"I recently got a tattoo that says 'bleep' on my forehead," says William Arntz, one of the filmmakers behind the blockbuster docu-movie What the #$*! Do We Know!?
Arntz is joking, but given the immense fan base behind the film, which explores, through quantum physics, the idea that the mind manifests reality, we wouldn't be surprised if some other "bleeper" (as devotees refer to themselves) got inked with the word.
Thousands of bleeping believers are expected at the What the Bleep Do We Know? Conference, taking place this weekend in Scottsdale. Arntz will be there, along with almost everybody else from the film, including star Marlee Matlin, to speak about the ideas presented in the movie and to preview the related book What the Bleep Do We Know: Discovering the Endless Possibilities for Altering Your Every Day Reality, which is set for an early November release.
Arntz says he's not surprised by the success of the movie or the movement -- "I started psychically sensing that there were millions of people out there who were hungry for this type of information," he says -- but the director didn't begin with any grandiose notions.
"[The film] started out as a smaller documentary, and I got carried away," says Arntz, who began his moviemaking venture filming interviews with scientists, philosophers, and spiritual figures, and ended up splicing their commentary with state-of-the-art animation and an underlying storyline about a depressed photographer named Amanda (played by Oscar winner Matlin).
Arntz's mind-trip indie flick grossed more than $12 million at the box office, surpassed The Passion of the Christ in worldwide multiple-copy DVD purchases, and became one of the most financially successful documentaries in U.S. history. But its cultural clout has been even more impressive.
There have been celebrity endorsements by the likes of Ellen DeGeneres and Drew Barrymore. There's The Bleeping Herald newsletter. There are Bleep Street Teams. There's The Little Book of Bleeps. There's the online "Bleepstore," full of DVDs, hoodies, handbags, and even children's apparel. There's the Bleep "Virtual Reality" Plaza at www.whatthebleep.com.
And then there are the worldwide conferences. The Scottsdale event will be one of the largest, and will feature physicist Fred Alan Wolf; Stuart Hameroff, Director of the Center for Consciousness Studies at the University of Arizona; William Tiller, Professor Emeritus at Stanford's Department of Materials Science; life coach Rhonda Britten; chiropractor Joe Dispenza; and JZ Knight, "the channel for the 35,000-year-old master teacher, Ramtha."
So what the #$*!has this movie done to people? In addition to connecting the ideas of science, spirituality, and positive thinking (and making quantum physics a little more accessible), the film has produced some shocking testimonials.
Says Arntz, "I think we've gotten five or six e-mails now where people have said, 'This film really saved my life. I had decided I was going to commit suicide, and someone drug me to this film, and I just walked out and said, 'Oh, my God, what was I thinking?'"
Get the Things to Do Newsletter
Sign up for our weekly guide to events in Phoenix, and never be bored again. With suggestions for every day of the week, our recommendations will keep you busy on any budget.