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Jon Erwin Discusses Filming the Baptism Scene

A New Beginning / Greg Laurie
The Truth Network Radio
July 22, 2023 3:00 am

Jon Erwin Discusses Filming the Baptism Scene

A New Beginning / Greg Laurie

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July 22, 2023 3:00 am

Jon Erwin discusses filming the baptism scene for Jesus Revolution.


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And now I am very happy to tell you that the director of the film, John Irwin, is here with us today at church. John, come on out. Hey. There he is.

Ok. Hey guys. John, first of all I want to thank you on behalf of our church for making this film. You know, it's been a real gift to all of us because you not only told the story, or a part of the story, the Jesus movement, but you told our origin story. How our church came to be. How I came to faith. How Kathy came to faith. And we're thankful that the world can hear this story and see it.

But I think the thing that seems to resonate with people, and I've talked to so many who've asked me about this, are these baptism scenes. Let's talk for a moment just about what happened on that particular day at Pirates Cove. As you recall, it was very cold that time of the year. Wasn't it February when we were shooting?

I think it was into March, but one of the things that we were most afraid of was the temperature of the water because we couldn't extend the filming into the summer. So Jonathan Rumi, who obviously plays Jesus in The Chosen, also in the movie, he was praying for a heat wave over and over again. And then this heat wave hit, and it was too hot, and it was going to shut the film down. I'm like, Jonathan, you're too close to God.

You need to tone it down. And so we filmed, and I've never had an experience like that on a set before. It felt very much like it did yesterday. And were a lot of you there yesterday? By the way, I was there, my wife who's here, Beth, was there with me as well.

We wouldn't miss it. And we're just so grateful to have been there. And that same feeling that you felt on the beach yesterday, we felt while filming the movie. And it was just the most magical day of my career.

And I remember Jonathan came up out of the water, and he was like, I'm doing it just like Greg taught me. I'm doing all the baptisms just like he taught me, saying the prayer just like he taught me. But this is real.

These are not movie extras. People keep coming to me saying, I'm being baptized for real. And he's like, I'm a method actor, I'm doing it just right, but I want to make sure because this is getting serious.

And then I think Dave Mann, who I saw yesterday as well, we put him out in the water. He's like, you know how to baptize people. And he came out, and he's like, I just think the Spirit of God is here. And if you stop the filming of the movie, and we had a service, there would be a huge response. I'm like, we can't do that.

The sun's setting, man. We've got to film a movie. But I just think you feel that in the movie.

And it was the most powerful day by far of my filming career. So when Joel Courtney, yes, when Joel Courtney, playing me, is baptized, let's tell them how that scene was shot. So you remember he goes out into the water, and Lonnie says to him, are you ready to decide? I'm not sure.

Yes, I am, he says. And then they pray. And after they pray, and he goes in the water, he starts sinking. Okay, so tell us about how you shot that scene where he's sinking under the water.

Well, it was what we call day zero on a movie, meaning while we were prepping all the gear, sometimes you can film something before you start. And so I wanted to, I mean, what an incredible idea. I was raised in the South, in the buckle of the Bible Belt, Birmingham, Alabama, raised Baptist, and so I feel that sometimes you get so accustomed to things that you forget how magical they are.

And baptism, I think, is one of them. I was baptized when I was five years old, but what an idea, you know, the idea of death and rebirth and renewal and just being washed clean and everything that you're struggling and carrying, you know, stays in that water. I mean, I need that, you know, what an incredible idea. And so I'm a filmmaker, you know, that's the gift that God's given me. We all have gifts, and the idea is to use those gifts for God's glory and to be part of something bigger than yourself, which was how I felt yesterday.

By the way, what a gift, thank you. Several people that I met there yesterday were saying I was baptized here today because I saw the movie, and that's just such a gift, and I'm grateful that you guys did that. But with the baptism, I thought, how do I illustrate that concept visually? And I thought, well, what if we did something sort of poetic? And so the idea of him sinking into the water and then swimming back up to the surface, it was very sort of visual poetry. I didn't quite know if it would work, but also this was Joel's first day. And so I'm like, welcome to Jesus Revolution.

We're going to try to drown you here today. And I'm a diver, and so I was down in the water with him and hadn't been diving in years and trying to position him just right. And he was doing a great job, and we'd get him right in place and then run air to him so he didn't drown, and then we'd roll the camera. But I think it plays really well, and hopefully it gives you a visual representation of the idea of renewal and rebirth, which is, I think, such the essence of Christianity. Yeah, it was our hope that there would be a moment in the film where a person could be watching and actually accept Christ.

I mean, in a film, it's a work of art. You can't just start preaching the sermon to the audience, but in a way you can in other ways. And I think you, with your creativity, found a way to convey visually what salvation is like by doing that scene of Greg being baptized and going down like he did.

And we don't know all these details. We just know what we feel and experience, and that people connect because we all remember the day we were baptized. But then so many people seeing that scene said, I want to be baptized. We heard stories when the movie was playing in theaters of people like going out in the middle of the night down to Pirate's Cove. It was on a TikTok video, and baptizing each other. We heard another story about people getting baptized in the fountain outside of the theater. They were really moved by this. I've never seen anything like this. This is not just a movie, John. This is just something that God is using as a powerful tool to touch people. Because, you know, movies go all around the world.

They're our second largest export, as you often say. And you do that. So many people ask with Christian movies or faith movies, are you preaching to the choir?

I'm like, no, no, no. The choir is the voice that launches the movie. There's this amazing thing called FOMO, or the fear of missing out, and it drives entertainment.

Gen Z would call it the zeitgeist. And what happens is, just like Jericho, the last step in the walls falling down, Jericho was, everyone unified their voice at the same time. When we do that, and we make something successful, as we did, it triggers America's second largest export, which is entertainment. So now the film is going all over the world. We're not paying for the film to be in Brazil.

Brazil's paying us. And so is Mexico, and so is Netflix. And you did that. When you championed the film, and our voice was so loudly heard, and it's happening again even this weekend with this movie, Sound of Freedom, there's a whole other round of headlines that are just like the faith audience.

You know what? Deadline, the trade publication Deadline, said I think two days ago, maybe the faith-based audience is the missing link to the post-pandemic box office, and maybe this is the answer. Our voice is being heard loudly, and there's never been a moment in entertainment in my lifetime like this where Christianity is just making a comeback. And you're doing that with Jesus Revolution. I get the privilege of taking it all over the country, and the thing that's happening after the movie is people just want to get baptized. And it's happening all over the nation, and it's starting to happen all over the world. And you may not know this, the most recorded baptisms ever in the history of America, at least by the largest denomination in America, Southern Baptist, was 1972, which was the culminating year of the Jesus Revolution.

And so, God willing, my prayer has always been, can that record be beaten, and can there be more baptisms again in America this year or next than there was then? And so it's just so cool to be a part of yesterday and to see that begin to happen. Well, again, thank you for this movie. Thank you for all that you do, being a voice in Hollywood, for the gospel, but producing films with beautiful artistic integrity.

That's one of the reasons people like to watch them, and it's a perfect blending of both. So we're thankful for you, John, for your brother Andy, for your company, Kingdom Story Company, and all that you're doing. So let's thank John again. God bless you. Thank you guys. God bless you. Love you guys.
Whisper: medium.en / 2023-07-22 04:33:55 / 2023-07-22 04:38:20 / 4

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