The What and The Why

Earlier this year, Emma and I launched the Cinema Esoterica podcast. It’s been an exciting journey. Though neither of us were strangers to audio recording, the world of podcasting was indeed foreign territory. We’ve received some encouraging feedback over the past few months, but we realized recently that we have not succeeded at fully communicating the ethos of the show. It may appear to be yet another movie podcast, or simply a discussion of “weird” stuff, but neither was our intention. We our now relaunching the website to make the goal of the podcast a little more clear. Before explaining what we hope to achieve with this podcast, let’s rewind a bit and explain how it came to be.

Emma and I met in Montreal, but neither of us live there anymore after independently moving away in 2016. Emma now lives in an RV, moving around Texas and the Southern U.S. I live in a Sprinter van based out of Vancouver, BC and travel up and down the West coast. While we had stayed in touch since leaving Montreal, our conversations became more regular when she helped me navigate the transition to full-time life on the road. Once I moved into the van, our conversions quickly shifted to more unusual topics. It quickly became clear that we were both interested in things like tarot, ritual magic, extraterrestrial life, conspiracy theories and so on. We bonded over podcasts like Last Podcast on the Left and Occulture, but over time felt there was a void for our particular take on many of the same subjects. So we decided to make our own.

The genesis of the podcast was originally focused on esoterica alone and did not have a film component. Emma and I made a long list of topics we wanted to explore — hauntings, UFOs, the Mandela Effect, shamanism, the lost years of Jesus etc. — but found it challenging to find a unique and pragmatic way of tackling them. When we had the idea to structure our discussion around film, it became instantly easier. We both love movies and knew they would serve as an excellent “launching pad” for the discussion of interesting ideas. Film is a powerful medium for the transmission of concepts that are hard to explain with words, so having something visual to refer to would also be an excellent aid.

In true DIY fashion, we dove right in and recorded our first episode over Skype. Emma was stationed in her RV somewhere in Texas while I sat in a rehearsal space at my local community centre in Vancouver. We hit record, and for 90 minutes talked about “the force” and the spiritual teachings embedded in The Empire Strikes Back. A couple weeks later we recorded our second episode, a discussion of the film Arrival that focused on alien visitations and the cyclical nature of time. We followed that up with a conversation about the satanic underbelly of Hollywood, CIA mind control programs, and the world of dreaming in David Lynch’s Mulholland Drive. Finally, we balanced out the dark themes of episode 3 with a much more whimsical discussion of metaphysics and the journey of a soul in Joe Versus the Volcano, one of our favourite movies.

At a glance, the topics explored in these early episodes are seemingly unrelated. There is, however, a common thread that ties them all together: they are all esoteric in nature. The word “esoteric” can be loosely defined as “knowledge understood or known by a select few”. The word “occult” which usually refers to “hidden” knowledge is often used as a synonym, bit is not exactly the same thing. While both Emma and I are deeply interested in occult knowledge, paranormal phenomena and frankly just about anything weird, there is particular brand of material we are attracted to. We are interested in topics that are more than simply magical or supernatural, but actually essential to the human experience. We are on a quest to find the pearls of universal wisdom embedded in the artifacts around us.

Finding movies to discuss that supported this endeavour was easy — our list of possible movies/episodes currently sits at over 100! Actually launching the podcast, however, turned out to be a lot more work than I think either of us realized. Even though I’m no stranger to computers and editing software, the process of watching a movie, doing research, recording a conversation and turning that audio into a publishable episode was humbling. There were technical challenges like adding audio clips from the movies, removing unwanted noise, calibrating audio levels, and exporting everything with the right bit rate and channel mode (just to name a few). And there were the more human challenges like learning to speak into a microphone properly, refraining from verbal ticks like “umm” and “like”, and even just finding a quiet space to record with a good internet connection.

While Emma and I are still finding our voice and learning the ropes of podcasting, we do feel that we’ve found a winner in the pairing of cinema and esoterica. Though sponsors aren’t exactly knocking on our door, we have received a lot of good feedback about the show. Some has been positive and encouraging, and some has been more critical and has helped us grow. There is no shortage of interesting films about unusual topics that we want to dive into, so we have a feeling we’ll be at this for a while.

We’ve changed the tagline of the podcast from “Exploring life’s great mysteries one movie at a time” to “Uncovering the hidden messages and secret symbols encoded in the films we love”. It’s a subtle difference, but we feel it better encapsulates our mission. For example, did you know “The Matrix” is loaded with Buddhist teachings? Neither did I the first time I saw it. Sometimes you have to watch something fifteen times for its true meaning to unfold itself to you. And that’s exactly what this podcast is all about: looking deeper.

If this sounds like your cup of tea, we hope you’ll join us on our quest to learn more about the mysterious world around us though the language of the big screen. We’re having fun making the show and hope our listeners will continue to tune in. If you have any ideas, questions, comments, don’t hesitate to drop us a line.

See you out there.