More enthusiasm than cash for filming the Bible.

In 1975, the Genesis Project embarked on a 20-year task of filming the entire Bible word for word in three English translations. As the project nears its midpoint, the directors are holding their breath to see whether the advent of new communications technologies can help offset staggering production cost overruns. The company has a $17 million deficit.

So far, Genesis Project has produced the feature-length film Jesus and complete renditions of Genesis and Luke, each consisting of more than a dozen 15-minute films. Painstaking attention to detail—down to specially thrown pottery, rebuilt synagogues, and rewoven clothes—has won high praise from virtually everyone who has seen the New Media Bible, as it is called.

But sales figures have not matched the initial enthusiasm, and production costs have skyrocketed. The problem appears to be the price: for all 33 films (18 installments of Genesis and 15 of Luke) the cost is almost $10,000. Buyers—mostly mainline Protestant churches—tend to acquire it piecemeal, purchasing one or two $300 packages at a time.

The packages include a film, audiocassettes, a leader’s guide, projectionist’s script, and ten copies of Bibletimes magazine to accompany the script.

While cost overruns are higher than expected, according to producer John Heyman, the work is proceeding on course. Along with trust in the Lord, the people at Genesis Project are putting plenty of faith in new technologies that may eventually bring the New Media Bible within the grasp of individuals.

In mid-May, the Luke and Genesis chapters were made available on videotape, costing $1,500 each. The combined price for both books on video is one-third the price of the 8 and 16 mm. film ...

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