Private Project

White Lotus

White Lotus is an observational documentary that focuses on the daily rhythms of the Buddhist community living at White Lotus Farms/Tsoyelgar Dharma center. In 2019, the community endured a fire that destroyed their Shrine Room, a vital centerpiece for their practice. This film observes the way that the community has moved on from that event and continues to practice. It is a film about resilience and discipline. The film is immersive, but does not provide a lot of answers. Instead, the experience of watching the film should be a meditative and introspective experience for the viewer. The film is inspired by the poetic imagery of Robert Gardner, and features vignettes, montages, and minimalist sound design carry the viewer from person to person around the community. After observing the environment and activities, one becomes familiar with the place, but still feels a sense of intrigue, or mystery.

  • Sean Moore
    The Big House
  • Project Type:
  • Genres:
    Environmentalism, Spirituality, mindfulness, ethnography
  • Runtime:
    13 minutes 50 seconds
  • Completion Date:
    June 10, 2021
  • Production Budget:
    10,000 USD
  • Country of Origin:
    United States
  • Country of Filming:
    United States
  • Shooting Format:
  • Aspect Ratio:
  • Film Color:
  • First-time Filmmaker:
  • Student Project:
    Yes - Northwestern University
Director Biography - Sean Moore

Sean is a filmmaker who grew up in Mt. Pleasant, Michigan. He later went on to study film at the University of Michigan where he gained a passion for documentary filmmaking from an Anthropological approach. His work is inspired by Robert Gardner, Frederick Wiseman, Chris Marker, and Kazuhiro Soda. Sean's first success in film came with his co-direction and co-editor role on The Big House, a feature-length documentary about American football as a microcosm of the United States during the 2016 Presidential Election. Sean's work focuses on quotidian behaviors and rituals that his subjects partake in, and invite the viewer to get immersed in the world of someone else. His films aspire to reach viewers from various backgrounds and help harbor empathy and compassion for others. Currently Sean works as a photographer, videographer, and game designer based out of Chicago

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Director Statement

Sean Moore is a filmmaker and video game designer who explores the ever-growing integration between the physical and digital world. Sean is wary of the ever-increasing tendency to retreat into fantasy worlds, be it through media narratives, video games, or social media addiction. He makes games and films to communicate with people who are ever-more present in virtual worlds. His work is influenced by the films of Robert Gardner, Frederick Wiseman, and Kazuhiro Soda.
Sean’s work creates a dialogue between his films, games, and websites. His filmmaking comes from the tradition of direct cinema and observational filmmaking. The work is subtle, and embraces the contradictions and open-endedness of lived experience. He does not create work that provides answers, but prefers to encourage viewers to ask important questions. He must express himself through his art to help reach people who have become overburdened with an abundance of images. Sean’s goal is to create images that connect people, and that don’t attempt to use images to supplant reality, but to point to the complexity of it.
Sean’s game design follows a similar approach, not to guide his players not into a fantasy world, but to use the illusion of a game world to reference real-world ideas, people, and histories. His games feature protagonists in sprawling worlds that are sparsely populated, which give his players time to spend time alone. Sean uses this “down time” in a game not as an empty space, but rather as a potent moment for reflection. Sean believes that these “in-between moments” are ripe moments for slowing down a generation of players who feel an ever-present ennui imposed by the gig economy, “grinding” culture, and consumerism.
His websites, games, and films converse in style and theme, but also more directly. Sean’s film, White Lotus, has a companion website which allows the player to explore the subject matter of the film according to their own interest. It grants the viewer a sense of agency to choose what they want to explore, and on what time frame they want to watch, and if they want to watch multiple times to understand differently. This is an experience that cannot be granted by a film. Sean’s dream is to continue to integrate games, websites, and films together, to create a concert of expression and connection that will help encourage people to see the subtleties of life and value the “in-between moments”.