The URL for the website, saturdayswarriormovie.com, was first registered by Doug Stewart on 17 December 2002. Stewart is the original writer of Saturday's Warrior, the stage musical, and he is the producer of the big-screen version. The original musical score was written by Lex de Azevedo, who is apparently not working on the feature film project.
The first known published reference to a new "Saturday's Warrior" movie was in Irreantum (the Latter-day Saint literary journal published by the Association for Mormon Letters), about one year ago.
According to this new official website, Elizabeth J. Hansen is the screenwriter and co-director for the new film. Hansen also mentions that she is the writer of the new "Saturday's Warrior" movie (saying it is "now in preproduction") on her own website at http://www.screenrighter.com. Hansen is an accomplished actress and screenwriter who has taught screenwriting at Brigham Young University. Hansen wrote, produced, and starred in "Eliza & I," a KBYU television adaptation of her stage play. Richard Dutcher, the director of "God's Army," which sparked the current wave of "LDS Cinema" that made a new "Saturday's Warrior" movie possible (some would even say "inevitable") was the director of "Eliza & I." Hansen has directed one film, the short Biblically-based film "The Sisters of Bethany," which was produced at LDS Motion Pictures and premiered on KBYU.
The new website lists T.C. Christensen as the co-director and cinematographer for the new "Saturday's Warrior" feature film. Christensen is one of the most prolific, experienced Latter-day Saint cinematographers working today, and has been behind the cameras for dozens of major film productions of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Most of his work has been as a cinematographer, but he is the director of at least 14 films. Most of these Church-related projects, but some are direct-to-video family films, such as the feature-length science fiction comedy "Bug Off!" (2001), which has been shown on HBO. Christensen has directed films shown at Church visitor's centers and he has been the cinematographer for a number of IMAX films. But "Saturday's Warrior" will be his first commercial theatrical release as a director.
Below is the text from the official "Saturday's Warrior" website, as it appeared on 28 April 2003:
|From Stage to Film||Artistic Team||History of a Classic||The Story||Prophets Speak||Photo Gallery|
In 1977, Spencer W. Kimball challenged LDS artists to produce works of art that would be equal to the best the world has created. "Such masterpieces should run for months in every movie center and cover every part of the globe in the tongues of the people... till the eyes of all the world will be upon us."
Saturday's Warrior was the first LDS production to usher in this new artistic era that President Kimball envisioned. It broke new ground. It told LDS writers and producers, "It could be done!" And even with the emergence of many theatrical and film productions in recent years, Saturday's Warrior remains the granddaddy of them all -- the best known LDS production in history.
Because of its phenomenal success, its universal message and enduring music, many have wondered why Saturday's Warrior hasn't been made into a feature film.
Well, the waiting is over. The successes of recent movies produced by LDS film makers, has proven two things: 1.) That stories about LDS characters and themes are finally being accepted by mainstream moviegoers; and 2.) The LDS market alone is finally large enough to insure filmmaking profitability (There are 11 million church members today, versus 5 million when Saturday's Warrior first premiered). This marks the beginning of an LDS filmmaking renaissance, with a potentially huge worldwide audience. And what better entry into this new arena, than the most popular LDS production of all time -- Saturday's Warrior.
FURTHER REASONS TIME IS RIGHT:
Doug Stewart brings with him a distinguished career in stage and film. He received his MA degree from BYU in 1968. He went on to become the associate producer of the film, The Fearmaker. In 1973 Doug won first place in the Utah Playwriting Contest for his book and lyrics to Saturday's Warrior. He also wrote the screenplay for Where the Red Fern Grows, which starred James Whitmore and Beverly Garland and won the Blue Ribbon Box Office Award, parent's Magazine Citation, and awards from McCall's and the Motion Picture Association. He also wrote the screenplays Seven Alone and Against a Crooked Sky, which starred Richard Boone. In 1976, he was commissioned by the LDS Church to write the book and lyrics for the Bicentennial Musical, Threads of Glory, part of which was performed at Ronald Reagan's Inauguration in 1981. In 1978 he formed his own production company which toured shows throughout the nation, and continues to license shows world-wide. In 1983 and 84, he co-produced the films Solo and The Red Fury. Other musicals to his credit include Latter-Day Ruth, Star Child, A Day, A Night & A Day, Dream Street and Almost Perfect. In 1991 Doug first shared his dream of producing the outdoor musical UTAH! The magnificent Tuachan Amphitheater and Center for the Arts are the result of that dream. Doug currently serves as President of the Mormon Arts Foundation, a non-profit organization dedicated to encouraging LDS artists to produce works of arts equal to the best the world has created. Doug and His wife Mary are the parents of eight children, and reside in St. George, Utah.
Screenwriter & Director:
Elizabeth Hansen is an actress, performer and writer of great latitude. After graduating Cum Laude in Theatre Performance from the University of Utah, she journeyed to Los Angeles where she concentrated on her acting career. While there she was seen in such productions as Evita, Oliver, Confetti (directed by Charles Nelson-Reilly), and Guys and Dolls (co-starring with Milton Berle). At the Kennedy Center in Washington D.C., she co-starred with James Mason in his last theatre appearance, A Partridge in a Pear Tree. She then ventured to New York City and appeared on Broadway in A Day in Hollywood/A Night in the Ukraine (directed by Tommy Tune) and Do Black Patent Leather Shoes Really Reflect Up? Off-Broadway she was seen in The Miser (at the Equity Library Theatre) and in Offenbach's La Vie Parisienne (at Circle in the Square with Madeline Kahn). She was Irene Molloy in the 20th anniversary National Tour of Hello Dolly! co-starring with Carol Channing; and the National Tour of The King and I starring the late Rudolf Nureyev. She has been seen in the USA Cable movie, No Laughing Matter costarring with Suzanne Somers, as well as the T.V. series Touched By An Angel, Everwood, and Promised Land.
While performing, she began writing, and in 1983, her first play, A Pearl of Great Price, (which won her 1st runner-up honors in the Mid-South Playwrights Competition in Memphis) was produced Off-off Broadway. "Pearl" was followed by her second play A String of Pearls, which has been produced both Off-off Broadway, in Los Angeles and at many regional theatres.
She had always wanted to write a one woman show for herself because she knew she would show up at rehearsals, so in 1996 she wrote A High & Glorious Place, about Mormon historical figure Eliza R. Snow. A year later, she was approached by KBYU-TV to adapt the play and star in a film version, Eliza & I, which was directed by Richard Dutcher. She has won both the Writer's Digest, and Texas Film Institute screenwriting competitions, wrote the feature film, Wind River (1998), and was screenwriter of He Took My Licking (2001 direct-to-video). Most recently she was the writer/director for the short film, The Sisters of Bethany (2002, PBS), a co-production of the BYU Department of Theatre and Media Arts and the LDS Motion Picture Studio.
Hansen received an MFA from the American Film Institute and taught Playwriting and Screenwriting for seven years in the Theatre and Media Arts Department at Brigham Young University.
A former columnist for the Los Angeles Times, "TV Times Magazine," Hansen won the 1990 Writers Guild Award; was selected as a finalist for the Humanities Prize and received an Emmy nomination all for her work on the CBS School Break Special: American Eyes.
Cinematographer & Director:
Cinematographer and Director, T.C. Christensen has more than 40 film credits including films for the LDS Church such as Testaments, Remembering Nauvoo, Trail of Hope and American Prophet. IMAX films include Olympic Glory (Nagano, Japan) and Ozarks: Legend and Legacy (Branson, Missouri). Other "Large Format" film credits include: Texas: The Big Picture (Released in April 2003), Lewis & Clark (National Geographic), The Spirit of Life (Valencia, Spain), San Francisco: The Movie, The Witness (Pequot Museum), and Mystic Connecticut.
His feature films (together with direct-to-video), include Dream Machine, On Our Own, The Penny Promise (2001); Horse Crazy (2001); No More Baths (1998); Split Infinity (1992); Rigoletto (1993); In Your Wildest Dreams (1991); and The Buttercream Gang.
In addition to his work as a cinematographer, Christensen has directed The First Vision (soon to be released remake), The Touch of the Master's Hand, Bug Off!, The Pump, and Seasons of the Heart.
Other short films to his credit are: The Bridge, On the Way Home, The Mouths of Babes, The Quest for a Go-Getter, Christmas Mission, Remembering Nauvoo, Carthage, Kirtland Visitor's Center, Finding Faith in Christ, and A Pioneer Miracle
His films have won over 260 film awards, and have appeared on the Disney Channel, HBO, Showtime and CBS.
T.C. Christensen elevated his stature in the arts at an early age by entering Mrs. Baird's Tap academy in 1957. He graduated in 1958 at the "tap" of his class. Other honors include: 1st place - Shot put (Central Davis Jr. High 1966) and runner-up "Mr. Valentine" (Central Davis Jr. High 1967). Although he has garnered hundreds of film awards over the years, he claims that none of them have been as treasured as the diploma received from Mrs. Baird's Tap Academy.
Steven A. Lee lives in Orem, Utah, and is affiliated with Nuance Production Service and Big E Pictures. He was recently hired as Line producer for Richard Dutcher's feature film The Prophet. He has worked for over 15 years as a production designer on Hollywood features and TV shows. He has also worked as a production manager for over 30 projects, including the PBS special American Prophet: The Story of Joseph Smith (1999). Lee was most recently line producer on a feature film currently airing on Showtime, called A Kid Named Danger. He has also been the line producer or production manager for several Latter-day Saint-themed or Church-produced projects, including Trek West, Handcarts West, The Great Apostasy and The Restoration. He was the producer/director of Empower Yourself; production manager of Follow Your Heart, and production manager for commercials for clients such as Dell and Iomega.
It was first produced before a paying audience in 1974. Twenty-eight years later, at any given time it's still being produced somewhere on stage. Some have called it a classic. And now the classic is being made into a feature motion picture. What is this phenomenon that has endured so many years still counting? It's the stage musical, Saturday's Warrior, the most successful LDS production of all time.
Saturday's Warrior began with a phone call in 1971. Lex de Azevedo had read a film script written by Doug and called him to see if he would be interested in collaborating on a musical project. Lex had a contemporary musical in mind, through which a slice of LDS life could be portrayed on stage.
Doug immediately came up with the "Jimmy" character, a young man who was struggling to discover who he was. Within a week he presented his first lyric to Lex, which began, "Who am I, where am I going... Here I sit all alone, not knowing why. Brace me up I'm so discouraged... Help I think I'm going to die." It was destined to become the climactic moment of the play, where Jimmy chooses between family and outside influences -- "Brace me up." But at the time, Doug didn't have a story line to hang it on. Other lyrics would come before the actual story, including "Paper Dream," "Summer of Fair Weather," and "Voices."
The title Saturday's Warrior, also preceded the script. "I remember sharing the title with friends, and got strange reactions," says Doug. "They thought it sounded militant, Indian, and too strong for a musical."
But Doug gives credit to the title for inspiring him in writing the lyric that would give impetus to the rest of the play -- "Who are these children coming down, coming down... These are the few the warriors saved for Saturday, to come, the last day of the world." Once Lex had set this to music, Doug knew the title was right
The concept of using the pre-existence as an important element in the script, didn't come to Doug until he moved with his young family to Provo, Utah, to accept a writing position at the BYU Motion Picture Studio. After settling in, he received a call from Lex in March of 1972, asking if he had come up with any other ideas for the story line. Doug confessed that he hadn't. Lex said he'd be visiting in a couple of days, and Doug promised he'd try to come up with something.
It was on a Sunday night that the inspiration finally came. "Mary and the baby were in bed, " says Doug, "And I sat with a stenographer's note pad in hand. The moment was magical, as the situations, characters, and musical moments came flooding into my mind."
To Doug's surprise, every song that had been written to that point had a place. He describes it as a very humbling experience. But the real magic came when he decided that the opening scene had to be in heaven -- where Jimmy and his seven brothers and sisters awaited their turns to be born.
Two days later, Lex sat across from Doug in his office at the BYU Motion Picture Studio. After reading the outline to him, they both were chocked with emotion. They knew there was something special about this story. "It's right," Lex said. "What you've come up with is right."
Doug found himself walking the streets of Provo that afternoon, unable to work. "I felt such a wonderful, exhilarating spirit," he describes. "I know there was something very good about this project, but had no idea where it would lead."
Over the next few months, Doug would go to work at 5am to spend an hour or two each day to develop the script. When finished, he decided to enter it in the annual Utah Arts Council Playwriting Contest . He because a finalist, which allowed him to do a small production of the piece in the Spring of 1973. It was performed at Theatre 131 in Salt Lake City. This "workshop" production won playwright, Doug Stewart, 1st place in that competition and a fully staged production at Brigham Young University in the spring of 1974.
The response to the BYU production took everyone by surprise. They sold out all performances, and for the first time in their theatre history, extended the run. Doug and Lex knew they had a hit on their hands.
During the summer of 1974 the Chatsworth LDS Stake produced the show in Southern California. This was Lex's home stake, and cast members included many of the King family, and other notable LDS entertainers, who would go on to be featured on the original cast recording.
In the fall of 1974, Doug and Lex formed a production company to handle the demand for the show. That fall they staged their first professional production in Pasadena, playing 21 sold-out shows. The next spring it played 48 performances at Spanish Fork High School, then on to an incredible summer run in Salt Lake City. Despite the sweltering heat and no air conditioning, crowds packed the old South High auditorium for 86 consecutive performances. That same year, a California touring company played to sold-out audiences in every major hall throughout the Northwest, California, Nevada and Arizona.
Doug describes Saturday's Warrior as "an unexpected phenomenon" in his life. "When Lex de Azevedo and I got together to create it, we anticipated a few LDS Stake Productions. I now look back in amazement."
According to Stewart "Warrior" has been staged in over 300 US cities, as well as locations in Canada, England, Australia, New Zealand, France, South Africa and South America.
Following the musical's 1998-99 nation-wide fifty-city tour, it has been estimated that the show has been seen by over 2 million people, and continues to endure the test of time.
Enduring the test of time infers "classic," and achieving that status can be a tricky thing according to Stewart. "When your musical's message deals with bringing families into existence, missionaries out to save the world, and teenagers struggling with self-identity, the trickiness seems to fade away into what is really important to the viewer -- it simply resonates with the best that's in each of us."
"If the movie becomes a classic, " says Stewart, "It will be for the same reason -- not because of a grand production design, or special effects, but because the story will speak in spiritual ways to the human soul."
Woven throughout Saturday's Warrior: The Movie, are all the characters and much of the music that has endeared itself to a generation. As the film opens, the Flinders children await their entrance into mortality, as a young Mrs. Flinders prepares for the arrival of the twins -- JIMMY & PAM. On earth, we meet the family years later, with all the struggles typical of an LDS family trying to survive in today's world. It would seem the family is complete. But someone is missing -- EMILY. And yes, ELDER KESTLER is there, leaving on his mission, with a promise from JULIE that she will wait for him. But central to the movie is the story of a young man, who has lost all sense of his pre-existent nobility, and now struggles with his faith, his identity, and his relationship with his father.
Jimmy is 19 years old... Almost. And like all 19-year-olds, he's much smarter than his father, SPENCER. Which is why he's decided NOT to go on a mission, but instead to follow his dream to become a rock star. This doesn't play well with Spencer. But Jimmy doesn't care what everybody else thinks. Not God, not his father, not his family. Except for Pam, his twin sister.
Pam is a wonderful, guileless young woman who, for some reason was stricken with Lou Gehrig's disease, and for the last five years has been slowly dying. Jimmy cares about her because she's the only person on earth that loves him, unconditionally. She's also the only one who really knows him, knows his heart, knows what he could become if he would overcome his selfish pride and humble himself.
But humility isn't for Jimmy. He hates being tied down by family rules, working at his father's print shop, and being forced to go the church. He's also embarrassed by the sheer size of his family, and feels smothered. So when his mother, DIANE, tells him she feels "someone is missing," and wants to have another baby, it's more than Jimmy can take. On his 19 birthday, estranged from his father and family, Jimmy joins his best friend MACK, his girlfriend, BRITTANY, and the rest of his rock band, and runs away to Hollywood and stardom.
Only stardom isn't what Jimmy finds. Jimmy finds thankless hours of hard work, months of futilely "pounding the pavement," and finally betrayal by Brittany and abandonment by his friends. But even this doesn't deter Jimmy from his ambition; it just makes him angry and defiant. So all alone, he attacks the music industry, and over the weeks that follow, Jimmy sinks into a pit of hopelessness and despair.
One night he is mugged by a pair of lowlifes, who steal his guitar. Jimmy can't lose his guitar; it's all he has, so he dashes after them. He finds the pair in an alley and jumps them. But Jimmy's no match for these gutter rats. They kick the stuffing out of Jimmy, and in the brawl, smash his beloved guitar as well.
Jimmy is left alone, unconscious and bleeding. He's rescued by TODD, an artist, who takes him in, bandages his wounds, and cares for him. But Jimmy's stay at Todd's is cut short. Two Mormon Missionaries unexpectedly appear at Todd's door. It's Elder Kestler and his companion, ELDER GREENE. Kestler tells Jimmy that Pam has been hospitalized. Jimmy borrows money from Todd and rushes back home to Colorado.
Jimmy arrives at the hospital early in the morning but finds that his sister isn't there. But his mother is. Now weary with grief, she tells Jimmy that she lost her baby and that two weeks earlier, Pam slipped into a coma and died. Jimmy is devastated. Pam is dead? Pam...his Pam, dead? It is incomprehensible to him.
At that moment, Spencer walks in. He's startled to see Jimmy, but before he can say anything, Jimmy's grief, heaped upon months of frustration and anger, erupts as he lashes out at Spencer. It's Spencer's fault! Everything is his father's fault! And Spencer lashes right back and in his fury, physically throws Jimmy out of the room telling his son never to come back.
Alone, Spencer and Diane are both mentally, spiritually and physically exhausted. Diane tells Spencer that she has just lost two daughters, she will not lose a son. Spencer looks into his wife's earnest and tired eyes, then exits the room.
Jimmy storms from the hospital and ends up at the cemetery. The reality of seeing Pam's grave causes Jimmy to search his soul. What's happened? What happened to him, to his father, to his family. This was not what he expected from life. His life and his family was so good, so strong. Jimmy wanders aimlessly through the cemetery, angry and confused. He leans against a tree and sinks to his knees and finally humbles himself and asks God for help.
Jimmy hears someone coming. He looks up and sees Spencer walking towards Pam's grave. Jimmy studies his father as Spencer stands in front of Pam's headstone, a solitary and lonely figure. He sees that he is just a man... Not much different from Jimmy... And finally, Jimmy's anger subsides. He no longer feels contempt for his father, but compassion. He joins his father at Pam's grave and asks for his father's forgiveness.
Father and son fall into each other's arms as Spencer, likewise, asks forgiveness from Jimmy. As father holds to son, and son holds to father... Jimmy learns humility and overcomes his selfish pride as father and son walk out of the cemetery, together.
Oh yes... And of course Elder Kestler loses Julie to his one and only convert, Todd. And the Flinders family becomes complete, with the birth of Emily.
[Photograph of Pres. Kimball]
"The best has not yet been composed or produced. The full story of Mormonism has never yet been written nor painted nor sculpted. It remains for inspired hearts & talented fingers yet to reveal themselves. They must be faithful, inspired, active church members. Such masterpieces should run for months in every movie center and cover every part of the globe in the tongues of the people... till the eyes of all the world will be upon us."
from Elder M. Russell Ballard
(To Mormon Artists at Tuacahn, April 8, 1995)
[Photograph of Elder Ballard]
"In the name of Jesus Christ and through the holy Apostleship I invoke a blessing on each of you: That your minds may be clear, your lives pure, that revelation may pour into your souls, that you may have the power of the pen to take that inspiration from heaven and write beautiful music, beautiful poetry, great drama, and create dance and art and sculpture all of which would declare that Jesus is the Christ, and that the fullness of the Gospel is once again upon the earth."
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