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On September 3, after several years of preparation and production, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints took the wraps off its new series of videos based on various stories in the Book of Mormon. At a long-awaited Media Day, reporters, photographers, TV news crews and writers representing media from the Provo Daily Herald to The New York Times were invited to the Church’s Motion Picture Studio in the Provo River bottoms to see a large authentic Nephite town on the backlot, to interview cast, crew and Church leaders, and to watch an actual scene of King Noah’s court being filmed in the studio.
Beginning September 20, the Church will be releasing one short video per week on its websites and a new Book of Mormon Videos YouTube channel. The videos will be from 12 to 24 minutes in length. Additional videos still in production will be released later. The films cover major stories from the Book of Mormon, and will comprise a “media scripture library” in addition to the New Testament videos that have already been released. Individuals, families, and teachers are invited to use the videos in their personal and family Gospel study, and in Church classes.
The New Testament videos and these new Book of Mormon videos will be incorporated into the Gospel Library app as additional content within the footnotes of the scriptures. The Church plans to coordinate the release of many of these videos with next year’s Come Follow Me curriculum for the Book of Mormon. Because the fourth season has not yet been filmed, the coming of Christ to the Americas will sadly not be ready for next year. After they produce season four of the series, they will regroup and decide if they will produce a fifth season of video content.
Church Media Director Bill Elliott said, “We’re looking to create a stock footage library of scenes from the Book of Mormon, as well as telling the stories and teaching the doctrines of Christ with this media.” Brother Elliott, who has worked on the project since its inception, described the impact that filming has already had on the cast and crew. “When we were shooting King Benjamin’s address, everyone could feel the Spirit. As we turned the cameras on the people listening in the fields, we didn’t have to give them any direction. There were tears in their eyes as they fell to their knees and felt in their hearts the message of Christ. The characters we’re portraying here with actors were real people who lived here in the Americas in ancient times.” While the scripts of the videos are true to the text of The Book of Mormon, in some cases additional dialog has been given to the characters in order to have them speak more naturally. Watch the video below for Book of Mormon Central's interview with Bill Elliot.
Bill said that in keeping with the Church’s position of neutrality regarding the geography of the Book of Mormon, cultural motifs and artistic representations in the movie sets, props, and costumes were carefully researched and combined from the histories of several different lands and peoples. In addition to the Motion Picture Studio in Provo, filming has been done at the Church’s backlot in Goshen, UT and at locations in Hawaii and on the coast of Oregon.
Newspaper reporter Elizabeth Harris of The New York Times came from the east coast to attend the Media Day. “I’ve been extremely interested in the major film production efforts that your church has done,” she said. Adam Anderegg, who has directed many of the Book of Mormon videos answered, “we believe that we’ve been commanded to take the message of Christ to ‘every kindred, tongue and people,’ and this is an excellent way to do that.”