Bradley E. Wilson and Professor Stanley P. Ferguson, Media Arts
The concept of the research and creative film project revolves around the life changing conversion of John Taylor to the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in April of 1836. The research and pre-development work on this project has opened many new vistas that would have been unreachable had I chosen to create a cinematographic piece on another topic. The Lord has definitely had a hand in the progress of this project.
I first conceived of the idea of recreating Taylor’s story while sitting in a church history course on campus taught by Church History Professor Susan Black. When I heard his story a profound feeling came over me, and I felt I needed to visualize it within the film medium. I quickly approached Sister Black and garnered her approval of the idea. Stan Ferguson, my faculty advisor within my course of study, agreed to assist me in bringing it to fruition.
What I desired most was to portray the events that led to Taylor’s conversion to the Church as accurately as possible. I utilized the archives of the LDS church and scoured for any documents that had any relation to the event. I also sought the assistance of Church history professors, and descendants of John Taylor for minute details that could add to the authenticity of the film. I set about piecing the story of the event together from the various resources I had gathered and created a film treatment in script form, including any dialog that could be found. By this point, my faculty mentor left BYU, and I was left to fend for myself for the time being. I passed the very rough draft of the script off to a couple members of the faculty for a response and suggestion. The Media Arts faculty aren’t particularly interested in encouraging students to create cinematic pieces related to the LDS church (surprisingly), so I figured I’d be going about the project alone.
When getting support almost seemed hopeless, Tom Lefler, the department chair, took some interest in my plight and read over the script. He subsequently passed it on to Ron Munns, a producer for Church Audio/Visual who also took an interest in the concept, noting, however, that the script needed some work. A meeting was later set up at the Church Office Building in Salt Lake City, with the head of the LDS Motion Picture Studio, Bill Schaefermeyer, as well as an audio/visual coordinator for the Church Educational System. That meeting was very productive, and they felt the Church would benefit from a film of this nature, and that it might fit within CES’s curriculum.
The script has undergone many revisions since that time, and the pre-production stage is slowly moving forward. Twenty-four of the finest film students here at BYU have offered to work on the film. Because the film set will be a mentoring experience, I have also found many professional filmmakers to work with the students, to be on hand to assist and teach. Tentatively production of the film will commence in the Spring of 2004.
The theme of the film lies within some of the fundamental principles and doctrines of the Gospel; that of sacrifice, receiving answers to prayers, and the restoration of the Church of Jesus Christ. The mission of Brigham Young University is to “assist individuals in their quest for perfection and eternal life.” To this end, the purpose of this film is to instill viewers with an understanding of gospel principles; principles that will lead them to eternal life. I also hope it will affect people who may be searching for the truth, as John Taylor did, who can relate to his experience, and to inspire them to find the truth for themselves.