Meet the Flipsters

Conversations on the Bridge

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

An excellent example of the challenges of staying true to your art and making an uplifting film is the experience of noted actor, screenwriter, and director Michael Goorjian. Michael has spent the last four years raising money, putting together the deal, pitching and directing the powerful movie Illusion (, starring Kirk Douglas. Even though acting is, in his words, “the closest thing to spirituality for me,” he still had to work hard to play the game inside the Hollywood system and treat the production of his film as a business, or the movie he believed so fervently in would never have been made. That’s just the reality of the industry. Talent, a good storyline, and determination can make for a great film, but it doesn’t guarantee success.

We asked Michael how his career had prepared him to create a film like Illusion. “From my early career in television, I learned that I didn’t want to be involved in projects unless I fully believed in them. That’s not always up to an actor – at least for me it wasn’t. I came to realize You’ve got two choices. One is you do everything you can until you become famous enough to call the shots. The other is you become a director and create your own projects. I chose the latter path.”

And what specifically inspired the movie Illusion? “Illusion is based on an old play by Pierre Corneille,” Michael replied. “The original story took place in a cave in the 1700’s. But I glimpsed an opportunity to explore some things a little deeper.

“To me a good film has two sides to it. There’s entertainment – the vehicle – and then there’s content. If a film is really good entertainment, we’re absolutely engulfed in it. We’re brought to a state where we’re very focused and present. It’s quite similar to hypnosis. Then the big question becomes Where are you going with the story and what are you giving your viewers? Unfortunately, I seldom see films attempting to provide more than just entertainment. A few films suffer from the opposite problem; when they are all about a message, but ignore the entertainment side, the results are often preachy.

“My ideal is to create a project that both entertains and – while viewers are in that open place – gives them good, meaningful content. The more you can bury deep, important ideas or concepts inside a good story, the better the results. I find films like It’s a Wonderful Life and Being There to be incredibly deep and inspirational.”

We asked how Michael approached the creation of Illusion. He replied, “Making films is expensive. It’s a business. And people don’t like to take big risks. So I took the money I had saved up from acting – which was not very much – and shot a portion of the film, the first of three vignettes of the son’s life. I recruited a bunch of friends and we shot it right in the Bay area. Then I used that footage to help raise money locally from my parents, teachers, etc. to fund the second vignette. The third vignette I ended up funding with credit cards and a loan from my father. From the results I created a presentation that I used to obtain financial backers from ‘legitimate film’ – basically a finishing funds company to pay off some of the debt and fund the remainder of the project.

“Our main goal was to get a ‘name’ actor to play the role of the father. I didn’t feel I could just walk up to someone like Kirk Douglas and say, ‘You don’t know me from Adam, but I want to make this movie and it’s kind of crazy, not a commercial film. It’s very different. Do you want to be in it?” Instead, I was able to approach him with seventy-five percent of the film already complete, so he could see what I was like as director and what the film was about. I knew I only needed him for five days. He got to be in bed the whole time, and it was a very good role. So that was my pitch.”

We asked if everything went according to plan. “Initially,” Michael admitted, “I thought that it would take me about a year to complete the whole project. It took me two years just to shoot the first three vignettes. Then another year to find the actor, and yet another year to complete the editing, add the soundtrack, etc. So, all in all, it has taken me four years to finish the film and another year to market it – five years of my life.

“I put everything on the line to make this film – for me and for a bunch of other people that I knew, as well. That to me was the toughest thing because I got all these people to believe in something and I didn’t want to let them down or lose their hard-earned money.”

We believe Michael has created something they can all be proud of. So what’s next on his horizon? Michael confirmed that creativity and integrity remain his guiding lights. “I’m often asked the question, ‘Do you prefer acting or directing, or what do you want to do?’ I just like being creatively involved in something that I believe in. It doesn’t matter what or how. I’ll sweep the floors if that contributes to something I really think is important.”


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

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