Part 1: Behind the Scenes of “Bono and Eugene Peterson: THE PSALMS.” Preproduction.
We were sitting in the airport in Minot, North Dakota at the end of a long shoot when I got a call from David Taylor. It was bitterly cold, the terminal was impossibly small, but David had an outrageous idea…let’s see if we can get Eugene Peterson and Bono together to talk about the Psalms, and he wanted us to film it.
It turns out that Eugene and Bono had developed a friendship over a 15 year period. While Eugene might best be known for his translation of the Bible (The Message), it was his book, Run With the Horses that got Bono’s attention. They had shared correspondences, a concert, and a few extended conversations but now it looked like a visit to the Peterson house in Montana was a possibility.
From that very first conversation, David and I knew there were two givens: a conversation between Eugene and Bono was going to be the central part of the film and we didn’t want the final film to feel like a staged conversation. We wanted to capture the feeling and the essence of this unlikely friendship.
So we set up some rules.
-The crew was going to be as small as possible to maintain a sense of intimacy and minimize intrusion.
-Montana is such a significant part of the Petersons’ story. We wanted to make sure we featured the beautiful landscapes around their home that sits on Flathead Lake, but we also wanted to capture the warm hospitality the Petersons so effortlessly extend. So we would film this in their home and not in a more controllable atmosphere like a studio or a church.
-Other than a brief time of personal conversation between Bono and the Petersons, we would film everything in hopes of catching those passing moments that friends so frequently share. This meant our gear needed to allow the camera operators to be nimble to follow the action
So John Harrison, the director of photography (blueskyhill.com) and I got to work scouring the internet for anything filmed or photographed in the Peterson house.
We eventually developed a plan for a place we’d never seen with a shooting schedule so tight, everything had to go right to make it work.
I’ll be writing parts 3–5 after the film releases on April 26, 2016.