The box-office sensation Jesus Revolution includes scenes of mass baptisms that required plenty of behind-the-scenes preparation and a multitude of extras.
Incredibly, though, the scenes sparked real-life baptisms and salvations, too.
Co-director Andy Erwin and producer Kevin Downes reveal in a new video that the cast and crew members spontaneously chose to get baptized on location. The scenes were filmed at a beach called Pirate's Cove – the same place where countless young people were baptized in the late 60s and early 70s.
"I've never felt anything like that," Erwin said.
Jesus Revolution (PG-13) tells the story of a hippie-led revival and spotlights the ministries of Greg Laurie, Chuck Smith and Lonnie Frisbee.
Erwin described Pirate's Cove as a "difficult location to film."
"You couldn't really keep the public away," he said. "You couldn't lock it down. It's hard to get into, hard to get film crews in, hard to get equipment in."
Downes said decisions for Christ were made on set during the filming of the baptisms.
Jonathan Roumie, who portrays Frisbee, baptized people behind the scenes. Downes and Erwin saw the baptisms and wrongly assumed Roumie was practicing for his scene.
"He said, 'Man, this is real.' He's like, 'I'm baptizing just like Greg Laurie taught me,'" Erwin said.
Laurie, too, baptized people on set.
"Little did we know that the actual Greg Laurie was a few hundred feet away," Erwin said. "And a member of the cast had come to him. And he was baptizing, without anyone knowing, a real number of the cast."
Said Downes, "You could tell that something extraordinary just happened to them. And they were anticipating what their future was going to be like. It was just so precious."
God "showed up in extraordinary ways," Erwin said.
"There's always miracles – movies don't get made without miracles," Erwin added. "But I've never had anything like what happened on Jesus Revolution."
Jesus Revolution was produced by the same company (Kingdom Story) that made I Can Only Imagine, Woodlawn, and I Still Believe.
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Photo courtesy: ©Kingdom Story Company/©Lionsgate, used with permission.
Video courtesy: ©Kingdom Story Company
Michael Foust has covered the intersection of faith and news for 20 years. His stories have appeared in Baptist Press, Christianity Today, The Christian Post, the Leaf-Chronicle, the Toronto Star and the Knoxville News-Sentinel.