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Jonas Elrod / All photos courtesy of Wake Up

The filmmaker and director takes time from his busy schedule to answer some burning questions about his latest documentary, Wake Up.

[Note: Before you dive into this insightful interview, you may want to check out my film review of Wake Up first.]

BASED IN NEW YORK CITY, Jonas Elrod has been working in film for over 10 years now, many of those in commercials and music videos. He’s worked with heavy hitters such as Jay-Z, Justin Timberlake, Nike, ESPN, and Spike Lee. The subject of his latest documentary, Wake Up, is himself.

Jonas wakes one day to discover that he’s tapped into another world. He sees visions of angels, demons, spirits, and auras. He’s checked out medically and psychologically and found to be normal, so he goes on a quest to try to figure out what is happening to him, talking to spiritual leaders, teachers, and healers of different faiths. After watching the film, I was left with a few questions. And he was kind enough to answer them.

BNT: It must have been pretty scary to go public with what’s going on with you. It takes a lot of courage. Why did you decide to document this search? What are you hoping to achieve through the film?

I will admit that there were huge waves of fear with this process. Just exposure on any level but with this, the subject matter is incredibly sacred to me. I would have felt uncomfortable being in a film even if it were a film about oral hygiene or the slow food movement. I have always been a fiercely private person and opening myself up to tell this story was no small feat.

Directors, Chloe Crespi and Jonas Elrod

The genesis of this film was during the initial opening to these other realms. Spirit came to me and told me to expose what was happening. I was completing my first documentary during the opening so I was pretty sure that they meant exposing it as a documentary. At the time I had no idea that me and my girlfriend, Mara, would be in it, working as a launching pad into deeper territory.

In hindsight I am very pleased that we both took the plunge. At first, before my producer and co-director came aboard, I would have Mara do interviews with me making sure that the moment was captured–no matter how raw it was at the time. I am not a big fan of docs that do “remember when…” When we were officially up and running my team kept the process going. If I had an experience–a breakdown, a break through–they were there to document the process right then and there.

It was difficult to stay open and raw but looking back at the film and the audiences’ reactions I know we made the right decisions going forth. The overall intent of the film is not to sell a belief or a path but hopefully open people up to start asking questions.

BNT: I have to admit, as open-minded and “spiritual” as I think I am, I was skeptical at the start, particularly when you started explaining your visions. The idea that you saw angels with wings “like you’d see in a book” had me rolling my eyes (why don’t angels look like something else?).

But I think your own skepticism about everything helped to temper my own. What was that feeling like, knowing you were definitely seeing things but at the same time not really wanting to accept what was happening?

That’s a great question and I can totally see your point of view. I have had misgivings on the whole angel/demon thing. I did not want to be known as the angel/demon guy and I also didn’t want this to be associated with a particular religion. That being said I have seen other things that are in the canon of other religions as well.

Jonas with Sufi mystic, Llewellyn Vaughan-Lee

My take on it is that it is all out there and, yes, I have experienced and seen things I would call angelic and demonic. Growing up a God fearing Christian in a small town in the south, I found myself completely shaken to the core at these experiences which for me go way beyond what religion has taught me.

And yes, I still carry skepticism around certain things in the “spiritual” and “mystical” communities.

Like you I am open but really at this point I am not incredibly interested in the supernatural aspects of these experiences. We were lucky enough while filming to meet a Sufi Mystic that really put things in perspective for me. He really opened me up and let me see how I was getting lost in the woods with the paranormal and not really looking at the bigger picture. That bigger picture for me is source.

I accepted what was happening but had huge resistance to it. My life has changed and I realize I cannot go back to the way I was before. With this knowledge I was forced to Wake Up and look at it, try to understand it, and most importantly learn how to integrate it. Through years of hard work, amazing teachers, and understanding, I am at peace with it. That did not happen overnight.

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About The Author

Carlo Alcos

Carlo is the Dean of Education at MatadorU and a Managing Editor at Matador. Like him on Facebook and follow him on Twitter. He lives in Nelson, British Columbia.

  • ianmack

    Interesting interview – definitely intrigued to see the film. I like the final quote “In short my message it would be this: Don’t pee in the pool.” If only all scriptures we so simple ;-)

  • darmabum

    “Wake up!” . . . just what the Buddha ordered . . . and not only that, but also – not to deny, forget, cast off as fantasy – whatever it is that we wake up to or with. I’m glad that Jonas chose to get into it. I too look forward to seeing the film.

  • Raven

    I just ordered the DVD and i’m looking forward to seeing it.  I understand what Jonas is talking about, as I had a calling to quit my high paying job to open a metaphysical store.  I literally walked out on my job one day and completely changed my way of thinking.   I became highly empathic and started doing readings for people.  I didn’t want to accept money for the readings at all, as I felt it was wrong, but people insisted anyways.   I would only accept 15 to 20 bucks and no more.  Keep in mind that I wasn’t anything like this before.   Anyways, I may not be rich moneywise these days,  but I feel very rich in other ways.    I feel at peace and honoured to be working with (as Jonas says) “Source”. 

  • Pitofe

    I had a similar experience 15 years ago except for me I “hear” them and also document communication with them. I think at first it was easier for me to sort “them from me” when I wrote. Now it is just nice to keep a record of the conversations. I sense them in the environment and even know what they look like but do not actually “see” them. I believe this is because I choose not to. A little too much reality for me. You know? I like you, was not (even slightly) religious nor seeking “answers”. My best friend “believed in” and collected angels and I am embarrassed to say I used to make fun of her about it. It was while writing in my journal (diary) that all of a sudden the words “Tell Joe V this” came from my pen. Whooo.. From there thru lots of reading, talking to folks and learning I have come to understand this relationship we have to each other and “God”. Although I have sensed negative energies I have only known the actual “spirits/angels/entities to be supportive with unconditional love and encouragement for us. I used to take “messages” for people quite a bit but do not do it so much any more. This is something I believe we all can do but filter it out for the most part. I do not see myself as “special” or with any unusual “gifts”. If people could clear away the fear I believe all can connect to this part of themselves. Throughout these years I have learned to trust and believe what I “hear”. It has brought me both confusion and doubt at times but ultimately the most powerful and wonderful experience of my life.

  • Virginia Drake

    I just wanted you to know the same happened to me as well 15 years ago, I had near death experience and I walked out of the hospital and I started seeing the world from who new set of eyes, I could see perfectly clear all the beings around me and around others.  I started researching auras and energy.  My family tried to commit me for what I could see and hear.  In fact I started a company, Revisions, as a motivational speaker talking about the opportunities that we have if we can see clearly the truth, for the truth is what sets us free.  I do know and feel you, so thank you for speaking your truth, for it will set others free.  Much love and light, Virginia Drake

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