Big Book Media

We hope you enjoy reading our blog from Big Book Media, we write from our shoots in Morocco where we are currently filming the Gospels. We have been out on three shoots already and the footage is up on our website - We are going on our next shoot shortly so Shoot Four News will be along soon.

In the meantime we have details of what we are doing in the UK between shoots, we have an office in Brighton where the blog comes from when it's not from Ouarzazate - two very different locations!

Thanks for reading.

Big Book Media

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Filming the Gospels

Filming the Gospels
The Team in Ouzarzazate, Morocco

Friday, 15 January 2010

The Cross

Hi Trevor here with my next lot of news from the shoot. We have been extremely busy here in the last few days, which has been an emotional roller coaster, from Jesus' glorious entry into Jerusalem to the the dark crucifixion.

We started
on the Monday of week two in Morocco, by shooting scenes not in chronological order. So first we filmed Jesus being given his cross and forced to carry it to his crucifixion. There was some really great acting, particularly by those in the scene where Jesus meets the woman on the way to the cross. The scene was shot in the picturesque village of Ait Ben Hadoun, build almost entirely of mud and straw bricks, dating back centuries and a UNESCO world heritage site. The streets made an excellent Jerusalem!

On Tuesday we had some more peaceful scenes to shoot. The day began on a road lined with palm trees; we were filming Jesus' triumphant entry into Jerusalem, surrounded with people waving palm branches as Jesus rode a donkey into the town. We had a slight problem in that the donkey wasn't at all keen to walk on the cloaks laid down by the crowd for Jesus to pass over (as specified in the Gospel). It seems that donkeys won't walk on unfamiliar surfaces, so it just walked round the cloaks to avoid stepping on them! Being notoriously stubborn animals we really struggled to get the donkey stepping over the cloaks. After that we filmed Jesus walking with his Disciples, walking was their main form of transport, the footage will come in handy for between scenes.

The days here just seem to fly by and before long it was Wednesday, a big day for all of us because we were filming the crucifixion. I guess none of us were looking forward to filming this particular scene and several of us got little sleep the night before. Anyway the day came, the extras arrived in costume, three crosses had been made up on the hill over our Jerusalem and a crane was built to allow eye level shots of Jesus on the cross.
When it came to it the day wasn't as feared, although the focus was purely on Jesus' suffering we were all so busy working 110% to get the shots done before the sun went down we didn't have time to lament. We absolutely needed the second film unit to get all the shots and it took all our 'English' politeness not to ruin shots on our lists. We finished with just a few minutes to spare, it was a very intense day but not one I will forget!

We have just a couple more shoot days left now before Shoot Three is over and we head back to the UK for the editing and post work on what we have shot. We have had two editors out on this shoot - Tim and Ben who have been working on the film as we make it, we have a lot of editing work to get this film ready in time for Easter which is an early March Easter this year and will hopefully be back out in February to carry on filming and then will need everything ready for the beginning of March on our Website.

It's going to be a very busy couple of months coming up for the Big Book Media office and Post Production team.

Well that's all from me again for now, Trevor.

Tuesday, 12 January 2010

Arrested Development

Hi all, Trevor here with another blog from Morocco.

We've had an interesting few nights here trying to film against the cold, wind and dark but have managed to get some really great scenes done.

On Thursday afternoon we filmed some lovely donkeys, including a baby donkey, for a scene where the disciples collect them for Jesus' triumphal entry into Jerusalem, we remember this every Palm Sunday. The donkeys didn't seem to mind being filmed
and loved being fed in between each shot.

The shot on the left is a couple of our 'actor' donkeys!

The following night was an evening shoot with Jesus under arrest by the temple guards, who take him to the High Priests house. It's amazing how much work and attention to detail goes into every shot, braziers were lit, the set dressed and the lighting arranged which all takes hours before the filming even begins. It was then time to film Peter's denial of Jesus, I have included a photo of the actor, who was superb.

On Friday we went to a location where we filmed scenes of Jesus and the Disciples at the Garden of Gethsemane. This is where Jesus goes to pray just before his arrest. The Disciples fall asleep whilst Jesus is praying. Selva's portrayal of Jesus' agony as he prayed was electrifying and all the more impressive because the weather was so representative of the mood of the scene.
Selva being arrested in his role of Jesus in the photo on the left.

We were
approaching Saturday with some trepidation, putting more and more layers of warm clothing on, the night shoots have been really cold - once the sun goes down in the winter here the temperature drops a surprising amount. Luckily Saturday night wasn't so cold as previous nights. We filmed the arrival of the temple guards, coming to arrest Jesus. The scene where a kiss is used by Judas to betray Jesus was quite moving and touching, both know it's a moment of treachery.

So we have now been out filming three nights in a row, in some quite extreme weather conditions(well compared to the weather of previous shoots, pos not quite as extreme as the snow that has fallen over the UK for days now).
I have been seriously impressed by the determination, commitment and professionalism of the crew and cast who get truly great shots even when the conditions are very difficult.

Lastly I thought you might enjoy a picture of me, in suitable local attire for a cold night!
I'll be back with news of the rest of the shoot in a couple of day.


Wednesday, 6 January 2010

When Doves Cry

Hi all, Trevor back with some news from days two and three on BBM Shoot Three.

Day Two started very early for me with a 6.00 am start, but at least I have remembered today that I need my warm clothing. I have been limping a bit from my accident yesterday but thankfully it is nothing serious.
We started filming at 7am today with Khalid a famous actor in Morocco who is playing King Herod in our films. He is a huge star in Morocco and can't walk down the street for people asking him for autographs and to have their photo taken with him, he bears it all with good humour.The photo on the above left is Khalid in costume.

Today we are filming Jesus before King Herod being mocked by the soldiers, crowned with thorns and beaten. David the Director is trying to tread the
line between pretending the violence didn't happen or focusing on it in a sensational way. I think he has got the tone just right, but it was never the less really disturbing to witness the sheer brutality of what happened to Jesus.

Day Two was a truly great day for me - I can really see how filming brings these readings to life. We started with Judus betraying Jesus, I got some good photos of money falling into a purse which was the thirty pieces of silver that Judas got for betraying Jesus.
The photo above is Selva playing Jesus and on the right are three of our crew on the track and dolly on set.
Then the highlight of the day was a huge scene with lots of extras, Jesus enters the temple and drives out the money changers.
Imagine the scene - tables with piles of coins, baskets of doves, clouds of incense and lots of people. Jesus arrives and is angered by the business taking place in the temple, reserved for prayer. He overturns the tables full of money, doves are set free and pandemonium breaks out, the priests are furious and the crowds are entranced by Jesus' presence and teaching.
I hope the scene is as powerful on screen as it was to watch live.
We also filmed Jesus teaching in the temple, a parable or two and Jesus in the famous scene saying 'render unto Caesar' or similar modern words.
We have a night shoot tomorrow so most of us are getting an early night to conserve energy.


Tuesday, 5 January 2010

The New Year and Shoot Three Both Begin!

Hi all, Trevor here out on Big Book Media's third shoot in Morocco. I am out again on set as theological consultant on the shoot. We began our filming yesterday - most of us arrived out on 3rd of Jan with David the Director, Ben the Director of Photography and Deane DTI all flying out on 1st January to prepare for the start of shooting yesterday.

On this shoot we are filming the Passion - the last week of Jesus' earthly life,
from the events of Palm Sunday, through Holy Week, the Last Supper, the Crucifixion to the Resurrection. There's a lot to film and we only have 12 filming days so it's going to be a really busy couple of weeks for everyone on the shoot.

Selva Raslingham our British actor who plays the part of Jesus in our films is going to have a really demanding role this time on this shoot as he will be playing Jesus going through some of the worst experiences a human being can suffer.
I expected it to be cool in Morocco at this time of year, but I am surprised to find that it's really quite cold (especially if you compare the weather to what it was
like on our first shoot where we had temperatures of 45 degrees). On this shoot we are all wearing jumpers, overcoats and hats until the sun comes up and warms the day up a bit. Mind you given that it is snowing heavily over most of the UK it is much warmer than that here!

Today we fi
lmed Jesus dragged before Pilate by the chief priests. We started filming early and were on the set by 7.30am. We filmed this scene at the Atlas Studios. Morocco has been a film making destination since the Italians first came here in the 1920s. In Italian cinema the voices and sound effects were added after the shooting so the low costs, great weather and beautiful light made Morocco an idea place to make films. Since then all sorts of sets have been built here and several studios opened. Combine that with the fact that large areas of Morocco have no electricity pylons, satellite dishes and other accoutrements of the modern western world and you have a great place to shoot period dramas. Many Biblical films have been made here as well as films such as 'Gladiator' and 'The Mummy Returns'.

Today's scenes include lots of extras, people for crowds, soldiers, temple guards and priests. They all take quite some controlling and that is the job of the first Assistant Director (1st AD) who shouts the orders for the set to fall silent and for people to take their place.

Now I have a confession to make, I nearly halted shooting today by falling through the set! I was about 30ft above the ground on top of what seemed to be a solid wall, trying to get a good photo with my new camera when the floor gave way and I fell up to my waist in what is the cavity between two walls. I managed to get out and then looked inside the gap and there was a 30ft drop so I had a very lucky escape, I'll have to be more careful in future.

Well that's it from me for today, hope you've enjoyed hearing about our first day on set and I will write again with more shoot news soon. Trevor