“When you change the way you see people, your experience of people changes.”
Nic Askew’s life took an unexpected turn in 2005 when a lucid daydream to pick up a film camera and use it in a profound fashion consumed him and dissolved any internal doubt. He describes this moment as one of “knowing” what he just had to do, as opposed to “believing” or "wanting” something. He describes this pathfinding shift – from being an eclectic explorer and Managing Director in business, to filmmaker – in a poem he wrote, The Tree of Dreams.
Since that day, Nic has used this camera to capture bare human presence, taking his film subjects beyond the experience of mind – and into their inner, wiser, more intuitive and intelligent world. Through a nearly two-decade journey in explorative film, he has discovered that there is a profoundly simple way to be together with someone and begin to capture them – which is not an interview, but an Inner View.
The Inner View Method, though ostensibly a camera method, is something more profound. With or without the camera, it involves sitting in the experience of an unyielding awareness. “People hide behind words,” Nic says. So Nic doesn’t get in the way of a subject’s words – he just waits and listens, “because those [initial words] aren’t the words. Those are the things that need to come out, almost like the words need to finish before that which is meant to come out would be said.” Then comes “the horrible silence. Mostly people are looking to me say something, to ask a question, to steer it off an uncomfortable place. But that’s no good. You’ll never see anyone. So there’s this space between us. Usually there are some big things in the way” that obscure truly seeing the other – an opinion, a judgment, or a need. “So the only thing to do is witness. Give enough space in no direction at all about where this is going to go.”
Space in no direction. As Nic shared in a TEDx talk that modelled a similar practice of agenda-less sharing, when people don’t know where they are going to start, or how they will finish once they start, and when there’s no agenda or point to a conversation, what you get back is “really extraordinary” as their soul starts to speak. “There’s a space between people, and if there’s nothing in between you and them, there’s no need for the person to perform or be any different whatsoever to exactly what you see there. When that happens, everything changes, and the self-consciousness which is usually there in conversations fades, and fades completely.”
The key is for there to be nothing in that space between. No-thing. He describes the directions for the journey as including: “No Map. No Usual Working Compass. No-One We Must Become. Nowhere We Must Get To. Nothing We Must Achieve. For Now.” For Nic, this agenda-less witnessing and space “leads to an increased capacity for the seeing of others without judgment and beyond all differences. Simultaneously we develop our capacity to reveal ourselves without the defenses that have for so long kept us hidden. Essentially, being seen. And, we develop our capacity to become aware of ourselves without judgment or condition. Essentially, the seeing of ourselves.”
Nic’s Inner View Method has given rise to his acclaimed Soul Biographies Film Series, an experience of human presence viewed by millions. His subjects as well as viewers describe the Soul Biographies as an experience into full-spectrum awareness – a meditation of sorts. From those who have experienced his film portraits, Nic gets asked the very same question consistently: “where do you find these people?” What he has come to understand is that what most are really saying is, “This is not how I experience people.” And so it has become clear to him “that the contribution here was to show people how to see an Inner View of another. How to see beyond all differences. In doing so they would also catch sight of themselves in a way that might change everything.”
Join us in conversation with this filmmaker who has been described more poetically as an itinerant confessor, a disruptive influence, a monk independent of any religion and an explorer of the Inner World.
The unconditional sight of people.
A point of unintended surrender in which the notion to pick up a camera consumed me with no doubt.
One of my brother's sharing his pocket money with me when I had lost mine. I was probably 6 and he was 4.
What you seek is seeking you.