An Interview with Suzanne Taylor
Producer & director of a new film, “What on Earth? Inside the Crop Circle Mystery.”
by Brent Raynes
Suzanne Taylor, the producer and director of an exciting new documentary film entitled “What on Earth? Inside the Crop Circle Mystery,” which won the 2009 EBE Award for Best Feature Documentary from the UFO Congress, has been involved with films for many years. A former actress, in 2002 she crossed over to the other side of the camera and produced the award-winning film, “Crop Circles: Quest for Truth.” Her work on “What on Earth?” began back in 2003. Suzanne has become part of the community of “croppies,” those who study and report on the crop circle phenomenon from the major crop circle scene in England, where the formations keep appearing, year after year. She has been visiting the British countryside since 1993, and brings to the screen a film library of these enigmatic glyphs, from the ground and from the air, plus interviews with “experts” and assorted others. Although hoaxing is part of the equation, there are those circles which cannot be accounted for as human-made, where anomalous occurrences include strange lights, electronic and camera equipment malfunctions, physical reactions, and biological and chemical changes to the plants and the soil.
Brent Raynes: What was your first reaction, I think it was back in 1993, when you first saw something in the media on the crop circle phenomenon?
Suzanne Taylor: No, I actually had been tuned into it since the late 1980s. 1993 is when I went to England for the first time and saw one firsthand. But I had been interested in consciousness before that and everything that related to how we understood things in a more profound way, and in the course of all of that the crop circles came along and became one of the subjects that I was interested in. I was doing salon events where we would feature one person or another, or one methodology or another, and the crop circles just became part of that. There were a few circle researchers who came to L.A. or who lived here, with whom I produced several programs, and I got to see more and more and learn more and more and be told more and more, and I just got more and more interested.
Brent Raynes: Right, and of course some of them are hoaxes.
Suzanne Taylor: Indeed, and they are very frustrating to have to deal with because sometimes you can’t be sure and you spend a lot of time interpreting and speculating and then you discover, “Oh, it was a hoax. I wasted all of that time.”
Brent Raynes: It’s certainly become an international phenomenon where a community of people gather in England every summer from all over the world.
Suzanne Taylor: England, for the last few years, has had something like 75 each year. Unknown how many have been hoaxed. They’ve had more circles in earlier years. There was a year, back in the 90s I believe, when they had 300. But the complexity has increased. Although the numbers have in a way gone down from the very highest, 75 is still a healthy number. It’s not just a few.
Brent Raynes: And that’s 75 that are largely unexplained?
Suzanne Taylor: That’s 75 that are a mixture of hoaxed and for real.
Brent Raynes: You’ve met many people and been at many crop circle sites. Have you had any experiences with things that you felt were anomalous, that you couldn’t explain?
Suzanne Taylor: No, I don’t think I’ve had any personal experiences like that. I’ve just been a recorder of other people’s information about what they’ve experienced. I’m now searching my memory bank as to whether anything really weird ever happened to me inside a circle. I don’t think so. I’m just in awe when I go in them, and particularly the really complex ones. Just how could this be? Where did this come from? They’re just astonishing.
Brent Raynes: I know that people in your film were talking about going into formations and their camera equipment would suddenly malfunction.
Suzanne Taylor: Absolutely. There are a lot of incidents of things failing. Cell phones, cameras, whatever has electronic parts.
Brent Raynes: Okay. I thought that was something that might have happened to you.
Suzanne Taylor: No, it never did, but you see me in my film, “What on Earth?” talking to a girl sitting in a crop circle just looking at her camera saying, “I don’t believe this. I had fresh batteries in here and they’re dead.” So that’s the closest thing that I have to firsthand.
Brent Raynes: There are a lot of really anomalous crop circle phenomena that occur. Besides the electronic equipment and camera malfunctions the plants and soil undergo changes.
Suzanne Taylor: Indeed. When they take them into the laboratory to do very rigorous testing, with all kinds of scientific protocols, they discover that there are inexplicable changes to the plants and the soil inside crop circles.
Brent Raynes: And then too people have reported entering altered states and seeing beings and strange lights and things of that nature.
Suzanne Taylor: That may be a little bit more than would be accurate. Some people actually do have physical reactions. Sometimes they can’t enter. The energy doesn’t match theirs. It’s too strong, or whatever it is. They don’t even go in, or they go in and they leave quickly because it’s bothering them. Not in any violent way, not like cattle mutilations or anything like that. But it just doesn’t feel right. And some people get elated and they tingle all over. They have visceral reactions to these things. And some people don’t have physical reactions at all.
I tend to be a mental person, and I don’t have physical reactions. I just go into awe. But when you talk about lights, there have been some eyewitness accounts to crop circles actually forming, maybe 50 of them recorded in various literatures. It’s hard to know what the exact count would be, but the people who report never see any craft but a lot of action with lights, and the air is very turbulent, and animals go crazy in the vicinity, and then very quickly, in 6 or 7 seconds, these patterns just go down. That’s generally the profile of what happens when people witness these occurrences.
Brent Raynes: Right. The crop circle is just suddenly there.
Suzanne Taylor: It just goes down. It just swishes down right in front of their eyes. Go explain that.
But it’s like UFOs. Some people see something and then you go, “Did he really see that?” So the more true test is to take the material into a lab. They could tell each time whether something was genuinely mysterious and unaccountable and doesn’t have any of those elements that would indicate that it was made by people.
Brent Raynes: So out of all of the stories and people you’ve heard and all of the sites that you’ve been to over the years, is there anything that perhaps stands out in your mind as the most impressive to you?
Suzanne Taylor: You know, my film is full of those things. We’ve taken some very specific instances of what happened to people and done little stories about them. There was one, for example, where Japanese tourists were meditating as a group, asking for a recognizable symbol, and the next morning in that field was a pattern that looked like origami, something definitely recognizable to Japanese people.
Those kinds of things are the most surprising, where the phenomenon seems to be responding to our thought patterns. I almost didn’t want to put any of that in the film. I thought that it might make it sound too woo woo, but that is what happens. So I would be leaving out one of the basic elements of the phenomenon if I didn’t speak about that sort of thing.
Every summer people come from all over the world and we know each other. These are people who study the phenomenon and make films about it, take pictures of it, do lectures about it, write books about it, and we’re all affectionately called “croppies.” So one of my croppie friends has a story in the movie about when she first went into a crop circle back in the early 90s and got that she was to be a messenger for the circles. She had to go out and let people know about them. But she was terrified of public speaking, so this was a challenge. She was from Santa Cruz, California, and she was invited to speak by some organization an hour or so away from her home and she thought, “Okay, if I make a fool of myself at least it’s not my home turf.” She did the talk, and when she went back home there was this little circle in her backyard that had all of the characteristics of an excellent circle, with standing stalks in the center and a beautiful lay. She was just dumbfounded, and I asked her (and you hear this in the movie), “Did the public find out about this?” She said, “The public? I live way out in the country! It was just for me!” So I thought, “That’s so sweet.” It was like a thank you from the circle makers. Now I know this girl. She’s one of my really good friends. She’s not making that up.
Brent Raynes: Right, she’s very credible.
Suzanne Taylor: Well it’s credible to me, but if people aren’t there themselves they still can remain skeptical. But I love that story. It really shows the sweetness of this phenomenon. They wink at you all of the time. They’re interacting and they’re winking. Very, very sweet.
Brent Raynes: And I remember that Chet Snow said that the Hopi Indians also identified with a lot of the crop circles.
Suzanne Taylor: They did. He’s another croppie, from Sedona , Arizona. He took some pictures to the Hopis way early on and they recognized the symbols. The Hopis interpreted them as warning signs: watch out, if you don’t change your ways you’re in trouble. Prophetic, I would say.
Brent Raynes: If only the late Swiss psychiatrist Carl Jung were still around and could give us interpretations related to his archetypes of the collective unconscious.
Suzanne Taylor: If I could sit down and talk to Carl Jung, I’d be very happy. [laughs] Someday we’ll meet in the great beyond.
Brent Raynes: There are a lot of interesting aspects to this phenomenon.
Suzanne Taylor: It's one of the most fascinating things going on in the world, partly because it’s a mystery and don’t we love mysteries. We pay a lot of money to read mystery stories and to go see movie mysteries, and this is a real mystery.
Brent Raynes: Right, and there’s more and more historical evidence that keeps coming up that this isn’t really something that just started up during our time.
Suzanne Taylor: It has quickened during our time. The complexity has increased. The incident that the croppie community likes to point to as the incontrovertible first appearance of a crop circle was a pamphlet from 1675 called the “Mowing Devil”. This was a woodcut illustration and it was clearly a crop circle. It has different rings in it, the lines are going in different directions in each ring, and it couldn’t be anything but a crop circle.
Little flurries about the circles have appeared every hundred years or so since then, in whatever the literature of the day has been. There would be a little bit of interest and curiosity, and then it went away. We tell this story from 1890, where there was this little flurry in the acclaimed British science journal, "Nature." But then that little flurry went away and it wasn’t until interest got expressed in the 1980s that it never went away. More and more people started to pay attention and it became an ongoing subject after that. Whenever interest is expressed this phenomenon seems to deliver, and whenever interest isn’t expressed it goes away. So the more interested we became the more interesting the phenomenon became.
Brent Raynes: Now I’ve heard that some of the people who went out to create the crop circles claimed that strange things happened to them, that they would see things that they couldn’t explain, or even sometimes they would have these very lucid dreams and they’d suddenly feel, “I’ve got to go out and create this image that I saw.” It was like they were being guided.
Suzanne Taylor: So they say. We don’t listen much to what they say. They are such sleazy, manipulative and deceitful operators that if divine source works through sleazes then God bless, but we just let them rant on. Who knows. I don’t know. That would be very strange.
Brent Raynes: Any ideas as to whether the croppies are hoping to perhaps do something to further prove the anomalous element to scientifically validate it, or is there an effort to try and organize a more scientific approach? Do they feel that it’s leading up to a certain point? What’s the optimism level in this field?
Suzanne Taylor: There’s no organization. They used to have one, but there was so much conflict. The hoaxing situation is at the heart of the strife that goes on because they are throwing monkey wrenches into things, and there are arguments about how many of them are hoaxed. Early on some people were in denial that there was any hoaxing going on and other people were insistent that there was hoaxing. Anyway, there was such a lack of harmony among the croppies that the Center for Crop Circle Studies bit the dust, and ever since then there hasn’t been any organization in which people can actually put their heads together and kind of scope out what might be done. So all that you’re dealing with now is just individuals, and as far as the individuals go I am the person with the most energy on getting the world to pay attention. The rest of them are absorbing themselves in what’s going on and being conduits to put websites up and write books or take pictures. They’re the connection to the phenomenon but they’re not doing much beyond recording it and observing it and doing whatever they do in relation to it.
But I'm determined that the world is going to pay attention, and this movie is my latest effort. WhatOnEarthTheMovie.com is where you can get the DVD and see clips and decide that it’s really a wonderful movie.
Brent Raynes: So if you produce it they will come.
Suzanne Taylor: No, no! I am chained to my computer getting them to come. [laughs] Boy, do you have to really work to get the news out. I had no idea that there was this much effort involved. Sometimes I eat breakfast at 11 o’clock at night. It’s quite ridiculous.
It’s a lot of effort to do all of the communicating and connecting, plus getting your website to work, getting your fulfillment to work, getting your press kit to work, getting into festivals. It is quite overwhelming to market a movie.
Brent Raynes: Because in a film with a big budget you’ve got a lot of people who wear different hats.
Suzanne Taylor: Exactly.
Brent Raynes: It was a very, very interesting movie and I enjoyed it. I hope that the review that we do helps to sell a few copies. Are there any closing remarks you’d like to make?
Suzanne Taylor: What I would say is to notice how much trouble we’re in. You don’t have to convince anybody that our system is not working well and that we’re having a hell of a time trying to pull ourselves out, and anything that might contribute to helping us should be paid attention to. You know, if we ascertained that these circles were coming from another intelligence we would be one humanity in relation to 'the other.' We would be part of a system larger than we are. It would humble us to where we couldn’t blaze our guns at one another so readily because we'd have this amazing reality outside ourselves. It would be an absolutely uplifting experience for humanity, and because the pay-off could be so big we are short sighted in this argument we are in on earth, with the media snearing at the silly people who think that these things can be real.
No, that’s the wrong attitude. Check them out. Pay attention to them. There’s already plenty of information. You wouldn’t even have to do any more investigating. You could just read about what has already been discovered. All we need is attention to be paid and an unskeptical attitude. Not a blind belief. All we need is just a receptivity to something that could be meaningful to us. How foolish we are to operate in any other way.