The Joys and Challenges of Filming the Story of Salvation History | CWR Staff
Steve Ray, who has been working for 16 years on the ambitious "Footprints of God" series, discusses his vision, describes the difficulties, and asks for assistance as the project nears the finish line.
Author and apologist Stephen Ray (CatholicConvert.com) along with his wife Janet, entered the Catholic Church in 1994, a journey from the Baptist tradition to Catholicism described in Ray's first book, Crossing the Tiber: Evangelical Protestants Discover the Historical Church. Since then he has kept busy with giving numerous talks, leading pilgrimages to the Holy Land, Rome, and other locations, and writing more books, including Upon This Rock: St. Peter and the Primacy of Rome in Scripture and the Early Church, and St. John's Gospel: A Bible Study and Commentary.
Steve and Janet have also kept busy working on writing, filming, editing, and producing the award-winning video series for Ignatius Press titled ”The Footprints of God”. The Rays and their crew have completed eight of the ten films and are busy making preparations for the final two films, including raising money to help with the costs of filming on location in countries including Israel, Turkey, Italy, and Egypt.
Catholic World Report recently caught up with Steve shortly before he and Janet left the country to lead a pilgrimage in Rome and Assisi.
CWR: You’ve been working on the “Footprints of God” film project for 16 years. Where did the idea come from and how did you get started on such an ambitious project?
Steve Ray: It started in the middle of the night around 2 a.m. Without any forethought I woke up with a start. I sat up in the pitch dark and grabbed my wife and began to shake her, "Janet, Janet! Wake up, we have to make a ten-part video series on the history of salvation from a Catholic perspective!" I had woken her up so abruptly she she was shaking from fright. When she finally realized what I was saying she responded, “What? Are you crazy? I thought the house was on fire or you were having a heart attack. You woke me up in the middle of the night and scared me half to death to tell us we have to make movie? We can't even take good pictures—how does God expect us to make movies? You're crazy, go back to sleep."
She rolled over and went back to sleep but I was wide awake—and I was on fire. For the rest of the night I was at my computer with fingers flying, getting it all down out of my head before it disappeared. The ideas flowed like a waterfall and by the time the sun came up I had the whole outline of the series figured out, along with the title. It was going to be called The Footprints of God: The Story of Salvation from Abraham to Augustine. It would consist of ten parts and each one would explain how God has come to his people to offer redemption and salvation—to the point that he even got his own feet dirty doing it!
CWR: How did Ignatius Press get involved in the project?
Steve Ray: We called Ignatius Press to tell them our idea. They invited my wife and I out to San Francisco for lunch and a meeting. I presented my idea. By the end of the lunch we had their approval and the funding for the first movie Peter, Keeper of the Keys. Within six weeks we were flying over the land of the Bible in helicopters getting the aerial footage, and six weeks later we were filming Peter in Israel and Rome. We are grateful from the bottom of our hearts for the unflagging support and funding from Fr. Joseph Fessio, Mark Brumley, and Tony Ryan of Ignatius Press.
These movies couldn’t be like anything else out there. We wanted them to be unique and one of kind—and they are!