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"The Other Side of Heaven"
Articles and Reviews
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Official "Other Side of Heaven" Website Revamped

6 December 2001 - Finally, after at least three months without any change, the official "Other Side of Heaven" website ( has been completely revamped. Coinciding with a mass-mailing press release to registered site vistors, the a new site appeared on Thursday, December 6, 2001 -- just six days before the film's official premiere.

(A premiere fund-raising event will be held on December 12th, followed by the film's official opening in two theaters on December 14th. One week later the film will open widely throughout Utah on December 21st. It will then go on to play in theaters across the country.)

The green-dominated site has been replaced by one emphasizing sky- and sea-blues. Also, the new poster is revealed, with heavy emphasis on the John Groberg/Jean Sabin romance.

For the first time ever on the site, a section of Theater Listings is presented:
We're adding theaters across the country every day, so check back often!

See you at the movies!

Blanding - San Juan Theater (120 West Center St) - (435)678-2653 - Opens December 21!

Bountiful - Gateway 8 (206 S. 625 West) - (801)292-7979 - Opens December 21!

Cedar City - Fiddler's Three Theaters (170 E. Fiddlers Canyon Road) - (435) 586-5924 - Opens December 21!

Delta - T/T Twin Theater (420 Topaz Blvd) - (435)864-4551 - Opens December 21!

Layton - Cinemark Tinseltown USA (Layton Hills Mall - 800 West 1500 North) - (801)546-3582 - Opens December 21!

Logan - The Cinemas () - - Opens December 21!

North Ogden - North Pointe (1610 North Washington Blvd) - (801)782-9822 - Opens December 21!

Orem - Scera (745 South State Street) - (801)225-2560 - Opens December 14!

Payson - Stadium Cinema (633 South 950 West) - (801)465-8500 - Opens December 21!

Provo - Cinemark 16 at Provo Towne Centre (1200 Towne Centre Boulevard - Provo Towne Centre) - (801)852-2872 - Opens December 21!

Salt Lake City - CO Broadway Centre Cinema (111 East Broadway - Suite 165) - (801)359-2112 - Opens December 21!

Salt Lake City - Holladay 6 () - - Opens December 21!

Sandy - Megaplex 17 at Jordan CommonsGr (9335 South State Street) - (801)304-4636 - Opens December 14!

Spanish Fork - Spanish 8 (Jct Hwy 15 & US Hwy 6) - (801)798-9777 - Opens December 21!

St. George - Cinema 6 (905 South Main) - (435)673-1994 - Opens December 21!

Tooele - Cinema 6 (1600 North Pine Canyon Rd) - (435)843-5800 - Opens December 21!

West Jordan - Cinemark 24 Jordan Landing (7301 South Jordan Landing) - (801)282-9772 - Opens December 21! West Jordan - Carmike 12 - Fox Park (1600 West Fox Park Dr) - (801)562-5660 - Opens December 21!

West Valley City - Carmike Ritz 15 - Hollywood Connection (3217 South Decker Lake Drive) - (801)973-4FUN - Opens December 21!

As did the official "Brigham City" website at the time of that film's launch, the "Other Side of Heaven" website includes a message board. As of 8:00 A.M. Utah time on December 6th there was already one message, posted by a fan from Missouri, asking when the movie would arrive there. The "Brigham City" forum became an incredibly busy place where ideas were passionately exchanged, even before the movie was released.

There is a "Press Room" section, for official press releases from Excel Entertainment. Currently there are just two press releases listed there. One is from November 10th, titled "The Other Side of Heaven Scheduled to Open December 14" (see above).

The other press release, a new one, is dated December 4th, 2001:
Hollywood Premiere to Benefit Utah-Based Education Charities
Source : Excel Entertainment Group


CONTACT: Mary Jane Jones
Excel Entertainment Group

Salt Lake City Premiere of THE OTHER SIDE OF HEAVEN

Salt Lake City, UT -- On December 12, Jordan Commons will host the Salt Lake City premiere of the latest film from the Academy Award-winning producer of Schindler's List and Jurassic Park in a benefit for two Utah-based educational charities.

THE OTHER SIDE OF HEAVEN is the latest film from producer Gerald R. Molen, who won an Academy Award in 1993 for his work on the film Schindler's List. Starring Christopher Gorham and Anne Hathaway, THE OTHER SIDE OF HEAVEN is based on the real-life experiences of John H. Groberg as a young man sent to the Kingdom of Tonga in the 1950's.

Proceeds from the December 12 premiere will benefit the Legacy Foundation and the Liahona Alumni Association. Both organizations work to help children through education. The Orem-based Legacy Foundation provides resources and training to families, schools and communities. The Liahona Alumni Association is a scholarship fund for Polynesian children, and has several chapters along the Wasatch Front. Children on small Polynesian islands are awarded scholarships to complete high school and college degrees.

The December 12 gala event will be a Polynesian-themed event, complete with dancers and other performers. The event will also feature appearances from the cast and filmmakers, including star Christopher Gorham, producers Gerald R. Molen and John Garbett, and writer / director Mitch Davis. Joe Folau and Miriama Smith, New Zealand-based actors who also star in the film, will make appearances.

John H. Groberg, whose experiences in Tonga inspired the film, will attend the premiere with his family. Living relatives of many of the Tongan people portrayed in the film will attend.

Activities begin at 6 p.m. Tickets for the premiere are $20 and available through the Jordan Commons Customer Service Desk or by calling 801-304-4557.

THE OTHER SIDE OF HEAVEN will open in Wasatch Front theaters on December 14.

A "News and Reviews" section lists headlines and dates from various online news articles. Each has a link to the article. Virtually all of the articles listed have already been "noted" by the very unofficial "Other Side of Heaven" archive page. Being more kosher than this page, the official site does not contain the actual text of these articles:
12/5/01 - Elder Groberg Illustrates Truths Through Clips (BYU Newsnet)

12/3/01 - Devotional by Elder Groberg to focus on Progression (BYU Newsnet)

12/1/01 - Shooting the Storm Sequence (

11/21/01 - Thrust Into the Limelight - Elder Groberg and The Other Side of Heaven (

10/6/01 - The Other Side of Heaven: A Dream Realized (Meridian Magazine)

10/5/01 - "Other Side" Tells of LDS Mission to Tonga (Deseret News)

10/4/01 - Mission Improbable Now A Movie (Salt Lake Tribune)

10/3/01 - Film Depicting Elder Groberg's Mission to Tonga to Open in December (BYU Newsnet)

5/3/01 - Sneak Preview: The Other Side of Heaven (Meridian Magazine)

4/19/01 - Elder Groberg's Story to Hit Silver Screen this Fall (BYU Newsnet)

Other parts of the website retain the previous version's text, while substituting new graphics. The main sections remain: "The Film", "Your Mission", and "Downloads." There is still an opening FLASH sequence, which has been improved and is quite impressive.

Curiously, in the "Your Mission" section, none of the text has been changed, including the two paragraphs in the "The Vision" sub-section, which mention outdated and erroneous release date information:
The time has come for the breakout success of a film that celebrates courage, love, faith and virtue. The Other Side of Heaven is a story worth telling that is told with conviction, with subtle and passionate acting and cinematography worth of the silver screen. Your mission is to help fill the theaters.

The film has an anticipated theater release of Fall 2001, leaving you enough time to generate interest among your friends and famiyu. Email us and you will receive periodic updates from the Director on the progress of the film. Notify your friends of this site and watch the vision unfold.

The "Email Us" section still lets users enter their email address, first name, last name, zip code, and comments. Excel Entertainment, the distribution and company uses this information to send out general information, and also to notify users about release of the film in their specific geographic area, as they did with "God's Army" and "Brigham City."

The "Your Mission" section still has the "Notify Friends" sub-section where web browsers can enter their name, their email address, and the email addresses of friends who are interested in receiving information about the film. The text at the bottom of the section includes text that will be sent to the people on your email list, and the user can edit this text as they wish:
Please check out It is a site about an upcoming film based on the experiences of John Groberg while he served as a missionary in Tonga in the 1950's. A th site you can find out more information about the movie, and sign up to be notified when it is playing in your area. Thanks!

"The Film" section is likewise mostly unchanged, with the same sub-sections and text the site had before the revision. The sub-sections here are:

Director's Message

The "Director's Message" and the "Soundtrack" section are new to the site. But both of these sections currently contain nothing other than a "Coming Soon!" message.

The inclusion of the Soundtrack information this early -- coinciding with the release of the film -- marks a change from how release of the soundtrack was handled with "God's Army" and "Brigham City." In those two films (the first films that Excel ever distributed), the soundtrack was not released until weeks or months after the release of the film.

The inclusion of a "Director's Message" continues a practice that began with "God's Army", and continued with "Brigham City", when the actual wording "Director's Message" was first used.

The "Synopsis" sub-section in the "Film" section displays the following text:
This romantic coming of age story is based on the memoirs of John H. Groberg, who served as a missionary in the remote Tongan Islands in the 1950's.

Having been raised int he farming community of Idaho Falls, this twenty year-old kid had barely even seen the ocean, let alone crossed it at the time of his assignment.

This film follows John Groberg's adventure-filled journey from boy to man as he strives to fulfill the expectations of the Polynesians he has been called to teach. more often than not, the teacher becomes the student as we are poignantly reminded that finding oneself can be the longest journey all. [sic]

This version of the synopsis may have been modified slightly recently. It has been changed periodically since the site first went online. Originally the synopsis and perhaps one or two other sections even contained explicit reference to the fact that Groberg's character is LDS. The director and producers have modified both the film and the promotional materials to de-emphasize specific denominational references in order to tap into the story's inherent universal appeal. It seems clear to observers as well as those involved in the project that "The Other Side of Heaven" is, at its core, a very human drama, not at all confined to the interests of just one ethnic or religious group.

The "Filmmakers" section is the same, with photographs and brief credits lists for five key people behind the scenes:

Brian Breheny - Director of Photography
Mitch Davis - Writer/Director
John Garbett - Producer
Gerald Molen - Producer
Steve Ramirez - Editor

Interestingly enough, these names are listed in alphabetical order, rather than in order of "importance."

The names in the "Cast" sub-section, however, are listed by billing/order of importance:

"John Groberg" - Christopher Gorham
"Jean Sabin" - Anne Hathaway
"Feki" - Joe Folau
"Lavania" - Miriama Smith

The "Downloads" section includes the movie trailer, sound bites, photos, and a flyer that can be printed out, although at present, the flyer and photos are "Coming Soon." The sound bites and trailer have long been posted on the website. Registration is still required to view the trailer.

Curiously, the official Excel Entertainment site still makes no mention of "The Other Side of Heaven," although it does have graphics and links to other Excel products such as "God's Army", "Brigham City", "The Seer" CD-ROM, and various recording artists. Updating the Excel Entertainment site has probably not been a priority, as that site gets very little traffic compared to the official movie web sites.

The final bit of new information to be gleaned from the revamped website can be found on the original page the browser encounters upon entering the URL. This page includes a "click here to enter" link that accesss the main Flash-based site. But it also features a graphic from the poster, with the credits at the bottom. Some of it is difficult to read, and much of it has already been available from such sources as the Internet Movie Database and last month's full-page advertisement in BYU Magazine.

For what it's worth, here is the text from the bottom of the poster:

Casting by GRETCHEN RENNELL COURT & CHRISTINA ASHER * Special Effects by JOHN GAJDECKI * Music by KEVIN KINER * Production Designer RICK KOFOED * Director of Photography BRIAN BREHENY
Based on the memoirs by JOHN H. GROBERG "In the Eye of the Storm" * Associate Producer and Editor STEVEN RAMIREZ * Executive Producer MITCH DAVIS * Produced by GERALD R. MOLEN & JOHN GARBETT * Written and Directed by MITCH DAVIS



More Revisions to the Official Website

7 December 2001 - One day after the newly revised official "Other Side of Heaven" website was online, more changes are evident. The biggest change is the addition of "Downloadable Press Resources" in the "Press Room" section.

The downloadable resources are eight photographs and 2 PDF files.

There are three photographs showing the director, producers, and book author Elder John H. Groberg with his wife Sabin. The larger, black-and-white photos of director Mitch Davis and producers Molen and Garbett are the sources of the smaller photos that were shown in the "Filmmakers" section on this website since its launch. These new resources, in TIF format, are intended for use in printed newspapers and magazines doing stories on the film.

The other photos are production stills from the film. All show the star Christopher Gorham (as the young John Groberg) and/or his Tongan missionary companion, played by Joe Folau.

One of the PDF files is an 11-page Presskit, with fairly extensive details about the cast, crew, production, and the story of the film.

The press kit includes advance praise for the film from CNN's Larry King and nationally famous movie reviewer Michael Medved. Larry King is quoted as saying: "This movie is just what America needs. A beautiful story of love and tolerance. Get your family together and go see The Other Side of Heaven, I loved it!" Medved calls the film "Skillfully crafted, heart-felt, and altogether refreshing."

The press kit also confirms the $7 million budget, which has previously been reported in the press.

One new name that crops up in the "Key Players" section of the Press Kit is Jeff Simpson. Simpson had not been mentioned on the official website before, and is not thought to have had a major role (if any) in the creation of the film. But he is the president of Excel Entertainment Group, the company that is distributing "The Other Side of Heaven" (and which also distributed the Richard Dutcher films "God's Army" and "Brigham City"). About Simpson the press kit says:

Jeff Simpson (President, Excel Entertainment Group) Jeff Simpson went to Disney Studios in 1988 as an intern and shortly thereafter began working in the newly formed network television group. In 1995 Simpson left his position as an executive in the Feature and Television Groupu to become president of the newly formed Excel Entertainment Group, Inc. Under Simpson's leadership, the company expanded to include 4 record labels, a Retail Distribution division and a Motion Picture Distribution division.
The "Key Players" section also mentions producer John Garbett's involvement in the blockbuster film Shrek: "As the LA-based producer of Shrek for DreamworksSKG, Garbett was responsible for the project's overall development."

The other "Key Players" briefly profiled in the Press Kit are producer Gerald Molen, book author and the story's main character John H. Groberg, writer/director Mitch Davis, and editor/associate producer Steven Ramirez.

The other PDF file is a 1-page, 8-question "Frequently Asked Questions" document. The questions are:

  1. What is this movie about?
  2. Who stars in the movie?
  3. Who made this movie?
  4. What is the movie rated? [A. PG]
  5. Where was this movie filmed? [A. Rarotonga (Cook Islands) and New Zealand in summer, 2000]
  6. Is it true that this is based on a true story? [A. Yes...]
  7. Are the events in the movie exactly as they happened in real life? [A. No...]
  8. Is this a Mormon movie? [A. No...]

Another change noticable today is that the links to the "Director's Message" and "Soundtrack" sections are now gone. Previously the links led only to "Coming Soon" messages. Presumably these links are gone until the material they lead to is ready.

More Website Changes

10 December 2001 - The text has been changed in "The Vision" sub-section of "The Mission" section. Among other changes, the out-of-date release time is gone, and the correct release date is mentioned. Also, the endorsements from Larry King and Michael Medved (featured elsewhere in the site's promotional materials) have been added.

The revised text reads:

"I loved it! Just what America needs!"
Larry King

"Skillfully crafted, heartfelt, and altogether refreshing!"
Michael Medved

People are talking about The Other Side of Heaven. The film has a theatrical release date of December 14th, 2001 in selected theaters. Email us and you will receive periodic updates on the progress of the film. Notify your friends of this site and help make this the most talked about film of the season!

The more important changes are that two more entirely new sections are now online, and are populated with text, instead of being blank, which was their original state: the "Director's Message" and "Soundtrack" pages are sub-sections in "The Film" major section.

Under "Soundtrack" there is a picture of what appears to be the CD cover, and the following text:

The Soundtrack

Music from the motion picture is available online at beginning Tuesday December 11th.

Includes Kevin Kiner's hauntingly beautiful orchestral score, hymns from a Tongan choir, and a new version of the 50's hit "Rip It Up."

Here is the text of the new "Director's Message" from Mitch Davis:
I had a dream: To make a movie to match the beauty of the true story of John Groberg's adventures in Tonga in the 1950's. But the dream was large and I was small, until others joined me to help make the dream real.

There were two seasoned, generous producers in John Garbett and Jerry Molen. There were actors from New Zealand, the Cook Islands, New York, and California. There were filmmakers from Australia, New Zealand,and the United States. There were special effects teams in Canada, musicians in London, Los Angeles, and Prague.

There were car accidents and motorcycle accidents, broken bones and broken hearts. There was a marvelous editor who spent months away from his family and an inspired composer who spent many sleepless nights penning his melodies. There was an actor who gave his life for our movie.

So now the dream is real, as is my gratitude to all those who made it possible. I hop seeing this movie inspires you as much as the making of it did me.

Mitch Davis

[Editor: What does Davis mean when he says there was an actor who gave his life for the movie? Did somebody die during filming? I have not heard about this before.]

Other Side' premiere

Date: 7 December 2001
Source: Deseret News

The Megaplex 17 at Jordan Commons will host a benefit premiere screening of "The Other Side of Heaven," a drama based on the real-life missionary experiences of an LDS general authority, on Dec. 12.

The film is adapted from Elder John H. Groberg's memoirs "In the Eye of the Storm," about his harrowing adventures as a teenager serving a mission to the Kingdom of Tonga. It stars Christopher Gorham and Anne Hathaway ("The Princess Diaries").

Proceeds from the premiere will benefit the Legacy Foundation and the Liahona Alumni Association, organizations that work to help children through education.

"The Other Side of Heaven" opens locally on Dec. 14 and then expands to other theaters in the West the following week. The film has been rated PG by the Motion Picture Association of America.

Activities begin at 6 p.m. Tickets for the benefit screening event are $20 and are available through the Jordan Commons Customer Service Desk or by calling 304-4557.

"Other Side of Heaven" Press Kit

The following text is from the press kit posted on the official "Other Side of Heaven" website on 7 December 2001:

3Mark Entertainment
A Molen/Garbett production
a Mitch Davis film

The Other Side of Heaven

an Excel Entertainment Group release

From the Academy Award-winning producer of Schindler's List and Jurassic Park

Christopher Gorham (A Life Less Ordinary)
Anne Hathaway (The Princess Diaries)

The extraordinary journey of an ordinary boy and the people that changed him forever...


John Groberg (CHRISTOPHER GORHAM), a farm kid from Idaho, crosses an ocean to become a
missionary in the remote and exotic Kingdom of Tonga during the 1950's. He leaves behind a loving
family and the true love of his life, Jean Sabin (ANNE HATHAWAY). Through letters and musings
across the sky, John shares his humbling and sometimes hilarious adventures with "the girl back
home," and her letters buoy up his spirits in diffcult times.

John must struggle to overcome langauge barriers, physical hardship and deep-rooted suspicion to
earn the trust and love of the Tongan people he has come to serve. Throughout his adventure-filled
three years on the islands, he discovers friends and wisdom in the most unlikely places. John
Groberg's Tongan odyssey wil change his life forever.

"There is a connection between heaven and earth. Finding that connection makes everything meaningful,
including death. Mising it makes everything meaningless, including life." --John Groberg

From the Academy Award-winning producer of SCHINDLER'S LIST and JURASSIC PARK, THE OTHER SIDE OF HEAVEN captures the essence of a beautiful time and a beautiful people in a true story that explores the heart of what makes life work living.


"This movie is just what America needs. A beautiful story of love and tolerance Get your family together and go see The Other Side of Heaven. I loved it!"
Lary King, CNN

"Skillfully crafted, heart-felt, and all-together refreshing."
Michael Medved, KRLA

3Mark Entertainment presents

A Molen/Garbett production

a Mitch Davis film

The Other Side of Heaven

an Excel Entertainment Group release


For screening dates, press kits and VHS screeners
Media Contact
Mary Jane Jones, Excel Entertainment Group, Inc.

Scheduled Platform Release Date
Christmas 2001

Filmed on location in New Zealand and the Cook Islands (Rarotonga)
Production Budget: $7 million
Working Title: Eye of the Storm

Based on the published memoirs of John H. Groberg
Entitled In the Eye of the Storm
(Bookcraft, 1993)

Running Time: 113 minutes
Dolby Digital SRD
Flat (1.85 ratio)

The Other Side of Heaven


Gerald R. Molen (Producer)     In 1993 Gerald Molen won the Best Picture Academy Award as one of the producers of Schindler's List. He also produced Spielberg's Jurassic Park, Hook and most recently Minority Report for DreamWorks SKG. As an Executive Producer for Amblin Entertainment he was involved with films like Twister, Casper, Little Rascals and The Flintstones. Molen has also worked as a Unit Production Manager on The Color Purple, A Soldier's Story, Tootsie, The Postman Always Rings Twice and Days of Thunder.

John Garbett (Producer)     John Garbett and Gerald Molen first worked together in 1992 at Steven Spielberg's Amblin Entertainment. As the LA-based producer of Shrek for DreamworksSKG, Garbett was responsible for the project's overall development. He spent eight years as an executive for the Walt Disney Company supervising the production of pictures such as Father of the Bride, Oscar, Three Men and A Little Lady, Alive and over twenty-five family-themed films for the Disney Sunday Movie.

John H. Groberg     Elder John H. Groberg is a member of the First Quorum of the Seventy of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. He also serves as area president of the Utah South Area for the Church. Elder Groberg recorded his experiences as a young missionary in the Tongan isalnds in his published memoirs entitled In the Eye of the Storm. He and his wife Jean have returned often to those islands.

Mitch Davis (Writer/Director)     First-time writer/director Mitch Davis has a Masters Degree in filmmaking from USC. He got his start as an intern at Disney/Touchstone Studios and worked his way to being a creative executive on films like Rocketeer, White Fang and Newsies.

Steven Ramirez (Editor/Associate Producer)     Steven Ramirez has been a feature film editor for over twenty years working on such projects as Driving Miss Daisy, Being There, The Chamger, Cocoon-- the Return, Big Trouble in Little China, Devil's Advocate, Leap of Faith, Dolores Claiborne, Intersection, Rush, Pacific Heights, Double Jeopardy, The Running Man and Weird Science.

Jeff Simpson (President, Excel Entertainment Group)     Jeff Simpson went to Disney Studios in 1988 as an intern and shortly thereafter began working in the newly formed network television group. In 1995 Simpson left his position as an executive in the Feature and Television Groupu to become president of the newly formed Excel Entertainment Group, Inc. Under Simpson's leadership, the company expanded to include 4 record labels, a Retail Distribution division and a Motion Picture Distribution division.

The Other Side of Heaven

Primary Credits List

Gerald R. Molen
John Garbett

Executive Producer
Mitch Davis

Associate Producer
Steven Ramirez

Mitch Davis

Mitch Davis

Steven Ramirez

Director of Photography
Brian Breheny

Production Designer
Ric Kofoed

Christopher Gorham John Groberg
Anne Hathaway Jean Sabin
Joe Folau Feki
Miriama Smith Lavania
Nathaniel Lees Kelepi
Whetu Fala Asi
Al Fitisemanu Tomasi
Peter Brown Kuli
Apii McKinley Noli



In the early 1950's, John Groberg, an Idaho farm boy, was called to serve as a missionary in Tonga. Groberg had never seen an ocean, let alone crossed one. But before he knew it, he landed on an island in the South Pacific where no one spoke his language, no one had ever seena white man and the natives expected him to be their "great white preacher."

A colorful coming of age story, THE OTHER SIDE OF HEAVEN is based on the true adventures of John Groberg. Written and directed by Mitch Davis in his feature film debut, the film is produced by Academy Award-winner Gerald R. Molen (SCHINDLER'S LIST) and John Garbett.

Christopher Gorham, known to television audiences as Harrison on the WB show "Popular," portrays Groberg. Anne Hathaway, star of the box office hit THE PRINCESS DIARIES, plays his girlfriend, Jean. Led by Joe Folau as Feki, the rest of the cast is populated by New Zealand actors, some ethnic Maori, some Samoan and some Tongan.

THE OTHER SIDE OF HEAVEN was shot during two months on the island of Rarotonga in the Cook Islands with two weeks in and around Aukland, New Zealand -- the latter doubling for Idaho and Utah.

The production team included cinematographer Brian Breheny (THE ADVENTURES OF PRISCILLA, QUEEN OF THE DESERT), Production Designer Rick Kofoed, Costume Designer Barbara Darragh (THE FRIGHTENERS), Editor Steven Ramirez and composer Kevin Kiner (TREMORS III, WING COMMANDER).

Mitch Davis had been wanting to tell the story of a missionary experience wince he himself was on a mission in Argentina. "I never quite found a vehicle I thought would work for the general public until John Garbett and another friend both recommended I read this book by Elder John Groberg, detailing his mission experiences in Tonga. About 30 pages in, I realized there was a beautiful tale -- lots of broad adventure, a beautiful romance and an experience in foreign land that was unique yet universal."

Davis, Molen and Garbett first crossed paths in the 1990's. Davis and Molen met on the Columbia lot, Garbett and Davis at Disney and Molen and Garbett through a project at Amblin Entertainment. In the spring of 1999, Davis completed his first draft and submitted it to Garbett and Molen. The three were soon working together to bring the screenplay to life.

"I've always found the concept of culture interesting," says producer Garbett. "This is the story of a young North American who goes to a place as far away from Idaho as there could be, and we get to see him come to terms with his predicament. At the same time, Groberg goes to the island thinking he has all the answer. Yet, it's the simple people of the island that give him his strength. Whenever he is wavering, he looks into their eyes and draws strength from who they are and what they believe. During the course of the movie, he learns that he is more than he thought he was -- there's more to this nineteen year old than he ever thought possible."

"THE OTHER SIDE OF HEAVEN was my best moviemaking experience bar none," says producer Jerry Molen. "The biggest challenge of shooting on Rarotonga was the lack of resources. We had a limited budget, an aggressive schedule and no weather cover. That meant we had no wiggle room and no money to buy our way out of problems. Because we were on a remote island, we couldn't just run down to the nearest hardware store when we needed something. Everything was a test of our faith as well as our filmmaking ability."

"The other wonderful thing about his moviewas its uplifting content," continues the producer. "It's not everyday that you get to make a movie about a man like John Groberg."

"Naturally, I was very surprised when I got a call from my publisher saying that someone wanted the movie rights to my book," says John Groberg. Groberg currently lives in Bountiful, UT with his wife Jean where he is a leader in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. "Who would want to make a movie about my experiences, I wondered. But I met with Mitch and got wonderful recommendations from others about him and his team. After meeting and talking to them, I felt good about going ahead. I think the whole production team has lived up to the recommendations I received.

"I told Mitch that as long as the movie was true to the book, I had no objections," Groberg continued. "My involvement in the script writing proces was minimal. Mitch told me that to do the bok justice he would have to make two three-hour films, which wasn't possible. So he ended up making the script a composite of events in the book, while remaining true to the essence of the story. For example, I actually lived on two different islands, but in the film they combined the characteristics of those places into one place. The events in the film are essentially true to what actually happened, but the sequence may be a little different. I feel that the film captures the spirit of the book really well.

"At the outset, we decided we would not take any 'consulting' or other fees from the film. I felt the integrity of the book spoke for itself and so should the film. My wife and I, along with a grandson and a daughter and her husband traveled to Rarotonga and New Zealand during the filming to more or less 'see what was going on.' We did so at our own expense. We have continued that policy and feel good about it.

"One of the reasons I have been positive about the movie has been the feeling that it could be helpful to Tonga and the Tongan people. They sometimes get a 'bad rap,' especially in America. My experince was that they were a faithful, loving and kind people. There are individuals who are very different, of course, but I loved them and appreciated them. In many ways, they saved my life and I feel wonderful about maybe helping them a little in this way.

"Another reason for being positive about this movie is my feeling that people everywhere need to feel and know tha there is a God in Heaven who is our Father and who cares for us and helps us. I learned clearly and unquestionably of this connection between heaven and earth."

About the Production...

The island of Rarotonga is dominated by high mountain rain forests. The palm-lined beaches give way to a crystal clear lagoon that is almost completely surrounded by a reef. The island is only 32 kilometers in circumference but offered all the ncessary locations required as a "stand-in" for 1950's Tonga (Tonga's infrastructure deemed too difficult for moviemaking).

Principal photography commenced on June 6, 2000 with a crew composed mainly of New Zealanders, a significant number of whom had shot on Rarotonga before.

Falehau Village considting of thatched huts called "fales" was built on the edge of the beach in Aorangi. Likewise, the art department built the Vaipoa Vilalge set -- this time, in mountainous terrain. It is here that Groberg is feted by the islanders upon his arrival an here where Groberg and Feki build their own fale. The hurricane sequence took place in the inland jungle and was again created from scratch by the art department. Groberg's beach study area and the location of the minister's funeral were both shot at Rarotonga's most beautiful beach at Titikaveka.

All the key players seem to agree that the most difficult scene to film ws the hurricane scene with its multiple cameras, wind machines, rain machines, huts and trees rigged to fall on cue. Amidst the noise, chaos and large amount of ground to be covered in the scene, there was some confusion over the hand signal that would be given to indicate action. After many long hours of prep, with everybody in position to shoot, the actin began when the appropriate signal was given. The hurricane raged, trees fell, huts collapsed. When the din subsided, the actors and crew discoverd there had been a miscommunication. The "action" had just taken place without a single camera rolling!

About the Cast...

CHRISTOPHER GORHAM (John Groberg) attended UCLA where he starred in "The Water Children" at the Matrix Theatre and co-produced and starred in the play "True West." It was his performance in "The Kentucky Cycle," a seven-hour play done in two parts, which caught the attention of his agent. He began acting immediately following his graduation.

Gorham is best-known for the two seasons he spent portraying "Harrison" on the hit WB series "Popular." The one-hour comedy/drama followed the lives of the post popular and least popular students at Kennedy High.

Gorham has played memorable characters in guest performances on shows such as "Party of Five." He has also guest-starred on many series such as "Buffy, the Vampir Slayer," "Vengeance Unlimited," "Saved by the Bell" and "Spy Game." He appeared in the independent feature A LIFE LES ORDINARY. Most recently, he co-starred (with Peter Weller) in "Odyssey 5" for television and has also starred in the hit show "Felicity."

ANNE HATHAWAY (Jean Sabin) burst on the scene this year opposite Julie Andrews in THE PRINCESS DIARIES. The film's director, Gary Marshall, said that the multi-talented Hathaway "is a combination of Julia Roberts, Audrey Hepburn and Judy Garland."

A recent high school graduate, Hathaway is familiar to television audiences for her recurring role as "Meghan" in the critically acclaimed Fox television one-hour drama "Get Real."

Hathaway has studied acting at the Paper Mill Playhouse in New Jersey and the award-winning Barrow Group in New York City (being the first and only teen ever admitted to their intensive acting program). She has also studied at the inaugural pre-college summer program for musical theater at the Collaborative Arts Project, CAP 21, affiliated with New York University.

On the Paper Mill stage, Anne appeared in "Gigi" with Gavin MacLeod and Lillian Montevechi, and in the original production of "Jane Eyre." In her sophomore year of high school she played "Princes Winifred" in "Once Upon a Mattress" and was nominated for the Rising Star Award for the best high school performance by an actress in the state of New Jersey.

One of the only native Tongans on the set, JOE FOLAU (Feki) puthis infectious smile to good use. "That was the most important thing about whoever played Feki," said Groberg. "Feki had the most contagious smile, and he was always smiling. And that's really characteristic of Joe." Folau is a relative newcomer to movies, his only previous experience in film as "Tui" in the acclaimed New Zealand motion picture THE WHOLE OF THE MOON. Folau has extensive acting experience on the stage and in television, including programs like "Street Legal" and "The Trials of Ariana."

MIRIAMA SMITH (Lavania) has been making regular appearances on New Zealand television since 1991. In the past few years she has become a familiar face asa core cast member of programs like "Mercy Peak" and "Atlantis High." She has also mad enotable guest appearances on such shows as "Xena: Warrior Princess" and "Young Hercules: The Series."

NATHANIEL LEES' (Kelepi) piercing gaze and outstanding acting have won him an established career and several prestigious acting awards in New Zealand. Now Lees is breaking into the American film scene. He makes an appearance in LORD OF THE RINGS, and plays a featured role as "Morpheus" in the upcoming sequels to THE MATRIX.

Lees, a native of Samoa, thought carefully about his decision to play the beleaguered but kind congregational leader on the Tongan island where John Groberg comes to serve. He sought and won the approval of the Samoan Council before agreeing to portray a member of another Polynesian nation.

About the Filmmakers...

From the time writer-director MITCH DAVIS graduated from Brigham Young University, he was set on a career as a filmmaker. He applied and was accepted at USC Film School where he focused his studies on directing.

After graduating, he was hired by the Walt Disney Company and went to work in feature film development. He was hired away from Disney to become Vice-President of Development at a company run by writing partners Jim Cash and Jack Epps Jr. ("Top Gun," "Dick Tracy") who had an output deal with Columbia Pictures.

Davis, while working his "day job," began writing scripts at night. He eventually sold a script and soon decided to move his growing family to Colorado and devote himself to screenwriting.

Acting on strong recommendations from his producer John Garbett and another friend, Davis read a book called "In the Eye of the Storm," the memoirs of John H. Groberg. The book chronicled Groberg's experiences as a young missionary in Tonga in the 1950's. Davis knew he had found the right story for his first major film and immediately set about securing the film rights to the book.

Academy Award-winning producer GERALD MOLEN (SCHINDLER'S LIST) broke into the film business in 1957 with a job in Republic Studio's transportation department. It was the realization of a boyhood dream that began when his father opened a small restaurant across the street from the same Studio City lot.

Two years later, Molen moved to Universal Studios and, in 1967, he was named Head of the Transportation Department. After a seven-year stint at Universal, he went on to work as Transportation Coordinator on the production of such films as BOUND FOR GLORY, COMING HOME, BEING THERE, ORDINARY PEOPLE and ABSENCE OF MALICE.

Molen went on to join the Directors Guild of America as a Unit Production Manager and served in that capacity on such films as THE POSTMAN ALWAYS RINGS TWICE, TOOTSIE, A SOLDIER'S STORY and THE COLOR PURPLE. He earned the additional credit of Associate Producer on BATTERIES NOT INCLUDED, Executive Producer on BRIGHT LIGHTS, BIG CITY and DAYS OF THUNDER and Co-Producer on RAIN MAN.

Molen's first producing credit was on the film HOOK in 1990. He then joined Steven Spielberg's Amblin Entertainment as Head of Production. In that capacity he also served as Executive Producer on THE FLINTSTONES, LITTLE RASCALS, CASPER, LITTLE GIANTS and TWISTER among others. In addition, Molen served a producer on JURASSIC PARK and THE LOST WORLD.

Three months after wrapping JURASSIC PARK Molen left for Europe to produce SCHINDLER'S LIST with Branko Lustig. In March 1994, he and Lustig were awarded the Oscar for Best Picture -- one of the film's countless accolades.

Molen has also worked in front of the camera. He first appeared in the role of Dr. Bruner in RAIN MAN, and subsequently acted in DAYS OF THUNDER, JURASSIC PARK and AMISTAD. He plays the role of Groberg's mission president in THE OTHER SIDE OF HEAVEN.

In the past several years, Molen has devoted much of his time to organizations specializing in educational and humanitarian causes and serves on numerous boards. He can be found lecturing to university students and is a frequent speaker on the subject of the Holocaust. he is especially proud of his involvement in the beginnings of the Survivors of the Shoah History Foundation. Molen holds an honorary doctorate from the University of Montana.

Producer JOHN GARBETT has led the creative development and production of feature film projects for the Walt Disney Company, DreamWorks SKG, Universal Pictures, Warner Bros. and Amblin Entertainment. For the last eighteen years he has worked with the most successful filmmakers of all time, overseeing projects with worldwide appeal.

Garbett graduated from the University of Utah with dual master's degrees in Theatre and Economics. After spending 18 months in the White House as a Presidential Management Intern,he was hired by ABC Television's business affairs division. He soon joined 20th Century Fox Television mving from business affairs into production management.

In 1984, Garbett was hired by the Walt Disney Co. as a television production executive and worked for Michael Eisner supervising twenty-five Disney Sunday Night Movies. During his eight years at Disney, he also produced over 100 network promos featuring Disney products and characters. He supervised specials and network series production for the television group and then held the same position in the feature film group. As a feature film production executive, he oversaw 3 MEN AND A LITTLE LADY, FATHER OF THE BRIDE, OSCAR and ALIVE.

Garbett has since acted as a creative and production consultant on a number of feature film projects including Peter Jackson's THE FRIGHTENERS and THE MATRIX. As the LA-based producer of SHREK he was responsible for the project's overall development including the hiring of first-time director Andrew Adamson. He and Molen are currently in development on a number of feature film projects.

Elder John Groberg describes Tongan mission experiences leading to movie

By: Alf Pratte
Date: 9 December 2001
Source: Utah County Journal

PROVO (Dec. 6) LDS General Authority John Groberg says that although having their lives splashed on the silver screen may be some people's dream, it definitely was not a priority for him and his wife Jean.

"Everyone's mission and marriage is special because it is theirs," Groberg said Tuesday in a BYU devotional. "And if they put their whole heart and soul into it, God will make it eternally purposeful."

Speaking to students and faculty at the Marriott Center, Groberg, told students how to find joy in their lives by learning the truth, promising to live the truth, and living the truth and trusting the Lord.

He also explained why he agreed to allow some of his most personal experiences in his life to be captured by an LDS movie maker Mitch Davis in the production "In The Other Side of Heaven" to be released to a national audience December 21.

Based on Elder Groberg's "In The Eye of The Storm" three clips of the movie were also shown to illustrate the faith of a Tongan branch president, to stress moral purity, and to demonstrate the power and goodness of God in bringing order out of the chaos of a storm at sea.

"If we try our hardest, I promise that God, through the power of His love which connects heaven and earth, will help guide us, bless us, protect us, and despite harrowing times, bring us safely to shore - safely back home," Elder Groberg said in the last devotional of the semester.

In his comments Groberg said he was impressed with his (Davis') integrity and credentials, and those of the Hollywood team he had assembled.

"I talked to my church leaders and they said if Mitch and his team promised to remain true to the spirit of the book they would raise no objections," said Groberg, a member of the First Quroum of the Seventy of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

Also speaking to students and faculty were Davis and Groberg's wife Jean who said that to tell her husband's story in the film she loaned letters exchanged between the two while he served a mission to Tonga from 1954 to1957 and she was a student at BYU where they had both met as freshman students..

"We saved the letters all these years because they played such a significant role in our lives," she said.

"Often a letter John had written months before would arrive at just the right time, sharing an experience or some counsel that helped solve a concern I had right then.

"I began measuring myself and others to the mark of what I could tell John was becoming, and I knew I wanted to be available when he returned," she related.

"The Lord blessed us both to be patient and always added extra help."

In his remarks to an estimated 8,000 students and faculty Groberg emphasized adherence to BYU's Code of Honor, missionary service by males, temple marriage and education.

In addition to showing clips from the movie, Davis told the dramatic story of being hit by a bolt lightning while on a camping trip with his ten-year old son and two other boys.

He recalled that in his mind, he had ceased to exist while hoping for divine intervention.

Through an unmistakable clear voice Davis said he was encouraged with the encouraging message: "You served a valiant mission. Ask in confidence."

Davis says that exerted every ounce of prayer in a frenzied prayer before regaining consciousness.

"I do not tell this story for the sake of mere drama, nor to boast about my personal missionary prowess," David said.

"I assure you, I was no more valiant than most missionaries. I tell you this because of the significance of the Lord's choice words to me. When my life literally hung in balance, all that mattered were my two years of service in the obscure villages of Argentina.

David expressed gratitude that he had decided to go on a mission and had worked hard once he got there, and that he had not almost served a mission.

"I am so grateful that the Lord Jesus Christ didn't almost atone for our sins," he emphasized. "I'm grateful that Elder John Groberg didn't almost serve a mission to Tonga, and that Jean Sabin didn'talmost wait for him."

Go to "The Other Side of Heaven" page 4