Q & A with Mark and Roma, producers of The Bible miniseries
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Catholic Online has a Q & A from Roma Downey and Mark Burnett, creators of The Bible, an epic miniseries event that will run on the History Channel beginning on March 3. Enjoy the Q&A and be ready to watch or record The Bible when it airs.
LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - Why did you make this series?
ROMA: Our faith is very important to us, and we both love the Bible. We love its stories of love and redemption and God's heart and hope for his people. So Mark and I started talking over breakfast one morning about how someone really needed to bring this love story to the screen, to tell the overarching story of the Scriptures, from Genesis to Revelation. We were excited to be able to bring our combined talents and strengths, creativity and experience to the series, and we were both involved in all areas of making it. This was our first professional collaboration as husband and wife. We worked closely on this for three years, and we're still speaking to each other!
MARK: The Bible is most-read book of all time. It has touched the lives of billions of people across the planet and has significantly shaped history, culture, literature, art, politics and human behavior - and continues to shape the world we live in today. You don't have to believe the Bible to be affected by it.
Also consider how influential the Bible has been on popular culture. Ever heard the phrase "the blind leading the blind?" "Eat, drink and be merry?" "The handwriting's on the wall?" "You're the apple of his eye?" "How the mighty have fallen?" "Out of the mouths of babes?" All of them, every last one, is from the Bible.
ROMA: What we have tried to do is tell the grand narrative of the Bible - in a way people haven't seen before on television. It is a powerful, inspirational, moving book that deserves to be presented in a fresh way through powerful, inspirational and moving filmmaking.
We hope that millions will watch this, beginning March 3 on HISTORY and running for five consecutive Sundays, ending on Easter, for the spiritual refreshment that comes from these powerful stories of faith and love and joy and sacrifice and God's never-ending goodness.
What makes this project unique?
MARK: There's a tremendous legacy of depictions of the Bible, both on the big and small screen, from King of Kings and The Ten Commandments all the way through The Passion of The Christ. Our desire was to tell these unforgettable stories through the use of live action combined with state-of-the-art CGI techniques.
ROMA: We filmed in Morocco because we wanted the feel of the real locations in the Bible, and the landscape there provided it. We augmented that with CGI work in order to render as faithfully as humans can the miraculous power of God. Those who've seen parts of the series have been very gracious and complimentary about how the two approaches have meshed together.
What are your hopes for the series?
ROMA: This will be a success for us if what comes through onscreen is what comes through on page after page of the Bible itself: God's sacrificial love for the world.
MARK: We've been fortunate to be involved in some pretty successful TV shows: "Touched by an Angel," "Survivor," "The Voice," "The Apprentice," Shark Tank." But we know this Bible series will be seen by more people, all over the world and for years to come, than all the shows we've ever been involved with combined.
ROMA: Our prayer is that the dramatization of these stories will drive viewers to go to the Bible itself and drink in the actual text, because it is a book that changes lives.
How did you determine who to consult with on this, and will you talk a little about the writing process?
MARK: There is no shortage of people who know the Bible - chapter and verse - better than we do. That's why we worked from the beginning with scholars, theologians and pastors of varying denominational stripes. With their help and guidance and the expertise of our team of writers, we pray we have captured the heart of the biblical stories that move and inspire so many.
ROMA: We don't claim to be Bible teachers; that's a role reserved for churches and pastors. We simply hope to be Bible illuminators, capturing the essence and inspiration of the Scriptures we love.
How daunting a task was it to take on some of the Bible's best-known stories from Genesis to Revelation?
ROMA: This is a book thousands of pages long, written across centuries. And the more you study the stories, the more you realize the awe-inspiring, complex genius that went into weaving them all together Remember, this is the book that inspired the greatest writers and artists across all history - Rembrandt, Michelangelo, Raphael, Caravaggio, Shakespeare - the list is endless. And now, technology has made it possible for us to visually bring that intricate and extraordinary genius to the screen. It was a giant undertaking, but one we were both excited by and humbled by.
MARK: Obviously we had a great team working with us across the series. Many talented writers, directors, designers and a terrific cast, all of whom contributed so much. To that I'd only add that we simply couldn't have done this without the thousands of people who have prayed for "The Bible" and for us personally. Some of them we have been privileged to meet along the way; others have just felt led to ask God to bless this project. We are so grateful for all these prayers.
I'm sure there were many moments that stand out vividly when you look back on the writing and the series production. What were some of the highlights?
MARK: We've shown parts of the series to faith leaders and others across the country - and a common reaction is how moved people are by the series. People have been moved to tears. They are touched by the sweep of the story, the realism and magnitude of the imagery, the beauty of Hans Zimmer's score and the tender portrayal of Jesus by Diogo Morgado. This series emotionally connects with the heart of the viewers.
ROMA: One of the most moving experiences on set was filming the Crucifixion. Obviously, this is one of the most emotional scenes of the film .I also stepped into the role of the Blessed Mother, which was an incredible experience for me personally to not only co produce this series with my husband but to act in it as well.
What new insights into your faith did you gain from this experience?
MARK: That the Bible is a love story. The story of God's love for his people. We're called to be instruments of that love on earth in the short time we're here.
ROMA: We wrote some books as companions to the series - including a devotional that captures our thoughts and reflections about how making this series gave us a deeper appreciation for the Bible and for each other as husband and wife.
What was the biggest challenge you faced with this project?
ROMA: Finding the right cast, especially the role of Jesus. He had to look strong like a carpenter, because even though he is described as "meek," "meek" is not "weak." He needed to be shown with the human strength of a manual worker but with the compassion and love of the Son of God. He needs to be able to portray The Lion and the Lamb, as Scripture says. And, after much prayer, we found Diogo Morgado, whose portrayal is absolutely stunning.
Was there an instance where you initially envisioned a certain angle to a segment, but when it was under way, you felt led to take a different approach?
ROMA: Whenever we faced a challenge of any kind on set, or any bit of uncertainty on how to proceed, we stopped to pray. We asked friends to pray. God answered those prayers.
MARK: This project started with prayer and was sustained by prayer.
What will your next project be?
MARK: What she said!
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