The Calling

The Calling

  • BY Daniel Alpert | IN Faith
    Premiered December 20, 2010

About the Film

It takes a true calling to make faith a way of life. The Calling is a four-hour documentary series that follows seven Muslims, Catholics, Evangelical Christians, and Jews on a dramatic journey as they train to become professional clergy. Embarking on life paths that demand tremendous personal sacrifice and commitment, these seminarians must uphold timeless truths in an era that values quick fixes and hot trends, and face a public that challenges the very relevance of their mission. A new look at an old job, The Calling takes viewers into the unknown world of seminaries to tell entertaining and compelling personal stories of how faith is lived in today. MORE

The Calling intercuts its characters’ stories from their first days of training, through years of study, and into their early practice as religious professionals. We follow them within and beyond the walls of their schools, confronting the sacrifices they’ve made to pursue this path. We see them debate theology and philosophy, learn to deliver sermons, perform their first weddings and funerals, and counsel people in crisis. We also experience them as young people at the crossroads of their lives, struggling with dating, partners, family, and other challenges of coming of age.

These young people are charismatic and real, driven and self-reflective, confident and humble. They are seeking to reconcile the modern world and their faith through music and activism; balancing their egos and their desire to serve, and blazing new paths to leadership while conserving age-old traditions.

As this new generation of religious leaders prepares to take its place in our society, our characters’ unfolding stories explore some of the current issues facing America’s religious communities. Islam strives to establish its American identity. The Catholic Church responds to sexual abuse scandals and to the profound demographic shift to a Spanish-speaking majority. African American churches adapt to women taking more active leadership roles.

The United States is one of the most religiously observant and spiritually diverse countries in the world, yet mainstream media has underplayed the significance of faith in our lives, and our pluralism has been addressed almost exclusively in terms of race and culture. Most explorations of faith often focus on single faiths, church scandals, fundamentalist extremists, or religion’s polarizing effect on society. The Calling underscores our spiritual common ground and offers intimate portraits for a nuanced examination of faith in America.

The Filmmaker

Daniel Alpert

Daniel Alpert is a producer, director, and editor whose films have aired on PBS, HBO, and A&E. Among other films, Alpert co-produced and edited Legacy, a feature-length documentary for HBO, which was nominated for a 2001 Academy Award, an Emmy Award, and was an official selection at the 2000 Sundance Film Festival. LESS

Film Credits

Yoni Brook
Alicia Dwyer
Musa Syeed
Maggie Bowman

Editor and Co-Producer
Susanne Suffredin

Series Director and Executive Producer
Daniel Alpert

Beth Sternheimer

Original Music by

Directors of Photography
Slawomir Grunberg
Yoni Brook
Dana Kupper
Michael Dwyer
Deborah Lewis
Tamara Goldsworthy
Ines Sommer

Assistant Editor
Josh Cass

Associate Producers
Adam Shamoon
Stacy Laiderman
Fenell Doremus

Series Development
Gail Evenari
Bunny Tavares

Additional Editors
Aaron Wickenden
Leslie Simmer
Amy Cargill

Additional Directing
Vicente Franco
Hector Galan
Gaby Bibliowicz

Additional Camera
Suree Towfighnia
Shana Hagan
Josh Salzman
John Foster
Sherif Helal
Tom Taylor
Sidney Lubitsch

Location Audio
George Ziadeh
Michael Stawnychy
Seth Tallman
Jesse Dwyer
Ben Steger
Donny Tam
John Mathie
Patrick Tillmann
Micah Bloomberg
John Slocum
Dave Curtin
John Bentley
Allen Green
Ben Turney
Rodrigo Salvatierra
Eric C. Williams
Charles Hamilton
Mike O’Reilly
Doc Jones
Thomas Hohmann
Justin Hennard
Richard Fleming
Gasser Khourshid

Production Assistants
Holly De Ruyter
Daniel Erikson
Mangai Arumugam
Jason Fabeck
Ben Stockton
Adina Kwasigroch
Michael Stewart
Daniel Quaka
Glenn McManus
Jason Polevoi
Josh Guffey
Elisabeth deKleer
Rebecca Rodriguez
Daniel Erickson
Katie Roper
Kelly Ventrelli
Erika Harper
Brett Garamella
Michael Lachney
Joshua Pfaff
Tim Weidelman
Julius Dobiesz
Michael Lovely
Dinga Haines
Austin Donohue
Joshua Skrobarczyk
T.J. Alston
Amber Mohammad
Octavio Olivares Zepeda
Toing Toingi
Katie Roper
Nicholas Bruckman
Ryan Wakeman
Sean Bloch
Thomas Luczak
Siraj Hasan
Josine Vermeulen
Sarah Raskin
Cynthia Castillo-Hill
Cindy Bromelmeier
Jessica Tevaga

On-line Editor

On-line Facility
Cutters Inc, Chicago

Graphics Designer
Sol Design FX

Sound Mix Facility
Another Country, Chicago

Ihsan Bagby
Dr. Randall Balmer
Rabbi Dr. Daniel M. Bronstein
Father Gerald Brown
Dr. Jackson W. Carroll
Fr. Virgilio P. Elizondo
Rabbi Irving Greenberg
Rev. Dr. Martin Marty
Archbishop George H. Niederauer
Imam Dr. Feisal Abdul Rauf
Dr. Jonathan Sarna
Barbara Wheeler

Community and Online Engagement
Active Voice
See3 Communications

Archival Footage Courtesy of
The Jewish Channel
NBC News Archives
CNN ImageSource
Getty Images
Papa Murphy’s

South Beach Diet

Music Supervisor
Amy Cargill

Music Recording and Mix
Colin Sipos

Music Recording Facility
Clava/Four Deuces Studio

Soundtrack Producer
Tim Rutili

Special Thanks
Andrea, Talia and Anina Alpert
Macky Alston
Benjamin Arevalos
Karen Armstrong
Azusa Pacific University/ Haggard Graduate School of Theology
Ripley Caine
Bishop Edward J. Burns
Greg Cameron
Fuller Theological Seminary
Ben Hasse
Hartford Seminary/ Macdonald Center for the Study of
Islam and Christian-Muslim Relations
Michael Hoffman
Michal Lewon
Fr. Dennis Lyle
Gregory Michaud
Jim Morrissette
Anne Northrup
Oblate School of Theology/ Assumption Seminary
Kevin O’Dowd
Jill Perlman
Gordon Quinn
Louise Rosen
Jeanie Rosensaft
Gita Saedi
Ben Shalva
J. Stephen Sheppard
Sohaib Sultan
University of St. Mary of the Lake/ Mundelein Seminary
Phil Wood
Michael Wolf
Working Films
Tami Yeager
Yeshivat Chovevei Torah Rabbinical School
And to the families, communities, and friends of our subjects who opened their lives to us.

For MRH — who never had the chance to answer.

Funding provided by
The Irving Harris Foundation
The Henry Luce Foundation
Hartley Film Foundation
The Zell Family Foundation
Richard H. Driehaus Foundation
E. Rhodes and Leona B. Carpenter Foundation
Maxine and Jack Zarrow Family Foundation

Executive Producer for ITVS
Sally Jo Fifer

The Calling is a co-production of The Kindling Group and the Independent Television Service (ITVS), in association with Pacific Islanders in Communications (PIC) and the National Black Programming Consortium (NBPC), with major funding provided by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting (CPB).

The Calling is produced by The Kindling Group who is solely responsible for its content.

© 2010 The Kindling Group. All rights reserved.

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