“Beyond the testimony of the Holy Ghost, the Witnesses represent the only evidence for the Book of Mormon provided by the Lord himself. Candidly examining all substantial arguments, pro and con, this project will argue powerfully for their credibility.”
Daniel C. Peterson
The Interpreter Foundation
For nearly 200 years, skeptics and critics have been trying to explain away what many Book of Mormon witnesses stated—that they had seen angels and hefted golden metal plates containing ancient inscriptions. To their dying days, these witnesses defended their testimonies even in the face of cruel mobs, the ridicule of society, and betrayal by friends. Why?
WITNESSES, produced by the Interpreter Foundation, consists of three episodes to be released within days of each other. Each will reconnect us with the history, the claims and counter-claims, and ultimately the stalwart consistency of each witness’ testimony.
With support from Martin Harris, Oliver Cowdery, and David Whitmer, Joseph Smith translates the plates, but the loss of 116 pages of the newly translated Book of Mormon threatens to destroy the new religious movement. Rising threats and court challenges confront the fledgling religion from the outside—jealousy and pride threaten from within—but an unprecedented spiritual outpouring binds the witnesses to a young prophet.
Enemies are emboldened as the growing church faces continued opposition. Failure at Kirtland looms as the strong bonds of friendship begin to break, but ultimately the witnesses remain resolute to their claims.
Could Joseph Smith have fought off three attacks while holding 40lbs of plates? Can an actor do it over and over in a scene re-creation? Were the plates actually gold? Could witnesses really hear the voice of God and yet still doubt His prophet? In a unique and innovative blend of behind-the-scene footage with scholars, skeptics, and experts, this third hour will get families talking as we face the fact that none of these witnesses ever denied their claim.
The face of television viewing is no longer confined to the living room. Audiences seek content on computer screens, social media, tablets, and phones. They search for entertainment and new knowledge and they search for truth. The Witnesses project looks to provide these things in a unique blend of drama and documentary.
Additional contracts for local, national, and international distribution will be pursued shortly after completion of script rewrites.
Episodes One and Two will be a dramatic retelling of the compelling true story of three men who asked God for a witness. Episode Three will engage our audience as expert scholars help us understand why these three men left the church but never left their faith.
Content of varying length will be created for classrooms, social media, web and streaming distribution and for sharing throughout the world. Efforts to reach the widest possible audience are well under way.
Executive Producer Daniel Peterson continues to introduce Witnesses to large numbers through his Sic Et Non blog, his column in the Deseret News, and his notable presence on Facebook.
BYU Religious Education has contracted for rights to include Witnesses in their curricula. Consequently, tens of thousands of students will enlarge their comprehension and appreciation of the witnesses.
The filmmakers have created content for nation-wide PBS audiences, and cable stations such as BYUtv, as well as for international cable distribution. All will be pursued to reach local, national, and international audiences in an effort to provide new information, answer sensitive questions, and focus on faith.
To share the depth of so many interviews with those who desire to learn more, the team will ultimately produce SNIPPETS—many short “films” about 3.5 minutes long—and distribute them via The Interpreter Foundation website.
Daniel C. Peterson and Deborah D. Peterson, The Interpreter Foundation
Russell Richins (see http://www.pellamediainc.com)
Mark Goodman (see Handel’s Messiah, Fires of Faith, Joseph Smith: American Prophet)
Mitch Davis, Mark Goodman, James Jordan