Interview: A New Biopic Charts the Life of Ingo Swann, the 'Father of Remote Viewing'

Friday, 26 May 2017 - 3:30PM
Friday, 26 May 2017 - 3:30PM
Interview: A New Biopic Charts the Life of Ingo Swann, the 'Father of Remote Viewing'
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Image credit: Maryanne Bilham
Ingo Swann is one of those figures who straddles the line between science and science fiction. He is recognized as one of the creators of 'remote viewing,' the ability to see targets from long distances using a sixth sense (and the basis for the U.S. Army's 1978 Stargate Project), but he was also a renowned artist and a long-time friend of Philip K. Dick.

The fifth annual Philip K. Dick Sci-Fi Film Festival begins today, and one of the movies premiering at the festival is Maryanne Bilham's short biopic of Swann, A Life Gone Wild, which explores his life and work. You can check out the schedule for the screening here.

We recently sat down with Bilham to talk about the film, remote viewing, and Swann. Read on!

Outer Places: A Life Gone Wild is a biopic of Ingo Swann, the 'father of remote viewing'. What attracted you to the subject?

Maryanne Bilham: I became a controlled Remote Viewer to stage 6 under the tutelage of Dr. Angela Thompson in mid-2006. [I] had been around [during] the launch of Psi Tech, the first [remote viewing] group to train the public in the mid 90's while living in L.A . This group was the bridge to physicists, parapsychologists and researchers working in the frontiers of science that ultimately lead to [me] meeting Ingo Swann. I also have a keen interest in the para-mystical, consciousness and metaphysics, which very much aligned with this project.

Ingo became a close friend [of my spouse, Robert M. Knight, and I] from the late 90's til his passing in 2013. Ingo Swann was a visionary artist—until recently his paintings were relatively unknown to the public, [but are] now the cornerstone of the American Visionary Art Museum in Baltimore. Among the many amazing attributes he had, his artwork was what spoke to me when I first got to know him.

On his passing, 'The Estate of Ingo Swann,' his sister Murleen Ryder and niece Elly Flippen, commissioned my husband and I to create a biographical-style documentary on the life of Ingo. As I come from a photographic background, having worked for 35 years as a professional photographer (A Life Gone Wild is my directorial debut for a short film), I chose a more contemporary approach to telling the story. Integrating film interviews with a heavy emphasis on Ingo's artwork and his photographic archives, I employed my design partner Albert OH as [my] editor.

OP: Ingo Swann was one of the original people involved in the Stargate project, the Army's experiment with remote viewing. What are your thoughts on the program?

At this period in American history, it was the Cold War and the US intelligence arms created this project in response to paranormal programs being developed by the Russians. I agree with Jacques Valle that more time should have been spent on information science and less on military application.

OP: Swann was a long-time friend of Philip K. Dick—what was their relationship like?

Ingo spoke about being a source of inspiration to many of the science fiction writers of the 70's. Philip K. Dick and Gene Roddenberry both visited with Ingo.

OP: As the director, what's your favorite scene from the film?

My favorite scene is Janet Mitchell discussing the role of the ASPR (American Society for Psychical Research) in the 70's and Ingo's experiments with OBEs (out of body experiences) at the time. Janet Mitchell is one of the lost voices in consciousness, having written two books on the subject. This was a unique moment for research in this field and is just to prior to Ingo joining the Stanford Research Institute team.

OP: What would you tell viewers who are skeptical about the reality of remote viewing?

The protocol of remote viewing works, this I can verify from my own personal experience. Remote viewing is a platform to expanding your intuitive abilities. Some of the results while developed by the military were so good that it defied reality, hence the term "Eight Martini" result. Ingo once answered the question, "What is an 'eight-martini' result? Well, this is an intelligence community in-house term for remote viewing data so good that it cracks everyone's realities. So they have to go out and drink eight martinis to recover".

Four hundred of the remote viewing targets Ingo did are still classified.

You can check out the screening of A Life Gone Wild Saturday, May 27th at the SoHo Playhouse as part of the PKD Sci-Fi Film Festival. You can get tickets here, and check out the schedule here!

If you want to learn more about the film, visit the website or the Facebook page.
Science of Sci-Fi