RELIGION

Filming Underway For Season 4 Of The Book of Mormon Video Series

Aug 16, 2021, 12:28 AM | Updated: 12:35 am

SPRINGVILLE, Utah — Millions of people worldwide have watched the Book of Mormon video library produced by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

“I, Nephi, having been born of goodly parents,” is where both the scripture and the videos begin.

The first installment debuted in 2019, depicting stories from first Nephi.

Now, production is in the fourth of five seasons.

“We’ve learned a lot of things. We’ve refined our team,” said Aaron Merrell, producer of the Book of Mormon Visual Library.

He described the set, which depicts the ancient land of Bountiful after the crucifixion of Jesus Christ.

“Just a couple of months ago, this whole area was a cattle field,” said Blair True, the director.

The videos were filmed near Springville, Utah, where production staff constructed an outdoor set, depicting a temple in a land.

“These artisans have done a great job in preparing what we believe is, is the closest representation that we can think of, to what it may have looked like,” said True.

This season focuses on the most climactic events from the Book of Mormon: Another Testament of Jesus Christ, Merrell added.

“This is really the climax of the Book of Mormon,” he said. “This is what it all comes down to, is Jesus Christ among the people.”

A number of Church leaders visited the set to watch filming and thank the cast and crew for their dedication.

Elder Dieter F. Uchtdorf and his wife, Harriett, expressed gratitude for their professionalism.

He explained why so much effort is going into these videos.

“As we share the message of the gospel of Jesus Christ with the world, we need to realize that people often prefer to learn via visual impressions and virtual means,” said Uchtorf. “We see this across the globe — with Facebook, Instagram, and other social media — when missionaries and members use these technology tools wisely to touch the hearts of the people with the beautiful gospel message.”

“Many, many people bring this together,” said Jean B. Bingham, Relief Society General President. “And what’s the purpose? To help people to understand the Book of Mormon and the power that it has in our lives.”

“It is the high point,” added Elder Legrand R. Curtis Jr. “Jesus coming and visiting the Nephites.”

In 3rd Nephi of the Book of Mormon, the resurrected Jesus Christ visits the people — the Nephites — on the American continent.

Sister Reyna Aburto shared her feelings of being on the set.

“For me, it has a special meaning, because I’m from Latin America and I believe that this is the story of my ancestors, so I feel privileged to be here and be part of this,” she said.

With such a large cast, it takes a host of professionals to get everyone ready for the set.

“We do them one by one, right?” said Becky Swasey, head of the make-up and hair department. “There’s a lot of them today — we have 300.”

More than 1,000 actors, staff and crew members are working together to bring these stories to life.

“We have had the most marvelous experience this year with those that are extras,” explained True. “They come to us from many parts of the country, with very little experience, but what they bring, the most important thing they bring to the table is their testimony of the Savior.”

Elder Curtis said, “It has been just wonderful to see the women and the men of The Book of Mormon come to life.”

Cast in the role of the resurrected Jesus Christ is Anthony Butters from New Zealand, a newcomer to acting.

“I was cast before COVID, so I’ve had the script for like a year,” he said.

Each day, Butters spends two and a half hours in make-up.

Swasey said she loves the challenge.

“Getting Jesus ready is exciting and also humbling because you sit and you watch a human being, trying to portray someone that they feel is their hero and is my hero,” she said.

Butters said, “I feel like I know him personally, so I am essentially mimicking the Savior that I know in my life.”

“We have had many scenes where we have had a child just reach in and take his hand,” added True. “The children are the best ones on the set — they’re so authentic, everything they do is real.”

Brianna Villasmil plays one of the extras.

“When they asked me to do it (touch Jesus’ hand), I was so excited!” she said. “It just feels like the Holy Ghost is there!”

Sister Aburto is hopeful that these new videos will be widely viewed, just as the early ones have been.

“I’m so excited that a lot of people in the world will be able to look at this Testament in this visual way and be closer to Jesus Christ because of that,” she said.

The first episode’s debut is set for fall of 2022 and will be published in 15 languages.

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Filming Underway For Season 4 Of The Book of Mormon Video Series