The setting of a recently released biblical movie may look strikingly familiar to residents.
That’s because it was filmed in various locations around Yuma County.
The first film in The Quest Trilogy, “40 Nights,” takes a unique look at the pre-ministry life of Jesus. Following his baptism, the faith-based movie tells the story of Jesus’ journey into the Judea wilderness where he stayed for 40 nights and was tempted by the devil. His childhood and upbringing are also highlighted.
“‘40 Nights,’ takes a figure, Jesus, whose persona has become mythical, distant and a mixture of collective, projected images. This tale steps outside the set norm that the masses have become comfortable with. Gone is the frail, waif of a man often portrayed in media. Our ‘40 Nights’ Jesus is strong — a craftsman who works with his hands. One who walks great distances to do what he feels must be done,” said DJ Perry, the producer and star of the movie.
He noted that Yuma’s landscape was a great fit for the desert backdrop he had initially envisioned for the film. He first made this discovery when he was in the area starring in and producing another movie, “Deadly Renovations,” with local writer and producer Charles Pisaeno and director Robert Gwinn. It was then that he toured the area and recognized what it had to offer, said Perry, who is also the chief executive officer of Collective Development Inc., the Michigan-based production company for “40 Nights.”
Some of the movie’s scenes were filmed along the banks of the Colorado River, in the Foothills, and at the Yuma Territorial Prison State Historic Park. Perry added that the Castle Dome Mines Museum, Blaisdel Mining Company, Gila Monster Farms and Champion Church also provided filming spots for the movie as well.
As far as actors go, Perry said people will recognize a number of Yuma faces throughout the film, performing alongside actors from all over the country. The Camel Farm also provided local four-legged cast members to be included in the movie.
The film crew spent almost a month in Yuma — prepping, shooting and wrapping up for “40 Nights.” Perry estimated that some local businesses may have seen a jump in sales when their team came to town — especially when they visited restaurants looking for a table to seat over 30 people.
“We used many local businesses and vendors. Food, lodging, and hardware — all got a boost in their business. Some of the vendors liked the themes in our film and choose to participate as sponsors. They either donated or discounted certain goods and services and they can be seen in the end credits of the film. These ‘incentives’ along with the kind attitudes of the people make it a desired location to return to,” said Perry, adding that they are shooting in Yuma again for the second movie in the series: “Chasing the Star.”
While “40 Nights” has already been shown in select theaters across the United States, Perry said that they are currently working with Harkins Theatres to show the movie locally as well. Champion Church also held a viewing of the movie on Sunday that drew a crowd of about 500 people, he added. The movie is set to be released on DVD on April 5.
“I do recommend seeing the film on the big screen if you can,” he said. “It’s truly epic in the camerawork and landscape. Much of that is because of the natural, second-to-none beauty surrounding Yuma, Ariz. We did catch some truly amazing things in this film as audiences will see.”
ChristianMovieDatabase.com named “40 Nights” one of the top 35 most anticipated Christian films of 2016. The movie was also recognized as being “faith-friendly” and is recommended for ages 12 and up by the Dove Foundation.