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Executive Producer, Director, and Writer of Changed Lives: Miracles of The Passion, DVD
Author of the bookChanged Lives: Miracles of The Passion
Director, Writer, Cameraman for 20/20, Primetime Live, Good Morning America, Dateline NBC, 48 Hours, Eye to Eye with Connie Chung, Day One, Ed Bradley's Street Stories, Entertainment Tonight, That's Incredible, The Tonight Show with Jay Leno, Oprah, MTV, the Dallas Cowboys and hundreds of documentaries.
Emmy Award for camera work; ABC’s Nightline series Fox 2/5 marines in the Iraq War.
B.A., Centenary College of Louisiana; graduate studies at Louisiana State University
Faculty member, World Journalism Institute
(Harvest House, 2004)
A PASSION FOR 'THE PASSION'
One morning just prior to the film’s release, Jody Eldred went to hear producer Steve McEveety speak of The Passion of the Christ. During that same meeting he also heard God speak!
Jody says he knows God speaks often. The trouble is that we are busy in our own noisy worlds, and we often miss Him. This time, Jody says, God either raised His voice or waited for a quiet second in Jody’s world to get his attention. But Jody heard God say, “Tell the story.”
By divine order, Jody was to see the film for himself that same night. He was touched by the reactions in the room and by how deeply it moved this group of investors. He left that meeting knowing he had to find a way.
In some ways, it all made perfect sense because Jody has been involved in countless documentaries on a wide variety of subjects. But to document the impact of this film on the lives of the viewers was one big assignment. Because the film was soon to be released, it all seemed terribly impractical. If this assignment from God were to come to fruition, it would require two things, time and money. And Jody had no excess of either. So in his own words, he did what any normal American in need of money would do. He took out a second mortgage on his home and began calling every skilled producer and shooter he knew to get them on the road to capture the miracles of the Passion.
“THE HARDEST THING I EVER DID”
Jody says when he looks at pictures of himself from a year or more ago, he feels that this project has visibly aged him. He says his pulled-together band of highly talented professionals experienced every kind of opposition, from a producer stranded at one airport while her crew waited for her at another in a different city to losing hotel reservations. Now any one of these may sound like typical production woes, but to have all them happening at the same time on the same project underscored to Jody that he was walking in territory that the devil clearly didn’t want him to cover.
Jody says that the scripture Revelation 12:1, "And they overcame him by the blood of the Lamb, and by the word of their testimony", has taken on new meaning for him. Recently he says he sees how Mel’s telling of the story gave a tangible expression to “the blood of the Lamb” and his documentary, Changed Lives presents the word of their testimony. Clearly, the devil is upset by both.
THE LATEST TECHNOLOGY
Because of his prior experience shooting video of the Iraq war, Jody had the idea to do something no one else has done. He secured permission to take a night vision camera like he had recently used into a movie theater during the film’s opening days to capture people’s firsthand and unedited reactions to the film. This clever use of the technology provided amazing footage for the documentary. Women in tears and men pondering what they were seeing filled his viewfinder. It was evident that the message came with great power. This footage provided a great backdrop against which to frame the miracle stories.
THE TRUE LIFE MIRACLES
Jody had no trouble accepting that miracles happen. He says there have been so many times in his own life when he has been in dangerous or near impossible situations and God came to his rescue. He says there are countless things that one might write off as coincidence but as a Christian, he knows that God has been there shielding and protecting him again and again. So to accept that miracles would follow The Passion was not a stretch for him.
Though Jody says there’s no question the Branch family received a bona fide miracle in the raising of their baby from the dead, for him personally, the story of Sam Marte (Mar tay) is one of the most powerful and impressive. Jody says that American Christians tend to expect miracles to be related to health and healing. But the story of Sam Marte is equally radical in a different dimension.
This big, violent, drug-using father of three little girls was a class ‘A’ God hater. His absolute disgust for the Almighty was shown in many ways including the fact that he wouldn’t carry money because of the inscription “In God we trust”, and he used pages of the Bible as rolling paper for his marijuana. In fact, Sam went to see the movie the first time so that he could criticize it. Then his eight-year-old daughter asked him to take her. This time, he went so that he could help her understand that it was only a fairy tale.
In that theater, The Passion something began to change. Sam began to ask himself what if it was all real. What if he was telling his daughter the wrong thing, setting her on the wrong path? Suddenly it sunk in to Sam that it was real and that he needed to repent. Sam was changed -- radically, totally changed.
This dramatic life turnaround has shown itself in lots of ways. A co-worker of Sam’s says before The Passion she never saw Sam cry. But after seeing the movie, Sam easily comes to tears every time he tells others how Jesus loves them. This man, who once hated the thought of God, finds it hard to believe that anyone would reject Him once they know what he did for them.
On a recent television show, one year later, producers had to reschedule with Sam. Jody was concerned. The producer’s response was “Oh, Sam’s just a great big teddy bear. This won’t be a problem.” When another member of Jody’s team heard that, her response was an overwhelming, “That’s not the Sam Marte I knew.” Jody says it’s truly a miracle to see the complete change in this once hardened and hateful man to what Sam is today.
ONE BUSY GUY- BIOGRAPHY OF A VIDEOGRAPHER
Jody Eldred has been a director, writer, and cameraman for over 30 years. His humble beginnings as a teenager running camera for a church service gave no hint of the vast number of shows for which would he direct, write, or shoot in the years ahead. His list of credits is very impressive to say the least. He’s worked with TV’s best known faces from Steve Allen, Oprah, and Peter Jennings to Michael Medved, Billy Preston, Ray Parker, Jr., and Deniece Williams. He traveled with Diane Sawyer. As a veteran news videographer he’s been on the scene for history-making events like the L.A. riots. Professionally, Jody is on the cutting edge of technology too as he perfects the use of the Hi-Def camera. Jody’s recent Emmy award is one in a long list of industry recognitions for his work.
Jody was raised in a Christian home and really doesn’t remember when Jesus was not a part of his life. He says his mom trained him well that God had a plan for him, and it has been a natural course of events to follow after that plan.
Jody currently resides in Marina Del Rey, California, where he continues his work producing, writing, directing, and shooting specials, documentaries, multi-camera shows, commercials, music videos, and news/reality segments.
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