A Hollywood filmmaker is launching a fresh attempt to bring the story of the Findhorn Foundation to the big screen.
Director and producer Ian Merrick has been fascinated by the origins of the Moray community for nearly 40 years.
While efforts to make his film, The Garden of Angels, have yet to succeed, he has not given up on it being made.
He is currently trying to raise money for the film which he said is a top priority project.
‘The still, small voice within’
The man behind the controversial 1970s film, The Black Panther, believes Findhorn’s emergence is “one of the most important events that happened on this planet”.
The spiritual and environmentally-friendly community started in 1962.
Peter and Eileen Caddy and their friend Dorothy Maclean were “guided” to the area where they literally planted the seeds for a thriving village.
Eileen received guidance in her meditations from an inner source she called “the still, small voice within”.
Dorothy also discovered she was able to contact ‘angels’ or ‘devas’, the intelligence energy of plants.
The trio went on to create a productive vegetable garden, including 40-pound cabbages, amid a wasteland of sand and gravel.
The phenomenon attracted interest – but also ridicule – around the world.
However, the foundation grew into the UK’s biggest eco-village and more than 30,000 visitors have attended its workshops and conferences.
Peter Caddy died in 1994 and Eileen in 2006.
What’s happening with the film?
Mr Merrick said a series of events, including a failed attempt to open a film studio in the Highlands, the 2008 financial crash and the Covid pandemic, have affected efforts to make the movie.
I believe it’s one of the most important events that happened on this planet.”
“I can’t answer why it hasn’t happened yet, but I’m raising money now. It’s not easy because of Covid, but I’ve got to keep trying.
“This film is number one on my list, but it has been destroyed at every level.
“It’s as if there is some entity that doesn’t want it made.
“But I’ll keep going. I believe it’s one of the most important events that happened on this planet.
“If the money was available tomorrow, I’d be in the UK within a month and be shooting in six months.”
Mr Merrick produced and directed his first feature film, The Black Panther, in 1978 about the serial killer Donald Neilson.
It was slated for being exploitative as it was released only a few years after the real-life events.
It was reissued in 2012 to a different reaction, The Guardian calling it a “well made and highly responsible true crime movie”.
Me Merrick later worked at Francis Ford Coppola’s Zoetrope Studios and a company that won Oscars for work on Platoon and The Last Emperor.
Meryl Streep and Shirley MacLaine were approached
He became interested in Findhorn in the mid-1980s.
He visited the community several times, met with the foundation and subsequently interviewed the three founders.
His vision was to create “a memorable, landmark film on the beauty and phenomena of nature together with spiritual themes, where human spirit triumphs over adversity and scorn”.
He said he spoke with Meryl Streep’s agent about the actress playing Eileen Caddy. He also approached Shirley MacLaine, who has visited Findhorn, for the role of Dorothy.
More recently, he intended offering Viggo Mortensen the role of Peter Caddy.
The story so far
In 2002, it was reported that The Garden of Angels would be the first production made at a new film studio planned for Inverness.
The studio was approved by Highland Council at a meeting in Inverness which Mr Merrick attended after flying in from Los Angeles.
But the project collapsed, setting back the film.
“I had been to Findhorn and Inverness at least 50 times over 30 years trying to get the film going,” said Mr Merrick.
“When (the studio) didn’t happen, it fell on me. I got mud all over me and it put me in the black books for a long time.
“It stalled the potential of getting the film going in the UK.
“At Findhorn, certain people turned against me and it got to the point where I couldn’t go back.
“But I’m continuing to make the film.”
A foundation spokeswoman said: “I have worked in PR for the Findhorn Foundation for the last four-and-a-half years and have not heard from Ian Merrick in that time.
“I am always pleased to work with professional filmmakers who are interested in the Findhorn Foundation and community.”