Four Things CR&W Program Graduates Say Have Helped Their Careers

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Four Things CR&W Program Graduates Say Have Helped Their Careers

So you think you might be called to pursue a master’s degree in cinema, religion, and worldview (CR&W). But maybe you’re still wondering: how will this help my career? We’ve chatted with a few of our former students to help you out. Here are four things that CR&W graduates say helped their careers.  

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Discover New Opportunities
Right now, our university is collaborating on an international documentary project with Hope Media Europe. The project is connecting current CR&W students, and program alumni with people around the world who are producing new, relevant Adventist films. Graduates from our program are uniquely qualified to make films for positive change, and they have connections who want to do the same.

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Upgrade Your Skills
Technology is a fast-changing field. If you work in film, or have a media ministry, it takes work to keep your knowledge up-to-date. The CR&W program is a great way to explore cutting-edge storytelling methods. You’ll learn about VR filmmaking, web ministry, and cross media storytelling, in addition to more established film techniques.

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Sharpen Your Resume
Some jobs require a master’s degree to apply. Others look for advanced degrees for pay raises or leadership opportunities. A grad degree is more than just letters after your name, of course. But in today’s competitive job market, letters can help you to stand out.

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See the Big Picture
This degree teaches more than surface-level skills. It prepares you to examine a story through your audience’s eyes. After thinking so intentionally about your stories, you’ll have a deeper grasp of the purpose of your projects, and you’ll be better prepared to lead.

Send us an email to learn more, or click below to fill out an application. There’s no cost to apply, and you’ll get in touch with people who can answer your questions.


Our Program
The master of arts in cinema, religion, and worldview is designed for filmmakers, pastors, and communicators who feel called to tell stories that create change. Students in our two-year hybrid program spend two weeks each summer in on-campus intensives, and the remaining time learning online, so you can continue to earn while you learn. Check out our student films, and view our program curriculum to learn more. Apply now for the summer 2019 cohort and we’ll waive your application fee.


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Four Reasons Filmmakers are Joining our Cinema, Religion, & Worldview Program

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Four Reasons Filmmakers are Joining our Cinema, Religion, & Worldview Program

So you’re a filmmaker and you believe in telling stories that matter. Would a degree in cinema, religion, and worldview (CR&W) be a good step? Here are four things that filmmakers in our program have found helpful.

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1. Know if You’re Reaching Your Target Audience

Classes like “media, culture, and worldview” and “Christian mission” will equip you to choose a target audience and to craft the right film for that audience. And classes like “research methods” and “communication theory” go even deeper into audience research. You’ll know who you are talking to.

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2. Join a Supportive Network of Mentors and Connections

Want a bigger challenge in one of your filmmaking courses? No problem. The teachers in our CR&W program are available for one-on-one mentoring, and are often willing to adapt coursework so it’s relevant for you. They’ll be a great resource long after you graduate.

The classmates in your program are a treasure-trove of talents and collaborative ideas, plus, the school brings in guest film professionals! The author of this article has just been asked to direct and produce a large-scale documentary thanks to connections made in the CR&W program.

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3. Make Your Films

Our program works for any filmmaker who wants to create positive change. Whether you aim for social change, to re-invent gospel outreach, or simply to be a positive voice on set, a clear understanding of your message, plus a caring support team can do wonders for your film career.

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4. Gain a Deeper Understanding of Story

One of our program’s strongest themes is crafting a meaningful story.  In our foundational theology class, for example, filmmakers learn about the early myths of different cultures, and their impact on stories today.

“This program is really about telling stories that matter,” said student Josie Henderson. We couldn’t have said it better ourselves.


Our Program
The master of arts in cinema, religion, and worldview is designed for filmmakers, pastors, and communicators who feel called to tell stories that create change. Students in our two-year hybrid program spend two weeks each summer in on-campus intensives, and the remaining time learning online, so you can continue to earn while you learn. Check out our student films, and view our program curriculum to learn more. Apply now for the summer 2019 cohort and we’ll waive your application fee.

This article focuses on filmmakers as part of a three-article series. You can also read articles with insights for communication professionals and pastors.

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Four Things Communicators Learn in our Cinema, Religion, & Worldview Program

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Four Things Communicators Learn in our Cinema, Religion, & Worldview Program

So you’re a communicator who’s passionate about film, and you want to do something new for God. Is a degree in cinema, religion, and worldview (CR&W) your next step? Here are four things that communicators who love film have gained from our CR&W program.

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1. In-Depth Filmmaking Courses

We teach you to craft a cinematic story. In “narrative screenwriting” you’ll dive into the structure of scripting. In “redemptive cinema,” you’ll study successful movies made with important topics. And a series of in-depth film production classes will give you hands-on experience and useful feedback on the filmmaking process. 

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2. An Understanding of Different Audiences and Cultures

Classes like “Christian Mission” or “Spiritual & Social Influence through Media” will explore the ways that different cultures communicate and the stories people tell. These classes will build on your communication training and help your films and new media projects to reach different age groups, interest levels and cultures.

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3. Networking Connections

The teachers and guest presenters in our CR&W program are experts in their fields, from filmmaking and communication research to multicultural gospel communication and theology. They’re available for one-on-one mentoring, and are often willing to adapt coursework so it’s relevant for you.

Plus, the classmates in your program are a treasure-trove of talents and collaborative ideas. They’ll be a great resource in your classes, and after you graduate.

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4. Masterful Storytelling Skills

The storytelling skills you’ll learn in our program are just what you need to create positive change through film. Whether you aim for social change, to re-invent gospel outreach, or to make another kind of positive film, a clear understanding of your message, plus a caring support team will take you a long way.

“This program is really about telling stories that matter,” said student Josie Henderson. We couldn’t have said it better ourselves.


Our Program
The master of arts in cinema, religion, and worldview is designed for filmmakers, pastors, and communicators who feel called to tell stories that create change. Students in our two-year hybrid program spend two weeks each summer in on-campus intensives, and the remaining time learning online, so you can continue to earn while you learn. Check out our student films, and view our program curriculum to learn more. Apply now for the summer 2019 cohort and we’ll waive your application fee.

This article focuses on communication professionals as part of a three-article series. You can also read articles with insights for filmmakers and pastors.

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Four Tools Pastors Gain in our Cinema, Religion, & Worldview Program

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Four Tools Pastors Gain in our Cinema, Religion, & Worldview Program

So you’re a pastor, and you want to do something new in for God. Can a degree in cinema, religion, and worldview (CR&W) help your ministry? We believe it can. Here are four ways that our CR&W program connects your gospel ministry to our media-centered world.

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1. Skills to Connect with Today’s Audiences

Whether you feel called to reach cross-cultural audiences, or post-modern young adults, classes like “media, culture, and worldview” and “Christian mission” will uniquely prepare you to evaluate and understand your audience, and to craft the right story. All people will hear is the good news. 

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2. A Support Network that Shares Your Passion

The teachers and guest presenters in our CR&W program are experts in their fields, from filmmaking and communication research to multicultural gospel communication and theology. They’re even available for one-on-one mentoring.  

And your classmates are a support network you can connect with, even after you graduate. You’ll have brothers and sisters who share your ministry passion, and want to collaborate with you.

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3. Relevant Evangelistic Techniques

If film is the future, then the future has already arrived. To reach people today, our program will teach you the language of film. From hands-on film production classes like “script to screen” to “redemptive cinema” a study of uplifting, successful films we’ll prepare you to share the gospel with a media-literate world.

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4. A Bridge Between Theology and On-Screen Storytelling

The CR&W program is interdisciplinary: it’s shared between the communications department, and the school of theology. You’ll learn from experts in both departments.

Whether you want to reach people who aren’t ready to visit a church, or to inject new life into an existing congregation, this program’s focus on the intersection of cinematic storytelling, cultural perspectives, and Biblical theology will uniquely equip you for your journey into the media mission field.


Our Program
The master of arts in cinema, religion, and worldview is designed for filmmakers, pastors, and communicators who feel called to tell stories that create change. Students in our two-year hybrid program spend two weeks each summer in on-campus intensives, and the remaining time learning online, so you can continue to earn while you learn. Check out our student films, and view our program curriculum to learn more. Apply now for the summer 2019 cohort and we’ll waive your application fee..

This article focuses on pastors as part of a three-article series. You can also read articles with insights for filmmakers, and communication professionals.

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3 Signs You Might be Called to Join the Cinema, Religion, and Worldview Master's Program

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3 Signs You Might be Called to Join the Cinema, Religion, and Worldview Master's Program

You’ve seen the ads, and you’re starting to wonder: Is a master’s degree in cinema, religion, and worldview right for you? Let us help you out. Here are three signs you might be called to join our cinema, religion, and worldview (CR&W ) program.

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1.     You’re a storyteller.

In our CR&W program, we’ve had pastors, writers, filmmakers, photographers, and even a musician …But they all loved to tell stories. Sound familiar?

As a kid, did you jump at the chance to tell a story to your family and friends? Did you comb your backyard with a camera for the perfect shot? Did you love to get lost in a beautifully crafted movie or book? You might have grown up to be a preacher, or a vlogger who speaks to audiences directly. You might like to stay behind your camera, or type stories into your computer. Either way, there’s a place for you. In our CR&W program, we’ve had pastors, writers, filmmakers, photographers, and even a musician. Some had lots of experience, some were just getting started. But they all loved to tell stories. Sound familiar? If so, you’ll fit right in.

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2. You believe in the power of film.

“Photography is truth. The cinema is truth twenty-four times per second.”

“Photography is truth,” wrote French filmmaker Jean-Luc Goddard. “The cinema is truth twenty-four times per second.” If you think that truth has power, if you believe film can bring positive change, then you think like a CR&W student. And to create change through cinema, you’ll need to understand the language of film, the origins of the stories we tell, and the way different audiences will interpret your stories.

Is God calling you to use film’s power for good? Only you know. But if you do hear that call, remember, you don’t have to find your way alone.

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3. You want to do something new for God.

If you can’t squeeze into a standard career mold, don’t stress.
God’s plan for you doesn’t fit in a box. Be who you were made to be.

Ever been jealous of doctors, nurses, or teachers, not because you want their jobs, but because there are so many places they can use those gifts to serve God? For visual storytellers, it can be a little harder to find where you belong. But don’t worry. Paul, in the Bible, wrote that the body of Christ has all different gifts and talents.

Whether you’re a writer or filmmaker who wants to make a difference with your gifts, or a pastor who wants to reach on-screen audiences for Jesus, there’s a place for you. If you can’t squeeze into a standard career mold, don’t give up. God’s plan for you doesn’t fit in a box. Be who you were made to be.


Our Program
The master of arts in cinema, religion, and worldview is designed for filmmakers, pastors, and communicators who feel called to tell stories that create change. Students in our two-year hybrid program spend two weeks each summer in on-campus intensives, and the remaining time learning online, so you can continue to earn while you learn. Check out our student films, and view our program curriculum to learn more. Apply now for the summer 2019 cohort and we’ll waive your application fee.

 

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Summer Intensive Schedule

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Summer Intensive Schedule

The 2018 Summer Intensive is coming up soon for our grad students, and they can look forward to some excellent classes this session. If you're in the Walla Walla area, Expect to see our students on campus the last week of August and first week of September.

Community Members: Come meet our students, and hear from guest speaker Kyle Portbury, the Director of the Tell the World film. Kyle's presentation will be 3 p.m. on Sabbath, September 1 at the College Place Village Church.

New students will take the famous Christian Mission class from Paul Dybdahl, a favorite from our past cohort. They'll also have a graduate seminar with our beloved Program Director, Lynelle Ellis.

Graduating students will finish up their degrees with a class in the power of narrative story telling from theologian Dave Thomas, and an Editing and Post Production course with expert filmmaker Jerry Hartman.

Thanks for supporting our students!

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Three reasons why I joined the CR&W program

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Three reasons why I joined the CR&W program

Hi everyone, it's Rachel again. 

Lynelle Ellis, the program director, has asked me to to tell you why I signed up for a Master of Arts in Cinema, Religion, and Worldview. Several people have asked Lynelle if a traditional master’s degree is worth the time and money. And since I asked the exact same question before I signed up, she's hoping I'll share my story.

Should you join this MA program? I don't know. No degree is for everyone. But I do know that this was the right degree for me. I almost didn’t give it a chance, but I did, and I haven't regretted it yet.

Can you learn filmmaking from other routes besides traditional education? Yes, of course you can. Is a degree from Walla Walla University going to teach you everything there is about filmmaking? No, of course not. But here are three reasons why I believe this program is worthwhile:

1. Potential employers will view you as leadership material
 I worked in the media department of a larger corporation before I joined the CR&W program. And I wasn't treated well. My supervisor had a graduate degree, which is probably why he was given the leadership role. Unfortunately, he was low on leadership skills, and on low filmmaking skills besides.

An advanced degree doesn't change everything about you. It didn't make my supervisor into a leader. But if you feel called to lead, you may need a graduate degree to get that chance. I realized that, without a master's, employers wouldn't consider me for leadership positions. And even though I haven’t quite finished my degree, it has already opened doors for me.

2.  The expert teaching and mentoring will do wonders for your skills
I started this program with undergrad degrees in both religion and communication. Because of how closely those two degrees connect to the topics in the CR&W program, I expected to already know quite a bit of the material. But I was wrong.

This graduate degree is flexible enough to allow students to specialize, and deep enough to add to your knowledge, even if you're already a specialist. The small class sizes allowed teachers to assess what I knew, and then they challenged me to learn more. I've grown in this program, and so have my classmates. Even those whose starting skills, and end goals, may have been different from mine

Jerry Hartman, one of the excellent professors, has tailored several hands-on film assignments to my skill level, and rounded out my visual storytelling skills. I believe that the one-on-one mentoring I’ve gotten from my teachers has been as much worth the tuition as the in-class material.

3. You will meet industry professionals, and make connections with similar goals
Before taking this degree, I felt called to tell visual stories and create positive change, but I felt very alone in my goals. I wasn’t sure if there was a career path for me. But in the two years I’ve spent studying here, I’ve met classmates who care about the same things as I do, and I've already connected with many of them for work opportunities.

I’ve gotten loads of great career advice from my professors, who are experts in their fields, and some of the guest speakers have given me the exact advice I needed to help me discover the next step to my career. Because of the knowledge and connections I've gained in this program, I have plans, not just dreams. 

Could I have done everything on this list without a formal education? Probably yes, but it wouldn't have been easy. And I don’t think I could have done it for less money, or in less time than I spent on my my CR&W degree. 

Getting a master's degree is a big decision. And when the opportunity first landed in my inbox, I didn't give it serious thought. It sounded like a great idea, for someone else. Don't make the mistake I almost made. Take some to think and pray about your options. And if you think an MA in Cinema, Religion, and Worldview is right for you, then fill out an application. I'll be praying too.

Love always,

-Rachel

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Israel #13: Going Home

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Israel #13: Going Home

On our last day in Israel we woke up early to get one last shot by the Sea of Galilee. We balanced on the charcoal-colored boulders to film blue waves against green reeds. Then we packed up, and drove away from the bright colors of Galilee. Back to the Dead Sea, where we’d started.

As we got into the car, something glinted on the ground in front of me. A ten-shekel coin. I looked around, but no one was nearby, so I put it in my pocket. My new lucky charm.

We had one more scene to record at the Dead Sea – the one that had been interrupted by a storm weeks ago. It took a few tries, since the sun was so high, but we made it work. We found a stretch of beach where the sand was darker and didn’t reflect as much light into Carl’s eyes.

Aran explained that this sand was a different color for a reason. The area was full of unusual geological formations, and there were sinkholes right under the sand that would open up and swallow us if we put a foot in the wrong place. We all carefully followed Aran, single file, until he stopped.

“Is it safe to film here?” I asked, pointing to the flat spot where we were standing. We were about fifty feet from an open pit in the ground.

“It’s OK,” Aran said. “Just don’t stomp your feet.” We stepped as gently as we could until the scene was done.

During the Dead Sea scene, the light changed from sunny to cloudy every few minutes, and not far away, someone turned a power saw on and off at random intervals. It took a while to get a clean take. “This is our last one. We didn’t think it would be easy, did we?” I joked.

Finally, after far too long, we finished our scene at the Dead Sea – our last talking scene. Amazed that we’d come this far, I snapped a quick photo of the team, and we headed back to the van.

The plan was to grab one more B-roll shot of the markets in Jerusalem, and then maybe buy a souvenir, before driving to the airport. Aran warned that Jerusalem would be more crowded than usual. It was a national holiday, and the US embassy would be moving to Jerusalem the following day. We had all afternoon, though, to manage the delays. How hard could it be?

In Jericho, we stopped for a bathroom break. A Bedouin man and his well-trained camel were lounging in the parking lot. “I know this camel,” Carl said “It’s a very good camel.” He and Aran talked with the camel’s human, and he agreed to have the camel kiss me on the cheek while they took photos.

“Do you want to ride on the camel?” The Bedouin man asked.

“How much for the ride?” I didn’t have much Israeli money

“Just ten more shekels.” He grinned. Stunned, I reached into my pocket and pulled out the ten-shekel coin. It was almost too much. God had given us everything we’d asked for and more. We’d finished the project when we never thought we could. And now, he’d given me a camel ride, and the coin to pay for it, just for fun.

Then, we were in Jerusalem again. It was a very different place then it had been a few days ago. Many of the shops were closed and locked. It took some time to find a place where we could film. Then, as we headed back to the van, a horde of celebrating demonstrators flooded the streets.

 People of all ages were singing, dancing, and waving Israeli flags in a swirling mass of blue and white. A circle of boys held hands and shouted a Hebrew song at the tops of their voices. A group of younger girls danced in another circle, just down the street.

 More and more people rushed into the center of town, shouting, singing, and wearing flags like capes. Though I knew the political environment was tense, in that moment I was swept up in the sheer joy of the hundreds around me. There was so much energy everywhere. I felt like dancing too.

We had to get back to the van, though, and that would not be easy. The streets were clogged with people. We chose a side road that seemed less crowded, and made our break.

In one narrow place, the crowd was so thick that no one could move – we were jammed against each other like sardines. “All push together!” Some stranger shouted. I leaned on the unknown woman in front of me. Someone I didn’t know shoved my back, and together we popped out into the wider section of the street.

“They were so happy! I loved their excitement!” I gushed to Aran, as we piled back into the van.

“Yes, there is that level of it,” he said carefully. “But there are other levels too. There is more than you see.” I nodded. It was probably best that we were leaving that night. A lot could change the next day.

We bought ice cream bars at a convenience store, and drove to the airport. There was a quick blur of re-packing a suitcase, transferring new files, checking in, and rushing to our plane, just in time. Then, we were in the air, leaving the place where we’d made a lifetime of memories in the blink of an eye.

We shouldn’t have been able to finish our checklist. But we had. So many things had happened, our goodbyes had been so fast, and now the lights of Israel were disappearing below us.

I was in Israel for twenty-three days. Three million heartbeats. Forever. No time at all. Exactly as long as God needed to do something amazing.

And while I was there, I learned that God isn’t limited by what’s possible for me. I learned that the safest place on earth is the place where God wants me to be. And I learned a little bit more of what God made me to do.

Three million heartbeats put more in my heart than I will ever be able to say.

Love always,

-Rachel

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Israel #12: Cursed City 

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Israel #12: Cursed City 

In our filming near the sea of Galilee, we visited two of the ruined towns where Jesus spent most of his ministry. In Capernaum, we saw the ruins of the house where Jesus likely lived, and filmed the gorgeous white limestone synagogue. 

Next to all the grey stone buildings in Galilee, the light-colored synagogue gleamed in the sun like a palace - a little piece of Jerusalem. Aran explained that people in ancient communities put a lot of time and money into their synagogues. 

Underneath the stone floors of excavated synagogues, archeologists often find a smooth bed of coins, instead of the sand used in other buildings. The coins were invisible once the synagogue was finished, but it was another way to make the place of worship special.

Capernaum is right on the seashore, which was a good thing. The site is considered too sacred for anyone to talk on-camera inside, so we had to film Carl talking outside, and the sea made a perfect backdrop. 

We also made several trips to another place where Jesus often went. The ruined village of Korazim, or Chorazin, as it’s often spelled in the Bible. There are a handful of grey stone houses, and a lovely synagogue that have been excavated for tourists to visit, but Korazim was actually much larger. The green hillsides all around the tourist area are dotted with the stone tops of un-excavated houses. 

Once, Korazim was a city. Both it and Capernaum were built near a trade road, and saw plenty of traffic. There was a reason that Jesus frequented these cities as he taught and healed. But today, Korazim is just a empty shell.

A large sign in the center of the excavated town mentions this verse:

“Then Jesus began to denounce the towns in which most of his miracles had been performed, because they did not repent. ‘Woe to you, Chorazin! Woe to you, Bethsaida! For if the miracles that were performed in you had been performed in Tyre and Sidon, they would have repented long ago in sackcloth and ashes. But I tell you, it will be more bearable for Tyre and Sidon on the day of judgment than for you.’" 

Jesus cursed the town of Korazim, the sign explained, and it still stands empty today. In Jerusalem, Jesus said that the stones would cry out if the people kept silent. And in Korazim, now they do.

We got some beautiful shots in Korazim. The tall green grass was a bright contrast to the muted stone walls. As we worked, the day when the embassy moved to Jerusalem got closer, and we heard that tensions were still high in the Golan heights, but things were largely quiet in the valley.

When we finished filming in Korazim, we had only one day left on our trip. We planned to pick up a few shots at several different locations, including Jerusalem as we headed to the airport to fly home.

Our last day in Jerusalem was the day before the new embassy opened, and it was an exciting one.

Love always,

-Rachel

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Israel #11: Nighttime Explosions

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Israel #11: Nighttime Explosions

The night after our tense day in Katzrin, I slept like a rock. In the morning, several crew members asked me if I’d heard explosions. I hadn’t heard a thing. But later, Aran confirmed that Iran had fired 20 rockets into the Golan Heights during the night.

“The missiles were intercepted. No one was hurt,” Aran said Later, we learned that some of the crew had actually looked out their windows and seen the distant missiles exploding in mid-air as Israel intercepted them. And I’d slept through it all.

The next day, school was open again. “They are sending a message. It’s business as usual.” Aran said. So, we went about our business as usual. We drove to our next location – the ruined city of Gamla.

Gamla, stands on a tall hill that looks like a Camel’s hump. Jewish rebels built the city on a hill and defended it against the Romans. When Roman troops finally broke through the walls and swarmed the town, the Gamla residents choose death before capture, and jumped off the top of the mountain.

This location was a great example of the beauty of the Golan heights. It was green and lush, and covered with crumbling stone houses, almost like the countryside in Ireland. Among the houses was a ruined synagogue, one of many we filmed on our trip.

While at Gamla, we were reminded of the ongoing military situation by a distant hum of drones, and by a surprise when I turned on the microphones. At one point, my headphones filled with the sound of Morse Code, or some other transmission. I didn’t know what it meant, but I still wasn’t sure I should be listening. Then, abruptly, the noises stopped.

Gamla was a challenge to film because a road had been covered by a recent landslide, and we had to hike up, over, and down the adjacent hill in order to reach the famous mountain. Carl counted 1,300 steps. It was steep, and real work in the heat.

At the end of the day we were short on time. This park had a definite closing time, and we were late, so we tried to hurry back to the van The result was a group of red-faced and overheated people, gasping for air as we drove away. I wanted to chat with Carl about logistics as we drove, but instead I found I needed to lie down on the seat for a few moments until my vision cleared.

We had a few more hours of daylight left, so we visited Umm El Kanatir again, and filmed a few more scenes by some of the ruined houses there. Umm El Kanatir was exciting because we often heard jackals, screaming on the hillside, when sunset came.

This day, at Umm El Kanatir, we struggled to record clean audio because of military drones, and some sort of vehicle that was driving back and forth on a nearby ridge. We guessed it might be a military ground patrol.

As it got dark, the team headed back to the van, but I stayed behind to record the silence, since the military sounds had died down for a moment. I sat, perfectly still, as darkness fell around me. If I moved, I’d disrupt the audio and have to start over. The wild hills of the Golan Heights are beautiful at sunset, but after a minute or two, I started to think of the jackals, and wish I had sat with my back to a rock. The hair on my neck was prickling a little when I finished recording.

It was dark, we’d worked until the end, but we had finished our filming in the Golan Heights. And not a moment too soon. That same day, an advisory went out to US citizens requesting that they not travel in the Golan Heights area.

I couldn’t help but notice God’s timing once again. We would stay in the valley by the sea for the rest of our trip, but we had made it. Just in time.

Love always,

-Rachel

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Israel #10: The Paralytic

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Israel #10: The Paralytic

We had an early morning planned at the reconstructed village of Katzrin. At just after six, we were waiting in the parking lot, but we couldn’t get inside. The manager that Aran had asked to unlock the gates, wasn’t there. Aran quickly dialed the man’s number and had a brief conversation in Hebrew. He lowered the phone with a wry smile.

“He is coming now,” Aran said. “The schools are closed. The bomb shelters are open. He did not call us because he was sure we would not be here.”

In a few minutes, the manager arrived, and opened the gates. Gary, Oswaldo and I headed to the house where we’d be filming the healing of the paralytic.  

The house had a loft, and Oswaldo climbed up the ladder to shine a light down from above, since we wouldn’t be punching any real holes in the roof.

The extras arrived soon after, and Aran spirited them away to get costumes. In a quiet moment, Aran pulled me aside. “Some of the actors today are Orthodox Jews,” he told me.

“Will they be OK with the story?” I asked. We are filming a story about Jesus, which was definitely not a part of orthodox tradition.

“Yes, they want to do it,” Aran responded. “Some of them have traveled for hours on the bus from Jerusalem. Just,” he paused. “Try not to ask the orthodox actors to do anything that is a big part of the story. Let them stay in the back”

I bit my lip. “Sure.” We had gotten in all kinds of scrapes so far, but I really didn’t want to add insulting anyone’s religion to the list.

But Aran was right, as usual. The actors were incredibly excited to be there, and committed to telling the story, even though it was one they didn’t know. I decided to unfold the story as we went along.

“This man is a teacher,” I said, pointing to Amir in his Jesus robes, “You are listening to him speak, when suddenly something starts to fall on your heads, and you look up to see what happened.”

Aran translated for me, and we guided the crowd into position around Amir. It was a good icebreaker scene to start with. A young man in the loft threw straw and dirt onto everyone’s heads, and they practiced their shocked reactions.

With the group more relaxed, we moved into more serious territory. Amir helped me to lay out a dummy stretcher on the floor, and we laid a young actor on it. He did a excellent job of choosing a position for his paralyzed character and sticking with it.

Now came the heart of the story. “This Rabbi says to the man on the ground, ‘Your sins are forgiven.’” I told the actors. A young man in the front row frowned.

“That’s right,” I told the crowd. Do what he just did. You are all surprised and angry, because no one should say that to anyone.” We shot several scenes with the obliging crowd frowning angrily at the out-of-line statement.

Bomb shelters and danger were mostly forgotten as we focused on our scenes, but on break, an American-Israeli actor approached me. “Do you hear that,” she asked? A slight whine pricked at my ears. “That’s a drone.” Her forehead wrinkled slightly. “This is first time since I moved to Israel that I’ve really felt afraid.”

Soon break was over, and it was time for the next part of the story. Using Oswaldo’s light from the loft, we illuminated Jesus from above, as he bent over the paralyzed man. The effect was a lovely glow behind his head, almost a halo, and the actors crowded around to see it on the camera monitor.

“Now,” I told the young man on the mat, “Amir is going to tell you to ‘get up and walk.’” We talked though the process a little, but he didn’t much help. He was impressively convincing in his role.

As the young man rose to his feet, the crowd was unusually silent. I supposed that, after I’d instructed them to frown at Jesus’ comments, this might not have been what they expected to happen.

Standing there, in the middle of that crowd who hadn’t known how the story would end, I understood it a little better. Anyone can say “your sins are forgiven,” and no one believes it. But when a paralyzed man stood up and walked, people paid attention.

The actors had a wonderful time. In fact, we had a hard time convincing them to go home when the scenes were over. These stories hadn’t been from their religious tradition, but they had still poured all their energy into making the scenes beautiful. I was thankful for that.

“You’ll notice that everyone was calm today,” Aran said when we got home. “There could be missiles, or trouble, but people here have seen it before. They don’t panic.” It was true. Our large group of actors had come to help us, despite the unusual circumstances.

That night, I fell into bed so tired, that I was sure nothing was going to wake me up. And nothing did. The rest of the crew, however, had a bit more excitement.

Love always,

-Rachel

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Israel #9: The Golan Heights

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Israel #9: The Golan Heights

The next day we drove to the Golan Heights. The mountains above Galilee are so beautiful and green that the Israelis sing songs about them. Aran even taught me one, in Hebrew!

Our first stop was an impressive reconstructed synagogue at a place called Umm El Kanatir. Aran, who loves archeological details, explained the cutting-edge technology that had guided its rebuilding.

The excavators, he told us, had found an entire synagogue, collapsed after an earthquake long-ago. But no one had reused the rocks, so all the pieces were still on site. To learn what the building had looked like in its prime, they’d buried a microchip inside each rock that they unearthed.

When all the rocks were found, archeologists had used a computer program to digitally piece the rocks together, like a three-dimensional puzzle. Once they had a digital blueprint, they’d been able to reassembled the actual synagogue, and now we were standing inside it.

The final product was impressive. Rows of towering basalt pillars lined the walls, delicate carvings adorned window and door frames, and an elaborate arch, covered with ornate reliefs, marked the place where the Torah scroll would have been kept.

We filmed some beautiful shots inside the synagogue, and also noticed that the Umm El Kanatir grounds were covered with lush plants and dotted with ruined stone houses, a great filming location for us, if we needed an extra site later.

A rainstorm chased us out for part of the day, which was frustrating, but it was really a gift in disguise. Because we’d been rained out, we got permission to visit our location for the following day, and got ahead on some indoor scenes. And since the next day was a long one, those extra scenes kept us on schedule.

The location we visited was Katzrin, an ancient village with houses like the ones in Jesus’ time. One house was fully rebuilt, thankfully with a roof, and we filmed inside as the rain rushed past the windows.

We were glad to see what the house was like, because the next day’s reenactment scene had more actors than any other scene on our trip.

We were filming the healing of the paralytic, and we had invited fifteen people to ensure a properly crowded atmosphere. It was easier to plan now that we’d seen the house. So the rain was a good thing, even if we hadn’t been too grateful when we were sprinting to our car covering our cameras.

That night, as we got ready for our reenactment at Katzrin, Aran sat down at the dining room table. “There is something you should know,” he said.

Tensions were rising, since the US embassy was moving to Jerusalem on Sunday. The bombing threat was so high, now, that the government had closed down the schools, and instructed its citizens to open their bomb shelters.

I learned that bomb shelters are required by building code in Israel, so every house has one. Ruthie, the kind hostess at our guesthouse, told us her shelter was under the stairs, if we needed it.

We didn’t really talk about it much. Everyone was so focused on the filming that we just pushed everything else out of the way. “No time for fear now.” Said Amir. “We have work to do.” It was what we were all thinking. We could have stayed home, but bombs could find us at home, or at work. And we were finally on schedule – one skipped day of filming, and we’d never catch up in time.

I didn’t give much energy to worrying about bombs – it didn’t seem like it would do any good, and I was stretched to the limit with directing and a few other hats. But I spared one moment to take it all in and realized that, oddly, I wasn’t afraid at all.

I’m sure the adrenaline had something to do with that, but there was more. I had seen God do so many impossible things by then that there was no doubt left in my mind. I was supposed to be there, in Israel, on that day. Yes, it was dangerous, but an adventure always is. We were meant to be there. And this was an adventure that none of us would forget.

Love Always,

-Rachel

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