‘The Chosen’: See 30 photos from a tour and learn about the show’s new Texas set
News media were invited to Camp Hoblitzelle, south of Dallas, to see the film campus and production facilities of ‘The Chosen’
MIDLOTHIAN, Texas — Since 1956, The Salvation Army’s Camp Hoblitzelle’s 1,200-acre property and facilities have served as a summer camp for children and a conference and retreat center for civic, business, school and church groups all year-round.
The same landscape, located near the town of Midlothian on the southern side of the the Dallas-Fort Worth Metroplex, is now also the home of a first century Biblical film campus that includes a new, state-of-the-art, 30,000-square-foot soundstage.
After agreeing to a multiyear lease, “The Chosen” spent millions building an authentic first-century Biblical village set that covers two football fields, a 30,000-square-foot soundstage and other production facilities to accommodate four more seasons for the faith-based show about Jesus, and possibly other future productions. Construction was completed in about nine months.
“We were looking for a place that would be convenient for cast and crew, where we could capture the essence of the Middle Eastern locales where Jesus’ ministry took place,” said Brad Pelo, president of “The Chosen.” “When we saw this site and the wide open spaces with rolling hills, we knew it was the place to build our soundstage and set, and to become our home for years to come.”
Now “The Chosen” has called “that’s a wrap” on the filming of Season 3 at its new home. The popular faith-based series is planning a theatrical release of its first two episode starting on Nov. 18.
Producers of “The Chosen” invited news media to tour the Biblical set, soundstage and other Camp Hoblitzelle facilities in mid August. Cast and crew were also available for interviews.
Here’s a look at show’s new Texas home, along with facts, details and comments regarding the set and upcoming Season 3 from the cast and crew.
Season 1 and 2 were filmed at Capernaum Studios in Weatherford, Texas, and on a Jerusalem set near Goshen, Utah.
But “The Chosen” needed a more permanent home, which led the show to its partnership with The Salvation Army’s Camp Hoblitzelle.
The new 2-acre, authentic Biblical village was created to accommodate and reuse as many as 80 different sets capable of portraying multiple cities.
“We built diversity into this set,” said Jeff Staebler, art director for “The Chosen.” “One side of the street could have one design and the other side of the street can have something completely different. What we have here is Capernaum, Jericho, Perea, Decapolis, Jerusalem and more.”
The set includes:
- A Roman section complete with soldier barracks, painted symbols and replica graffiti from Pompeii. There is a large mosaic featuring Neptune, the Roman god of water and seas.
- Replica first-century Jewish homes.
- A first-century cafe and butcher shop.
- Recognizable set designs from Season 1, such as Matthew’s tax collector home.
- Fake palm trees.
- A governor’s mansion.
- There are plans to bring in olive trees at some point to help recreate the Garden of Gethsemane.
Even with their new home, producers said they will continue to split time between Texas and Utah to use the Jerusalem set near Goshen.
The climate-controlled soundstage is 270 feet long, 120 feet wide and 60 feet high, and includes two stories of additional office space. It’s a first-of-its-kind, not only in Texas, but around the country, according to producers of “The Chosen.”
“This is the future of Christian media,” Brad Fogerty, director of people and culture. “It’s our hope that the film campus — years after ‘The Chosen’ is finished — is influencing the next generation of television and film in the Christian community.”
The soundstage is a dome-shaped, sprung structure, constructed in a short time and engineered to withstand all types of weather. It’s sound-proof and provides long-term quality for a lower cost. The soundstage is capable of withstanding 100-mile-an-hour winds, producers said.
“We don’t have to worry about airplanes, helicopters or storms,” Fogerty said. “When the doors are closed, we are in complete control of the elements, rain or shine.”
“I can’t even tell you how convenient it is to have everything all in one location,” said Adam Swerdlow, vice president of operations.
Other production facilities
Along with the Biblical village and soundstage, there are 24 bungalows, about 200 square feet of space for actors and actresses to have an air conditioned-room with a bathroom, couch, desk and mirror to relax and rehearse lines.
Near the soundstage and bungalows is a spacious cafeteria and gathering place.
“This is where ‘The Chosen’ will live,” Swerdlow said.
The cast members love the set and facilities.
“We’re so excited to have all of that available,” said Lara Silva, who plays Simon’s wife, Eden. “The village is wonderful. It feels like you are there in the period. It’s awesome, such a blessing.”
The new production facilities should elevate the show to feel comparable to big-budgeted shows on other major streaming platforms, Pelo said.
“The story is not only great, but we have amazing sets. We have the special effects that the big houses have,” he said. “So we have finally matured to that level.”
Popular American radio personality Delilah Rene was among the news media who toured the Camp Hoblitzelle film campus and production facilities. She came away impressed.
“The facilities are amazing,” she said. “The set is top of the line. I’ve been in a lot of soundstages in New York, Los Angeles and Seattle, and they are nothing like that. It’s the best of the best. But I’m also geeked-out because I’m a fan and I got to see some of the stars today.”
What’s exciting about Season 3?
What Brandon Potter, “The Chosen’s” evil, bald Roman bad guy, finds exciting about Season 3 is that “it’s going to be darker.”
“Obviously that means the hope has to burn brighter, and I think that will be satisfying to audiences,” he said. “I think we are ready to see that there are consequences for these people for following Jesus. I’m excited to see what that does for the audience. I’m excited to see how it changes the characters. It’s going to be a great season.”
Season 3 will take the audience deeper in the characters’ backstories and test their mettle as disciples of Christ.
“They day they signed up was a beautiful day, but now the hard work begins,” Pelo said. “Now the persecution is real. It’s aimed at them personally and at the message. Now there is hardship. ... The reality of being a faithful follower comes out in this next season. We all know where the story is leading, and the stakes get higher every season. I think we’ll all be impacted more deeply.”