It’s 9:00 AM on a wonderful, crazy kind of October Saturday. I stood in the lobby of the local Yelm Cinemas multi-complex, and watched in absolute amazement as over 600 people arrived to attend a special showing of the new documentary WAKE UP! The theater manager, equally surprised, opened four theaters to accommodate the unexpectedly large crowd. What could possibly bring out so many people so early on a weekend?
WAKE UP! is the story of Jonas Elrod, an unassuming, ordinary man who one day, “out of the blue,” spontaneously awakened to be able to visually perceive phenomena that is usually invisible to the human eye. He saw and continues to see “spirits”, angels, and colorful, morphing energies everywhere around him, and it never turns off.
He’s delusional, correct? Not according to the teams of Cornell neurological and psychological physicians who examined him extensively. Then he must be one of those “woo-woo, new-agey airheads,” right? Hardly.
WAKE UP! documents the multi-year journey Jonas underwent in an attempt to understand and come to terms with his ability to see “spiritual realities,” and he did not “go gently into that good night.” He resisted, whined, complained, and pretty much dragged his feet, kicking and screaming, all the way into acceptance. Eventually, he surrendered to his instructions, “Expose what is happening. Share it with the world.”
Talented director/cinematographer Chloe Crespi joined forces with producer Steven Hutensky and together with Jonas, who also directed, embarked on an incredible filmmaking experience. Steve and Jonas spoke with SuperConsciousness about how the film unfolded organically – each step of the journey connecting to the next, streamof- consciousness style. Ultimately they captured and edited over 400 hours of footage before they locked the final 1.5- hour documentary.
Jonas humbly admits that the film honestly depicts the discomfort of his early, inner confusion, but also admits he would have never been able to remain objective had he taken on the project alone.
Those hundreds of hours included interviews with an extraordinary pool of people who didn’t make the cut: Over forty-two well known researchers, teachers, authors, and entertainers including Larry and Barbara Dossey, Dean Radin, William Tiller, Klaus Heinemann, Sheryl Crow, Sting, Greg Braden, and Neale Donald Walsch. And even though WAKE UP! was not a big-budget production, they attracted top documentary professionals, and scored permission to utilize recognizable songs for the film’s soundtrack from musical luminaries Sting, Radiohead, and Brian Eno.
In addition to Jonas’ family, friends, his family’s pastor, and the medical doctors who gave him a clean bill of health, WAKE UP! features New York author and healer Abdi Assadi, Italian psychic Umberto Di Grazia, trends predictor Stephen Schwartz, Sufi Llewellyn Vaughan-Lee, Zen Buddhist Joan Halifax, and parapsychology researchers Gary Schwartz and Roger Nelson. And, from Washington State: JZ Knight and teachers from Ramtha’s School of Enlightenment, as well as Skokomish Nation hereditary leader Mark Colson and other local Native American tribal members.
The film effectively captures Jonas’ intimate moments of realization. With Assadi, he realizes that being able to see phenomena doesn’t make a person special. Parapsychologist Gary Schwartz gives Jonas a hands-on demonstration of interconnectedness with an EEG cap connected to a computer. At Ramtha’s School, Jonas begins to confront his anger at God and his resistance to all things “spiritual.” And in a poignant vision quest experience deep in the rain forests of the Pacific Northwest, Jonas finally lets go, surrenders, and allows himself to begin to connect his experiences into a new understanding of wholeness.
|Skokomish Nation spiritual leader Mark Colson and
Those who have seen the film say that the impact of WAKE UP! has had great significance for them. For some the film has given them permission to finally, openly admit that the phenomenon of perceiving spiritual realities exists for them also. Jonas says he has been inundated since the film’s release by emails from people who have been inspired to confidently come out of the closet and claim, “This has been happening to me for years, also.”
And even though the subject matter of the film addresses the edgy subject of paranormal phenomenon, Jonas is adamant that the film’s intent doesn’t rest there. He has come to realize that awaking is all about personal maturity and spiritual growth – and not about psychic phantasm.
Regardless of a person’s religion or belief system, WAKE UP! informs, inspires, and provides an extraordinary opportunity to connect with the minds of others who are also waking up.