Conversations With God

This was the official website for the 2006 movie, Conversations With God, the true story of Walsch (Henry Czerny) who, at the lowest point in his life, asks God some very hard questions.
Content is from the site's 2006 archived pages as well as other sources.


 

Frustrated, alone and tired of life's letdowns, Neale Donald Walsch (played by Henry Czerny) writes an angry letter to God. Much to his surprise, God answers back.

In a darkly-lit room, numbers on a clock radio slowly tumble into place with a thundering roar. It's 4:10 a.m., and Neale Donald Walsch is suddenly wide awake.

His eyes dart around the room. Suddenly, a voice fills the air.

"Are You Ready To Talk?"

 

If It Can Happen To Him, It Can Happen To You

In a darkly lit room, numbers on a clock radio slowly tumble into place with a thundering roar. Its 4:31 a.m. and Neale Donald Walsch is suddenly wide awake.

His eyes dart around the roomis someone there?

Have you had enough yet?

Neale slowly turns around to see where the voice is coming from.

Are you ready now?

ABOUT THE FILM:

Adapted from the books by Neale Donald Walsch that inspired and changed the lives of millions worldwide, "Conversations with God" tells the true story of Walsch (Henry Czerny) who, at the lowest point in his life, asks God some very hard questions. The answers he gets from God/within become the foundation of an internationally-acclaimed book series that has sold over 7 million copies and been translated into 34 languages. The film chronicles the dramatic journey of a down and out man who inadvertently becomes a spiritual messenger and bestselling author.

 

PRODUCTION DETAILS:

Industry veteran and producer/director Stephen Simon had long aspired to bring Conversations with God to the screen.

My film career has been dominated by the quest to make films out of three extraordinary books, the first two as a producer and the third as producer/director, he says.

First, it was Somewhere in Time, which took almost 5 years from the time I first read it until the film was released. Next, What Dreams May Come took almost 20 years. Now,Conversations with God has been in my head and, most importantly, my heart for almost 10 years.

For the past decade, I have dreamed of making Neales very emotional, provocative and surprising journey into a movie. As a filmmaker, my guiding principle has been that this film had to be from and of the heart.

Over the past ten years, Neale Donald Walsch received offers to turn his book and life story into a film. He turned them all down.

However, due to Walschs enthusiasm for What Dreams May Come, the Academy Award-winning film that Simon produced in 1998, the two became friends.

Walsch says that Simon has an extraordinarily high level of artistic integrity, vision and willingness to collaborate, and therefore, he finally agreed to have his story told on the big screen.

Principal photography on Conversations with God began November 7, 2005. It was shot over the course of five weeks in and around beautiful Ashland, Oregon and the nearby Rogue Valley.

 

Conversations with God"
 
Based on the books by 
Neale Donald Walsch
 

Produced & Directed by 
Stephen Simon
 
Starring 
HENRY CZERNY


THE CAST:
 
NEALE DONALD WALSCH . . . . . . . . . . . . . .Henry Czerny
LIORA . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .Vilma Silva
FITCH . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .Bruce Page
CHEF . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Abdul Salaam el Razzac
CARLY . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .Zillah Glory
SUNNY . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Ingrid Boulting
BOB . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Joe Ivy
ROY . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .Michael Goorjian
SHARON . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .Carolyn Hennesy
OSCAR . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Jerry McGill
GEORGIA . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Ruth DeSosa

 

CONVERSATIONS WITH GOD
Interview with Neale Donald Walsch & Stephen Simon

The film, CONVERSATIONS WITH GOD, details the dramatic journey of a down and out homeless man who inadvertently becomes an unlikely and highly acclaimed bestselling author and spiritual messenger.  Adapted from the books by Neale Donald Walsch that inspired and changed the lives of millions worldwide, CONVERSATIONS WITH GOD tells the true story of Walsch (played by Henry Czerny) who, at his lowest point in life, asks God some very hard questions.  The answers he gets from God/within become the foundation of an internationally acclaimed book series that has sold over 7 million copies and has been translated into 34 languages. Over the past ten years, Neale Donald Walsch received offers to turn his book and life story into a film.  He turned them all down.  However, due to Walsch’s enthusiasm for WHAT DREAMS MAY COME, the Academy-Award winning film that Simon produced in 1998, the two became friends.  Walsch says that Simon has an “extraordinarily high level of artistic integrity, vision, and willingness to collaborate,” and therefore, he finally agreed to have his story told on the big screen. Simon produced and directed the film, which was financed by The Spiritual Cinema Circle. www.cwgthemovie.com

Q: Conversations with God is a very emotional film.  Was that the intent?

SS: Absolutely, right from the start of our first script development meeting in Neale’s living room in January 2005.  Our screenwriter, Eric Delabarre, was there with Viki King, as well as Joao Fernandes, our cinematographer, and Jackson Rowe, our wonderful associate producer.  It was the first time in Joao’s thirty-year career as a cinematographer that he was involved in development meetings from day one. We all asked each other the same question, “How are we going to do this?”  “What are we going to do?” This began the process of putting the story on screen.  It was my commitment from that very first moment that this film would be a film from and of the heart.

Q: Neale, what is it like to see somebody portray you on the screen?  What is that feeling?

NDW:  It’s totally surrealistic.  I wish I looked as good as Henry (laughs).  It never occurred to me in a million, kazillion years that one day I would watch a movie about myself.  I was very, very concerned that this would not, in fact, be a movie about myself so much as a movie about a message.  The only way I was able to sit through the first screening was to keep on breathing through it, because I was realizing my greatest dream, that it would not be a film about me so much as a film about a message, had come true. Thanks to my brother Stephen, the film always focuses on two aspects: the message itself and the fact that this can happen to every person.

Q: How did Henry Czerny come to play Neale?

SS:  The casting of the actor playing Neale was so critical, and through the entire movie, Henry’s performance is so transcendently brilliant, that he never hits a false beat.  I sent the script to Henry’s agent at 8 o’clock in the morning, got a phone call back at 3 o’clock in the afternoon asking, and at 4:00 p.m., we had what Henry and I came to call “our Neale”.  Henry was absolutely riveted by the challenge of playing someone who goes from being homeless to being extremely successful, and by the aspect of being able to play, in essence, several different facets of the same character in one film.  Henry did not go to school on Neale, so to speak, but he absolutely had all the shadings and nuances of the character in his heart.  They spent literally twenty minutes together, but he captured the essence of Neale and the emotion of the message.  After Henry saw the final version of the film, he sent me an email saying, “Thank you so much.  This experience has completely changed my life.”   As a director, that was the most beautiful compliment I can ever imagine receiving.

Q: So, does the film tell the real, true story of what happened to Neale?

NDW: We made a decision very early in development that we would not bring into the picture either my children, or any of the wonderful women who have played important partnering roles in my life.  I believe they do not deserve to have the privacy of their personal lives invaded any further.  Other than that, yes, the movie is true to the real story, warts and all.  I made a decision to step into that place of having my personal foibles exposed, and of being as authentic as possible. Our development meetings were like therapy sessions.  They weren’t easy, because everybody was probing, “What did that feel like?” “What was that like?”  I was trying, of course, to step back from those feelings. The process of script development was very, very emotional for me.

Q: Neale, how did you become homeless?

NDW: After the car accident in which I broke my neck, the bottom dropped out.  I was separated and divorced from my wife and supporting my children as best I could.  When I found out I had a broken neck they gave me a Philadelphia collar, which I wore for about twenty months.  I was not allowed to do any kind of exertion at all, and was suddenly out of work. I couldn’t even get a job as a bag boy at Safeway. What little benefits the government gives a single man ran out very quickly, and before I knew it, I was homeless. I was able to get a tent and sleeping bag from my former wife, and for the better part of a year I lived outside panhandling for quarters and dimes on the street, and living under the stars. 

If you want to have an interesting Sunday afternoon, just scruff yourself up and walk the streets of your town asking for loose change.  People walk right past you. You do, after a while, really feel like beyond an outcast.  At least an outcast is sometimes looked at.  You feel disappeared. 

Q: What message about homelessness do you hope this movie will convey?

NDW: Don’t pass anybody on the street. We all have a quarter, a dime, a dollar, or a fiver that we can let go of.  You can make somebody’s whole day with fifty cents or a dollar.  So try never, ever, ever to pass anybody in need.  When you see them holding up the sign, “Will Work for Food”, or when they walk up and ask for a little bit, share.  Share. If you see somebody on the street who has his hand out, try to get off your judgment and be generous.

SS: People who have already seen the film have all said that it has altered the way they look at being homeless. This film has a lot to say about homelessness and the homelessness of the soul.  It also has a lot to say about this new vision of God.

Q: What role do you see Spiritual Cinema Circle playing in the development of more films like this?

NDW: What we’re doing in this community is subscribing to a series of films that come to us on these wonderful DVDs once a month.  We watch them, and we perhaps share them with a few friends who come into our homes. By doing this, we support the making of more films by wonderful people like Scott Cervine and Geno Andrews and all the wonderful folks who are making movies like that.  We kind of lend our support to them, and we support the whole spiritual cinema genre, if you please.  But, there’s a larger possibility.  There’s more going on in life than get the guy, get the girl, get the car, get the job, get the promotion, get the office in the corner, get old, get gray, get the watch, get retired, get the grandchildren, get sick, and get the hell out.  There’s something else occurring, and there’s something larger transpiring. You’re all part of that larger possibility. 

You’re part of it, by the way, whether you know it or not, and whether you want to be or not.  You are part of it inherently because it’s an inherent aspect of the process of life itself.  The only question is whether you will play your role consciously or un-consciously. My invitation is for you to play your role consciously, for you to choose to be a conscious messenger, and for you to think.  Wouldn’t it be interesting if you caused yourself to be a member of the Spiritual Cinema Circle?  Wouldn’t it be fascinating if the reason that you’ve drawn these wonderful movies each month into your life is that they might broaden your ability to speak of, articulate, get inside of, deeply experience, and come from the message? 

I invite you, on behalf of a world desperately seeking spiritual leadership, to step into your role as a messenger of the New Spirituality. 

SS: Yes, there is a much larger vision of what we are going for, and it is about a new face for filmed entertainment.  From the time I started on this journey, I have talked about spiritual cinema being the 21st century vision of shamanic storytelling, encompassing the vision of a shaman sitting around a campfire, passing down the myths of the culture from one generation to another (which was also the inspiration for the Spiritual Cinema Circle logo at the beginning of the film).  The way I see this filmmaking is that the fire is now the light of a projector, and the shaman is a filmmaker bringing those myths to the screen to illuminate our humanity.  From our standpoint, it is now about creating new myths as filmmakers, and bringing forgotten myths into the light.  That’s a very conscious decision. 

CONVERSATIONS WITH GOD will have a national sneak preview in churches and alternative locations the weekend of October 20, 2006, prior to its theatrical release on October 27, 2006. 

 

 

Photos by: Ben Lipsey

Photo Gallery: Casting Week

Photo Gallery: Behind the Scenes Production Photos

   
Director Stephen Simon explaining the shot in the unemployment office to ?Neale? Stephen Simon directing Henry Czerny as Neale
   
Jesse Nye, 1st Assistant Director and Cinematographer On the outskirts of Ashland
   
Making Rain for the scene  
   
   
   
A creative set up for the filming of a complex scene in "Conversations with God"  
   
An overview of the homeless encampment sest at Emigrant Lake Henry gets his make-up touched up between shots at Emigrant Lake
   
First Assistant Director Jesse Nye surveying the scene at Emigrant Lake Neale Donald Walsch has a contemplative moment at Emigrant Lake on the last day of filming the homeless encampment scenes
   

Photo Gallery: Movie Stills

   
"Oakley" and "Neale" Neale, homeless, alone and looking for a place to sleep
   
Neale in the unemployment office Neale with a broken neck & broken spirit
   
Neale contemplates his life Oakley sleeping with his collection of cans
   
Fitch (Bruce Page) watches as Neale (Henry Czerny) adjusts to his new home, a homeless encampment in Valley Hot Springs Park Oakley (James Peck) angrily explains the territorial rules of collecting cans to newcomer Neale (Henry Czerny)
   
Chef (Abdul Salaam El Razzac) makes dinner out of scraps and slop Neale Donald Walsch (Henry Czerny), homeless, jobless with a broken neck, living in a homeless encampment at Valley Hot Springs Park
   
Neale (Henry Czerny) and Fitch (Bruce Page) take a walk Neale (Henry Czerny) waits for a phone call from a radio station in Medford about a job as a weekend radio DJ
   
Neale (Henry Czerny) and Chef (Abdul Salaam El Razzac) share a fleeting moment of hope Neale Donald Walsch (Henry Czerny)
 
Carly (Zillah Glory) and Neale (Henry Czerny) become friends on the bus
   
Neale (Henry Czerny), giddy with hope, misreads his chemistry with Carly (Zillah Glory) Neale (Henry Czerny) wanders the streets of Ashland, frustrated, alone and disappointed to be out of work again
 
Neale is reminded of his past through the eyes of a young boy (Suriel Hess-Glover)
   
Neale (Henry Czerny) receives critical wisdom from Sunny (Ingrid Boulting) Fitch (Bruce Page) makes an unexpected visit as Neale (Henry Czerny) and Liora (Vilma Silva) have coffee

 

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