From Producer Suzanne Ross of the Raven Foundation
I met James Alison in 2005 at a conference devoted to exploring the work of René Girard. Girard’s approach to biblical interpretation informs James’ understanding of the violence in the Scriptures and at the cross. As we discussed James’ ministry, he mentioned that he had a dreamed of getting his Jesus the Forgiving Victim curriculum into a video format. He had been teaching it in various locations from England to Australia and as the course took twelve weeks, that was a severe limit on how many places he could teach it in one year. To make it possible for more people to participate, video seemed like the answer. When my husband Keith and I formed the Raven Foundation a year later to raise awareness of Girard’s insights, we began the process of exploring how we could help with James’ project. Having no experience in film or video curriculum, we took about three years to find the right team that oozed with talent, were local to Raven (Chicago) and could work miracles within our budget. Filming began in March 2010 with a 10 day shoot with James, followed by two more two week shoots in March and September 2011. In between James’ visits, we shot biblical reenactments and began editing in earnest in January 2012.
All the filming, set design, costumes and even the snacks on the set were made possible by generous grants from Imitatio. We are so grateful for their support and trust in us that we could figure out how to be producers! We benefited from working with very talented actors, camera and sound crew. Gerard Jamroz, our director, knew just how to coach along his novice star and producers through the wild, artful world of filmmaking. Maura Junius, Raven’s Marketing Director, just happens to also be an excellent costume designer and seamstress and she created all the wonderful costumes we used to recreate the bible stories. This project was hard work and lots of fun and we are so pleased to finally be at the point where we can share Jesus the Forgiving Victim with you!