Production has begun on the second season of ‘The Chosen,’ which began filming on October 9 in Goshen, Utah.

Costing more than $1,120,000 per episode, “The Chosen” is a high-quality telling of the life of Jesus and the people around Him.  The award-winning, multi-season series has been viewed more than 60 million times worldwide.  VidAngel, which distributes “The Chosen,” raised more than $10 million to produce Season One, and, by the end of September, has generated about $9 million to go toward Season Two according to CEO Neal Harmon. 

Launched in 2013, VidAngel began by offering families the ability to skip and mute movies and TV shows available for streaming.  The company started making its own content after several major studios – Disney, LucasFilm, Twentieth Century Fox, Warner Bros., Turner Entertainment, New Line Productions and MVL Film Finance – sued VidAngel in 2016.

A federal court in Los Angeles awarded the studios $62.4 million, but VidAngel, which declared bankruptcy, settled with Disney, Warner Brothers and the others in September, agreeing not to “decrypt, copy, stream or distribute content of Disney, Warner Brothers, and their affiliates without permission from the Studios,” drop their appeal and pay $9.9 million over 14 years. 

It was the best thing to happen to the upstart company, according to Mr. Harmon.  “We’ve had to build a system outside the system,” he told me during a telephone interview.  “It’s a beachhead for transforming entertainment for the rest of us.”  

Consumers are tired of funneling money to Hollywood studios that have contempt for what they believe, he said, noting that VidAngel is geared toward “the most underserved and marginalized audiences – like people of faith.”

“We’re finished trying to make money for Hollywood studios who abhor that we’re skipping objectionable parts of their shows and sue us for it,” he continued.  “If they’re not willing to cooperate, we have no choice but to replace them.” 

Clean Comedy Too

In addition to producing “The Chosen,” VidAngel has another original series called “Dry Bar Comedy,” which allows people to “vote” for their favorite comedians according to audience share and what they skip.  If the comedians resort to crudeness, they don’t make it. If they stay family friendly, they get bonuses.  Begun in 2017 in an old bar and dance club in Provo, Utah, that Neal and his brother Jeff Harmon leased, the series has already registered more than a billion views, Neal said, adding that VidAngel also has plans for new crowdfunded series in the near future.   

“The Chosen’s” Success

Debuting in November 2019, following a pilot in 2017, “The Chosen’s” first season had eight episodes, the first four of which can be screened for free at the series’ website

Created by evangelical Christian filmmaker Dallas Jenkins, son of “Left Behind” co-author Jerry Jenkins, the series has astounded believers and non-believers alike with its gripping stories, tight writing, superb acting and Hollywood-level production values.  According to a National Research Group marketing survey in September commissioned by VidAngel, the potential U.S. audience for “The Chosen” is over 41 million.  

The first season was filmed in Weatherford Texas, near Dallas, but viewers would swear it was shot in the Holy Land. 

The second season may prove to look even more authentic, since VidAngel has secured use of a Jerusalem set built and owned by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints (previously referred to as “Mormons”) near Provo, Utah.  Mr. Harmon, who is a member of said church, and works with Catholics, Protestants and Messianic Jews on the project, said that those who have been to the Holy Land in Israel and to the set can’t believe the likeness of the terrain and architecture. “They feel like they’re in Israel when they’re on the set,” he said.

MOVIEGUIDE® Honors the Series

At the 2020 MOVIEGUIDE® awards, “The Chosen” finished in the top three in the television category for the Epiphany Prize for inspiring movies and TV.  Jonathan Roumie won the television Grace Award for his portrayal of Jesus in “The Chosen: Episode 8: I Am He.” 

Timothy Partners, sponsor of the Timothy Plan Family of Mutual Funds, has long supported MOVIEGUIDE® and the Christian Film & Television Commission, which were founded by Ted Baehr and his wife Lili in 1985.  

“‘THE CHOSEN: I Am He’ personifies Jesus in a profoundly relational, emotional and spiritual way,” says the MOVIEGUIDE® summary accompanying the Grace Award. “What’s even more moving is how He connects to those around Him. To see forgiveness in action compels viewers to repent of their own sins. To hear Jesus declare Himself the Messiah in the episode is a moving experience.”

First-Rate Acting

Throughout the series, India-born Erick Avari brings gravitas and humanity to the role of Nicodemus, the Pharisee who secretly learns for himself what Jesus is all about. His performance is reminiscent of Alec Guinness’s turn as Obi-wan Kenobi in Star Wars, with a dash more emotion. 

The actors who portray the disciples, led by Shahar Isaac as Simon Peter and Paras Patel as the tax collector Matthew, are also excellent, as are Elizabeth Tabish as Mary Magdalene, Lara Silva as Eden (Peter’s wife), Brandon Potter as the coolly malevolent Roman official Praetor Quintus, Janis Dardaris as Zohara, Nicodemus’s wife, and many others. 

“‘I Am He’ goes beyond what’s written in Scripture regarding the life of Nicodemus,” MOVIEGUIDE® notes, advising viewers “to read the Bible for themselves to see what the differences are.”

This past year, as previously, Timothy Partners sponsored the Kairos writing awards for veteran and new screenwriters, and is sponsoring the 2020 awards, which will be announced in February 2021 at MOVIEGUIDE’s annual gala and awards ceremony.  The deadline for submission of scripts for the 2020 awards was extended to Oct. 14, Mr. Baehr said. 

“It’s not enough to curse the darkness,” says Timothy Plan founder and President Art Ally. “The Lord has been honored over the years with timeless music by the likes of J.S. Bach, John Newton’s ‘Amazing Grace,’ Fanny Crosby’s hundreds of hymns and George Frideric Handel’s ‘The Messiah.’  

“We feel the same way about movies and TV.  It’s too important to ignore. MOVIEGUIDE® not only warns viewers about content in current films, but points the way toward positive, faith-friendly entertainment that is uplifting, inspiring and memorable. ‘The Chosen’ is right up there.”

Six More Seasons

Dallas Jenkins is an independent filmmaker who broke into the field 20 years ago with “Hometown Legend” when he was just 25 years old.  Since then, he has directed and produced more than a dozen feature and short films for Universal, Lionsgate, Pureflix, Hallmark Channel and Amazon. His most recent film, “The Resurrection of Gavin Stone, “was released in theaters in 2017.

Recently, he told visitors to “The Chosen” Facebook page that given the support they were receiving, he was confident that his crew would be making up to six more seasons of “The Chosen.” 

“The Chosen” can be purchased on DVD or Blu-Ray or digitally, or viewed for free in a mobile app, or can be found in the Apple or Android app store.  The series can also be viewed on TV through a screening device.  

The producers are also conducting a “pay it forward” campaign for donations to ensure that the series is screened around the world. 

“This deserves to be seen far and wide,” Mr. Ally said.

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