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Q & A with the director: Jeffrey Peixoto

Jeffrey Peixoto, director of 'Over the Rainbow'

Q: Why did you choose religion?

A: My family is very religious and I grew up in a religious household and I think that that was the foundation of it and then also just the feeling that it gave me was similar to what I felt around Scientologists.

Q: Did the style of the film start this way in the first place or did it develop as you started to talk to the characters more?

A: That’s a good question. I think it’s with any documentary, it really comes from the people that are in the film. A lot comes from them, obviously.

Q: How long did you spend with people that didn’t make it into the film or the hours of footage that you needed to talk to people to get what you got? Can you talk about developing trust?

A: It took years. It took years of time. There are certainly a lot of people who are not in the film and there are people who didn’t agree to be in the film. There are people that did [agree] but we didn’t keep in the film. I don’t really have any advice for them. It’s just time. It’s just that you need to share your days, weeks, months and years with people.

Q: Were there ever times where you felt your patience was wearing thin with people?

A: No, because I was curious about them, which is I think maybe where it comes from. I would have to be patient if I wasn’t interested but I think that’s what allowed me [to not lose patience].

Q: Do you think curiosity is the biggest thing you need going into a film?

A: I think you need money, that’s probably the number one thing.

Q: What are some of the consequences? What are some of the stakes that some of the people who did agree to do this with you, what are they going to face now that this is a public title?

A: It’s a good question, and I’m honestly not sure how it’s going to work out with all of them. Some people have left the church, at this point. Some of them have left the religion. Some of them have left the church but kept the religion. I think the church is going through a really transformative time right now and it’s trying to kind of sort out its identity in the 21st century. I think it’s a time when they’re actually a little bit more flexible than they were in the past.

Q: Did the people in the movie believe it was an accurate representation of both sides?

A: We just finished, so no, not everyone has seen it yet. Lara, kind of the main religious one, we just showed it to her yesterday. She liked it.

Q: Why did you choose Scientology?

A: It’s the youngest religion, and because it’s so young, you can kind of see the mechanics of its construction in a way that it’s more difficult to identify the mechanics of something older, like Christianity or Judaism or Hinduism which are so deeply ingrained and intertwined into our world at this point. You can actually kind of see the creation of this religion which I thought was a good place to start.

Q: A character said at one point that technology played a large role in Scientology in terms of its modernity. Can you elaborate on that?

Yeah, I think that’s the future of religion. It’s a sort of technology-based religion. People are devoted to their cell phones in the way that they’re devoted to nothing else in their lives. It’s what we spend the most time with and have the most attention paid to it.

Q: How did you secure the subjects and how did you get them to speak to you so freely and openly?

A: Again, I think it was just time spent with them and then I think they spoke more freely. I wouldn’t really want to speculate on anyone’s individual motives. A few people have told me that I was just asking questions that they weren’t expected to be asked. A lot of people come to Scientology with certain ideas and ask the same questions over and over again.

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