I’ve recently published my review of a documentary called “Something Unknown is doing we don’t know what”. The film researches the evidence behind the “Big Five” psi phenomena and I liked it greatly. Take a peek at my review for some more info. Today I’m glad to present you my interview with Renée Scheltema, the filmmaker and producer of Something Unknown (link to my review of the movie). Despite this being my 15th interview that I publish here on the site, this is the first one that I did live, using Skype. Please excuse our accents and non-professionalism. Also, I’d like to remind you that Renée and I opened a forum to discuss "Something Unknown" and its topics. Renée is going to be there as well to discuss it with you. In fact, she had already posted a short welcome message there. So come over and join us at forum.mind-energy.net. It’s right near the Skeptiko podcast forum, which you should also participate in, in my opinion. We had a very conversational tone with Renée and the interview starts right in the middle of a sentence.
You can read the redacted transcript below or listen to the audio using the player below or download the MP3 directly.
Renée Sceltema: …I hear what you’re saying because Professor Tart, he told me there’s actually – you could call it the “Big Seven.” But then there are two in the “maybe” category. And one is mediums, you know, talking to dead people which – that’s scientifically you can’t prove that. I investigated it but somehow there’s a reasoning that goes in circles. So I didn’t complete it. And then the other in the “maybe” category is near-death experiences.
Jacob: I actually wanted to ask you about these, as well.
Renée Sceltema: I researched it a little bit and then because Professor Tart said it’s in the “maybe” category I decided not to include these – the film was already very full as it was with information. Couldn’t get that in, as well.
Jacob: I see. Could you tell us a bit more about yourself and why you decided to make this film?
Renée Sceltema: Okay, that’s in the film. I had those psychic experiences and I wanted to know whether I was deluding myself. I sort of knew that parapsychologists were doing research on this kind of stuff, but I hadn’t kept up. I’m not a “woo-woo” kind of person who believes all this stuff. Actually I don’t believe a lot of it.
But on the other hand, the first experience with my father was very strong. I guess in scientific terms you call it “crisis telepathy.” It happened when I was studying at the University of California, Berkeley, during the day. I would call my parents every three months. I had just phoned my parents a few days before. While I was with my nose in the books, there was this strong force that told me that I had to get up and phone them again. I remember walking down the street thinking: ‘This is weird. Why am I walking to the phone booth? There’s no reason for this. It’s the wrong time of the day.’
Then when I phoned, my brother picked up the phone, which is very unusual because he had left home and would never even pick up the phone. Then he told me my father had had a stroke and was fighting for his life at the intensive care. So that seared into my mind because I just picked up something there that was real and I guess it’s part of our survival instinct, no?
In Christianity, all these psychic experiences they call it “from the Devil” and it’s not been too long since they burned witches. And so according to this belief system all these psychic things are all thrown into one corner together with the witches and the weird soothsayers.
Long before that time, when we were living as Bushmen or Aboriginals, there would always be the Shaman who was capable of reaching beyond our minds; capable of doing these kinds of things. For them it was normal. So it’s only been in the past couple of centuries that psychic experiences have been suppressed.
I read a book long ago about Mutant Message Down Under, a beautiful book about an American woman who lives with the Aboriginals. She notes down what they experienced. They could heal; see remote view kangaroos, etc, just because it was just the only way to go.
So I guess it’s part of our survival instinct. So I didn’t regard it as abnormal when I had this experience with my sick father. I just thought, ‘Yeah, that makes a lot of sense.’
Also I guess, I’m at a certain age where I felt confident enough to tackle this kind of subject. I don’t think I would dare to make this film 25 years ago.
Jacob: Okay, it is also written there that you started to work on the film about 10 years ago. Why did it take so long?
Recently I have had the pleasure of seeing the DVD of a new movie called Something Unknown is doing we don’t know what…. This is an indie documentary filmed by Renée Scheltema that explores the science behind psychic phenomena. The award-winning movie, which was released in late 2009, is the best documentary that I’ve seen to date on this subject. Stay with me for a more detailed review of the film.
There are several things to like about Something Unknown, if you’re serious about learning more about ESP and psychic phenomena. First, the movie mostly focuses on interviewing and showing the work of the leading scientists in parapsychology, such as Dr. Dean Radin (Chief scientist of the Institute of Noetic Sciences, showing presentiment experiment), Dr. Rupert Sheldrake (biologist, talks about telepathic dogs, and telephony telepathy) and Professor Charles Tart, who guided Renée through the film and many more. Other names include Professor Gary Schwartz, Dr. Roger Nelson, Dr. Hall Puthoff, Dr. Edgar Mitchell, Dr. David Dosa and more. In short, the “casting” couldn’t be better.
Secondly, it shows these scientists in their homes or working environments, which is much more interesting than seeing them talking in “sterile” studios, which is what other movies that I’ve seen do. This adds an additional personal dimension to the experience of watching it.
Thirdly, the movie focuses on the “Big 5” psi phenomena, meaning the best 5 fields of parapsychological research which Professor Tart sees as having good evidence. These are: telepathy, clairvoyance, remote viewing, psychokinesis (telekinesis) and psychic healing. The film doesn’t talk at all about less researched areas such as mediumship or near-death experience (NDE).
It took Renée almost 10 years to shoot and edit this film, funding it from her own money, which says a lot about her determination and serious approach to this endeavor. She decided to go on this journey after having a couple of unexplainable experiences herself. I liked the movie so much that I asked Renée to let me interview her for Mind-Energy. I’m glad to tell that I’ve recorded the interview and will post it in a couple of days. So stay tuned.
What else is in the film? She met with Dr. Jack Houck, the organizer of PK parties and she also accompanied him to one of them. These are the famous PK parties which he holds in the US, where people bend spoons. Spoon bending is a thread throughout the film, being used to connect the various parts of it, although it’s not a scientific subject by itself.
There’s footage from Brazil of psychic surgeries, there are shots from other healing events and places. You see introductions about such projects such as Global Consciousness Project and Remote Viewing from the first hands, from the scientists themselves.
The film is 105 minutes long and is available on DVD in NTSC and PAL format. You can learn more about the film and purchase it on its official site.
With collaboration with Renée we’ve added a dedicated discussion forum for Something Unknown and its topics at Mind-Energy forums. Please join us in discussing it with Renée and other viewers.