Why on earth did Jesus choose fishermen? That was the question on the lips of our crew a few weeks ago when we were in Israel filming our latest blockbuster - "So who is this Jesus?" You don't mess with Galilean fishermen - so trying to direct them during the filming of the `resurrection breakfast' on the shore of Galilee was quite a challenge. Especially as our Israeli translator had difficulty understanding our director's Scottish accent!
The fact that we succeeded in spite of Sadam's shenanigans in Iraq and continuing tension in Israel itself, is due entirely to the prayers of folk back home, and the Lord's timing. During our planning trip some weeks earlier, a bomb went off not half a mile from us - killing two, and injuring many. We first got news of it on our mobile phone from our director's anxious mum in Scotland who'd seen it on breakfast TV - such is the miracle of telecommunications.
And communication is what our new video is all about - explaining who Jesus is to those who've never heard of him, except maybe as a swear word. That's why we took Russell Boulter - well known as DS Boulton on ITV's "The Bill" - to Israel. His direct - no-nonsense approach is just right for the intended audience. With 14 pages of script to learn, the curiosity of onlookers, and a director who was a bit of a perfectionist - he had his hands full.
But good ole Russ came up trumps. We very nearly lost him though. The director wanted him to ride a donkey down a steep hill towards Bethlehem. Well, with no proper saddle he ended up sitting on the donkey's neck - a hilarious sight. But safety comes first (after a few tries) so he ended up leading the stubborn animal towards Bethlehem. Again the timing was perfect - the following day riots broke out there between Palestinian youths and Israeli soldiers - two youths got shot. With so much that could have gone wrong, we were daily surprised at how smoothly everything went - like clockwork. It was also a very moving experience to be making a film about Jesus at the actual locations where he walked - one we shall remember for a very long time.
So who is the video for? Well, as part of a millennium project for schools called JC2000, copies will go to an estimated 13,000 schools in the UK. But we also plan to encourage local churches to use it for outreach in their own parishes.
The video will be distributed in the USA and Canada and we hope many other countries as well, making this the biggest project the CTA has undertaken. It will be about 55 minutes - in three parts and should be ready by the end of March.