By Rosemary Pollock
General Authority's Mission Experience Made Into Film
DENVER, COLORADO -- "The Other Side of Heaven," a film based on the
memoirs of Elder John Groberg's book, "In the Eye of the Storm," will
make its nationwide debut early in the Fall of 2001. The film is a
culmination of a twenty-three-year dream by writer/director, Mitch
Davis. Inspired after seeing the film "Chariots of Fire," Davis has
been looking to tell a story of the missionary experience on the big
"There is something very heroic about what Mormon missionaries do,
and it's a kind of heroism our jaded world is in dire need of," Davis
said. "I wanted to make a movie specifically for the non-LDS audience
first, and the LDS audience second."
Christopher Gorem plays the English speaking missionary who learned
to speak Tongan by reading an English and a Tongan Bible side by
side. The film explores a young man's coming of age and the hard
fought change that comes with facing a new culture, a new language
and new traditions.
"We literally looked at hundreds and hundreds of actors," Davis said.
"He is kind of a mix between Tom Hanks and Jimmy Stewart--fun,
energetic and enthusiastic." In order to understand the role more
completely, Gorham spent a full day proselyting with LDS missionaries
stationed on the Cook Island of Rarontonga.
Davis graduated from BYU in English literature, then moved to San
Diego and sold computers for four years. He ultimately began the
pursuit of his dream when he was accepted to the USC Film School. He
also landed an internship at Disney Movie Studios at the end of his
After two years of being part of Disney's "creative group" and two
more at Columbia Studios, Davis traded corporate Hollywood for the
seclusion of the Rocky Mountains. "I moved to Colorado for writer's
retreat," he said. "I wanted to get back to writing, which was why I
got into movies in the first place."
While in Colorado, Davis served as a Bishop for The Church of Jesus
Christ of Latter-day Saints. "I decided that being a bishop was
incompatible with the ups and downs of the film making business," he
said. "I needed to have more stability in my life for my family's
sake, for my ward's sake, and for my sake."
At this time Davis returned to electronic sales and started writing a
script based on his own missionary experiences in Argentina. He
showed his script to John Garbett, a producer friend who worked on
such films as, "Alive," "Father of the Bride," and the
soon-to-be-released, "Shrek." Garbett succeeded, after several
attempts, to get Davis to read Elder Groberg's book in late 1999.
"Thirty pages into the book, I knew it was what I was looking for,"
Davis said. "Elder Groberg is such a keen observer of human character
and a great story teller besides," Davis said. "His book had high
seas adventure, compelling romance and unforgettable characters."
"Elder Groberg came to visit the set one day, and I introduced him to
Anne Hathaway," Davis recalled. "Elder Groberg took her hand and
said, 'So, you're the lucky girl that gets to play my wife.' Anne was
his friend for life after that." Jerry Molen along with John Garbett
have brought many years of success as producers to the film. Molen,
won an Academy Award for "Schindler's List" along with producing
blockbusters, "Jurassic Park," "Twister," and "Days of Thunder."
"If I had to rank my best film experience, I would probably choose
this one," Molen said. "It was such a tremendous challenge; but at
the same time, it was spiritually uplifting."
Davis hopes audiences see beyond the religious part of the story and
view it as a faith and humanity promoting film. "I had such deep,
deep respect for these people and the other religions on the island,"
Elder Groberg said. "I could tell they were trying to do good."
"The movie is about God's greatest creation--His children," Davis
said. "We're all fighting the same battle, I hope people realize
For more information, check out the film's Web site at
Elder Groberg's story to hit silver screen this fall
BYU NewsNet 19Apr01 A2
By Eric Christensen: NewsNet Staff Writer