Behind the Scenes of Uncommon Scents: The World’s First Full-Length Aromatherapy Documentary

Uncommon Scents

Although millions of people use essential oils every day, the field of aromatherapy itself is still quite young. Thankfully we have aromatherapy pioneers available and willing to share their knowledge with the world. We see this sharing through social media, in books, and in aromatherapy schools. What if we could hear the story of aromatherapy told by people that have been practicing it since the beginning? Imagine if you could see taped interviews of Dr. Mikao Usui, the founder of Reiki, or if you could hear stories from the first people to ever use acupuncture?

Filmmakers and aromatherapists, Kristina Bauer and Angela (Angie) Jensen Ehmke, are setting out to bring the history and the future of aromatherapy into your living room in a full-length aromatherapy documentary called “Uncommon Scents.” This type of film has never been made before.

Here’s a sample interview:

Why now?

The aromatherapy industry is made up of everyone from home users to aromatherapists to chemists. There are people growing plants, distilling plants, selling essential oils, and training on the use of essential oils. Some people use essential oils for therapeutic benefits and others just like the smell. This vast difference in use and knowledge of essential oils has made many hunger for more knowledge. It has created an enormous worldwide community in love with tiny little bottles. With this love comes a burning passion and where there is passion there are heightened feelings. People are passionate about safety or they are passionate about sourcing, pricing, brands, methods, uses, education, you name it! And of course, people have passionately DIFFERENT views on all of these things. This sets the scene for controversy and drama and scrutiny from within and outside of the blissful aromatherapy bubble. Before this bubble breaks, the aromatic world needs to stop, take a deep breath, and focus on what’s good and how we can move forward TOGETHER into the future. This film is needed now to help heal and unite everyone that loves aromatherapy so we can see the bigger picture and survive as one.

Why Kristina and Angie?

I’ve had extensive talks with Kristina and I am in awe of her amazing perspective. She is one of the most positive people that I’ve encountered. I don’t mean that she’s seeing the world through rose-colored glasses (as my dad used to say about my mom). I mean she sees the gigantic issues before us, and she sees a way through them (or over, under, or around). Kristina and Angie work extremely well together and are determined to create a film that will make a difference. Of course they have ideas of how they think the movie will be, but they are also prepared to go where it leads. Since they will be interviewing so many people, they have no idea exactly what they will end up with in the end. And they are excited about that! I can’t think of anyone better to make this film than Kristina and Angie.

This film is a huge undertaking. Aromatherapy is a worldwide industry, and Kristina and Angie will need to go all over the world to conduct interviews. They are professional filmmakers and will be taking tons of footage and then editing into a full-length documentary. All of this takes time and money. They have the talent and they have the drive. The aromatherapy world has a chance to stand behind this movie and shepherd it into existence. Millions of people use essential oils everyday. Imagine if each of those people donated even just $1 to the film? The more we raise, the more Kristina and Angie can do to capture the true story of aromatherapy and share it with the world.

I thought it would be fun to ask Kristina and Angie some questions to share with all of you so you can see for yourselves that this movie is important. This movie needs to be made. Now is the time and these are the women to do it…

What gave you the idea to make this film? (Kristina)

After a teacher training with Andrea at Aromahead, a group of us began getting together regularly via conference call to brainstorm with each other, talk through challenges, and support one another in building our businesses. Because we often set agendas, those calls often included some very high-level conversations about the industry. Things like safety, sustainability, regulation, licensing, certification, purity/adulteration, and marketing kept coming up. One day, Angie reached out and asked a new question: “Why hasn’t anyone made a documentary about aromatherapy?” We talked it through… What would happen if we asked various experts across the industry to entertain these questions? How could their answers, informed by their unique perspectives, empower others in—and out of—the field? What picture of aromatherapy would be revealed? What story would emerge? We had some exploratory conversations, checked in with a few of the people we believed we couldn’t make the film without, and realized we had something really special on our hands. Uncommon Scents was born.

Who are you most excited about interviewing and why? (Kristina)

I can’t speak for Angie, but I know I can’t pick just one person among our participants! They’re too different and too interesting across the board. It’s actually the spectrum of participants, the breadth and depth of perspectives, that excites me the most! It’s easier for me to imagine what question I am most interested in hearing each individual address. I am excited for all of the interviews to begin on the other side of crowdfunding.

Will you also be interviewing distillers and showing a bit of that process?

Yes! We plan to frame some of the associated processes for the audience, from expeller-pressing and steam distillation to absolutes and CO2 extracts, by both showing and animating the process. We also want to show some scale. Ideally, we would love to visit small-scale, large-scale, and community-driven distillers in various places around the world.

How will this film impact everyday users of essential oils?

We think Uncommon Scents has the power to both demystify and re-mystify how essential oils and natural aromatics are engaged. At its most broad, it has the power to inform the day-to-day consumer of finished products containing essential oils, from food and fragrance to cosmetics and detergents. They’ll have new understanding of what essential oils are and how chemistry and essential oils inform some of their favorite products’ flavor and efficacy.

Consumers purchasing their own essential oils for day-to-day use can hear a variety of expert perspectives including how these experts engage aromatherapy everyday themselves. Uncommon Scents may provide some new ways to think about essential oils for both newcomers and experienced aromatherapists alike. We aren’t telling people what to choose, but we are giving them some things to think about.

Why should the aromatherapy world care about this film?

Our industry is growing at an incredible rate—and there’s a lot of money in play. That money changes things. We sometimes see people trying to capitalize on essential oil consumers or aromatherapy clients. We sometimes see the enthusiasm for essential oils eclipsing common sense relative to safety. And we often see cookie cutter solutions involving essential oils popping up without context where a private consultation with a well-trained, qualified professional would likely do more to provide relief or support. Meanwhile, not everyone is in agreement on what makes a well-trained, highly-qualified aromatherapist! (If there’s one thing we can agree on, it’s that we don’t agree on every single thing!) We need a safe space where we can explore and talk about the many different perspectives that inform the full spectrum of the industry. It’s time to have the courage to invite ALL the answers.

Uncommon Scents is brand-independent. We won’t tell people what to think, only invite them to entertain the big picture and consider all sides in making their own informed decision. And for those of us tired of explaining the big picture who are exhausted trying to overcome marketing rhetoric, Uncommon Scents will be an enormous blessing.

What can people do to help to make this film a reality?

Support crowdfunding! Help us move the needle to our goal so that we have the minimum needed to begin creating this incredible film! Every single thing counts, from individual contributions, large or small, to raising awareness about the campaign, encouraging people to support it, and communicating why the film is important. If people stay positive and rally with us, we’ll get to goal and be able to begin sharing more sneak peeks and other insights sooner.

What can people *without a lot of money* do to help make this film a reality?

Please, help us shepherd the project. Raise awareness about the film and the campaign by sharing it with your friends, family, contacts, social networks, classmates, colleagues, students, clients, and neighbors. Tell the people, businesses, and organizations you care about that you care about seeing this film made and encourage them to support the film, too. Modest contributions add up—and confidence is built with every individual, business, and organization that steps up to say they believe in the campaign and the film.

What do people get in return for donating to this movie?

Fundamentally, people get to be a part of making the film happen. Contributions that get us to goal literally make production happen. Those contributions allow the film to remain independent and inspired by the community. As you said, Emily, we are a community of do-it-yourself’ers.

Anyone contributing to our crowdfunding campaign at a level of $15 or more who selected a perk will also have the opportunity to see and/or own the completed film, either by time-delimited link or digital download.

How has aromatherapy impacted you (Kristina & Angie) directly?

From Kristina: Aromatherapy has changed my life several times over. First, it was an emotional support and comfort through a divorce decades ago. It provided a path through which I could meaningfully engage a host of diverse things about which I was curious, from science and art, chemistry and perfume, to folklore and botany. It informed my spirituality. It facilitated my emotional healing and physical wellness. At a point when I felt helpless to support people around me who were struggling, aromatherapy empowered me to help in subtle but important ways. Aromatherapy is a cherished, trusted, and respected tool in my toolkit.

From Angie: I’m so blessed to be involved in the amazing community that aromatherapy is. Obviously, using EOs, creating blends for me and my family has impacted our approach to a healthy household, but for me, it is greater than that now. The AIA conference in September was my first professional aromatherapy conference and meeting many of the people that I engage with on social media, meeting and talking with my favorite teachers, authors, mentors and learning of new experts in the field. All of that has impacted me at such a deep level, we are part of a worldwide community, we have so many similarities, yet all of us are so different, with our business, practice, formulation techniques, classes, etc… There is room for all of us, and that has a pretty big impact. That is why we went to our community to help us raise money. We do not want to take this to a production company or one company that has a lot of money so they could tell the story they wanted. We want to share the voices of aromatherapy and hear their story and share that with our community, many of those community members have shared with us what they want to see from this movie. We are listening.

How long will it take to create this documentary? (Angie)

Once our crowdfunding campaign wraps up, we go right into working on our shooting schedule within the budget set forth by the monies raised on IndieGoGo. We plan to finish principal photography in 2016 and go straight into editing in early 2017. We plan to have a finished film ready for film festivals by January 2018 (at the latest).

How will people be able to watch this documentary once it’s ready? (Angie)

Once the film is ready, our campaign contributors claiming our PEPPERMINT PERK or perk associated with PEPPERMINT will get an online password to watch the film for a specific amount of time before anyone else. For the rest of the folks, they will have to wait for our film to get a distribution deal from shopping it around at various film festivals. Based on that process, we hope to ultimately have our film available on streaming services such as Netflix, Hulu, Amazon, Vimeo, itunes or possibly other online streaming services. For those who claim our ROSEMARY PERK or perk associated with ROSEMARY, they will get a digital download of our film to keep.

What do you see as the greatest challenges in the world of aromatherapy today? How will this film impact those things?

There are a HEAP of challenges facing the industry. Millions of consumer dollars are at stake in a field that includes everything from hobbyists to clinicians, artisans to big brands. So, who owns and shapes the future? Who decides?

There are challenging conversations around education, certification, self-regulation, and licensing that inform the future of how individual people engage essential oils personally and professionally. Purity and adulteration are major concerns. Supply, demand, pricing, and sustainability are inevitable concerns in a growing industry that leverages products derived from natural resources.

There are LOTS of stakeholders in aromatherapy—and lots of possible choices and outcomes in the face of myriad challenges. Uncommon Scents is going to explore and inform some of those choices and outcomes.

What is the biggest challenge in creating this type of film? (Angie)

Our participants live globally and although Kristina and I would love to bring our crew all over the world, it is just not possible to travel and see everyone individually. Now, we have to think outside the box and look at the calendar’s of our participants, we have to map out who will be speaking, teaching or presenting where and we have to plan our shooting schedule to meet up with our participants schedule and hope they have time for our crew to setup and interview them. We also plan to interview a lot of different people so we can get all the questions we have answered and ask questions the people of the aromatherapy community have trusted us to address in this film. This film is for the community. We want our peers, mentors and those just getting into aromatherapy to all feel taken care of and have what matters most to them addressed in our film. With that said, we need to keep the length of our film at a regular feature film length or we will lose the interest in the viewer. So editing will be a pretty significant challenge once we solve for getting all the interviews we need.

What is your (Kristina’s & Angie’s) most favorite essential oil and why?

From Kristina: I can’t say I have one “most favorite” that endures across all time—it changes!—but I always have one with which I’m in special relationship and, right now, that one is definitely Balsam Poplar. I have long adored its aroma, but I am celebrating it these days for its part in facilitating my recovery after I fell and broke two ribs this winter!

From Angie: Patchouli is a personal favorite of mine. It is an aroma I have often encountered throughout my life and only knew it as patchouli. I never knew it was an essential oil, it was always just called patchouli. As a kid I don’t think I really even knew what an essential oil was. That deep aroma continued to show up in my life, almost like I always knew the smell of Liz Claiborne perfume because that is what my mom wore for decades. As I got older and continued to smell patchouli it had a relaxing effect on me and it wasn’t until I went to a yoga class where the instructor had bottles of essential oils for the students to try did I realize that patchouli came like that. At that time, I only owned a bottle of lavender essential oil that I used for relaxation during childbirth and a bottle of eucalyptus to use for steams associated with colds and flu. So patchouli was the 3rd bottle of essential oil I ever purchased and it brings me back to certain times in my life. I can always picture the people that wore it around me and I enjoy those memories. Currently, I use it occasionally to relax and get grounded and I have it in my bug spray blend.

What else would you like to share with Marvy Moms readers? (Angie)

I am a mom, I am SO busy and I know you are BUSY too! I know you want researched information that you can trust, to save a step on your end. That is what I want too. That is what I was looking for, I searched and searched to find a documentary on essential oils and aromatherapy, there isn’t one. I couldn’t find the money or time to take as many classes as I wanted to, to learn more and I didn’t have time to read all the books I owned or wanted to buy…yet, I wanted to know more on the subject and new material and research comes out, it seems, weekly, I couldn’t keep up.

My goal for this project is to have a comprehensive film that brings many of the most celebrated experts, educators, authors and aromatherapists to one place. This film won’t have all the answers for you, but we will bring you the best of the best and empower you as the viewer to be confident working with essential oils at the level you are educated at, or you will be empowered in hiring a trained professional who will work with you to create custom products for you and your family that are personalized for those in your household. This film will be for anyone who has ever enjoyed the simplicity of a natural aroma. We will talk about the history or aromatherapy, we will talk about where essential oils and aromatherapy is in today’s world and we will share insights from the interviewees on where they think aromatherapy and essential oils are headed for our future.

Thanks so much for your responses, Kristina and Angie! I for one am excited about this documentary!

Although we may be a Do It Yourself community, there are times when it’s best to come together for the greater good. Supporting this film is one of those times! By helping to crowdfund this movie, we can look back years from now and say, “I helped make that happen!” And even though this is a group effort, the film gets to stay independent, meaning that the vision of the film stays where it should. With Kristina and Angie: aromatherapists that care deeply about the future of aromatherapy. While I’m sure they wouldn’t mind making money on this film, I know that this is not their goal. They are committed to getting out a story of aromatherapy that we can all be proud of.

The beauty of crowdfunding is that every little bit helps. Even one dollar can help push the needle toward the goal. This is an all or nothing campaign. That means that the full amount must be met or the film will not be made. This film is destined to be made, and you can be a part of it! But don’t wait! With just over one week left, there is not time to waste!

Recap of how you can HELP:

Go to Indiegogo to see more videos and learn more about the film! Everyone else is! (A little crowdfunding humor 🙂 ) But seriously, go now!

About Emily Carpenter

Emily is a Web Whiz, Blogger, Speaker, Student, and Mom. She is the owner of WhizBang! Web Solutions LLC, and the founder of Marvy Moms. She loves working from home so that she can be there for every possible moment with her son, JW. Learning as she goes, Emily breastfed, bought cloth diapers (but never used them), made her son’s baby food, had a family bed for nearly two years, and loves spending time with her son. Emily is a certified Level II Reiki practitioner and offers her services both in-person and remotely to people interested in this energetic healing modality. Emily is currently enrolled as a student at the American Academy of Homeopathy to become a Certified Classical Homeopath and has earned a diploma in botanical medicine at Botanical Medicine Institute. She is also a Certified Aromatherapist, and received her training from Aromahead Institute.