The InteriorTruth Filming Method
Embodied Sensemaking For Our Developmental Journies
Outline of the Filming Method
The witnessing filming approach at InteriorTruth was originally based on training with in Inner View Method with Nic Askew (Soul Biographies), and has been adapted by me (John Oliver) through experimentation to typically follow the following sequence, whether filmed remotely or in-person:
Closed-eye meditation: Both the filmer and subject close their eyes for a self-led body scan. The pace and timing is left for the subject to choose (from anywhere between 3 and 25 minutes) - the subject simply tells the filmer that they have finished the body scan and have opened their eyes.
Eye-to-eye silent witnessing: Both filmer and subject hold each other's gaze, in silence. Whatever narrative emerges into the silence is welcomed, unconditionally. Or the silence may just hold naturally (even up to 45 minutes or more!). Again, the subject is in control, telling the filmer the moment they feel they have come to the end of the silent witnessing, or to the end of their narrative. Typically, the filmer doesn't ask any questions, holding the silence or staying in a role of pure listening.
Debriefing: While continuing to film. the last phase is transitioning into a more rational / cognitive reflective mode, and decompression. It's a moment to explore how was the experience, what was coming up, but not necessarily verbalised?
This phase can have fascinating iterations of layers, where while reaching to stop the recording and a transition to a 'normal' state of being together, new narratives spontaneously arise. It often happens that I press again the record button (with permission), to capture these subsequent waves of narrative.
The next phase in the process is for me to absorb the footage over multiple viewings, and gradually signify/select the extracts to produce typically a short 3-5min edited film, with an optional 10-15min extended version.
Delivering the edited film to the subject/witnessee can be moment full of emotions, as it takes courage to watch oneself with the personal (and subjective) interpretation of the editing process. Often it can be ideal for the first viewing to be done live collectively, my sitting with the subject as they view the edited version.
Although there are many movements across energies and perspectives throughout the process, the 'Arc of Witnessing' schema below distils the core dimensions that are in play:
The 1-2-3 Arc of Witnessing
Free Expression - What narrative arises from the silence?
Being Seen - By a witness behind the camera, unconditionally
Watch yourself: Discovering yourself in the 3rd person in the edited film
Another way of offering 'pointing out instructions' as to what might be at play here using Ken Wilber's Integral Theory language, is that the process offers a self-driven exploration of our 'developmental edges' through our spontaneous narratives (="Levels" - ref. adult developmental psychology frameworks from Robert Kegan to Kurt Fischer to Suzanne Cook-Greuter), with the cycling through layers of energies (= 'States'), and held in multiple perspectives (='Quadrants').
I stress here the wording in the plural of our 'developmental edges', in that our developmental journeys are complex, non-linear, context dependent and multi-dimensional (cognitive, emotional, interpersonal, ego maturity etc.). But the idea of our 'proximal zone of development' as first attributed to Lev Vygotsky, I feel can evoke the potential of the witnessing film practice.
With my experience in working in developmental psychology and narratives in organisational development, the method could be referred to as 'Embodied Sensemaking'.
There is something unique about stepping into the combined realms of unconditional silence in the presence of a witness (the filmer and camera). Each filming is an experiment as we step into the unknown and invite whatever narrative wants to be expressed in the moment.
There are many references in the community of filmers that we need to step out of the way so that "nothing happens", with no expectations. It is the dance with the paradox of not having interview questions or prompts, and resisting the temptation to achieve a "result", that the more spontaneous narrative emerges, from a distinct energetic and embodied depth.
The filming practice is in itself striving to be an open, dynamic and holistic doorway into the human condition, without premature expectations or formula.
From this invitation of wholeness, we can open the door towards a hermeneutical (interpretative) arc between feeling and thinking - in otherwords, we are creating a unique opportunity for mutual sensemaking.
There is a vast range of lenses from the therapeutic domains, to developmental psychology, to contemporary anthropological principles that can apply to the witnessing method, and nourish and inform the sensemaking process. A key principle to this arc between feeling and thinking, can be referred to as "Practive-Led-Theory".
Here we can encounter the sacred art of holding both
the uniqueness and the universalities of our adult journeys.
Here’s the deal. The human soul doesn’t want to be advised or fixed or saved.
It simply wants to be witnessed - to be seen and heard and companioned exactly as it is.
From the Deeply Personal to the Universal - Video Narratives For Community and Dialogue
What could be considered to the be 4th and 5th stages, continuing from the above 1st-2nd-3rd person schema, are the sharing of the videos to the community, and the dialogue that might be generated therefrom.
Even if the video content is highly curated (through the editing process) and exchanged in an asymmetric way (i.e. it is not a live, 2-way conversation), we might consider that the video witnessing content provides a foundation for a deeper level of dialogue and sense of community.
From across the writings of authors such as David Bohm to William Issacs, the notion of how true dialogue arises from deeper levels of interiority, resonate with what the video witnessing process can contribute.
A dedicated chapter on this topic with research on the state of the art of online dialogue, and the potential of video in dialogue is in progress - please contact me for more details.