"The Chosen," a multi-season TV series about the life of Jesus by the streaming service VidAngel, recently raised more than $4 million, becoming one of the most crowdfunded entertainment properties ever.
"The Chosen" ranks number 4 in the top crowdfunding list of film and TV projects of all time, the only Christian project in the top 5. Number #1 is "Mystery Science Theater 3000."
The producers have a goal of $13 million to make the series. The Christmas themed first episode, titled "The Shepherd: A Story of the First Christmas," was released during the holidays in 2017.
“The Chosen” is directed by Dallas Jenkins, who also directed "The Resurrection of Gavin Stone,” is looking to spend a minimum of $400,000 per episode to cover cast, locations, crew, and equipment.
Jenkins was on location when he answered a few questions from MRCTV:
MRCTV: Your new project is "The Chosen," a Vid Angel series on the life of Christ. It's a well-known story and you've said you wanted to tell it in a "fresh" way. What can you tell us about the series?
JENKINS: My favorite endorsement of our special pilot episode came from Joni Eareckson Tada, who said, "Thank you for telling the 'old, old story' in an impossibly fresh way." I've been a believer my whole life, I've seen every Jesus movie and mini-series there is, and I think my approach to this multi-season series comes from my desire to revive my and the viewer's passion for the stories of Christ. Because I won't change what's in the scriptures, obviously the best way to do this is to tell familiar stories from a different perspective, and really dig deeper, which we can do with multiple seasons. And based on the reaction we've received from the pilot episode about the birth of Christ from the perspective of the shepherds, it's clear there's an appetite for this show, which will give fresh life to the characters Jesus touched.
MRCTV: You've successfully fundraised $4 million online, a huge sum. What does this tell you about the demand for Christian entertainment?
JENKINS: Well, there's always been a demand for Christian entertainment, but I definitely didn't anticipate that this crowd-fund would generate this kind of interest. The guys who own VidAngel, our distribution partner, saw this coming before I did. People are binge-watching shows more than ever, so we can't we do that as a family with the stories of the gospels? What's more binge-worthy than that?
MRCTV: Kevin Sorbo once said to me in an interview that Christian films are getting better and better, with great acting and production values. Who is on your team for this?
JENKINS: We're building our team now, and yes, faith-based entertainment continues to get better. And a show about Jesus demands a budget worthy of the greatest story ever told, which is why we're raising $1 million per episode. We won't be casting celebrities, we're going to make sure the budget goes towards making sure every frame feels as authentic as possible.
MRCTV: What is it like for a Christian in Hollywood?
JENKINS: I love Hollywood, and I've met some great people. But it's no secret that the overwhelming majority of Hollywood people aren't Christians or familiar with our culture, and that's fine. That's oftentimes makes it challenging to find sustainable success in Hollywood doing faith-based content, but guys like Rich Peluso at Sony Affirm and the Kendrick Brothers and Erwin Brothers have shown it's certainly possible. But I'm doing this series with a combination of Hollywood and outside Hollywood forces.
MRCTV: What is your timeline for "The Chosen" and when can viewers expect to see it?
JENKINS: The special pilot episode is available now on Facebook and youtube. As soon as we hit $4.5 million, we're going to greenlight pre-production on the first four episodes of Season 1, and then while we're producing those, we'll be fundraising for the rest of the episodes and the marketing. Our goal is to have at least the first four episodes released Easter 2019. But don't be surprised if the first episode of Season 1 is released early, hint hint.