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Breaking out of Hollywood

by Kate Neligan

Those wanting to work in Hollywood often seek information on how to break into Hollywood, but what if you want to break out? What if you feel there is a lack of heart, integrity, and higher consciousness inside the glamorous, ego-driven world of tinseltown and you want to be doing something else?

Three years ago, I wanted to break out of what I jokingly referred to as “prison.” I knew I had another purpose, but I still loved movies and television. I believed in the power that mass media has to deliver positive messages and evoke transformation in humanity. Yet, I wasn’t sure how to go about this as a Vice President inside of a movie studio where I mostly marketed horror movies. I seemed so far away from where I wanted to be.

In fact, I was living in my own horror story based on all the pressure I was putting on myself to be perfect, to move up the corporate ladder, and evolve past my own negative thinking. I felt I was part of the problem and I wanted to be a part of the solution.

Luckily, through my Master’s program in Spiritual Psychology, I had the support to dream big and synergize my interests in personal development and entertainment. I launched an online video channel called Synergy TV which has the mission to bring mindful media, inspiring stories, and positive news to the world.

All access passFast forward three years and I find myself as a speaker, author, and entrepreneur sitting outside of Grace Grove Retreat Center, writing this article in Sedona, AZ. I just attended the world’s premiere film festival for conscious cinema: the Illuminate Film Festival. Filmmakers, distributors, life coaches, healers and fans of this genre were there from all over the world to join together in community to view films, attend workshops, connect, and celebrate.

In four days at three venues, 23 films were showcased with 35 speakers and 8 workshops with 3,000 excited participants. Some of the highlighted films were:

On Meditation, a six-part series of shorts with celebrity meditators like environmentalist Peter Matthiessen, Congressman Tim Ryan, and filmmaker David Lynch.

Death Makes Life Possible, Deepak Chopra’s new film, which covers one of life’s most taboo topics.

Awake: The Life of Yogananda, an unconventional biography of the famous mystic who introduced yoga and meditation to the West.

Song of the New Earth directed by Ward Serrill and produced by Betsy Chasse about the life and work of country singer turned shaman of sound Tom Kenyon.

There are also encores and retrospectives of films like Monk with a Camera, May I Be Frank, The Rocket, The Coexist Comedy Tour, Speciesism and Finding Hillywood.

The film that stood out the most to me was Song of the New Earth, because I had never seen a movie about a sound healer or about a man with so many deep, spiritual experiences. He is a fascinating person making a difference, and listening to the guidance he is receiving in the world. The movie was both spiritual (i.e. sometimes I just closed my eyes and let the sound healing wash over me as there are many moments in the film of him performing), and one with a fascinating story/colorful character.

This festival did something unique called a “Reel Healing Series” which is a “view and do” experience. Films are paired with an experience to extend the learning and inherent theme in each for a deeper integration. For instance, On Meditation involved a meditation with the author Sarah McLean, who teaches mindfulness in Sedona. Mile Mile & A Half is paired with a hike on the Sedona trails.

My favorite part was the Conscious Filmmaker Convergence which was a half day of panels by industry leaders and film experts who taught and coached on how to successfully produce, market and distribute conscious films. I was on the “Get Your Conscious Film Seen: Three Options for Distribution” panel helping conscious filmmakers learn ways to distribute, based on my expertise from the movie studio and my start-up Synergy TV. Also I had the opportunity to interview Deepak Chopra about his new film, which was definitely a “pinch me moment.”


Photo by Andrew Holman

If you are reading this and wondering how you too could be doing something other than your current job, just know that “if you can dream it, you can do it” (Walt Disney’s famous quote). If I could break out of Hollywood and end up speaking at the Illuminate Film Festival in Sedona, anything is possible!

The key is to ask yourself: why am I here? How can my unique gifts and talents be best expressed? Then let yourself dream big.

Change starts with gratitude for where you are today and a clear vision of where you want to go. Take a moment right now and see an image of yourself where you want to be in your own career projected against a huge movie screen and feel every sense in your mind, body, and heart. I love this “industry” and Hollywood. I didn’t have to leave it really; I just had to go to the part of it that was right for me. You can too, you are worthy of your dreams.

Kate Neligan

About Kate Neligan

Kate Neligan followed her dreams to become Founder of the mindful media company, Synergy TV, an online channel that uplifts humanity one story at a time. Kate’s passions and expertise fuel her calling to share transformational stories that matter while creating news synergies in entertainment. For mindful media movie reviews and to receive a weekly awe-inspiring video, join the movement at Synergy TV. Prior, Kate was Vice President of Digital Distribution & Marketing at Lionsgate. Follow Kate @MindfulMediaEnt, @SynergyTVNet and

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