Two documentaries by Sam Katz's Emmy-winning production company will capture Pope Francis' visit to Philadelphia - and the months of behind-the-scenes preparation leading up to it.
The Archdiocese of Philadelphia announced Monday that it is commissioning Katz's History Making Productions to create two documentaries. The first will feature the lead-up to Francis' visit and the World Meeting of Families, an international Catholic conference being held in Philadelphia from Sept. 22 to 25. The second will focus on Francis' two-day stay that Saturday and Sunday.
The goal is to have the documentaries available for purchase on DVD and digitally in time for the holidays, Katz said. Proceeds will go to the World Meeting of Families - Philadelphia 2015, a nonprofit created to plan the international gathering and the papal visit.
When Pope John Paul II visited Philadelphia in 1979, there was no official video record of his time here, Katz noted.
"That problem is going to be corrected," he said. "The scope and magnitude of this in terms of both the spiritual and physical presence of so many people, and the personality of Pope Francis and what his presence means to what has been a beleaguered archdiocese, is really a moment for pivoting to a better future."
Katz, who is Jewish, has studied Catholicism in Philadelphia extensively and is filming a three-part series, Urban Trinity: The Story of Catholic Philadelphia. The 75-minute series will be premiered at the Perelman Theater at the Kimmel Center for the Performing Arts during the week of the World Meeting of Families.
For papal coverage, the production team will draw from the thousands of news crews expected to descend on Philadelphia, as well as its own footage.
Katz, a municipal finance expert and three-time mayoral candidate, has been mulling a fourth run as an independent in September. He said he is not worried about the prospect of juggling film edits with door-knocking.
"If I had to make these films, we'd be in big trouble," he said. "The people who work here are very talented. The job that we're doing on these two films will require my attention, no doubt, but until the World Meeting of Families is actually over, we can't really produce everything."
Katz's team will also create a series of free travel shorts for the World Meeting of Families to showcase local Catholic sites for visitors, including area shrines, university campuses, and historically significant churches.
The first in that series was released today on the World Meeting website - worldmeeting2015.org - and chronicles the artistic process of Neilson Carlin, a Kennett Square artist who created the official image for the event, a painted depiction of the Holy Family.
Editor's Note: This story was revised to reflect that proceeds of the sales of the DVD will go to the non-profit organizing the World Meeting of Families, not the archdiocese.