Join filmmaker Barak Shavit in creating a movie about consciousness and increasing an awareness level in our culture with iSyndrome – now on Indiegogo! iSyndrome is a 20-minute narrative short film about a young and brilliant brain researcher suffering from Depersonalization Disorder, losing his mind. His wife, a post-materialist researcher, tries everything she can to save him, even if it means reaching the end of life, and going to the heart of consciousness.
Film Courage: Where did you grow up?
Barak Shavit: I grew up in Jerusalem. I’m very thankful and feel lucky to have lived in Jerusalem. It’s hard to describe what it’s like. It has a bit of everything; old and new, urban and nature, holiness and mundaneness, peace and terror, art and falafel:) Because it’s such a popular touristic place, as a kid I met so many tourists and for me it felt like I’m living in the belly button of the world.
My favorite spot was in a forest next to my house. It was an old and deserted British military post overlooking a valley at the entrance to Jerusalem. In the eyes of a kid it was just about the coolest place to go to.
“Try not to think of anything for 30 seconds. If you try it, you will soon realize that the mind has a will of its own and you can’t stop it, not even for 30 seconds. You get a glimpse of a different point of view. This is what we explore in iSyndrome.”
Film Courage: Which of your parents do you resemble most?
Barak: I look like my dad. His parents are from the Czech republic. My mom was born in Iraq – i look nothing like her:)
Film Courage: Did your parents lend support toward creativity or encourage another type of career/focus?
Barak: Both my parents were very open minded and let me do just about anything I wanted.
Film Courage: Was there a turning point in your life that drew you to meditation and consciousness?
Barak: Ever since I can remember myself I was pretty much obsessed with consciousness. Meditation, however, came later.
I was in India, and saw a poster inviting everyone to a meditation course to discover nothing less but the ultimate truth, regardless of any religious belief or origin! Sounds too good to be true, and… you can only imagine how disappointed I was… But still, I was very intrigued by the technique and after I got over my disappointment, I saw all the beautiful things meditation has to offer.
Film Courage: What draws you to the subject of consciousness and the mind?
Barak: It’s a lifelong obsession of mine. I sometimes need to draw myself away from it:) I’m really fascinated by how things appear and act, and by why things are ‘as they are.’ What shapes our reality? Every time I tested it I realized more and more that consciousness have the upper hand in shaping reality, and that understanding consciousness is the key to understand why things are ‘as they are.’
Film Courage: What is the definition of consciousness as it relates to meditation and mindfulness?
Barak: There are many definitions of consciousness, mainly because most people are having a hard time to understand it in relation to the mind. One of the best books exploring mind and consciousness i’ve read is “I’m That” by Sri Maharaj Nisargadatta. It gave my great tools to see where my mind ends and consciousness begins and to see where they are the same.
It is also a great inspiration for me, and I thought about it a lot while writing iSyndrome.
Film Courage: Is the Mind and a concept of Our Self one and the same?
Barak: Most of the time our tendency is to consider ourselves as a mixture of mind and body. Probably most of us live 90% of the time in our minds – plaining the future, reflecting on the past. We do this automatically. We have so many ideas about ourselves but little idea about the mind. One of the nice things about meditation is that you get to know your mind. Usually we think that we control our mind. But in meditation you soon realize it’s the other way around. It’s very simple to test this; try not to think of anything for 30 seconds. If you try it, you will soon realize that the mind has a will of its own and you can’t stop it, not even for 30 seconds. The mind is simply working, regardless of what power you think have over it. When you realize this you can start to see the space between who you are and the mind. And then there are question marks about us being just mind and body, you get a glimpse to a different point of view. This is what we explore in iSyndrome.
Film Courage: Does this relate to the term “self-realized?’
Barak: I can’t say i fully understand what it means to be “self realized.” But I think it’s a state in which one experience the mind as a phenomena that happens to oneself – rather than the mind is oneself. Another way to look at it, is that our mind is free already and the common saying “free your mind” should actually be ” be free of your mind.”
Film Courage: So much of Western culture seeks to beautify the body. How do we make the mind beautiful?
Barak: A beautiful body is a concept of the mind. This concept changes all the time and each generation has a different concept of beauty. Few centuries back being fat considered beautiful. Now days skinny is. So I don’t think we need to make the mind beautiful because it is what enable beauty in the first place. The mind is so vast and mysterious and for me this is what makes it so appealing. It’s mesmerizing like gazing into a black hole.
Film Courage: Have you studied with a Guru? If not, do you have a mentor?
Barak: I’ve been lucky to study with Christopher Titmuss. He is a great teacher and inspiration.
Film Courage: You and your wife’s company Blue Monkeys Productions makes promotional videos, commercials and video clips. How has meditation been beneficial in relation to filmmaking?
Barak: In the making of commercials and promotional videos a lot of time there is pressure and inconvenience. Meditation helps you to be focused and to take things in the right perspective. More than that I feel that it helps cultivate a better attitude toward creation and a to have positive interactions with the people we work with. Perhaps that’s the greatest benefit.
that way.“ Barak Shavit
Film Courage: How long did it take you to begin writing once you thought of the idea for iSyndrome? How long did it take you to write the script?
Barak: The story of iSyndrome blazed in my head all at once. I had a bunch of ideas of how to translate the very amorphic mind and consciousness concepts into a story in motion and sound. I played with them for a while. One night, my wife and I were driving back from the cinema, and then as we talked, the story of iSyndrome pop in my mind. I saw it from begining to end and liked it.
I don’t remember exactly how much time it took to write it all down, but when I wrote it, it was all there and most of the work was to make it fit to a short film format, which is always not an easy task.
Film Courage: Why are you crowdfunding?
Barak: There are genre films and there are also theme related movies. For example, theme related movies can be a “time traveling movie” or an “end of the world movie.” Theme related movies can be in many different genres while dealing with a specific theme. I feel that there are many people who want to see movies about consciousness, and this audience is just beginning to form. We had some excellent early birds such as “The Matrix” and “Fight Club” but yet they are still not under the theme related title it should be – “consciousness movies.” I feel there a huge audience for “consciousness movies,” and that crowdfunding is a great platform to reach this audience and to connect with it. We are in the campaign a few days now, and already I have received very warm reactions, and I see lots of people reacting with great interest to the theme.
Another thing I love about crowdfunding is that if people like what you do, they support you. This is opposed to what usually happens in Israel where you have to interest government related institutes in order to get funded. Nowdays, with the changing attitude of the minister of culture towards film funds, and the conditioning of fundings to political views, the importance of crowdfunding is greater than ever.
Film Courage: How long have you been planning the Indiegogo campaign for iSyndrome? What went into the pre-planning?
Barak: It took about three months, mainly because you have to start at the end, meaning you have to have everything done before you begin. We formed a crew, casted actors, built a visual language, designed all the posters, had a PR plan and so on. We had everything ready before the movie:)
Film Courage: How long did it take to prepare the excellent pitch video for iSyndrome? What crucial elements did you want in the video?
Barak: Our video has two parts. The first one is a teaser. It was important to show some of the concepts and the vibe of the iSyndrome, and also to have a glimpse of who the characters are and in what world they act. The second part is more on the personal level, reaching out to people and invite them to support and join us to this exciting journey. The teaser was relatively smooth to make. The personal part, however, was a lot harder than it seemed. We actually had to reshoot it… It took way too long…
Film Courage: Once finished, what do you want audiences to gain from watching iSyndrome?
Barak: I’m aiming for a certain experience I want the viewer to have. I think it’s something hard to put in words, and this why I make the movie. Also, I rather have people watching and feeling for themselves instead of saying what I wish the experience should be.
Film Courage: What are your plans once iSyndrome is finished?
Barak: To send it to as many festivals as possible, and to get as many people as possible to see it. At the same time, continue working on two other shorts.
Film Courage: How did you pitch the script to actor JSU Garcia?
Barak: Jsu and I go way back. I know Jsu since I was a kid. After seeing his “Mystical Traveler” I felt that both of us work to achieve the same goals, and I felt that Jsu will be supportive of iSyndrome. We talked about it and he really liked the idea and we joined forces.
Film Courage: Where do you develop your best ideas?
Barak: Usually when my mind is clear and not busy with anything. It could be in many different situations. Can’t say there is one thing in particular.
Film Courage: Your opinion on why films about consciousness and the mind are not prevalent in current cinema?
Barak: I think it’s a matter of time until we’ll see more and more “consciousness movies.” People have a strong urge to understand their reality and to that you have to go through the mind. So, to my eyes, it’s just a matter of time. These movies, like we said before are not bound to a certain genre, and can come in all sizes and shapes. and this is why I can easily see them take place in our culture. I haven’t seen it yet but it seems that the pixar animation “Inside Out” is also heading that way.
Film Courage: If Albert Einstein were alive today, would his theories/predictions be more widely heralded or do those ‘ahead of their time’ scare the general public?
Barak: 🙂 I think this could be an entire article just by itself 🙂
Film Courage: Can you name any films (classic or current) that touch on consciousness and the mind?
Barak: The Matrix, Fight Club, Interstellar
Film Courage: What are critical elements in assembling team members?
Barak: First of all it has to be some you like and get along with. Movie sets are not exactly the calmest place to be in, and you have to make sure that you are with people that you like to be with. Secondly, you have to trust your team and believe in their abilities. If you have those three – chemistry, trust, and professionalism, there is not much that can go wrong. I’m very fortunate to work with my talented and professional friends and family:)
Film Courage: Biggest supporter in your life and why?
Barak: My wife. She is always there for me no matter what. She is the love of my life and being with her is a blessing. We have been together since we were 16 and do everything together. She is a great inspiration.
Film Courage: Quote or mantra that you live by?
Barak: “Whatever the mind can conceive and believe the mind can achieve” Napoleon Hill
Film Courage: If meditation, mindfulness and consciousness were to replace one class within the High School Curriculum, which class should it replace? As a result, what would our young people have more or less of within their actions and personality?
Barak: I would replace it individually according to what the student finds the most boring class:) Meditation can make wonders to human relationship and creativity. It’s a positive change in anyone’s life and I think this is always welcomed.
Film Courage: What’s next for you creatively?
Barak: I want to produce iSyndrome also as feature film, and I have two other shorts to produce right after the short version of iSyndrome will be shot.
Barak Shavit has worked on a number of award winning film and commercial projects. Such as the award winning feature film “It’s never too late,” the short “F is for Falling” for the ABC’s of Death2 by Magnolia Pictures and many others films. He also established Blue Monkeys Productions, where he and his team produce commercials and promotional videos for some of the leading brands world wide, such as Microsoft, IBM, Unilever and many more.
iSyndrome is a 20-minute narrative short film about a young and brilliant brain researcher suffering from Depersonalization Disorder, losing his mind. His wife, a post-materialist researcher, tries everything she can to save him, even if it means reaching the end of life, and going to the heart of consciousness. It’s a story that’s deeply rooted in the Sci Fi-Drama genre, which has held a special place in my heart ever since I was a kid; movies like 2001: a space odyssey or the recent Interstellar. It’s been something of a lifelong dream of mine to tell a story like that while trading space with consciousness, meaning, telling a story not about outer space, but inner consciousness – which is even more mysterious and vaster than space and time. We don’t get many “consciousness films”. These films shouldn’t be less than – eccentric, amazing, dark and full of mystery, but also funny, and – the kind of film that makes you wonder and blow your mind. With your help and a little bit of luck, iSyndrome will be one of those movies.