The latest installment of the Franciscan University Distinguished Speaker Series, Steve McEveety, the producer of “The Passion of the Christ,” spoke to a standing-room only crowd of students, faculty, and community members last week in a talk entitled, “The Passion, Hollywood, and the Church.”
“Never has the world been so dark,” he said. “This is the time to make this world a better place.”
According to a press release from the university, McEveety, who also produced “Braveheart,” “We Were Soldiers,” and “Bella” shared his thoughts about how a rising generation of filmmakers could become involved in that struggle of changing the world for the better and challenged the audience with the idea of making new, great, Christian movies.
Using new technology, “you can make a movie, a good movie, easily. Big studios will continue to make the blockbusters, but we're going to see really great movies coming out by people who aren't well-known to Hollywood,” he said.
He also emphasized that, especially through the internet, it will be easier for the makers of these new movies to spread them, even if they aren't sponsored by Hollywood or shown in mainstream theaters.
McEveety also captivated his audience with stories of the time he spent with Mel Gibson before and during the production of “The Passion of the Christ.”
“It was the hardest movie I ever shot,” he said. “It's a movie about arguably the most important 12 hours of all eternity, so of course we're going to have a lot of problems.”
“The devil was doing whatever he could to mess up the project," McEveety added.
The filming process, an almost completely outdoor activity, was plagued by thunderstorms. Jim Caviezel, who played Jesus Christ, was even struck by lightning, though he miraculously emerged unharmed.
Since no major studio would release the film, the movie's producers had to go directly to the individual theater owners in order to find people willing to show the movie.
Despite these setbacks, the Christian message emerged victorious when “The Passion of the Christ” posted the second biggest opening weekend for an R-rated movie and earned over $600 million. Most importantly, it has had an impact on people the world over.
During the question and answer session following his talk, McEveety predicted that big production studios will probably only produce one or two Christian movies a year, despite the fact that there are many great Christian writers out there. He said “the current system doesn't understand the Christian market.”
McEveety is currently working on two projects,“Left to Tell,” which portrays the true story of a survivor of the Rwandan genocide and a film about Our Lady of Guadalupe.