Education Week: Life behind the silver screen

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Filmmaker T.C. Christensen discussed his career as a director and cinematographer at Education Week on August 21. (Cristina Bolaños)

T.C. Christensen, a cinematographer and director for religious films, encouraged Education Week attendees to record miraculous moments seen in their personal lives.

Christensen described his career working on and creating movies for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints as a rare opportunity to represent his faith through his love of film-making.

Christensen opened by showing a short film he created called “A Pioneer Miracle.” The story was about his great-aunt whose life had been saved as a young girl when she nearly fell into an icy lake with her little brother. In the film, Christensen’s great-aunt was saved by an unseen hand.

“I don’t expect you to run off and make a movie of the miracles that have happened in your family,” said Christensen. “But I hope you write them down.”

Christensen noted he has the gift to bear his testimony through his movies. He described the set of “The Testaments,” which he worked on as cinematographer. Christensen discussed the emotion felt by the crew during the religious film’s production.

In one scene in the movie, Jesus Christ appears to a group of people from ancient America and shows the wounds in his hands and feet. The assistant director told the extras — who were members of a local ward near the set — to react as they would if it were really the Savior speaking to them.

One woman during the scene reached out for Christ’s hands and collapsed in sobs, Christensen said. He also mentioned feeling a strong spirit on set.

“The Testaments” featured a cast comprised entirely of members of the Church. President Gordon B. Hinckley made a special request that no actors be hired from any regular agency, which gave Christensen the opportunity to speak in familiar church terms with the actors.

Christensen also shared other stories about his job, which has taken him all over the world.  Christensen said his work carries meaning to him thanks to the many relationships he has built throughout the years.

“I’m old, fat and bald, but I love getting up each day and making movies,” said Christensen as he was asked about his favorite part of the job. “It’s like living in a sandbox.”

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