It seems an impossible dream. Since 2011, Sorbonne graduate, EWTN alumnus and film-maker Daniel Rabourdin has been hard at work on a docudrama on the hidden horror of 140,000 French Catholic martyrs killed in 1796 – and up until recently denied by the French government. To get updated on his progress, REGINA recently spoke with Daniel in Los Angeles.
REGINA: Congratulations! You are in post-production of The Hidden Rebellion — doing pretty well, given the odds!
DANIEL: Thank you. The docudrama has actually gone through two new big steps toward completion. We created thirteen animated maps and established a graphic style.
REGINA: You have engaged many people in America and France to support this project. How many have worked on this and have contributed thus far?
DANIEL: Quite a few people. I would say that the number of film professionals has been around 50. The number of actors and reenactors has been around 300. Most of the professionals spontaneously volunteer their help at first. For example, a young woman who films some extra shots of windmills in Vendee. Or a computer engineer without a job who organized our You Tube channel.
And then I must consider all of those amazing supporters who are helping us financially with $20 or $3000 – so far, about 640 people from around the world. Every week some new hero jumps on this train; about half are American.
Another beautiful thing it that supporters are becoming associates. Often they already have a liking for film making or they are eager to learn. So, for example, I poll them about if they like this voice talent or another, about a way or another to go in style…
Basically, we are creating a community around a film.
Making a docudrama is very long. The maps took around 120 hours to be made. The Opening Credits required 40 hours.
DANIEL: Yes, because we used the printing characters of 18th century France. You will notice that the background is composed with letters and envelopes of the time period.
Honestly, if those historical letters had been left to me, I would not have given them much of a chance. They did not look particularly exciting to me, a 52 year-old European.
DANIEL RABOURDIN ON THE SET WITH ACTORS in the Vendee region of France, filming his docudrama.
REGINA: But something made you change your mind?
DANIEL: Yes, when our 25 year-old American production assistant, Andrew, laid eyes on them, he was excited. With their ancient look, they were exotic to him. Our writer, Matthew, confirmed this; so I was sold on the idea. Now, Phase 1 and 2 have been accomplished and I am quite proud of the results.
REGINA: Well, these details elevate the quality of a TV production, we understand. Isn’t that your voice, over the map?
DANIEL: Yes, but it will be replaced by a professional actor’s. This is how we do it sometimes: my voice is a “place holder”. It occupies the space in the show and it allows us to build around it with maps, music texts etc. This, before we pay a good actor for a final version — in Phase 3! At that point, as we have chosen a music, for example, we discover that the mood created by the music allows us to say something slightly better for the story. So now we can go to the professional talent with a perfected copy to read.
REGINA: What’s next?
DANIEL: We are going to record the two final professional actors as well as polish the maps and there is also editing over and over again.
This editing is fascinating, but it takes weeks and weeks, if not months and months. And you know, it is amazing the difference that one third of a second makes when you place a shot… or the effect of a long “fade to black”, a “stay on black” for two seconds and then the coming back on video with a “cut to”. The black says: we finished a phase. Time passes by. And now comes “a new dawn”.
REGINA: Any difficulties?
DANIEL: Oh, plenty. Every day! It has been a challenge to find the main voice talents. We needed a man and a woman who could understand the spiritual point of view of Catholic Vendéeans in the 18th century. It’s not easy to find, especially in a new land like America.
REGINA: Tell us more about what you mean by this.
DANIEL: The Christians, then, had Christian honor and loyalty which was mixed with their peasant humility. It was a time when the children would kiss the hands of the priests for handling the “bread of angels”. The drowning of their priests made their blood boil. They would hide them at the risk of being killed with them, and they were killed. It was a Catholic resistance.
REGINA: Yes, this would be extremely hard for most modern people to understand.
DANIEL: Plus, technically speaking, we needed the actor to speak with a slight French accent.
REGINA: It sounds impossible, even in Los Angeles where actors are thick on the ground!
DANIEL: Yes, in fact, one of our partners suggested that finding a spiritual American actor capable of a slight French accent was perhaps impossible. But here is where maybe Divine Providence steps in. Well, that night I went to a Theology on Tap in Hollywood, and the first American man I spoke to answered me in French. When I asked him what his profession was, he told me he was a voice talent!
REGINA: Really? A micro-miracle! So what stage are you at now?
DANIEL: To accelerate the completion of editing I drove to Los Angeles and I now work with two editors plus our graphic designer in Alabama to bring the last touches to the maps. I am also casting those actors.
ORIGINAL MAP FOR THE FILM showing the approaches of various armies closing in on the Vendee.
REGINA: And what comes next?
DANIEL: With the support of your readers — of people who are tired of seeing Christians never being defended, we are about to do three things: finish the 12 or so maps who are only 80% done, record the professional voice talents and continue the editing. So in a month, if we find the support, we will show you a new map with the professional voice-over this time… and maybe an excerpt of Act 2.
REGINA: You spoke about your young co-workers on the project. People don’t normally think of Hollywood as a place with young Catholics.
DANIEL: Yes and what’s more, those Catholic actors, assistants, and writers, they pray for Hollywood. Many are poor. But they live a truly engaged life because they have a great cause to fight for.
REGINA: If you don’t mind us saying so, you are also very deeply involved with what some would say is a project. What makes you go on, even against such seemingly insurmountable odds?
DANIEL: The French Revolution holds the role of a historic ‘mother figure’ for Western radicals and the dominant mainstream media in the West. When and if the fact of this horrific genocide is made known to a global audience, the public discourse about this disastrous ideology will be altered. The situation of Christians and actually all men at the hand of collectivist governments will improve.
REGINA: How so?
DANIEL: Unless people begin to understand the reality of what happened, they will continue to believe the highly successful ideology about this bloody and unjust ‘revolution’. Once the story of the Vendee is acknowledged, the French Revolution can begin to be seen by new generations for what it was – and the disasters it unleashed across Europe and the New World will be understood in their true light.
PARISH LIST OF MARTYRS KILLED IN THE VENDEE in the uprising of 1794.
REGINA: Anything you want to convey to REGINA’s readers?
DANIEL: Yes, that, as a team we are producing The Hidden Rebellion on behalf of your readers who are, with us, the Church. I want to tell them that we are working for them. We are together in this cause. Politically-correct productions have a lot of easy money flowing to them; we do not but we have the real people of America and France. Together, we will make a difference.
So may the good God bless them as they take a stand with us and may the prayers of the martyrs of Vendée be with them.
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November 30, 2016.