It was the overnight sensation that took a few years to get off the ground.
All of this started when Dallas Jenkins, the brains behind VidAngel’s “The Chosen,” created a short film for his church’s Christmas Eve service. It was a personal passion project he had no intention — at least not at that time — of scaling into a multi-season drama with a record-breaking budget.
Unbeknownst to him, an up-and-coming streaming service, VidAngel, caught wind of Jenkins’ film. Impressed by his work, they reached out to Jenkins, offering a partnership but explaining funding for the show would need to be crowdsourced.
“I got really excited, and then they said, ‘We think we can do it through crowdfunding,’ and I got really depressed,” the filmmaker recalled during an interview with Faithwire, confident it just wouldn’t work.
But then it worked. Through crowdfunding alone, Jenkins was able to raise more than $10 million from roughly 16,000 people around the world — a record-setting campaign.
On Tuesday, the team behind “The Chosen” released the official teaser for the first four episodes of the highly anticipated series:
What makes “The Chosen” different from other Bible series?
While most Bible-themed movies and miniseries — like filmmaking duo Mark Burnett and Roma Downey’s “The Bible” and “Son of God” — move quickly through the life of Jesus, jumping from verse to verse and miracle to miracle, Jenkins’ upcoming series will chronicle the day-to-day stories of Jesus’ life.
“[Movies] oftentimes are not able to really get into the characters who were actually impacted by Jesus, so it’s hard for the viewer to find someone they can really connect with,” Jenkins explained. “We believe this show, with the time we take and the connection we give to the characters, we can allow the audience to see Jesus through the eyes of those who actually met him.”
The goal, he added, is that people watching “The Chosen” might then “be changed” in the same way Jesus’ disciples were transformed by their encounters with the Son of God.
How has making the show changed or challenged Jenkins?
Each day of production — both on and off set — has presented its own challenges, reminding Jenkins to never settle into complacency, at least not for too long.
Over the course of his work for “The Chosen,” Jenkins said he has had to rely on God’s provision every single day, referencing Exodus 16, when the Israelites wandering in the desert trusted the Lord for sustenance.
“We learned to really rely on daily manna, like the Jewish people in the book of Exodus,” Jenkins recalled. “We just relied [on God] for our manna each day instead of anticipating or storing up manna for the future. We just basically had our hands open every day.”
And because “The Chosen” was entirely crowdfunded, Jenkins and his team have been able to maintain all creative license on the project, working overtime to ensure the story stays true to the biblical narrative.
While Jenkins often seeks advice from the VidAngel team, because they’re “smart guys,” he doesn’t rely on them for cash. As a result, he’s had more freedom than most in the entertainment industry.
“We’ve been able to hold on to the content and make sure that it’s biblically faithful and positive and faithful to the gospels and to the message of Christ,” he said.
To learn more about “The Chosen” or to watch the series, click here.