By guest blogger: Fernando Camilo
I recently had the opportunity to visit the Jerusalem Movie Set, the newest addition to The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints’ film production sets. The set is located about 70 miles south of Salt Lake City, literally in the middle of nowhere. It was built to be the new filming spot for The Life of Jesus Christ: Bible Videos, a gift from the First Presidency of the Church to the world.
The Church-owned farm was carefully chosen by Media Services Department producers and approved by the First Presidency to be the home of the remarkable movie set. Initially, the production team had considered filming locations as far as Morocco, but after extensive search, Goshen turned out to be the ideal spot for the production.
The large set feels more like a miniature Jerusalem than an actual movie set. Everything in it was so carefully designed and crafted that at times I felt like I had not only been transported to the ancient land but also traveled 2,000 years back in time. Although the set was not dressed for shooting, it was still impressive. The unmistakable scent of manure was a constant reminder that you were certainly not in Jerusalem, but it definitely didn’t detract from the experience. Everything from doorknobs to staircases was masterfully built to reproduce the Holy Land perfectly. Wood columns made of Styrofoam and fiberglass-covered props easily fooled the eye. In fact, much of the set didn’t seem fake to the touch either. Everywhere you looked was picture perfect and undoubtedly a cinematographer’s dream.
Perhaps the most spiritually enlightening part of our tour was the walk down to “Gethsemane” and later on to “Golgotha” where the three infamous crosses still stood from last year’s filming of the Savior’s crucifixion. Although the grove wasn’t made of real olive trees and the crosses weren’t consecrated by the Master’s blood, the sense of reverence still permeated the spot.
Visiting that incredible movie set has been one of the highlights of my Church employment so far. Being a part of this project has been an incredible blessing and I sincerely hope more and more people will take advantage of these beautiful videos.
Shooting will resume this summer and Bible Videos will eventually become a large collection of vignettes about the life of the Savior, containing over 100 videos relating the story of his birth, ministry, death, and resurrection.
Below are pictures I took during my visit to the set, as well as pictures from the actual videos available at BibleVideos.org.
Note: The Church is looking for background actors for additional New Testament stories to be filmed during July and August of 2012.
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