Films with Latter-day Saint Themes
That We Would Like to See

Let's face it, we love to see ourselves onscreen. We're fascinated by the experience. Ever moviegoer is.

There are entire web sites dedicated to Tamil films. There's a whole Tamil film industry. Most Americans have never met a Tamil, but there are over 50 million Tamils in the world. They live mostly in India and Sri Lanka, with smaller communities in other countries such as Malaysia and the United Kingdom.

Every community produces art about itself. That's part of what makes it a community. Latter-day Saints have been working on mainstream films since the beginning of the film industry. For decades now the institutional Church and independent companies have produced LDS-themed projects for video distribution. But the era of feature films made by Latter-day Saint filmmakers with Latter-day Saint themes is just beginning.

Even before Paul Wegener and Carl Boese made The Golem in 1920, Jewish filmmakers were turning the camera on themselves. They have never stopped, and will not stop unless Judaism ceases to exist (something that 3,000 year of history indicate probably won't happen any time soon).

It seems likely that the Latter-day Saint film genre will only get better, and more diverse. Many filmmakers don't like to repeat themselves.

Here are some films with Latter-day Saint themes that we would like to see (send us email to add your own suggestions to the list):

Philo Farnsworth - Farnsworth, the inventor of the television, would have to be in any list of the three most influential Latter-day Saints in world history. He was a brilliant man who confronted much tragedy, while being mostly forgotten by a world that he fundamentally changed. His patent and legal battles with RCA would make a very dramatic, as well as important, movie.

Minerva Teichert - One of the most renowned painters in Latter-day Saint history, her story would make a great film. She is already the subject of a documentary (Minerva Teichert: A Mission in Paint, available on video). The critical and commercial success of Ed Harris' Pollock (2000) makes me think that a dramatic telling of Teichert's life could work well, and be well received by Latter-day Saint audiences (and maybe beyond).

Saturday's Warrior - No, don't remake the play for the big screen. Bob Williams' made-for-video version is definitive enough. Bringing the original script directly to the big screen would NOT work for today's audiences. But what would be fascinating would be a dramatic film set against the historical backdrop of the original production of the musical in California. The fight to get the controversial project made would be the meat of the story. Some of the romance between cast members could be revealed. Many of the original songs and scenes could be included. It could also be very funny. Think Mel Brooks' The Producers, a film about the making of a musical.

Porter Rockwell - Admit it, you know you want to see a great Rockwell film, too. Richard Lloyd Dewey's 1994 version (co-starring Karl Malone) was doubtless the best Dewey could make with very little budget and experience. We'd love to see Rockwell's story really done well.

Shakespeare - If Michael Almereyda can have Hamlet utter "to be or not to be" while in a Blockbuster video store, then Richard Dutcher or Rocco DeVilliers could certainly set Twelfth Night in Joseph Smith's Nauvoo, or Much Ado About Nothing in Brigham Young's Salt Lake City. This probably won't happen anytime soon, because such a film would be a financial disaster. But I'd buy a ticket.

anything foreign - I think audiences would love to see a contemporary Latter-day Saint story set outside the U.S. The Other Side of Heaven will partially prove this is true. It's set in Tonga and looks like it will break records for attracting Latter-day Saint audiences. But it is not quite contemporary (set in the 1950s) and its principle character is from Idaho on his mission in Tonga. Let's go further, with a family drama set in the Philippines. Or a contemprary romance set in France. How about a film starring Spanish actress Heidi Mendez?

anything by Orson Scott Card - He's the world's most popular Latter-day Saint writer. Let's see a movie! Many of his works would require too large a budget to justify making into a film at this time. But some are doable. I particularly like "West" (the first story in Folk of the Fringe). Card has said that The Sixth Sense made it impossible to film his novel Lost Boys... Maybe he could reconsider. Alvin Maker. Memory of Earth. Worthing Chronicles. I'd go see a Card film as surely as I would go see any new film by Alfred Hitchcock or Charlie Chaplin. He's directing plays these days. He wants to direct a film. Come on, Scott, the audience is there! Make a movie!

Heaven Knows Why! - Samuel W. Taylor's beloved classic should be made into a movie. It will be made into a movie, it's just a matter of when. The plot is about the deceased Moroni Skinner returning to Earth as a somewhat restricted angel with the goal of getting his ne'er-do-well jack-Mormon grandson straightened out by getting him to marry the bishop's daughter. Unfortunately, she's already engaged to the town's wealthiest bachelor, so Skinner has his angelic work cut out for him. It's a hilarious look at turn-of-the-century rural Utah.

fish-out-of-water/buddy cop thriller - Salt-of-the-earth Latter-day Saint police detective from a small town in Utah travels to Manhattan, hot on the trail of a dangerous killer. Teams up with a hard-bitten New York City police detective to catch the killer. (Yeah, it's cliché. So was Casablanca.) Variations: Make the NYC detective an Orthodox Jew. Or a Sikh. Or a Chinese Muslim woman. (In the sequel the same team must catch a NYC killer who hides out in rural Utah. In the third film they both travel to Xinjiang.)

Latter-day Saint Authors Whose Work We Would Like to See Made Into Feature Films

This list excludes any authors who already have feature films produced or in the works: Jack Weyland ("Charly"), Curtis Taylor ("American Grace"), Raymond F. Jones ("This Island Earth"), John H. Groberg ("The Other Side of Heaven"), Douglas Thayer, Blaine Yorgason and Brent Yorgason, Lael J. Littke, John D. Fitzgerald, Bernard De Voto, Lisa Peck, etc.

  1. Orson Scott Card - Already mentioned above. One of the most popular Latter-day Saint authors alive. Card has been interested in writing for film for a long time. But so far it hasn't happened.

  2. Anne Perry - Probably our most popular, best-selling mystery writer. "The Cater Street Hangman" telepic (1998) just wets our appetite. Let's see William Monk or Thomas Pitt on the big screen, for the national market. Not Tathea: cool book, but too expensive to film and difficult to market.

  3. Zenna Henderson - Her popular "People" stories were the basis for a telepic starring William Shatner. It's an almost sure bet they'll be filmed again. This is a great choice for a relatively low-budget but high-quality s.f. feature.

  4. Rachel Ann Nunes - Ariana: - Wouldn't a European thriller with an LDS twist be cool? This very popular author's exciting and passionate work begs to be filmed.

  5. Kenny Kemp - I Hated Heaven. This book has been optioned by a Hollywood producer, but the production awaits funding.

  6. Kristen D. Randle - The Only Alien on the Planet and Breaking Rank are both critically-acclaimed books which would make great films. Both are contemporary dramas featuring young people. Very inexpensive to film.

  7. Scott Parkin - "Within Limits" could be made into a very funny short. "Of Cats" would really be something different.

  8. Gordon Laws - My People. Well, obviously.

  9. Diana Lofgran Hoffman - An overlooked gem. "Other Time" would be fascinating, marketable, original, and very inexpensive to film. "Achilo" might be a little harder to do.

  10. Bob Pearce & Nayereh Fallahi - The Nidus: Cradle of Terror. A Utah-Iranian thriller. Why not? It would certainly be an unusual film.

  11. Kathryn H. Kidd - Paradise Vue. A sophisticated and dramatic contemporary comedy.

  12. Anne Bradshaw - Terracotta Summer; Chamomile Winter. British author with a unique perspective and enough energy to really promote a film project.

Webpage created October 2001.