GALO: You’ve said we’re living in “the age of great transition,” that “a lot of the old models and institutions are currently failing us,” and that we’re experiencing “shifting paradigm” around the world. If you could sum it up, what overall transition do you think is taking place? In what areas do you think we’re making the most progress toward sustainability? In what areas are we the most deficient?

IM: In general, I think we’re at the cusp of a transition that was built right into the first time we shifted to agriculture, which happened about 10,000 years ago when we moved from hunter-gatherer societies to what we call civilization now: settlements. In many ways, where we’re at right now was inevitable from that transition. If we continued on that path, then we would eventually get to where we are today. So, in that sense, it’s not a big surprise that that was built into the system.

A good book to read on this is Ishmael by Daniel Quinn. He basically divides the emergent culture at the time with the culture that existed all over the world as the “leavers” and the “takers.” All indigenous cultures are “leavers” and the agricultural civilization can be characterized as “takers.” Which basically means that their relationship to the land and to the “other” was a form of exceptionalism at the top of the hierarchy — it’s like: this exists for us. Therefore, we’re justified in doing what we want with it. Which is manifested as this desire for ultimate control, and this is something Charles Eisenstein (Sacred Economics) talks about. We’ve been on this trajectory for some time, but now what’s happening is we’re hitting the limits of the biosphere and we’re hitting the limits of the organizational structures to actually cope with the complexities that they generate.

A good example of that are the current political systems. It’s so broken; it’s unbelievable, compared to what it’s supposed to be doing. For instance, particularly in the U.S., you’ve essentially got a two-party system and have had it for some time. Even the people who get in that, and want to create substantial change or change significant parts of the system, run into such resistance within the system itself that it becomes borderline impossible [for them] to make significant change at that level. I believe that’s a function of the structure of the hierarchical nature of the system, where having a decision maker at the top or even a small group of people that then filters down through the hierarchical system, and even democracy itself as it’s practiced in most modern countries (and in Canada where the voter turnout is, I don’t know, 40 percent or less) that there’s limitations that we’re hitting now. We’re just no longer effective in managing this shift. Charles Eisenstein uses the metaphor of the Tower of Babel.

Where we’re at now is, we’re creating the new systems that aren’t tweaks on the current system, because that’s not enough. They’re actually, I believe, fundamental “phase shifts.” I was reading an article recently in Wired Magazine about swarms and flocks and the movement of these metaorganisms. In our film, one of our prominent metaphors is the starlings, these birds that, at certain times of the year, flow into these amazing flocks that seem like they have this cohesive consciousness, and yet each bird itself is its own individual being. And what we’re starting to learn is, at a certain point, the swarm of insects, birds or fish hits what we call “phase shifts” — which is something that none of the individuals could have foreseen themselves, but it reveals itself within the intelligence of the networked system, you could say. So, all of the experiments with things like Occupy Wall St. as a non-hierarchical system, which is fundamentally what it was — this idea that we don’t have any leaders. Well, what they really meant (which came out later) is that everyone is a leader. That means trying to create organizational structures that can still be effective in the world and yet, at the same time, don’t fall prey to the vices within a hierarchical system, is really what they were trying to do. And it’s really hard because we’ve never done this at the scale that is asked of us now, with the type of technology and platforms which are still in the process of being developed. Fundamentally, I’m an optimist, or as Velcrow Ripper has said, he has industrial strength spirituality. It’s the only thing I could possibly be because it’s the only place that has vitality.

GALO: Your films are gorgeously shot. Do you ever do pure cinematography?

IM: There’s a documentary called Be Brave — I actually just came back from one of the recent shoots a couple days ago — and the story is absolutely incredible. I helped raise the money through crowdfunding for the project, and I’m also hired as a cinematographer. So, I’m not involved with the direction, and aside for the crowdfunding, I’m a pure cinematographer. It’s definitely something I love doing — if it’s a cool project, absolutely.

GALO: What are a few of the projects you’d like to do in the future? Or perhaps something that’s already underway?

IM: I’m in pre-development on a project called Girl DJ, which is about female electronic DJs. It follows these female electronic DJs around Vancouver and the Victoria area who are putting on the largest all-female lineup music festival in Canada this September. I spend a lot of time doing films with men, which isn’t necessarily a conscious choice, I just find myself drawn to spiritual teachers and artists who just happen to be men.

I do think there’s a bias built into the culture, in particular my raising in the culture that men tend to be seen more as authority figures — particularly white men. I mean, Occupy Love was actually quite a diverse cast, and that was quite purposeful. We really wanted to hear from indigenous leaders and indigenous women and women activists, so there’s quite an important balance there. For me, personally, I wanted to take that a step further and say, “Okay, I want to focus on a project primarily with women.” And I have a love of electronic music, things like Burning Man, and so on. I thought I’d put those two together. Coincidentally, at the time, I started researching and following some local DJs and they just turned out to be such interesting people, with such interesting back stories. Their love of music and what it’s like to be a female artist in this industry that’s primarily dominated by men really peaked my interest, and I started developing the idea around that concept.

Trailer Courtesy of: Ian MacKenzie/Metta Films.

Featured image: Filmmaker Ian MacKenzie. Photo Courtesy of: Ian MacKenzie.

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