The Aiello brothers’ background in writing and producing film highlights work with Kevin Bacon, Sandra Bullock, and a host of Hollywood A-listers in successful mainstream films. This spring, Patrick and Paul Aiello used their influence to help create Risen, the unofficial sequel to Mel Gibson’s 2004 hitl film, The Passion of the Christ. On the cusp of the home media release of their Biblical thriller, the brothers sat down to discuss their work with Christian Cinema.
I initially asked the two to discuss working together, and specifically on the “sequel” to such a successful Christian project. Patrick proposed that it’s actually easier to work with Paul because of their family background. “There’s history there, and a trust. Sometimes, we don’t even need to say anything to know what the other is thinking,” he admitted. “We’re both Christians, so working on this was something we both believed in. Paul came up with the story.”
“I got the idea while I was sitting in the theater watching The Passion,” Paul added. “Watching such a grueling experience, it seemed obvious to me that the next stage was for the glory of Christ to be revealed. If you remember in the Passion, there’s this moment where the stone rolls away, and Jesus emerges healed and glorified. That’s where this started.”
The two decided that they wanted to tell the post-Resurrection story through the eyes of a non-believer. While the two are working on a third installment in the story, they spent most of the interview talking about what it meant to tell a good story that also shared their faith.
“We felt like The Passion was like Braveheart, and we wanted our story of the Resurrection to be film noir,” Patrick said.
Paul chimed in, “It’s an original take on a story that lots of people already know. But we made it into a detective story where we put the audience a few streets over from the main thing going on. This allowed us to connect the dots on something that’s not really fleshed out in Scripture; what happened next?”
“The audience is way ahead of the lead character [Joseph Fiennes’ Clavius] but we get to see this wonderful development in character and understanding as it plays out.”
Paul shared that the original arc for the storytelling involved meeting the disciples at their low point (the death of Jesus) and meeting Clavius at his high point (military victory), and then watching them cross paths in opposite directions.
The Aiellos’ love for spills over as they talked about the way they put the film together, and how excited they were for audiences to see the extra features on the home media releases. “We really want the audience that gets it to be able to embrace the story.” Patrick said. “We worked hard with Sony to make those features, the interviews and the commentaries, mean more, to show people how we crafted the story.”
“They did a great job of transforming Malta into 33 A.D. Jerusalem!” exclaimed Paul with a laugh. “It’s just one of the things that the audience will see on the home release – and another way that the film will be humanized for people to have an even stronger involvement in how the story unfolds.”