10-year-old Indigo child. Walsch makes his big screen debut as Grace’s troubled grandfather, Ray Talloway.
INDIGO tells the story of one family’s three fateful choices resulting in bankruptcy, jail and dissolution of their family unit. Through the healing and psychic powers of the family’s youngest member, Grace, the family has a chance.
In three months’ time, a remarkably short period of time by Hollywood standards, INDIGO grew from concept to full-fledged production. Filming took place in the filmmaking trio’s home of Ashland, with volunteers descending in droves to assist the film’s production. Seven months after its inception, INDIGO premiered at the Santa Fe Film Festival and won the coveted Audience Choice Award over 211 other films.
“For three very good friends, who live within five minutes of each other, to make a movie together, it feels like an old Mickey Rooney/Judy Garland movie,” says Simon warmly. “You know — ‘you get the sets, I’ll get the costumes, and we’ll make a movie together’ kind of thing.“
Twyman’s organization, Emissary Productions, financed the production of the film, shot on a $500,000 budget. Thousands of small donations came in from all over the world from people who believed passionately in the film’s message.
Part of that message unfolds in a moving scene when Walsch meets the mother of an Indigo child in the park. As she explains the phenomena of Indigo children, Diane (Nancy Rodriguez) describes Indigos as: “Children who are simply born with eyes wide open.”
“That’s who these kids are,” says Twyman. “The Indigo children are all around us. That’s why I felt passionate about making this film — they have messages they want to share.”
Now, some questions for the filmmaking trio:
Q: Neale, the working life of an actor must surely be different than anything you’ve ever done before. Was making this movie fun?
Neale Donald Walsch: This was a dream come true for me. Showing up on set by 5:00 a.m. for makeup was sheer fun! I’m kidding. But, knowing I was doing something really important to get a message out into the world — that brought me a lot of psychological enjoyment. Even though many of the days were 12-14 hours long, I loved every minute of it.
Q: What was the most fun day on the set?
James Twyman: The day when we shot the protest scene was one of the most challenging and fun days on the set. In the movie, the townspeople try to block Ray’s company from tearing down trees in a sacred area. The scene was being shot near the top of Mount Ashland and we had to get 100 or more people up there for the protest to be our extras. We had to have vans at the very bottom of the mountain, bringing people up and down. It was very complicated, yet, ended up being one of the more festive times of the shoot. People had guitars, drums and flutes. They were dancing between takes — it was a regular party. But, then, on cue, everyone became very angry protestors!
Q: What was the most challenging shot to capture in the movie?
Neale Donald Walsch: The park scene — when Stephen created a
“rounder,” a 360 shot. Meghan and I stood in a circle with Nancy and her
on-screen son, and the steady cam operator filmed around us with an 80 lb.
camera on his side. He shot over our shoulders and in between us to create some
visual interest you wouldn’t otherwise have here.
James Twyman: The rest of us were hiding behind trees, in the bushes! We had to stay out of the way of the cameraman as he walked around the outside of the group.
Q: When you found out that 10-year-old Meghan, who plays the lead role of Grace in the film, had a traditional Christian upbringing, what were your initial thoughts?
Stephen Simon: It made perfect sense to me. “Indigo” is spiritual cinema and spirituality is a very wide umbrella. Spirituality embraces every belief system and every single belief in God. It was wonderful for all of us to collaborate and work together from our unique backgrounds and experiences. It made for a very meaningful experience.
In what Simon calls one of “the most blessed projects that any of us have ever worked on,” INDIGO is certainly poised to become a lasting and memorable addition to the genr´e of spiritual cinema.
The theatrical release of INDIGO is sponsored by Emissary Productions, The Spiritual Cinema Circle (leading purveyor of Spiritual Cinema), and Monterey Media, Inc, who will release the film on DVD to the public this Spring.
Emissary Productions — The ultimate goal of the Beloved Community is to demonstrate the Divinity of Life that is revealed every moment of our lives, to create a world of lasting compassion and peace.
The Spiritual Cinema Circle is a niche DVD home-delivery subscription service. Each month The Circle delivers films that touch members’ hearts, expand their minds and stir their souls. Subscribers pay $21 a month and receive a monthly collection of short, feature and documentary films on DVD that are theirs to keep. For more information, see www.spiritualcinemacircle.com
Monterey Video, a division of Monterey Media, Inc., is the second oldest independent video manufacturer and distributor in the U.S. and has the honor of being the largest exclusive distributor of programming which has appeared on the PBS network.
Check the INDIGO movie website for the most up-to-date listings of local theaters that will host the January 29th premiere: www.indigothemovie.com
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