Burnett and Downey encourage students
Mark Burnett and Roma Downey, producers of the TV miniseries “The Bible,” shared their experiences about bringing the name of Jesus back on the big screen during Convocation and in a meeting with cinematic arts students Monday, Jan. 20.
“We are Hollywood’s noisiest Christians,” Burnett said. “There’s no doubt about that.”
Burnett described how he and Downey pitched the idea to networks of creating a series that brought the Bible to life. According to Burnett, their idea was labeled as crazy by Hollywood. However, he announced that “The Bible” attracted more than 100 million viewers, and Downey said they know God is moving.
“We have a big platform with what we do for a living, so we have a chance to say a lot about the love of Jesus,” Burnett said.
With the difficulties that come with making a TV series, there was also the challenge of wondering if America would watch, Burnett said. However, he pointed out that he and Downey knew this was their calling.
“(Y)ou can’t pretend you don’t get the calling,” Burnett said. “You know if you’re feeling that. We were feeling that as a couple, and we went out there, and we made it.”
Downey explained how she and her husband spent time praying their way through the entire process of preproduction as well as through filming.
“We felt that it came in as a calling, and so in those moments when we did feel challenged, or we did feel fearful, we trusted,” Downey said. “We trusted that God has us, he held us. And what we didn’t know, he brought the people to us that did know. We’ve heard it said that God doesn’t always call the qualified, but he qualifies the called.”
After Burnett and Downey toured the Zaki Gordon Cinematic School of Arts, they spoke with the school’s students about what it takes to be outspoken Christians
“It really is inappropriate as Christians to make subpar products and to hide behind faith,” Burnett said. “It has to be as good as anything in the secular world.”
Even though it may seem that Christians are scarce in Hollywood, Burnett and Downey have been inspired by the positive feedback they have received, Downey said.
“(We are inspired) with the hunger that there is for hope in our country and in our world, and what a difference that we can make as artists … to hold a light,” Downey said.
On the set of Burnett’s “The Voice,” several of his employees personally thanked his for his work, Burnett shared.
“Fifty people came to me in private … to thank me for putting ‘The Bible’ on TV,” Burnett said.
According to Burnett, people have to be willing to take chances and dive in to make it in the entertainment industry.
“Just praying and having faith and staying seated on the couch won’t get you anywhere,” Burnett said. “You have to get your butts off the couch and do something.”
Junior Nathan Bieri explained that he took away valuable lessons from Burnett and Downey, such as the idea to not play the game if there is a fear of losing.
“His book was even called ‘Jump In Even If You Don’t Know How to Swim,’ and I think that was a perfect picture of Christian filmmakers,” Bieri said. “Why not? Why not just go ahead and jump in when you don’t even know how to (swim) yet.”
With “Son of God” coming to 3,000 theaters Feb. 28, 2014, Burnett and Downey announced for the first time a video competition to create an election campaign-themed trailer for the movie. The winners will be flown out to the set to be able to experience Hollywood.
To be a part of the competition, visit Sharesonofgod.com.