After our fantastic program at Wycliffe Bible Translators, we went ‘next door’ (as the crow flies, but about a mile drive), to the CRU headquarters. CRU stands for Campus Crusade for Christ International… CRU is the force behind The Jesus Film Project. The Jesus film is a 2 hour dramatization of the biblical account of Jesus’ life, taken from the gospel of Luke. The film was shot in Israel, with a cast of over 5,000 Israelis and Arabs. Originally done in English, it began showing in theaters in 1979, and is now dubbed in 1700 languages, and has been shown in every country.
On the CRU campus, there is a long, wide hallway dedicated to informing people about the Jesus film. 45 minute, guided tours are given daily at 10:30am, 1:30pm, and 3:00pm.
We got a fantastic tour guide on his last day before leaving to become an assistant pastor at a nearby church. He told us the background of the Jesus film, then we watched this fun and humorous short film on the making of the film and how they dub it into other languages. It’s not a cheesy makeover like you see on many voiced over films, but is painstakingly scrutinized and tweaked until it looks like the actor and the voice are one and the same.
After we watched the film, our guide asked who wanted to be a famous actor and do the voice over for the film. Joel’s hand popped up, and he was called up on stage. Our guide explained how the voice actors are chosen in another country and all the process that goes into getting them, and a place to record, ready to make the voice/lip synchronization. They only use locals so that even the accent is right on (we learned over at Wycliffe that for some tribes, if the accent is off and sounds like a neighboring tribe that they are at odds with, or just not exactly like them, that the people might not think the message is for them,or they might just not listen to,or watch, a film because it is for (or of) that other tribe that they are at odds with) ; sometimes it can be quite a challenge to record in some of the remote areas and third world countries.
We were told about the work that goes into getting good sound quality, and how it is easy in some places, but in others, the 2 man team that goes in to work with the voice actor, sometimes have to build sound rooms out of mattresses (if that people group even has mattresses! – they often have to do some very creative impromptu).
Our guide explained how each different piece of equipment worked, and told Joel how it would work for his voice over. And Joel did great, and had a lot of fun, and the rest of the visitors were so nice – one guy even asked Joel for his autograph! LOL!
Joel could watch the film (same as on the screen) on the little monitor on the top right (looking at the pic) of the stand, to watch the lips of the actor -then he would voice over (but still in English 😉 ), and make his voice match the lip movement of the actor while he read the script. The staff was impressed by how well he made his voice match the lip movement, and it was pretty funny to watch the film and hear this little boy (well, to his momma he is)’s voice coming out! ROFL!
Joel even got a DVD of his voice over to keep! <3
Then we learned about the numbers of heart languages, and that the Jesus film has been translated/voiced over, into 1700 of those nearly 7,000 languages. We were shown the progression of technology and how technology has made it so much easier (and in some cases just possible) to take the movie into remote areas. This little player (on the tripod) is solar powered, and it and all the accessories needed to show the film to a group of 50, fit into a small camera-bag sized case. The larger projector, folding screen, player and speakers, to show the film to a group of 500, fits into a backpack!
The Wall of Honor told us about some of the people that have died while working on some aspect of sharing the Jesus film with others… Then we watched another short film that had footage of people actually watching the film for the first time ever. Some had never seen a movie in their lives. Some of the people thought it was like a stage, some thought it was happening right then, just somewhere else (like live TV); it was incredible to see their expressions – it also made us understand how hungry for the gospel people in other places are. So often, here in America, the gospel is mocked, and it is very difficult to get others to hear it, but in some other countries, people are waiting to hear it with open minds, but no-one is telling them. The footage here was both funny, and really sad (there are tissues under the seats 😉 )… The Jesus film has been translated into over 1700 languages, which means there are still about 5,000 more to go…At the end of the tour, there is a very small gift shop that sells the few movies that CRU puts out in their Jesus Film ministry. Most of the films (maybe all?) were only $5, and they even have edited down the original Jesus Film into a shorter version for children. When you buy the Jesus Film, it comes with 16 different languages, so you can watch it in another language (or all 15 others) to see how well done and original looking and sounding the dubbing is! There were several different stations here where you could learn more about the project,
or about the many 2 week mission trips that are available to go on to help show and distribute the film, and work on discipleship with the peoples. CRU has a passion for reaching ALL people with the gospel through The Jesus Film.
You can learn more about The Jesus Film Project at JesusFilm.org, you can like their page on Facebook, and yes, there actually IS an app for that at JesusVideo.org, where you can watch parts or all of the video.
If you have the ability to visit Orlando, spending time at Wycliffe and CRU would be a fabulous, one-of-a-kind experience. One with eternal implications as it is likely to change who you are and how you view the world around you.