Mitch Davis

Mitch Davis is an American film director, writer, and producer noted for his 2001 film The Other Side of Heaven about the trials and adventures of an LDS Missionary, John H. Groberg.[1] His movies range from intense dramas to lighthearted, family-friendly comedies. He has written seven films, directed five, and produced three. He is from Escondido, California. He attended Brigham Young University (BYU) and the University of Southern California.

Mitch Davis
NationalityAmerican
Alma materBrigham Young University University of Southern California
OccupationDirector, Producer, Writer
Years active1989-present
Notable work
Home townEscondido, California
Spouse(s)Michelle Davis
Children4

Personal lifeEdit

Davis is a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. He served as an LDS Missionary in Córdoba, Argentina[2] in the 1970s and received a bachelor's degree in English from Brigham Young University (BYU) in 1982.[3] It was in an introduction to film class at BYU where Davis first watched It's a Wonderful Life, the film that first showed him the impact movies could have on the lives of individuals. He described it as "a spiritual experience," saying that, after watching it, he "walked around campus in a daze...that movie just made me want to be a better person."[2] His goal in film making is to uplift and inspire on a global scale.[4] Davis later attended the University of Southern California and graduated with his Master of Arts in film production in 1989.[5] He is married to Michelle Davis, and has three sons and a daughter.[6]

Professional careerEdit

After graduating from BYU, Davis first worked as a mainframe computer salesman. While attending graduate school, Davis worked as an intern at Disney. He went on to become a creative executive, working on films such as Dead Poet’s Society (1989), White Fang (1991), The Rocketeer (1991), and Newsies (1992). Davis wrote the screenplay for the Disney Channel film Windrunner (1994). He then worked as Vice President of Development of Columbia’s Cash & Epps Entertainment company.

While working as a screenwriter, Davis realized how much directors and producers could change his original work. He became a director and producer to ensure that his films would be released how he originally envisioned them. He explained: "That's how I became a filmmaker top to bottom; I was kind of backed into it."[4]

Davis was struck by lightning while on a camping trip in Colorado.[7] This near-death experience motivated him to begin production on The Other Side of Heaven. It was inspired by John H. Groberg's book, In the Eye of the Storm. Davis and his family moved to the Cook Islands to make the film. There, Davis worked alongside producer Gerald R. Molen and John Garbett.[8] It was released on December 14, 2001. More than three million copies of the film have been sold; about 200 million people worldwide have seen it.[7] Davis stated that the film was "played in nearly every majority-Muslim country in the world."[9]

After The Other Side of Heaven, he wrote and directed Language of the Enemy (originally entitled A House Divided), a story about an American Jewish man's travel to Israel and his subsequent romantic relationship with a Palestinian woman.[10] Davis then wrote a three-part documentary series for BYUtv entitled Fires of Faith: The Coming Forth of the King James Bible, a historical piece featuring figures such as William Tyndale, Martin Luther, and King Henry VIII.[11] He continued with BYUtv to write another documentary about Handel's Messiah in 2014.[12] In 2015 he wrote, directed, and produced Christmas Eve, a family holiday comedy starring Sir Patrick Stewart.[13] In 2017 he released The Stray, which showcased his own life experience. Davis co-wrote the PBS docudrama Joseph Smith: American Prophet in 2017, a remake of the 1999 film of the same name.

The Other Side of Heaven 2: Fire of Faith, a sequel to Davis's previous film, was released on June 28, 2019.[14] It is set 10 years after the original, and tells the story of Elder Groberg's return to Tonga with his family.

Davis has released a book entitled Journey of Faith: The Making of the Other Side of Heaven, with Gerald R. Molen and John Garbett as co-authors. The Other Side of Heaven: The Screenplay is also available.

FilmographyEdit

Theatrical releasesEdit

Year Film Director Producer Writer Starring
1994 Windrunner No No Yes Russell Means, Margot Kidder
2001 The Other Side of Heaven Yes No Yes Anne Hathaway, Christopher Gorham
2015 Christmas Eve Yes Yes Yes Patrick Stewart, Jon Heder, James Roday, Cheryl Hines, Gary Cole, Max Casella
2017 The Stray Yes Yes Yes Michael Cassidy, Sarah Lancaster
2019 The Other Side of Heaven 2: Fire of Faith Yes Yes Yes Christopher Gorham, Natalie Medlock, Ben Baker

Other releasesEdit

Year Film/Series Director Producer Writer Starring
2010 (DVD) Language of the Enemy Yes No Yes F. Murray Abraham, Eion Bailey, Linda Hardy
2011

(TV)

Fires of Faith: The Coming Forth of the King James Bible No No No (documentary series)
2014 (TV) Handel's Messiah No No Yes (documentary)
2017

(TV)

Joseph Smith: American Prophet No No Yes Gregory Peck (narrator), John Foss, Anna Daines

Awards and nominationsEdit

  • Winner of the 2003 CAMIE (Character and Morality in Entertainment) Award for The Other Side of Heaven, along with Gerald R. Molen, John Garbett, John H. Groberg, Christopher Gorham, and Anne Hathaway.
  • Finalist for the 2015 AML Award (film category) for Christmas Eve.[15]
  • Winner of the 2019 AML Award (narrative-feature-film category) for The Other Side of Heaven 2: Fire of Faith.[16]

ReferencesEdit

  1. ^ The Other Side of Heaven, retrieved 2020-01-10
  2. ^ a b "Other Side of Heaven Director on Risking It All". BYU Magazine. Retrieved 2020-01-10.
  3. ^ "Taking It to the Big Screen". BYU Magazine. Retrieved 2020-01-14.
  4. ^ a b Harman, Hayden (2014-08-19). "The man behind the movies: Mitch Davis". The Daily Universe. Retrieved 2020-01-14.
  5. ^ "Mitch Davis". IMDb. Retrieved 2020-01-10.
  6. ^ "The Miracle Stray Dog That Saved the Life of One LDS Family". LDS Living. 2018-02-08. Retrieved 2020-01-14.
  7. ^ a b "How Being Hit by Lightning Led Mormon Mitch Davis to Create Disney's "The Other Side of Heaven"". LDS Living. 2017-09-22. Retrieved 2020-01-10.
  8. ^ "Mitch Davis - Feature Film Director". www.ldsfilm.com. Retrieved 2020-01-10.
  9. ^ "'Other Side of Heaven' filmmaker has big plans to take the LDS missionary story's sequel worldwide". The Salt Lake Tribune. Retrieved 2020-01-10.
  10. ^ Language of the Enemy, retrieved 2020-01-10
  11. ^ Toone, Trent (2011-10-15). "BYUtv tells story of the King James Bible in 'Fires of Faith'". Deseret News. Retrieved 2020-01-16.
  12. ^ Handel's Messiah, retrieved 2020-01-16
  13. ^ Christmas Eve, retrieved 2020-01-16
  14. ^ The Other Side of Heaven 2: Fire of Faith, retrieved 2020-01-10
  15. ^ "2015 AML Awards Finalists #6: Film". Dawning of a Brighter Day. 2016-02-11. Retrieved 2020-01-16.
  16. ^ "2019 AML Award Winners" by Andrew Hall. Dawning of a Brighter Day. Association for Mormon Letters. 2 May 2020. Accessed 2 May 2020.

External linksEdit