Camera crews, wires and walkie-talkies are becoming an ever-growing trend on campus. Camera crews visited campus Monday to shoot scenes for a low-budget, Christian film titled “God’s Not Dead,” and Hollywood touched campus last week to film the University’s annual rodeo for the flick “Dallas Buyers Club.”
Lisa Arnold, one of the film’s producers, said the movie centers on college freshman, Josh Wheaton, played by Disney Channel’s Shane Harper.
The film opens with a scene shot in the Quad, in which Wheaton is registering for his first college courses. Wheaton is warned by a fellow student not to take a philosophy class due to its notorious atheist Professor Radisson, played by Kevin Sorbo.
Wheaton ignores the caveat and decides to enroll in the class. On his first day, the professor informs his pupils he does not want to waste time debating the existence of a higher power. He asks his students to write “God is dead” on a piece of paper and sign their name.
“Josh refuses to sign it, and so mockingly, the professor assigns him the job of convincing the class that God is not dead. That sets up our whole movie,” Arnold explained.
Arnold said the movie has five other plotlines that all intertwine at the film’s conclusion, similar to movies like “Traffic” and “Love Actually.”
“The professor has his own little storyline going on. Josh has a side story with his girlfriend and family. There’s another student named Martin Yip who has a storyline,” Arnold said. “There’s a Middle Eastern storyline with one of our lead actresses Hadeel Sittu. She has a powerful storyline with her father and family.”
Arnold said the film has been in production since Oct. 29 and Monday was the crew’s last day of shooting. The crew has filmed the entire movie in Baton Rouge, with the exception of a concert scene in Houston.
Familiar locales appearing in the movie are Pennington Biomedical Research Center, Ruffino’s restaurant and Third Street in downtown Baton Rouge, according to Arnold.
Campus eatery, The 5, was also utilized for a scene for the film. Sittu’s character, Ayesha, plays a cafeteria worker.
“The cafeteria scene, it’s really important because Ayesha overhears some conversations that make her more curious about God,” Arnold said.
To give the scenes a genuine campus feeling, the film crew enlisted various extras from the University. One such extra was Warren Mitchell, a film and media arts junior.
Mitchell said he heard about the film through Facebook and heard about the casting calls for extras the morning the film was shooting on campus.
Mitchell said he became an extra because he wants to enter the business of film production. He said he has recently taken an interest in acting and is giving it a shot by doing work as an extra.
“Working on this as an extra has been a lot of fun. It’s long, but worth the time,” Mitchell said. “For anyone else looking to get into film production, it’s a good way to start, a good way to get your feet wet.”
Arnold explained the movie is based on the book “God’s Not Dead” by Rice Broocks, which will be released in March 2013.
She said the movie is expected to release nationally by fall 2013, but distribution details are still in the works.