For the past two years, a Church-owned movie set near Goshen, Utah, has served as a backdrop to some of the most pivotal re-creations of New Testament events. The official production schedule for the Church's New Testament Bible videos is now complete.
During the final few days of shooting in late May, the crew shot footage of young Jesus teaching in the temple, the stoning of Stephen the apostle, the journeys of the apostle Paul and many others. Scott Smiley, director of the Film and Video Division of the Church said, "I think it is exciting to know that the Church is putting this much effort into providing people with great media that they can use in their homes, in their Sunday School classes and share with their neighbors."
A tremendous amount of work went into the production of the videos. Actors from across the world got involved and experts were consulted for even the finest of details. S. Kent Brown, a professor of Ancient Scripture at BYU with specialties in the New Testament gospels and early Egyptian Christianity, was consulted about everything from set design to costumes.
"Yesterday (May 21) we were filming Paul's last trip to Jerusalem," said Brother Brown. "The question came up from wardrobe about what the crowd at Passover should look like. I suggested that if part of the crowd was traveling all the way from Judea, they would most likely be well off because the trip would cost money, and they would most likely stay in Jerusalem the week of Passover. Therefore the Judean travelers should be nicely dressed."
The average person might miss some of the details on sets that were carefully planned, but minor details were well thought out and researched. For example, in the Court of the Women set there are Ionic and Corinthian columns constructed. Brother Smiley explained that at the top of the Corinthian pillars are capitals that were designed after pillars found in Jerusalem during an archaeological find. They ended up in a British museum, and that's where researchers for the movie set studied them. "Those type of pillars haven't been seen in a structure for over 2,000 years," said Brother Smiley. "That's my favorite part of the set."
A special spirit is felt on the movie set located about 55 miles south of Salt Lake City. It was dedicated before filming began. Brother Smiley said, "As I walk around the set I point to places and say, 'That's where Gabriel appeared to Mary, and that is where Jesus talked about the widow and her mites. And right there is where Jesus turned water into wine.' For me it has been an opportunity to feel like I am witness to each of those occurrences, which has been absolutely wonderful."
Brother Brown also felt inspiration at the movie set. "As I have been involved on set with the filming I sense very much that Jesus was always prepared. And He had thought through what was ahead of Him. When a question, issue or objection was given, He knew what He was going to do. He was thoughtful about His work and was ready with an illustration or story. As I watched some of the scenes that were filmed, that impression just grew into me," said Brother Brown. "I have read the account of Stephen's stoning several times. A few days ago they filmed that. It was stunning stuff. I think when it is complete, people will be impressed with his message. This is a stunningly lovely place."
Traditionally a movie set is torn down after filming is complete. "Absolutely not," said Brother Smiley. "We built this like you would build a house. There may be opportunities to do other media such as the Old Testament or parts of the Book of Mormon." Projections for the structure estimate a 20 to 30 year lifespan. The set is not open for tours or to the general public.
The Bible videos online library is accessible at lds.org/bible-videos.