Real Art: Art that tells the truth

 I was speaking to my mother the other day. Mom, I love you. Love you so much. I love that when I whine you still tell me like it is, and you tell me because you still really care A LOT.

I lamented to her about the financial pressures of making a documentary. She told me that no wonder I was struggling, I had been away all summer, that I should be home, working like everyone else. She said it’s not reality to travel like I do.

What is reality?

We all make concessions and choices in order to activate our dreams and I know she wouldn’t do many of the things I do to make the travel happen.

My mother’s and my realities couldn’t be more disparate­­—still, after all these years. When I was a teenager it wasn’t reality to go follow the Grateful Dead around the country, though many of us did. She told me it wasn’t reality to live in a van and surf and climb, but for months at a time I did just that.

My father told me that working for Outward Bound wasn’t a real job. He said he’d pay for me to go to grad school if I promised to get a real job when I was done. To this day, he asks me when I’m going to start really working.

I know I am not alone. The hopes and dreams of a parent sometimes translate to fear and judgmental concern.

On the last few trips to LA, I spent days inside an editing room for my documentary Warrior One. Several years ago I spent the majority of my time cocktailing and shopping my way through the hottest spots in LALA land. I surrounded myself with women who seemed fun at the time but something was missing. The drinking and the shopping were meager attempts to replace the emptiness I really felt.

Feeding myself with the distractions of society feels far more false to me now than the reality of struggling a bit for my art, for my cause, for a mission bigger and beyond me.

I decided I would start telling the truth and my seemingly “unreal” way of living might catch up with the reality of my life.

How does all this relate to making a movie? I had a story to tell that was real and I like conversations that go beyond the comfort zone. I no longer wanted to merely belong to society, to get by and have fun. I wanted to create something that I wish I had in my life when my reality was about struggle and challenge and I didn’t quite fit into the reality in which I was supposed to. Part of this story is my coming out and growing up and into my own.

I admire people who speak their truth. What they are saying doesn’t have to be right, make sense or even have the potential to save the world. It’s an authentic, real, raw expression that inspires me (and others) to share their truth that I appreciate.

This is why I love documentaries.

I especially like documentaries that talk about life changing, eye opening, soul gazing topics. I am far more comfortable with gut stirring topics than mild-mannered cheese and crackers conversation. The more bold, the better.

watch documentaries because I want to know I’m not the only one who:

  • Rejects mass socially acceptable ridiculous conformist political rhetoric
  • Cries for our planet
  • Thinks there’s always a way to transform a tormented soul
  • Wonders why
  • Feels inspired by the Hero’s Journey
  • Feels alone
  • Wants others to know they are not alone
  • Believes in the power of film to change the world
  • Wants to change myself
  • Wants to change the world
  • Believes in art
  • Wants to know
  • Wants to feel
  • Believes we CAN make a difference

I make documentary films for these same reasons.

Here are (just a few) key docs that drove me to action:

  • Born into Brothels
  • The Cove
  • Blackfish
  • Born into Brothels
  • The Highest Pass
  • Africa Yoga Project
  • 20 Feet from Stardom
  • Sing Your Song

If you like documentaries for the reasons I listed above or any of your own reasons, you will love these films. See them, see mine and tell me what inspired you.

For the love of the truth, your truth, any truth,


By: Jill Wheeler, M.A., LMHC Therapist, Transformational Leader, Writer, Yoga/SUPyoga Instructor, Adventurer, Athlete, lululemon Ambassador and Owner of Wellfit Institute.
Producer of Warrior One. Connect with Jill on FacebookTwitter and Instagram.

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