Jerusalem West: Ancient Israel comes to Goshen

LDS Church film set brings Jerusalem to Utah desert

Published: Monday, Aug. 1 2011 10:00 p.m. MDT

"You have no idea what it took to get the Jerusalem white limestone color right," Uibel said.

The result is stunning, with walls and columns that are lined and cracked, detailed rosettes with carved patterns ("straight out of research," Uibel said) that look appropriately time-worn, and steps made of "stones" that are perfectly imperfect – rough and uneven – just as they would have been in Jesus' Jerusalem.

"We've had a lot of people working very hard for a long time, through all kinds of weather, to make this facility truly realistic, and worthy of the message of the life of Jesus Christ," Uibel said.

Although the set is not scheduled for completion until later this fall, enough of the facility is complete that shooting can begin on the life of Christ vignettes next week.

"We've been planning for this for so long, it's a little overwhelming to think that we're almost ready to start shooting," Uibel said. "Our cast is set, the extras have been lined up, the director and cinematographer are here on-site looking at locations. This is really going to happen."

Uibel said shooting on the 35 vignettes should wrap by the first of October. Then next year production focus will shift to another series of vignettes on the life and mission of the New Testament apostle Paul.

"There's so much that we can do here," Uibel said as he stood on a hill overlooking the set. "With just a few little tweaks we can do Old Testament stories, Book of Mormon stories, anything that needs this ancient look and feel."

With this set in place, "even a short Mormon Message can be shot here inexpensively."

And what if Hollywood hears about this unique new film-making facility?

"They've heard," Uibel said. "Word has leaked. And there has been interest. But right now we have only one mission here: to create a body of work that we can draw from that absolutely speaks to every aspect of Jesus' life."

"We follow the teachings of Jesus Christ," said Elder Lynn G. Robbins, an LDS Church general authority and executive director of the Media Services Department. "One of the main purposes for constructing the Jerusalem Motion Picture Set is to help the world better understand the life and ministry of the Savior Jesus Christ."

EMAIL: jwalker@desnews.com

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