College of Fellows

Communio Film Group

Ron Austin

I am very pleased to be working with a group of talented and committed students, former students and graduates of the DSPT in the creation of a media workshop. We began meeting in January of 2012 and we are currently developing film projects.

Our primary goal is to integrate our Catholic faith and beliefs into our creative work as artists. To do this we know we must develop trusting and reciprocal relationships. Let me express our shared assumptions as a kind of credo:

We believe that God's Mystery is at the heart of art and thus our work must be open to revelation. We seek to reveal the sacrality of ordinary life and so our craft must be developed through a spiritual as well as an artistic discipline. We use advanced technology primarily to deepen human relationships. We believe that the only possible failure in our work could come from an insufficiency of charity and forgiveness.

Let me elaborate as to our premises and procedures.

The orientation of the workshop was initially based upon the spiritual principles that I articulated in my book, In a New Light: Spirituality and the Media Arts. These principles are not original with me but derived from Catholic thought as well as other great religious traditions. However expressed, I believe, from experience, that they provide the foundation of artistic creativity.

The three basic principles are, first, “being in the present moment,” which I have described as a “creative kenosis,” an emptying of one's self in the imitation of Christ that overcomes ego and opens us to others in the creative process.

The second principle is “acknowledging the Mystery of the Other” which reflects the teachings of Martin Buber whose insights as to the necessity of an “I and Thou” relationship affirm the full potential of all human beings as well as their inexpressible uniqueness. This principle is fundamental in creating characters whether as a writer or actor.

The third principle is “to take the conflict to the deepest level where it can be shared,” which is not only a search for a deeper understanding of dramatic conflict but meant to prevent the scapegoating of adversaries and ultimately introduces the necessity of forgiveness.

My personal contribution to our initial process is to provide some perspective based on my experience in the media arts during the last half century. I have also previously engaged in some experiments in new forms of expression and creative relationships.

I have described our workshop as a “communio” by which I mean a group of people who are committed to communion and community as the basis of communication. A “communio” is a group of people not afraid to open their hearts to each other and who wish to offer their work to others as an act of love.

Our workshop activities include prayer and reflection, improvisational “games” meant to bond us and which will eventually be used for character and story development, and the viewing of the great spiritual films of the last century.

We are just beginning to form teams which will film some preliminary projects together, one of which is to create a “media portrait” of the city of Oakland.

We welcome your inquiries, in time will welcome your support, and always gratefully welcome your prayers.