This is a record of the miracles that happened while we were filming the movie about Our Lady of Guadalupe. It is written by the film’s director.
“The day we began filming we should not have been able to shoot, but we did. It was the day of the worst rainstorm in the area in 100 years. Appropriately, they called it the Hundred Year Storm. It rained all around us, but it did not rain on us. Our cast and crew drove for 2 ½ hours in pouring rain that did not let up for one minute during their long drive. When they arrived they had awestruck expressions on their faces. They were amazed and surprised it wasn’t raining where we were. Not one drop.
We later sent people into the local town to get supplies, who almost did not come back, because it was raining so hard in town. They told us later they thought we couldn't possibly be filming in this deluge. When they got to the set at the mission they couldn't believe it was wasn’t raining there. So at the end of the day when I stood and looked at the dusty ground where not one drop of rain had fallen, I realized the Blessed Mother was going to protect this entire film project.
The next day this was confirmed for me incredibly so. We were filming at the Santa Innes Mission. We were about to film a very simple scene. St. Juan Diego was to walk through a marketplace scene that we had set up in the grassy graveyard of the Mission. The people in the shot were dressed as Indian peasants and had props of food and arts and crafts goods they were supposed to be selling in the scene. They were to rise up of the ground daring the climax of the film to go through the gate and see the miracle of the Virgin’s appearance on St. Juan Diego’s cloak in the Bishop’s courtyard. They were dressed in long flowing robes and other white garments.
This day it had just begun to drizzle slightly. It was not a problem as the camera was covered and the extras were only going to be outside for a few minutes to film the scene. Just before we were about to start filming and we were losing sunlight, the pastor of the mission came up to my assistant and said I had to meet somebody named John. It turned out that John had had a dream one year previously in which he saw the Mission grounds in great detail. He said there was one thing though he couldn't understand about the dream.
I looked at my watch and the sun going down which was the source of my light and asked him “Well John, what was the end of your dream?” He said “It was in the grassy graveyard and there were all these people in the dream dressed in flowing
white robes. They rose up from the ground and started walking.”
Then he added “Oh yeah it was raining slightly.” I said very enthusiastically “Well John, we ‘re about to go and film your dream, do you want to come and watch?”
He came and watched and we filmed it.
In the year 1531, Mexico City was an island on a lake. Tepeyac Hill where Our Lady appeared to St. Juan Diego overlooked the entrance to the city. So, each time she appeared to him, it was beside a lake. We filmed at Lopez Lake. The first time we went out to Lopez Lake, to film the Virgin Mary appearing to St. Juan Diego, was a breathless experience. In the original story of Guadalupe in 1531, Juan Diego was led to the top of a hill because of miraculous birdsong and a cloud at the top of the hill. When we got out to Lopez Lake, it was dawn. As we drove up to the lakeshore there was a beautiful white cloud in the center of the lake. By the time we got ready to film the actress playing the Virgin, the cloud had moved and settled over the top of the only hill that we had a film permit to film in 250 square miles of State forest. I quickly set the Virgin on top of the hill and filmed her inside the cloud.
After I filmed her in the cloud and got everything I needed, it evaporated as naturally as it was supposed to end in the real story of Guadalupe. What happened next needs a bit of historical background. The miraculous image of our Lady of Guadalupe has these golden rays emanating from her gown and her mantle. The rays are part of the tradition of Guadalupe. So, many people asked me over and over again about my need to include the rays in the film somehow.
I told my cinematographer that I wanted an incredibly high-powered electrical light source placed behind the actress playing the Virgin so that rays would be emanating from her. He just laughed and said “On your budget!?” So, I had to drop that idea and didn't really know what I was going to do about the rays.
So, after the cloud evaporated, rays in the form contrails formed in the sky for several hours appearing to emanate from the Virgin, creating the rays of Guadalupe. My crew said ”Those are the rays of Our Lady of Guadalupe.” So, I filmed them.
It was also the miracle of the birds which led St. Juan Diego to the hilltop. We filmed out of sequence and months later we were down at the shore of another nearby filming Juan Diego coming up from the water and him first seeing the hill. We had been searching the scrub bush trying to find some birds to scare up to be in the shot. We searched everywhere and finally found a tiny handful of five birds clumped down by the water. I therefore gave my assistant five rocks with instructions, one for each bird.
I set up the camera and turned it on, bent down and looked in the viewfinder and there I saw this big beautiful flock of birds. I jumped up and down excitedly and yelled to the actor playing Juan Diego, “Juan Diego! Come quickly toward the camera, you've just seen the Blessed Virgin Mary for the first time, make it good !” He came up to me and said “ You know, I wasn't really ready.” I said “Well SOMEBODY was.”
We needed miraculous birdsong when Juan Diego saw the Virgin for the first time and that was supplied for us as well. In the scene where Juan Diego and the Virgin Mary come together on screen for the first time there were songbirds flying back and forth playfully throughout the scene.
I had always wondered exactly how I was going to go about making the most beautiful birdsong ever heard. It wasn't until after I finished the film that I got my answer.
When I was working on editing the film I discovered that the soundtrack of the first meeting which I filmed contained three distinct separate choruses of birds singing at the top of their lungs. They were singing so loud they drowned out the actors in one part. People have asked me “Why don't you turn down the bird noise?” I have to tell them that I can’t separate it as it all occurred naturally and is all a part of one natural soundtrack.
So I got my birds.
If there is anything that these experiences have taught me it is that if you put yourself in place to go out and do God's work He will outdo itself to co- create in the work with you and supply you with more than you dream imaginable.
The second day in which several incredible events coalesced together, in the same scene, took place at Lopez Lake on October 13, the anniversary of Our Lady of Fatima’s 6th and final appearance to the children visionaries of Fatima, Portugal. About a week before October 13, I was made very aware that something very profound and important was going to happen to us that day. I was further led to know we were to film what we witnessed as a sign for the world.
I told everyone in the cast and crew about this long before we went out. I did not know what was going to happen, but I was given the sense that it was going to be quite overwhelming. It was.
So we went out to Lopez Lake on October 13th, fully aware that something big was awaiting us. We were to film the scene when Juan Diego meets the Virgin Mary for the second time. The occasion of their meeting needed to look very sad and somber. A forest fire had been taking place about a mile away, getting bigger and bigger and closer and closer to us all afternoon.
Suddenly, a great wind came up and blew the smoke over the entire sky above us and in the direction where we were going to be filming their meeting. The scene came out very somber to say the least. In the same scene when it came time to film the dialogue between St. Juan Diego and the Virgin Mary the script called for a Hawk to be circling in the background.
Five years before, I had written that scene and something I lead me to include that Hawk in the scene. That copyrighted version of the script had been witnessed over a five-year period by over 25 different people. It had the Hawk circling in the background behind the Virgin and St. Juan Diego.
When it came time to film their dialogue together the Hawk showed up all on its own. So, I filmed the whole dialogue scene in a wide master shot, 3 minutes long, all in 1 take without any cuts. The Hawk is seen circling in and out of the scene riding a thermal air current in a big wide circle.
If all this wasn’t good enough, a very powerful final touch was added, again not of our making. The image of the Virgin of Guadalupe enshrined above the altar of the Basilica of our Lady of Guadalupe, in Mexico City shows her wearing a lace tie around her waist which symbolizes the eighth month of pregnancy in Basque Spain. For centuries many people have believed the image is a picture of Mary when she was pregnant with Jesus. She looks slightly pregnant in the image. The Vatican has called Our Lady of Guadalupe the Patroness of the Unborn and she is revered by many around the world under that title. Many people ask me “How are you going to film her looking pregnant?” “Well, that’s something I haven’t really figured out yet.”
I got my answer on how to film her, without really asking the question.
As we were preparing to film the above dialogue scene, and the Hawk was circling in the background, an incredibly strong wind came up and blew the actress’ dress up, in profile, making her appear pregnant. That was another reason why I filmed the whole shot all in one take.
As they speak their lines and the Hawk circles in the background the wind kept her dress blown up during the entire scene. The most incredible thing was that at the climax of the scene, just as St. Juan Diego leaves her, the wind came up even more strongly and made her dress become as full as possible, giving a perfect climax to the moment. That powerful wind-gust kept the dress beautifully full, until the very last frame of the scene.
The first weekend of filming, there had been a discussion between the actors and the crew about the ethnic origin of Our Lady of Guadalupe, as if it could be explained in terms of ethnicity. At one point in that discussion, people were asking “Is Our Lady of Guadalupe Spanish “ Is she Mestizo?” “ Is she Jewish?” “ Is she Anglo?” “Is she pure blood Indian?” At that point in the discussion, everyone suddenly looked at me for an answer, as if I could come up with one. I just remained silent and did not say anything.
I was to get the answer the following week. I had rented a big-box U-Haul truck and took the coast route up to the mission. It was a Friday night just before sundown. I had pulled over in for gas and some last-minute supplies and then got on the highway again going North. I reached the rise of a very steep hill when suddenly, the power in the truck began to go out. I made it to the top of the hill and then was coasting down this very long grade, trying frantically to regain power in the vehicle. I knew from past travels on that route that there was a driveway not too far ahead where I could pull off the highway and park safely.
It started to rain. I suddenly realized that where I was stopped was the driveway of the Malibu Jewish synagogue. I was further very soon to realize that I was stalled in the synagogue driveway at the very beginning of the Jewish Sabbath which begins at sundown on Friday evening.
I was made painfully aware of all these facts because the congregation of this very conservative synagogue began arriving. At each car entered the driveway I was informed in as strongly a manner as possible that this was the Sabbath and I was blocking their driveway in violation of the Sabbath. And they said this because they thought I was a delivery its truck making a delivery on the Sabbath which is definitely not Kosher. I informed everyone that I was just a traveler on the highway and my vehicle had broken down.
Suddenly, the most irate member of the congregation came up to me and gave me an education I will never forget on the Sabbath and delivery trucks. It turned out this was the Rabbi in charge of the congregation. I looked at him with great love, respect and sincerity and just said “God put me here!” The Rabbi whole expression suddenly changed, a smile came to his face his eyes brightened and he said with great love and warmth “ Would you like to come in and pray with us?” I said “I'd love to pray!”
I went inside the synagogue, which was constructed out a couple of double wide trailers. There were macaroons and wine on a table awaiting us. We prayed and then shared this food and drink afterwards.
I had phoned up the U-Haul Company and told them about my plight and they promised a tow truck was on the way. The service was ended and the congregants went home, including the Rabbi, leaving me to await my rescue from U-Haul. I waited, and waited, and waited…. The rain now was coming down pretty hard and my cell phone was losing power. The last call I was able to get through promised that another tow truck had been sent out after the first one developed troubles of its own.
I was told it would be at least another hour or two before an industrial size tow truck could get out to that deserted stretch of Malibu highway. So, I was left in the cold and the dark and the rain with what felt like all the time in the world to contemplate my situation and various spiritual matters.
There came a point when I called out to the Blessed Mother and said “You obviously put me here for a reason.” Here I am, at a Jewish synagogue, on the Sabbath, forced to be here with the chances of being here several million to one. You have obviously put me here for a reason to tell me something. What is it?”
At that point I very distinctly and clearly heard the answer. “I am Jewish.” Then I heard this repeated “ I am Jewish!”
Oh well, I thought that answers that! Now I know what to tell everybody over breakfast on the set tomorrow morning. I got my chance the next morning in the presence of a newspaper reporter from the local Lompoc press. He was writing a front page story about us. I was sitting warming myself before the fire in the Mission’s grand salon room. I was talking to a reporter who was Catholic and a crew member who was Jewish. My Jewish crew member upon hearing my story of the night before at the Synagogue stayed with me by my side throughout the filming of the movie.
Things such as these which I have written of here happened each time we went out to film. We filmed on weekends over the course of one year, filming about every third or fourth weekend. Things such as I have written here happened in front of the camera or behind the camera every weekend we went out to film. There are more things that happened I have not written about yet. I’ll include them on the website in the near future.”