Eliot Rausch Tries to ‘Get Back’

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“Dinner tables, meeting for lunches, all of that stuff — sadly, I feel like that will go away at some point.” – Eliot Rausch, filmmaker.

Eliot Rausch was sitting in his parents’ living room scrolling through emails on his phone. He had just called Vimeo to tell them he was too busy to take on a new project with Lincoln, one that would ask him to reimagine a piece of his life. His wife called him, but he missed the call because he was typing.

“Eliot…”

This was the house he grew up in. His parents were artists who had begged him as a young adult to get a job where he wouldn’t have to struggle to raise a family for the sake of a passion. He continued to silently press digital buttons on the tiny screen.

“Eliot.”

His wife called him again and he missed the call for a second time. He thought he heard mumbling but ignored it.

“Eliot, please put the phone down.”

Suddenly his fingers froze. The phrase was one he had heard earlier that day when his wife had asked him how she looked before she went to work. He put the phone down and saw his father and mother, staring at him with concern. It occurred to him that he was distracted — and had been for some time.

He remembered the way he used to love his wife, his work, and his life. There had been a time when he was more connected with these things, but that seemed a distant memory. Suddenly inspired to make a film about getting back to human relationships, he didn’t care how busy he was. He wanted to dig deeper and reimagine what it means to connect.

“This way of life is interrupting some real primal pieces of our human experience that are essential to fight for and hold on to.”

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Rausch started his filmmaking career in the vaults of one of the largest advertising agencies in the country. As an intern, he taught himself how to edit and created films of his own. At one point he stole over 300 pictures from an image database to pursue a film idea, and wept at the final product and emotion he’d been able to express onscreen.

“I want to figure out if there’s a way of getting back to this fundamental human connectivity that we’re beginning to not celebrate as much.”

Rausch soon became known as a brilliant filmmaker in the advertising world. His fascination with the lives and interactions of others has propelled him to create beautiful works – advertising or otherwise.

“It’s exploration,” says Rausch of creating the films. “It’s taking tools and my artistic nature and offering those as gifts inside of pure and authentic relationships. What transpires from those moments of engagement are these little films that – and I’m always blown away by this –resonate so deeply with culture.”

With recognition came high demand. Time spent answering emails and calls outweighed the time he spent with his wife, family and friends. It wasn’t until the moment in his parents’ living room that he decided to make a change and say, “Hello, Again” to his life.

“I thought, what a great, facilitating, experimental opportunity to work out my own demons,” says Rausch. “To try to put something on film that might help me understand this reality that I’m living in was a therapeutic device. I became excited because I knew it could potentially save me.”

As Rausch made the film, he saw not only his life change, but the lives of his crew become affected as well. The actor and actress from the film are an actual married couple that Rausch met when casting for a previous project. They have since realized that most of their time together had been spent on digital devices, and have made rules to take time to disconnect. Rausch’s 19-year-old assistant cameraman was so affected by the film that he turned his phone off for three days – a huge change for him – and went surfing in Big Sur. His voice message can be heard on this behind-the-scenes video below:

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The change in Rausch’s life was not monumental, but important. Now, he and his wife do not check their email in the morning until they have kissed one another good-bye and left their homes.

Rausch knows the future of relationships will be heavily digital, but the power of a real-life connection can overcome any device. “I’m trying to figure out what truth looks like in this space,” he says. “I want to embrace some of this nostalgia and sense of a time that once existed where I just felt more connected to human beings.”

Rausch is one of four filmmakers selected to interpret the theme of “Hello, Again.” Their works will be rolling out on our Vimeo channel this month.

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