Tehachapi, California, Nov 1, 2021 / 14:02 pm (CNA).
On a cold and windy October day, 171 volunteers came from near and far to the mountains of Tehachapi, California, to be extras in the “Eucharistic Miracles” movie, which began live-action filming in October. The movie, inspired by Blessed Carlo Acutis, focuses on Eucharistic miracles and uses a hybrid format of filming, including live-action scenes and expert interviews.
“When I heard someone is making a film about Jesus Christ and then discovered it was Catholic filmmakers who are doing it, I just had to be involved in this,” said Diana Cochran, an actress and YouTube host of “Catholic Stories,” who is playing the role of a witness to a miracle of Jesus.
Salvador Sierra, an extra who flew in from Texas for filming on October 21, said that his belief of the real presence of Jesus in the Eucharist motivated him to make the trip to the Golden State.
“When I got invited to be part of the film, and the director [Angelo Libutti] said, ‘Get ready, we’re beginning filming the feeding of the 5000,’ I was astonished because it is where Jesus multiplied the bread and fish,” Sierra said. “I’ve seen many blessings in my life in that way and that motivated me to travel to California from Texas, and also because I do believe Jesus is present in the Eucharist.”
Another extra in the film, Lucas Rangel, is participating with his family. His son, Lucas Gabriel, who is eight years old, persevered on the day of filming despite the set’s frigid temperatures.
“Every time we got up to move to a new spot, I told myself ‘for you, Jesus,’” Gabriel said.
Ray Grijalba, host of the YouTube channel “The Joy of the Faith,” is co-producing the movie with Angelo Libutti, who has worked in the art and animation department of famous films such as “The Lion King 3-D,” “Alvin and the Chipmunks,” and “Spider-Man 2.”
Libutti told CNA that October 21 was “extremely, extremely cold,” and that he could tell how much the volunteers loved God because of their commitment throughout the day. Grijalba said he was “so proud to have a Catholic group of people who were joyful to be donating their time to help the project, even amidst the cold weather.”
Libutti and Grijalba have received $50,000 of their fundraising goal of $300,000 to complete the project. Both directors have contributed their own time and money.
On November 6, the filmmakers will begin filming a live-action scene of John 6. They are requesting up to 5000 extras join them at 8 a.m. at Canyon Ranch 368 E Carlisle Rd. in Thousand Oaks, California, to support the scene.
“John 6 is unique in that no other Gospel verse is probably more important to Catholics than this one because there’s no other verse that has been used in apologetics as much as this,” Grijalba said. “You’ve heard John 6 many times, but never before have you seen it, and that’s what we really want people to come in for, to support us in making this an extremely epic scene.
“We all hear the multitudes left Jesus, but to see hundreds of people leaving Jesus would be unbelievable,” Grijalba said.
Robert Renzi, who is playing the role of Jesus, said, “it is exciting” to film John 6.
“I don’t think it’s ever been done before on film,” Renzi said, “It’s a privilege to know we will be the first to lift the words from scripture off the pages and bring it to life within the proper interpretation.”
In addition to the live-action filming, the movie includes interviews with Catholic figures such as Bishop Joseph Strickland of Tyler, Texas; Cardinal Francis Arinze, former prefect of the Vatican’s Congregation for Divine Worship; Father Donald Calloway, author of the Consecration to St. Joseph; theologian Scott Hahn; Catholic Answers host Tim Staples; and Lila Rose, president of Live Action.
The film also features interviews with scientists, including Mexican doctor of forensic medicine, Eduardo Sánchez Lazo; Italian professor of anatomy and pathological histology, chemistry, and clinical microscopy, Dr. Jason DeGregorio; and Italian cardiologist, Dr. Franco Serafini. The work of American medical examiner, Dr. Frederick T. Zugibe, and Dr. Edoardo Linoli, an American doctor of anatomic pathology, who are both now deceased, will also be examined.
When the movie reaches completion, viewers will be able to watch the movie through an app, which is in development, and possibly through YouTube if the producers are able to secure funding.
Libutti told CNA that he believes this movie could change the hearts of many people.
“We are calling everybody to volunteer out of their love for the Eucharist in their own heart, and if people answer, we can shoot an awesome scene,” he said. “This movie could open someone’s eyes and change their lives forever.”
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