To discover the meaning of life is a quest that many have gone on — among them the world’s most noted philosophers, scholars, and priests, to say nothing of a tank of human-faced fish in a certain Monty Python film.
Now, a young Winnipeg filmmaker is braving the existential journey: Matt Pierce, 24, of Waverley Heights is filming the documentary Anchor on the topic.
"I’m looking at how atheism and Christianity answer the big questions of life," Pierce said. "I think there’s a lot of documentaries that have come out that have been pretty biased on either side."
'I think it talks about very important topics that haven’t necessarily been addressed in the way that I am trying to address them' --Matt Pierce, filmmaker
Pierce said there are a lot of stereotypes from either side of the philosophy coin. The documentary aims to break them.
"(Stereotypes like) once you become religious that all intelligence just goes out the window, but also on the atheist side, that all atheists are just super anti-faith," Pierce said.
Pierce said the documentary will focus on the big questions of life: who are we as humans? What happens when we die? How should we live? And is there meaning and purpose to life?
"Those are the big claims that I’d like to look at for both (philosophies)," said Pierce. "But then Christianity especially, is there proof behind the claims that there is a God. Why is there suffering in the world? Just a lot of the big questions someone might pose to a Christian."
While filming, Pierce, who is a Christian, found the atheists more willing to participate in interviews for the film, which surprised him.
"It’s been a really cool journey so far," said Pierce, who travelled across North America from Orlando, Fla. to Kamloops, B.C. for interviews at different religious and non-religious conferences. "I’ve been interviewing a lot of intelligent people from both sides. So it’s been cool to see both sides saying the other is wrong, but both sides are very intelligent.
"It’s cool to see why they believe the things that they believe and what, kind of, is the driving force behind each view."
At these conferences, Pierce spoke to big names such as philosopher Daniel Dennett and Pastor Paul Tripp simply by emailing and asking for an interview.
Sending the emails was easy — flying to meet them in Orlando and Kamloops was expensive. All the funding for the film is coming out of Pierce’s pocket as he works as a manager at a local Perkins Family Restaurant and Bakery in Linden Woods.
To offset costs Pierce set up an indiegogo.com profile for his project. Indiegogo is a crowdfunding site that allows visitors to donate funds big or small to a project, sometimes receiving perks such as a producer title. Anchor is looking to raise $20,000 by April 8.
Pierce said people should donate because the film is something everyone would enjoy and relate to.
"I think it talks about very important topics that haven’t necessarily been addressed in the way that I am trying to address them," Pierce said. "Because this is an independent film it gives a lot of people a chance to be a part of something like this. To be part of something like this is really cool."
Though Pierce has completed about half of the film, he said the $20,000 raised to go towards future travel, equipment, and production costs.
Pierce hopes to release the film in early 2016, and for it to earn a place on Netflix.
To donate to Anchor or to view the trailer, visit indiegogo.com/projects/anchor--2