Dallas Jenkins, creator and director of “The Chosen,” appeared on Allie Beth Stuckey’s “Relatable” podcast last week to discuss the show’s third season.
In their conversation, Jenkins shared how he became a Christian filmmaker, reflected on the approach he takes when writing the show, and the two discussed the recurring accusations of which the show has been subject for alleged connections with the Church of Latter-day Saints and LDS theology.
Speaking to how he became passionate about filmmaking, Jenkins cited the 1975 film “One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest” as his inspiration. The film ignited a desire in Jenkins to use filmmaking to evoke a meaningful, emotional response in the hearts of viewers.
Only, when it came to faith-based films and media, Jenkins was never really impressed with what he saw.
“My thought was, as a young guy growing up—I grew up in the faith and as a Christian—I loved TV and movies but there wasn’t anything that represented my faith that I liked as much as the normal TV and movies I would watch,” Jenkins said. “If there was a Christian movie that came out, it wasn’t any good.”
Nevertheless, Jenkins knew that he wanted to incorporate his faith into his films.
“So I didn’t know what kind of movies I necessarily wanted to make, but I knew that I wanted to get into that in some way,” Jenkins said. “And I thought it’d be good to represent my stories in some way, stories of faith.”
“I remember there was a moment,” Jenkins continued. “I think it was around 2007 or so, I was mowing the lawn, and I felt like God just put it really strongly on my heart. Because I was kind of bad-mouthing/apologizing for faith-based films. ‘Like I don’t really wanna do that because they’re so bad.’ And God was like, ‘My people deserve good stuff too. So why don’t you just make it better?’”
“I’ve found that people that rejected stories of faith were rejecting more the quality than they were necessarily the story,” Jenkins said. “There are plenty of people who aren’t believers who will watch a movie or TV show that comes from a faith perspective or is about a faith story if it’s compelling…We found that with ‘The Chosen.'”
Ironically, when Jenkins got the idea for “The Chosen,” he didn’t feel confident that it would ever become a reality. He had directed a film that had just bombed at the box office, and “there’s not people lining up around the block to do a Jesus show.”
Nevertheless, when Jenkins created a short film for his church about the birth of Christ from the perspective of shepherds, it went viral on social media, leading to the eventual crowdfunding of “The Chosen.”
“I’m not surprised, because God can do anything,” Jenkins said. “But I wouldn’t have been surprised if it would have failed as well—for whatever you want to consider ‘failure.’”
While “The Chosen” chronicles the life and ministry of Jesus, Jenkins and his team have taken considerable creative license with many of the stories, often imagining the details left out of well-worn biblical accounts, as well as creating other vignettes whole cloth.