Subject: Mormon Temple Film Production
Date: Mar 11, 2009
Author: Ken Taylor

The following is posted here with the permission of the author, who posted it on another board today:

I work in film production, and worked on both temple films when they were re-made. The first we filmed entirely on stage at the LDS Motion Picture Studio in 1988; the second was filmed out on location in 1990.

The studio built a complete film processing lab in order to avoid outsiders seeing the footage when the film was processed. It was an astronomically expensive undertaking, and for a number of years afterward they kept the lab running to process church stuff, but eventually the costs WAY outweighed the benefits, and they have since shut it down (smart since everything is moving digital anyway).

There are at least three of us who worked on the temple films who are now openly gay and no longer mormon. I know of at least two others who are still active and in (public) denial.

I have TONS of stories about those experiences.... I cannot even tell you what a horrible experience it was for everyone. Everything went wrong, all the time. Tempers flared. There was so much tangible tension on the set all the time. At the time, of course, everyone thought it was satan trying to prevent the projects from being made -- but now, looking back, I think it is way more accurate to say that the energy just was not lining up.

We would drive endlessly, leaving at 3am, to arrive on this huge church-owned ranch on the Utah-Wyoming border, a ranch so vast you can stand there and horizon-to-horizon was all church property. We'd film all morning, then take a long break in the middle of the day, then film again all afternoon-evening. The hours were horrendous; often the weather was awful. One day we all fled to the trailers because a huge stampede of mad cows came crashing through base camp, tearing through everything.

We had code-names for all the characters so that anyone picking up our walkie-talkie broadcasts would have no clue what we were doing. Adam and Eve were referred to as "Jack and Jill" and Peter James and John were called "The Three Bears." We nicknamed the film itself "Chronicles." God and Jesus were "the shiny guys."

Before production, the entire studio was dedicated by Hinckley as a Temple, and no one was allowed on the lot without a recommend. I think once both projects were done it was assumed the studio was "un-dedicated" since no one came back to remove the official designation as a "temple."

The scripts, wigs, and other props were kept in a large vault (pretty much exactly like the big bank vaults you see in movies) and every morning we had to count every page of every script to make sure none were missing; scripts were never set around anywhere but were always in someone's personal possession; at the end of the day we again went through every copy of every script to count pages. (Forget that anyone could have taken a script to the copy machine down the hall and made 50 copies; no one really admitted that at the time!) But it was almost freakish how terrifically important we all were. You would have thought Armageddon was on the verge of happening if we slipped up on one thing.

We filmed the altar for Adam and Eve on a private ranch here in Utah, but when we made contact of course no one told the owners what film it was. One morning after we had built the set but before we started filming, we got a call from the owners, completely unhinged and upset because they had found a stone altar on their property and thought we were doing satan-worship!! At that point, the church told us to let them know about the project so they would not freak out again. That location was awful; deep mud everywhere, and we had to make new roads to get our equipment to the set. Then of course the helicopter was a nightmare, because of the wind it created....

Anyway, I am rambling, but this thread brought back a ton of memories.

As far as the ceremony itself, the creepiest thing to me at the time of my first experience was that - before the ceremony even begins, you have to raise your hand and covenant to abide by what you are not even aware of at that point, or else you can withdraw, of your own free will. How can you covenant to accept everything you have not yet even seen? That was wacked to me. But of course, with everyone you know sitting around you, it's not like you would dare say "wait a minute, tell me what I am getting into and THEN ask me to covenant about it."

For years I kept all my paperwork related to the temple films, thinking one day they would be a really cool souvenir to show my kids. But after my catharsis of getting ex'd, one day I just threw it all into the dumpster along with my temple clothes and garments.

My last trip to the temple was devastating. I was in a terrible marriage to a mentally-ill wife, and of course was struggling greatly with my homosexuality, and in the celestial room I just prayed for help and guidance - why, when I was trying SO hard, was everything in my life so miserable? Why was god not there to help me be strong? Why was I forced to go to the temple alone and not with my wife, whose illness was religiously-induced, and who therefore was never able to draw strength from church, but only increased misery? And I sobbed in the celestial room and there was utterly no response from the universe. I was completely bereft of comfort; and I somehow new that if solace was not to be found even in that 'holy' place, that something was terribly wrong - and not necessarily with me.

It would be a few years before I got divorced and then came out. But that last trip to the temple was the beginning of the end for me. As I left, I was determined never to return. I would later lie my way through interviews, knowing I would never use my recommend, but knowing I HAD to have one or I would no longer be allowed to work on church films.

For some of us, it unravels slowly, and for others like a bolt of lightning. But when you come to now certain aspects, and, frighteningly, when you *allow* yourself to ask the searing questions, part of you knows, even then, that you're on the way out. At least in retrospect it feels that way.


Subject: Re: Temple Film Production
Date: Mar 11 12:36
Author: Ken Taylor

The author of this post has further agreed to give his name and contact information:

>Ken, feel free to post it. Feel free to include my contact info as well:

Craig Steiner


Subject: Really interesting!... I have one question and it's tacky..
Date: Mar 11 12:49
Author: Tauna

What was eve wearing?


Subject: Yes please... I would also like to know
Date: Mar 11 14:15
Author: Benjiman Luther

what Eve was wearing. I'm also curious what Adam was wearing.

Thank you.


Subject: Fig-leaf aprons! 8^D n/t


Subject: Wow, what a story!
Date: Mar 11 12:52
Author: flattopSF

What I still think is funny is that I never liked the canned ceremony, so the last time I went through a temple was in SLC to catch the live (if you could call those geezers 'live') show there.

Thanks Ken, that was a fascinating, funny tale!



Subject: Re: Temple Film Production - Thanks for sharing that!
Date: Mar 11 12:55
Author: SusieQ#1

I had no idea how they did the filming. I assumed it was just a set and ...well, no big deal!
What a fiasco.
And, to think it's so..... spiritual! :-)


Subject: The LDS Temple is the biggest fruit-nut house on the planet.


Subject: It would be interesting to hear about the characters
Date: Mar 11 14:08
Author: Dan

and whatever happened to them. Did Adam and Eve do it? Were they really married, or just two unknown actors doing a gig?

I t seems like none of the actors went on to anything more than a temple film, except Satan, who does singing on the side.


Subject: Re: It would be interesting to hear about the characters
Date: Mar 11 15:25
Author: Oderus Urungus

My younger brother served in the Tulsa Oklahoma mission from 2002(ish)-2004(ish), and he actually served in "Adam & Eve's" ward. Yes, they were and are married. My brother remarked that it was so odd to see them in person, especially since they have aged and are no longer the youthful Adam and Eve of the film.

I'll have to ask him if he remembers their names and which ward/stake they were in.


Subject: Ah yes, the forces of evil conspiring against the production
Date: Mar 11 14:51
Author: Stray Mutt

Blaming the devil is so much easier than anyone admitting they were wrong. Poof, away goes inadequate planning, bad choices, dumb ideas, incompetence or whatever. And it helps unit cohesion. No one is screwing up (particularly not the guys at the top), it's Lucifer and his minions. We're being persecuted! Because we're special!

Sometimes I envy people who think that way. It's so much easier on the ego.


Subject: Maybe it was the opposite!
Date: Mar 11 17:56
Author: Ha Ha

The forces of good conspiring against the evil, Masonic inspired Mormons ;)


Subject: Re: Temple Film Production
Date: Mar 11 15:00
Author: I'dliketoBURYmytest

Wow Ken, thanks for that great post. What a journey you've had. I can just picture the "higher ups" and all the secrecy they went thru to make the movie seem like it was "all god inspired".... What a hoax. I have never felt so free, now that I can say I am out of the tscc. Thanks again


Subject: Re: Temple Film Production
Date: Mar 11 15:34
Author: Craig S.

Hey everyone, it's Craig, who sent Ken the post about the temple film production. He sent me to the site, so I thought I would respond to some questions as best as I can....

First of all, I don't feel it my place to "out" someone else. As to whether Michael Ballam (Satan in one of the films) is gay, I won't say. Having gone through the coming out process myself, I know it is tremendously personal and I would never violate his or anyone else's privacy by saying one way or the other.

So no comment on that.

The youngest of the 'three apostles' in the second of the films has since come out, though, and left the church, and lives in CA. He was very politically active in the prop 8 nightmare that played out recently there. A couple of other crew members like myself have since come out as well. It's odd to think that there we were, working together, all terrified and closeted....

Adam and Eve: yes, the couples playing Adam and Eve in both films were required to be actually a married couple. In one of the two films, the couple were literally whisked home from their honeymoon by church officials who wanted them to play the roles in the film. I thought it was bizarre that it was so urgent they literally had to end their own honeymoon early -- but of course, having covenanted to give everything to the church, they were thrilled.

Of course they had clothes on, which were not seen on-camera. Often "Adam" just wore gym shorts (for those of us gay and closeted people on set, um, yeah he was HOT - lol). The set was, as you can imagine, VERY modest. People got nervous even showing Adam's bare chest, but there you go. (And yes, they used body makeup on him - lol).

The actors playing deity in the second film, some would know and recognize -- of course in the film there is so much makeup and hair you would never know who they were - and again, out of respect for them I will not reveal their names -- one is an artist and the other a filmmaker.

As I mentioned before, the first film was done all on stage, with everything created from scratch. The art department spent HOURS gluing fake leaves to the tree branches to create the garden of Eden. And the huge set backdrop for the heaven set was outfitted with thousands and thousands of fiber-optic lights to create the 'stars'. Behind the cyc, there were rows of projectors supplying the light to the tiny cables, which were stuck through little holes in the back of the cyc. This was a NIGHTMARE to create and maintain. A few years after the films were done, they were finally removed. (Of course today the stars would be digital effects, not physical creations on set.)

The funny thing is, before we went into production, Hinckley came to the studio and gave a fireside, in which he instructed everyone involved to never divulge the behind-the-scenes stuff of the films (oh no the mormon gestapo are after me now!), because it would 'ruin the experience' for temple-goers. But no sooner were the films 'released' than the animal wrangler on the films went all over the place doing firesides, talking about the role of the animals in the films, and told some stories I never recognized from the production!!! All in the spirit of testimony-strengthening embellishment, I suppose!

All in all, I can say it was a wild adventure. And we thought at the time we were practically deserving of exaltation for making God's Greatest Movies Ever. But when we prayed for good weather and it was a downpour instead, no one got mad at God for ignoring us, or for letting Satan drench us in his anger. It just made us all the more determined.


Subject: Re: Temple Film Production
Date: Mar 11 15:34
Author: wings

Thanks for the great story. The craziness is bad enough on locations in good weather. Mud and beach...the worst!
My best to him. (Thanks Ken)


Subject: Re: Temple Film Production
Date: Mar 11 16:47
Author: Eric K

Great story. Thanks for sharing it. The people in the temple film all seemed so stilted and bored. This explains it.


Subject: My ex is friends with someone who worked production.
Date: Mar 11 16:59
Author: Jenny

His story was the same as far as the in-fighting and bickering and misery of being a part of that project. Not sure if he stayed in the church after that or not, but it was definitely a testimony buster.

We were also friends with Michael Ballam at that time and when we were staying with him in Logan before the 1991 release, he was all about how spiritual it was, how secretive and rewarding and all. (He couldn't tell us exactly what it was but encouraged us strongly to keep attending the temple.) But he was also about to make MILLION$ because being Satan in that film made him Mormon-Famous, so people would by tickets to his shows/concerts and feel so wicked. He went into this whole stage where he revived all the Mephisto/Devil arias and those "in the know" could get the joke. Kind of cynical, but it paid for his pink house on the hill in Logan. Probably several pair of his pink socks that he wears with his suits as well.

It's just interesting that the crew had the experience they had and MB had his. But my take is that Michael is not living a life that is completely aware and that is probably painful for him beneath the mask of contentment he's perfected.


Subject: I'm in the film (now video) business and the BYU MPS use to do commercial work.
Date: Mar 11 17:40
Author: Old Memory

This was back in the seventies. I was going to do a sound mix up on the 2nd floor, but I needed some 16MM full coat magnetic sound stock to fill in the empty areas on my E and F sound reels. The studio had a bin in one editing room where old erased 16 mm sound stock could be reused as filler.

I took a bunch of it to complete my job and went in the next day for the mix. To my surprise the fill stock had NOT been erased from a previous project. When we opened the sound for those tracks we heard German (I think it was German). Ten minutes later the place was swarming!

I acted like I didn't know what the problem was. I had not been through the Temple at the time, but it was obvious what had happened. These folks were totally paranoid, but they couldn't let me know why.


Subject: This explains why those on the temple film set suffered from brain-destroying mad cow disease . . .
Date: Mar 11 17:45
Author: steve benson

From the original post description of what it was like to work there:

"One day we all fled to the trailers because a huge stampede of mad cows came crashing through base camp, tearing through everything."

It all makes sense now. Too late. The infection had begun. :)


Subject: Re: Temple Film Production
Date: Mar 11 20:25
Author: Davey the Damned

I had a friend in New York who said his bishop was Adam from the newer film. He said that the bishop's wife was indeed Eve from the film. I wish I could have visited his ward. It would have been kind of neat to see Adam and Eve in person. I'm sure I would have stared at Eve too long, undressing her in my mind. :)


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