Interview with director of ‘Occupy Love’, Velcrow Ripper
Indie films are usually created by visionaries who also play director. They use the powerful mass medium of film to explore and expand our ideals and our mind and, at times, to help create a new paradigm of reality.
Velcrow Ripper is just that kind of visionary director. He has started a movement, a revolution if you will, with his new indie film release, Occupy Love, which we are proud to have as the closing feature in our exhilarating film fest, Cinema Noēsis: IONS 2013 Film Event
I had the honor of interviewing Velcrow and am truly inspired by him and his mission, which he states with deep passion: “We want to help transform the world. More than a film, Occupy Love is a meme, a self-replicating understanding that Love is at the core of our movements for change.”
With that in mind, I asked Velcrow, “What inspired you to make this activist film about a global awakening that takes viewers deep inside the ‘revolutions of the heart?’”
Occupy Love is part of the “Fierce Love Trilogy” – three films that take the pulse of the planet from the year 2000 to the year 2012.
The first was Scared Sacred, my journey to the ground zero’s of the world, searching for hope in the face of crisis. The second was Fierce Light: When Spirit Meets Action, about stories of spiritual activism all over the world in the spirit of Gandhi or Martin Luther King. The final film in the trilogy is Occupy Love, which asks the question: How could the crisis on the planet become a love story?
Did I hear that right, a global crisis becoming a love story?! How embracing, how extraordinary…
I believe we are in a crucial, epic, evolutionary time in human history, and our role at Fierce Love Films is to help reflect and to be a catalyst of the emergence of a new paradigm ~ to inspire the movements of our times to come from a place of depth and love.
Are we ready to reach that deep place of love and to share it with others, with our community, with our planet, all while amidst a crisis? Love is the only healing force, and we all possess it. The time to share it is NOW.
To get a bit more personal, I asked Velcrow, “How does the theme of your film affect your real life?”
As I delve deeper and deeper into the dimensions of true universal love, I find myself increasingly living from that place. My partner and co-producer in the film, Nova Ami, said that when I began shooting Occupy Love, I was “Mr. Love,” and now I’ve become “Dr. Love”!
Only time will tell if I have truly earned the degree, but I’ve certainly been transformed, utterly, by my complete immersion in love and from being a first-hand witness and participant in the history-making hotspots of the world.
The key is to continue living love and evolving love.
“Thank you, Velcrow, for your powerful message and encompassing heart. But what are the challenges of making independent ‘message’ movies like yours?”
The challenge is to be in sync with the evolutionary zeitgeist [the general intellectual, moral, and cultural climate of an era], so that when your film comes out, it’s part of the leading wave of transformation. Things are changing fast, and feature documentaries can take years to create, so being in sync takes foresight and connection.
Funding, of course, is always a challenge. Cutting through the cynicism, despair, and nihilism that Western culture promotes can be a challenge.
I can only imagine the huge challenges that face indie film directors in raising funds AND getting a message out that is out-of-the-box, transformative, and promotes true change instead of the usual fear and cynicism that exudes from the media at large today.
“So, Velcrow, once the movie is funded and ready for release, is it getting easier (more awareness) or more difficult (more competition) to attract eyeballs?”
I have been doing this work for decades now, and I would say getting the word out on a global scale has never been easier, thanks to the power of social media. We are interconnected in a way that was never possible before, and our networks are expanding day by day.
The currency of today is authenticity, and the more corporate approach lacks this. People on social media can intuit whether you are coming from the heart or not. So for us, it’s a great time to be making conscious cinema.
I find this description of social media to be irresistible ~ ‘the currency as authenticity.’
“There has been a lot of change, as you detailed above, with marketing and getting the word out there, but have the distribution models been evolving as well?”
We are now looking at bottom-up, decentralized distribution, which cuts through the top-down models of traditional distributors, the gatekeepers of the past.
We do a hybrid of conventional distribution (television, online venues like iTunes, Amazon, Netflix, etc.) and unconventional, leading-edge techniques such as the revolutionary online distributor Yekra. It created a strategy for the movie Thrive which operates through a decentralized affiliate system that encourages an entire community to take part in the online distribution process.
We’ve also created our own community screening model, which makes it very easy for people all over the world to host screenings of the film.
Impressive! The hybrid distribution makes good sense, though the community screening model seems quite revolutionary for its ability to develop real community around your theme and goal of worldwide LOVE.
“With high expectations of wanting to change the world, how are your other expectations (e.g., financial, educational, distribution) being met?”
Our Facebook page often has close to one million individual views a week, and 5.6 millions friends of fans. The film has had hundreds of screenings around the world and is spreading like wildfire. Most of these screenings are self organized – people are coming to us to set them up.
Our reach has been incredibly global. There have been screenings in Australia, Austria, Bulgaria, Canada, Chile, Croatia, Egypt, England, France, Germany, Greece, Liberia, New Zealand, Malaysia, Ireland, Italy, Macedonia, Mexico, Netherlands, Philippines, Spain, Scotland, Sweden, South Africa, Turkey, the U.S., and others!
This crowd-sourced, social media-driven approach to distribution is consistent with the theme of the film, which was partially funded through the crowd-funding platforms IndieGoGo and Kickstarter.
The largest community screening to date took place in Porto Allegre, Brazil, on April 11, attracting over 1,500 attendees. The fact that we had dozens of screenings in Brazil, Turkey and Bulgaria, all of which are now in the midst of popular uprisings, is significant.
The film and the meme Occupy Love are playing a part in inspiring these movements to come from a place of non-violence, creativity, and love. It’s incredible to feel like we are part of history unfolding…
Yes, it’s most definitely incredible, Velcrow!
“So what’s your next film?”
It will focus on the pillars of the new paradigm – what it will look like to reinvent every level of society from a new-paradigm perspective – and be co-created by the three of us here at Fierce Love Films, Nova Ami, Ian MacKenzie, and me along with our larger team and our community at large. We plan to crowdsource and collaborate on the process of deciding just what exactly these core new paradigm approaches are, from justice, to ecology, to economy, to social organization…
We’re very excited about continuing to help evolve the global zeitgeist at this historical time of chaos, transformation, and transition.
We thank you, Velcrow, from the bottom of our hearts to the top of our soul for you, your work, your vision, and your amazing service to our planet at this time of crisis and need.