Like the deepest art, the essay has layers that reveal themselves over time. At first it seemed primarily theoretical, but upon multiple readings its practical applications were uncovered, idea by valuable idea. The ancient principle of unity of form and content is the bedrock of the essay, and it receives new life through Austin’s explication; he transforms it from concept to tool.
Austin not only opened my eyes to a trove of spiritually minded films and filmmakers I had yet to encounter, he gave me a new way of thinking about how I might make films of my own. Making spiritually seeking films is no easy endeavor, and he offers no formats or quick fixes. What we are trying for, he says, is “nothing less than a miracle: a film with a few seconds of eternity in it.”
—Scott Teems, from his introduction
Ron Austin was born in 1934, and was raised in Hollywood. At age 12 he became a child actor, initially working under the direction of Charlie Chaplin and noted teacher Viola Spolin. A graduate of the UCLA film school in 1956, he is a veteran writer and producer in the Hollywood industry, with over a hundred credits in film and television. He is also a member of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences and the Directors Guild, and has won two life-time achievement awards from the Writers Guild of America for his service to writers and the Hollywood community.