Stories from the Book of Mormon are coming to life in a new live-action video series being produced by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Filming is underway in Utah on the project and is expected to take up to six years to complete.
Church leaders hope the Book of Mormon visual library will bring people closer to God and Jesus Christ, help them understand the doctrines taught in this book of scripture and inspire people to live better lives.
“The Book of Mormon is indeed another testament of Jesus Christ and therefore at the very center, even the keystone, of our faith and religion,” said Elder Christoffel Golden of the Seventy and executive director of the Priesthood and Family Department.
“This would never replace reading from the Book of Mormon,” said Blair Treu, who is directing the first two episodes. “We want these [videos] to be entertaining. We want these to be engaging. It’s just that there’s a different goal in mind. We’re trying to communicate a very important story with iconic characters that we all know and love, and we’re trying to do that in a way that reaches people.”
“We are producing, directing and acting in such a way that we hope the videos draw people to the book to read in more depth what they have seen,” said Elder Kim B. Clark of the Seventy.
“This project has really brought the scriptures more to life,” expressed producer Aaron Merrell. “These events happened to real people. They went through these real hard times, real challenges, real experiences. It’s just fantastic to see it all come together, to see the crew working so hard, the cast performing so well. There’s just a lot of passion and love for the project.”
The Book of Mormon videos feature a diverse cast of men, women and children. “We have emotional experiences. We’re not just people who have memorized words,” explained actor Rick Macy, who plays Lehi, an ancient prophet who leads his family out of Jerusalem. “I’ve learned so much more about Lehi and I’ve taken him for granted forever, and now he’s probably one of my most favorite prophets for what he had to go through,” said Macy. “I’m interested in him as a man.”
Jackson Vanderwerken makes his film debut as Lehi’s son Nephi, a prominent figure in the Book of Mormon. “It’s like living the life of someone we always read about.”
Tatum Chiniqui, who plays Nephi’s wife, said, “We’re creating something that’s so special for so many people and something that I’ve read about since I was a little girl, and now I can make it come to life, make it real and relatable. … I hope people can learn from this family.”
Sister Aburto added, “This project will help women today see themselves in these accounts in which women and men counsel and work together through trials and personal journeys of faith.”
In addition to the main roles that have been cast, the 2017 production includes 150 extras, five camels, four donkeys, goats, sheep and horses. Producers have also worked to make the sets realistic by gathering authentic props and set pieces from around the world. Casting information is available online.
“It’s not glamorous at all,” said Becky Swasey, who has been on the film set to oversee the actors’ hair and makeup for the production. “It’s hot, and there are snakes and scorpions and sunburns and wind and no shade, but it is amazing.”
The first Book of Mormon videos are scheduled to be released in the fall of 2018. Portions of the project will be filmed in various locations in North America. The videos will cover elements of about 60 percent of the chapters in the Book of Mormon.
The new Book of Mormon videos will be similar to “The Life of Jesus Christ Bible Videos” that were completed in 2016. When finished, this Book of Mormon visual library will include up to 180 video segments three to five minutes in length, as well as up to 60 more running 10–20 minutes each. Producers are keeping the script close to the scripture text of the Book of Mormon, but some dialogue has been added to help tell the book’s stories.
The Book of Mormon video series is being filmed in English but will eventually be available in additional languages.
The videos will be available on a new Book of Mormon Videos YouTube channel, LDS.org, Mormon Channel platforms and existing Book of Mormon and Gospel Library apps for use in Church classrooms, in missionary work and in Latter-day Saint homes for personal and family viewing. The footage and high-resolution images will also be available for noncommercial projects by request.
Aleah is a graduate of Southern Virginia University, where she studied English, Creative Writing, and Dance. She now works full time as a marketing and product manager, writer, and editor. Aleah served a mission in California and loves baking, Lang Leav poetry, Gaynor Minden pointe shoes, and Bollywood movies.