Producer/director Carl Amari’s mega, $5 million celebrity voice, word-for-word dramatization of the Bible will get underway in Chicago April 20 after 18 months in development and questions about where it would be produced.
Amari’s Oakbrook Terrace-based Black Eye Entertainment is producing “Word Alive!” based on the New Living Translation of the Bible published by Tyndale House of Carol Stream.
The massive 90 hour Genesis-through-Revelations’ recording will be handled by Resolution Productions Group, where Amari and his team will be headquartered for the next two years.
During that period, the project is expected to hire between 200 to 300 local actors and audio post personnel. A behind-the-scenes video is also planned.
“We will slowly ramp up and will be into full production by June,” says executive producer Amari. The New Testament, to be recorded first, is expected to run 20-22 hours when completed.
“Tyndale’s New Living Translation is meant to be spoken aloud,” Amari notes. “It’s very conversational and will be easy for people to understand.”
Negotiations are ongoing with Hollywood actors, although the only celebrity actor signed so far is popular faith-based film actor Kevin Sorbo, (“God’s Not Dead”) who will portray God.
Resolution’s team consists of lead designer Bryen Hensley, assisted by Steve Kiel; supervising producer is Todd Pflughoeft, producer Lindsay Miller and EVP Fred Booras will oversee the project.
“We are extremely fortunate to host such an amazing project at our studio,” Booras says. “With over 30,000 verses in the bible, it will be logistically challenging, tracking all the moving pieces of this project.”
The New Living Translation text to be recorded is being formatted into a radio drama script by theologians Dawn Sherrill, who will direct the Narrator and God, and Brenda Noel, who will direct all the other actors.
The New Testament section is scheduled for a 2016 release, and the full 90-hour “Word Alive” Bible in 2017. Tyndale House, the world’s largest privately held Christian publisher and a partner in the project, is the main CD distributor to bookstores and digital platforms.
“Word Alive!” has been in the works for 18 months. For a while it appeared the locally important $5 million project would not record in Chicago. The producers had considered recording in Connecticut where film incentives extend to audio productions.
But after crunching numbers and considering the economics and ease of working on home turf, they agreed that Chicago was the best locale.
Since 2008, Amari has produced three audio projects of Biblical proportions: “The Word of Promise,” with a cast of 600, which became the number one best selling audio Bible worldwide and “The Next Generation, both in association with Thomas Nelson Inc. “Truth and Life” was produced for Zondervan Christian books.
Amari says he got the idea to marry radio with the Bible, with Biblical figures portrayed by famous actors when he was visiting his friend Jim Caviezel on the set of Mel Gibson’s “Passion of the Christ” in 2004. “Mel liked the idea and encouraged me to do it.”