Q&A with Blair Treu
Blair Treu, the director of the new feature-length film Meet the Mormons, sat down to talk with us about his experience working on this film and what he hopes people will take away from viewing it. The film, which opened nationwide on October 10 and is currently the 11th highest-ranking box office film in the country, is “our film as an LDS people,” says Treu. He wants this film to be attributed to not just one person, but to all LDS people everywhere as a way to tell our unique stories of faith to the world.
1.Why do you think Meet the Mormons is a relevant film for the world today?
The overall sentiment among everyone that we talked with was that the time was right for us to tell our own stories. We had the “Mormon Moment” with the [presidential] election back in 2012, so I think there were still so many misconceptions about us out there that I felt that if people just knew us better, if they really had a sense of what motivated us, they’d understand that we’re not as bizarre as we are portrayed in the popular culture. As a film group, we thought to just come up with some ways that will help people get to know us in a friendly, nonthreatening, even self-deprecating way. The best way to do that was to just let people be real, to be themselves.
2. The opening of the film features popular movie and television clips that seem to poke fun at the Church. What was your purpose in including that content in the film?
The whole opening is an acknowledgment to the world that says, ‘OK, we get it. We will laugh right alongside with you. We understand.’ If those cultural references are all they’ve been fed their whole life, we can’t blame them for thinking those things about us. Then, the rest of the film shows them how going to the source will really tell them what Mormons are like and what makes them do the things they do.
3. Why can this film be appealing to people of all faiths?
Through this film, we wanted to portray that no matter what your faith is, we as Mormons respect your faith and we want to be respected in return. In fact, it says in the film that we defend others’ rights to defend their faith, according to the dictates of their own conscience, and we would just like to be afforded the same opportunity. Elder Bednar even gave us a charge to “be authentic, be real” with this film production, with the end goal of building bridges to a greater understanding of our faith, and not dig deep canals with people of other faiths.
4. What do you hope a viewer of the film will walk away feeling?
First and foremost, I hope that they’ll be uplifted, inspired, and entertained, equally. Not one of those takes precedence over the other; they all need to work together. If that happens, we think that minds will be opened and hearts will be softened so that some of those misconceptions that [nonmembers] have been carrying about us will start to dissolve away, so that they can see a little more who we are. It’s about building bridges to understanding. We want to influence and motivate and teach good values, but you can’t influence people unless you entertain them first.
5. How did this film strengthen your own faith?
The leadership of the Church didn’t tell us where to go shoot or who to shoot; we were just instructed to be authentic and to do the best we could. We feel that we went on a journey of faith to find these families. We feel that we were led to them, and in some cases they were placed in our path. We would read articles or hear stories from some members around the world and wouldn’t move ahead with filming anyone until our group felt good about it. It wasn’t scripted; we never knew where their stories were going to lead or how they were going to end. It was just like life—we had to go with the twists and turns and just had to have faith that it would all work out. We had to follow the Spirit, and that was a great experience.
Listen to the full audio interview on Mormon Channel Daily here.
If you haven’t yet seen Meet the Mormons, click here for the trailer and to find a theater that is showing it near you.