Meet the Flipsters

Conversations on the Bridge

A Conversation with Barnet Bain
(The complete Flip interview, with only minor edits, not found in the book)

Barnet is a screenwriter and producer who has earned a reputation for creating innovative projects celebrating the human spirit. He produced and co-wrote the screenplay for The Celestine Prophecy ( His production of What Dreams May Come garnered two Academy Award nominations, winning the Oscar for Best Visual Effects.

Wisdom Media Group recently presented Barnet with the WISDOM WorldView Award for using media and entertainment to raise spiritual awareness and make a significant contribution to the betterment of humanity. We asked Barnet just how accurately Hollywood mirrors reality. “Hollywood is inside of you and me, says Barnet. “The movies are not a shortcut to wisdom. What they are is an incredibly powerful tool to access our subconscious and our inner spirit. So when we look at entertainment or newscasts, what we see isn’t outside of us. It’s a reflection of something that’s going on inside of us as the observers. And it is an opportunity to look deeper into the self. Whenever one feels an intense reaction to violence, depravity, or irresponsibility in entertainment, it’s almost always an indication that it’s our own shadow that we are not at peace with.

“People only begin to ask big questions once their basic needs are met and they have the luxury of self-reflection. In the filmmaking community today, there are a lot of very good, smart people. Their basic needs are met, and they are turning their thoughts to the meaning of life, their place in it, how to contribute and make their mark.

“The public can’t get much out of films about consciousness unless those films speak to the viewers’ own empowerment and the empowerment of others. Hollywood has to empower people where they are in their own lives. We want viewers to come away, not necessarily entertained, but enriched in their understanding and compassion.

“However, there’s a little distinction that I think is important to make. I am not a fundamentalist Christian, so when The Passion of the Christ came out, that was not a film that moved me in my heart in the same way as it would move a believer. But it is symbolic of the same move towards wholeness and connection that is afoot in the world. The search for meaning animates films like The Passion of the Christ as well as The Celestine Prophecy. It’s arising out of the same energetic principle. Viewers are empowered in different ways, but the underlying energy is to empower people. For the tens of millions of people who went to see The Passion of the Christ, that was a deeply affecting spiritual experience.

“But to have a negative reaction to a movie like The Passion of the Christ – and many did – provides an opportunity to look at one’s own shadow. They don’t even have to live through the suffering they’re seeing. The just have to say, ‘We all have a tremendous amount of suffering in our lives, and we all have created many adaptive psychological structures in order to deny that suffering.’ So when we see it come up in the world, or in entertainment, we have lots of judgments about it. There are others who have perhaps a different take on that. I’ve heard the Dali Lama speak to this quite powerfully, quite beautifully. From the sound of that conversation, he doesn’t have the same response out of his own shadow to a movie like The Passion of the Christ.

“You also have to realize that a movie doesn’t have to be about spiritual beings to evoke a spiritual experience. You watch The Godfather, and your heart is moved by the complexity of one character who can be so evil and also have so many other dimensions. You understand that life is not cut and dried; it’s not black and white. That is powerful because that’s what makes us human. It’s humbling. Or watch a home makeover show that chronicles people functioning at their finest, with open hearts and compassion. That can be very powerful. For that matter, what is it about Shakespeare that persists? His plays are the most profound body of spiritual teachings in the history of human creativity. They speak to and inform about the human spirit. Greek tragedies are the same.

“Have you seen Crash? Spirituality doesn’t have to be pretty. It doesn’t always have to be polite, or politically correct, or even non-violent. It has to be honest and revealing. I don’t feel obliged to make my own films all ‘nice’ and non-confrontational. My personal goal is to model relationships with as much authenticity as possible. I am on my own spiritual journey and one expression of that journey is my filmmaking. We put certain kinds of behaviors on film, and people are going to emulate them – for better or worse. Conscious filmmaking is about choosing to model the most powerful behaviors and choices, out of service to others. We know that infinitely more powerful solutions and models are yet to come, but each film represents the most powerful experiences and accomplishments of our lives thus far.”

So the flip is both ongoing and very personal? “The bar is constantly being raised, and there are a greater number of both viewers and filmmakers who want authenticity. More people than ever before are consciously allowing themselves to be transformed and impacted by these entertainments. I don’t believe that the Flip is driven by a critical mass of folks who awaken one morning with altruism in their hearts and compassion in their deeds. I believe the flip is taking place one human being at a time. We’re creating it as individuals. It’s about consciousness and having the privilege to reflect and expand one’s self. That expansion can include previously hidden dimensions such as our hurts, angers, and disappointments. As we begin to explore our shadows, it changes us. We make different choices. We have different thoughts. We begin to shift our beliefs and our attitudes and the way we interact with the world. Our most powerful response is always the one that comes from our fullest self-awareness.”

We asked about the specific challenges of depicting spiritual transformations – such as those in The Celestine Prophecy – on screen. “Putting a camera on a spiritual transformation it’s sort of like putting a camera on somebody falling in love. It’s an internal, subjective experience. A novel can go on for page after page, dissecting a character’s experience and inner dialog. Filmmaking doesn’t operate that way. But what a movie can do, better than any other medium, is model behaviors and interactions. Rather than trying to create a pretty picture of a spiritual experience, we concentrated on relational dynamics that empower people with more freedom, awareness and choice. That is the fertile ground for spiritual experience. We wanted to create a model that viewers could understand and refer to when faced with similar challenges in their own lives. We wanted to expand their menu of potential responses to include choices that open up a more generous, gracious reality.

“Films are a particularly potent spiritual tool for plumbing the depths of our psyches and consciousness. Films can help us heal our shadows by casting light on our denied suffering and judgments… as well as our strengths, powers, joys, and gifts. Films can help us replace limiting thought patterns with more expansive ones. The flip is people beginning to understand that it’s all spiritual and that everything in the world is a spiritual experience. Films can help us gain perspectives like that.”


The Flip, by Jared Rosen and David Rippe, illuminates a clear path to a vibrant enlightened world where millions of people already live and thrive. It describes in vivid detail and real examples evidence of an upside down world in decay and a Right Side Up world of authentic beings bright with possibility.
The Flip is an owner’s manual for the twenty-first century full of insights, conversations with recognized experts, thought leaders, and visionaries, and actionable exercises and tips you can use to begin your own personal flip.

To read more about The Flip and additional interviews from other luminaries, experts and bestselling authors, please visit

The Flip is available at your local bookstore or online at, Barnes & Noble, Joseph-Beth, and Borders.


Home | Excerpts | The Authors | Meet the Flipsters | Contest | Press

Copyright © 2006 The Flip. All Rights Reserved.

Web site by Celestia International

To view corrections, click here.