How A Crowdfunded Christian TV Series Could Change The Entertainment Industry By Emily Jashinsky for The Federalist
The Chosen’ is pioneering an innovative delivery method with potentially groundbreaking implications for content creators, particularly faith-based ones.
“The Chosen” is both an app and a television series. It is both the largest ever crowdfunded entertainment project, and a Christian program about the life of Jesus. It’s also flying under Hollywood’s radar. That’s quite alright by creator Dallas Jenkins, who says his team’s outsider status allows the show “to be really nimble.”
Besides developing a TV series, Jenkins and “The Chosen” team have developed an innovative delivery method with potentially groundbreaking implications for content creators, particularly faith-based ones. That’s because it circumvents Hollywood’s financing and distribution systems, as Jenkins told me in a Wednesday interview. Arriving at a time Christians feel increasingly alienated by Big Tech and the entertainment industry, “The Chosen” may have finally found the key to bypassing industry gatekeepers.
Jenkins, son of “Left Behind” co-author Jerry B. Jenkins, says the show has not been approached by any studios or networks, despite crashing past previous crowdfunding records set by “Mystery Science Theater 3000” and “Veronica Mars,” both of which raised around $5 million. “The Chosen” has raised more than $10 million, thanks to contributions from more than 19,000 donors. Distributed by VidAngel, the series uses a method called equity crowdfunding in its money-raising efforts.
The app is an unusually slick creation, housing the full eight-episode first season with easy access to casting technology and user-friendly opportunities to “pay it forward.” A message gives fans the first name, last initial, and location of the supporters who sponsored their individual viewing of the episode. When I open the app, a ticker at the top says the show is nearly up to seven million views.
The one-app-one-show structure is critical part of “The Chosen’s” innovation, alleviating the option paralysis so often induced by browsing big streamers. “If you want to watch this show, you don’t have to sort through a bunch of other shows on another streaming service, you can literally just get our show. And that’s what I think could be the future,” Jenkins said.
“Some people have said, ‘Oh, I can’t wait till you get picked up by a big studio, and we said, ‘We wouldn’t have developed a brand new technology and gone this whole route if we wanted to get picked up by a big studio,” Jenkins insists. “We’re not doing this to be sold, we’re doing this to create a whole new alternative for people.”