Filmmaker Journeys to Understand Visions

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By Anam Baig

Jonas Elrod is a filmmaker in New York who woke up one day to discover that he was having visions and could see angels, demons, ghosts and auras.

"My first vision was pretty personal," he said. "I was in San Francisco working on a film when I woke up in my hotel room and started seeing energy and feeling energy. I saw these geometric figures and shapes-it was all very overwhelming and I didn't understand what was happening to me."

To get some answers, Elrod traveled the country with his girlfriend Mara, focusing on all things spiritual and religious-even the occult-to find out what was happening to him. He went to several doctors to check if there was anything physically wrong with him, but to no avail.

Elrod filmed his cross-country experience with the help of filmmaker Chloe Crespi, creating the documentary Wake Up to show the world his experience with the spiritual.

In the film, he seeks knowledge from a slew of physicians, scientists, religious teachers and spiritual leaders about his sudden metaphysical visions, but no amount of MRI scans or psychological tests determine how or why Elrod sees and hears the supernatural. In the end, he realizes that his visions are part gift, part curse, and he embraces both.

Growing up in a Southern Baptist family, Elrod was always surrounded by conservative Christians.

"You either grow up the preacher's son or you completely rebel," he says. "And I rebelled. It's not like I despise religion, I certainly believe in and trust Jesus. But I wouldn't consider myself religious. I'm certainly more of a spiritual person.

"When I visited my parents and told them about the visions, they were hesitant at first, like I was," he continued. "But it was my mother who embraced it and started asking me questions about it. Our relationship has opened up since then, but my father does not ask me anything about my visions."

The reaction to Elrod's journey in Wake Up has been overwhelming. It had its festival premiere at the Southwest Film Festival in March 2009 and its New York City premiere, hosted by Sting and Trudie Styler, in April 2010.

The film has been on a series of tour and private screenings hosted by Elrod and others. The next New York City screening is scheduled for Feb. 11 at 7 p.m. at Jivamukti Yoga at 841 Broadway.

"The audience reaction has been really reassuring. There are always going to be people who think you are crazy for seeing and hearing angels and dead people. But then there are those who truly believe and are moved to tears by my experiences. There is a bigger reality than the one we're sold, and people are looking deeper than ever before. Our job as filmmakers is to get people to start asking questions, and we'll continue doing it despite all the skeptics."

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