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A conversation with Dallas Jenkins - S9.E12


WORLD Radio - A conversation with Dallas Jenkins - S9.E12

Christian filmmaker talks about writing, filming, and directing the wildly popular streaming series, The Chosen

Dallas Jenkins Handout

WARREN SMITH, HOST: I’m Warren Smith, and today you’re listening in on my conversation with Dallas Jenkins. He is the writer, director, and showrunner for the streaming phenomenon The Chosen.

DALLAS JENKINS, GUEST: I did not feel pressure to succeed, I felt pressure to make a show that honored God, and that lived up to the promise of, of Jesus's followers when he was here on Earth. I wanted to do right by them. And I wanted to do right by the story. And I wanted to live up to the character and intentions of the gospels. But I did not feel any pressure to be successful. And I still don't. All of this has been a, you know, a God-driven ride that I'm fortunate to be on, but I don't feel like I'm responsible for it. And because of that, it takes a lot of the pressure off.

WS: Back in 2017, things were not going so well for Dallas Jenkins. He had been making his way as a filmmaker, and having some success, but in 2017 he released The Resurrection of Gavin Stone, which was billed as a Christian comedy. There’s an old saying in the acting profession: “Dying is easy. Comedy is hard.” And Dallas Jenkins found that with Gavin Stone that comedy was very hard indeed. The movie bombed. Today, Dallas Jenkins calls it the biggest failure of his career.

But that failure brought Dallas Jenkins to a time of introspection and re-focusing on what he really wanted to do with his career. Something else happened in 2017. A new law went into effect that allowed small businesses to crowdfund private equity projects. Dallas Jenkins took advantage of that new law to raise more than $10-million to fund the first season of The Chosen, which later debuted to critical acclaim and financial success. The second season is now out, and a total of seven seasons are planned.

I recently spoke with Dallas Jenkins about The Chosen, about his career so far, and about what’s next for him and for this series which is changing the way Christian projects are getting produced.

Support for Listening In comes from Samaritan Ministries, a community of Christians who care for one another spiritually and financially when a medical need arises.

Samaritan Ministries is a Biblical solution to health care, where members are committed to honoring Christ through prayer and sharing the burden of one another’s medical expenses. Just ask Cameron and Roanna (Rō-anna), whose son fractured his wrist. Hospital bills started to arrive, but they weren’t concerned about the financial impact because fellow members came alongside them through prayer and financial support for their medical bills. More at samaritan ministries dot org slash world podcast.

WS: Well, Dallas, welcome to the program. You know, you and I spoke about two years ago at National Religious Broadcasters before the first season of the after you'd raised a bunch of money, I think you'd raised about $10 million. But in the crowdfunding campaign, but I think it was before you'd produced much other than, like trailers and that kind of thing. And I remember pretty vividly that NRB because it was it created a lot of excitement because of the buzz around the fundraising. But I do think there was a little bit of skepticism about what the quality of the final product would actually be. Am I overstating it to say that?

DJ: No, I remember that NRB well. We were we were the little engine that that might. Not the little engine that could. And people were intrigued, I think. They were a little bit caught off guard by what what we accomplished or with the fundraising. But yeah, until a show about Jesus actually comes out and you see it, there's many more reasons to assume it's not going to be worthwhile than to assume it will be. So it was, there was a big difference between that NRB and then the one we did recently where, earlier this year, where the show has certainly reached far, far more excitement and from from the audience.

WS: Well, yeah, and I want to talk about kind of that interim and that process. Because The Chosen is out, people can watch it for themselves and make their own judgments. It's gotten great critical reviews and a tremendous audience. So you know, and it's about the life of Jesus. So it's not like, well, what's this movie about, Dallas? I mean, it's about Jesus. Okay, let's just, let's just stipulate for the record. And I want to talk a little bit more about process than about the movies. So So, so two years ago, you'd raised all this money. And I'm just wondering, you know, if you felt a little bit like the dog that caught the car. That now you've actually, you know, you've been chasing this car, you've, you know, you've got $10 million, which is a budget adequate to do a good job. Now, you got to go actually do a good job. Was there some concern? Was there some anxiety in that moment?

DJ: Well, now that you asked, maybe I'm thinking I should have had more. Honestly, Warren, and I genuinely mean this. I got to a place in my career and in my life spiritually, after the failure of my previous movie, which had bombed at the box office, and God really stepped in and got ahold of my heart and my my priorities. I got to a place where I genuinely didn't care about the results of anything that I did as long as I truly believed God had called me to it, and that, to coin this phrase that I learned when I was in the throes of despair about my failure, it's not my job to feed the 5,000. It's only to provide the loaves and fish. And if I truly believe and I believe God is, has approved of or accepted my loaves and fish, my five loaves and two fish, then whether or not he feeds 5,000 is up to him. And I'm genuinely okay with that. Like getting to that place where you're genuinely okay with that is very, very difficult. God had to break me to get me to that place. But once you're there, it's a superpower. So I did not feel pressure to succeed, I felt pressure to make a show that honored God, and that lived up to the promise of, of Jesus's followers when he was here on Earth. I wanted to do right by them. And I wanted to do right by the story. And I wanted to live up to the character and intentions of the gospels. But I did not feel any pressure to be successful. And I still don't. All of this has been a God-driven ride that I'm fortunate to be on, but I don't feel like I'm responsible for it. And because of that, it takes a lot of the pressure off.

WS: Well, season one came out. It was widely praised by critics and viewers alike. I'm assuming it made money even though you found $10 million from from investors. I'm assuming that because of all those viewers, streaming revenue, and so on and so forth, it did well. So that meant you get to do basically, when you succeed, you get to do it again, right?

DJ: Yes. We raised more money for season two, and our budget is higher. Now to be clear, we're not raising money in the traditional sense anymore. We did for season one. Now, the money comes in from people paying it forward, which is essentially their optional payment. You know, we're not a nonprofit. We just, the show happens to be free. And you have the option to pay for it if you want. And when you pay for it, we call it pay it forward, because it's what allows other people to watch it for free, who can't pay for it or who don't want to pay for it. 

The budget for season two was a little higher than than season one. And now the budget for season three is going to be actually a good deal higher than season two, because just costs have gone up. And now that we're in a different budget range, now we're a union show. I'll spare you all the details. But, but yeah, the cost of the cost of business has gone up significantly.

WS: Right, okay, so now, season two is in the can season three is I guess, in some sort of level of production right now. You've announced publicly that you wanted to do seven seasons. Is that still accurate?

DJ: Yes. Yes. So right now, right now, in fact, I mean, just last night, I was up till four in the morning, because that's my, those are my writing hours. We're currently writing season three to go into production early next year.

WS: Well, let me ask you about that. Because you're up till four in the morning. You've been, you know, essentially a showrunner, director and everything else. I mean, you've got a great team, I'm sure you would say you have a great team. But but, you know, there's a heavy burden. I'm kind of a cinephile and TV fan. I mean, I'm a big fan of you know, shows like The West Wing and Breaking Bad and, and others. And one of the things that I noticed, Dallas, and I'm just again wondering how this hits you is that you look at television shows even like West Wing, which was, you know, some would argue one of the great television shows of all time,

DJ: Sure, and a big influence on The Chosen.

WS: Yeah, and they sometimes have a flat spot though, around season three or season four. You know, I look at a show like House of Cards, which by the way, I would don't necessarily recommend to Christian viewers. And would neither confirm nor deny that I have seen the entire series. But from what I understand, you know, it ended it ended badly. I mean, it started well, but ended badly. There are flat spots. And part, one of the reasons that these shows have flat spots in them is because the showrunner burns out. I made you know, you're keeping up a pace for you know, 2, 3, 4 years. And I know in the case of West Wing, Aaron Sorkin finally, he just kind of pulled the ejection lever and just left the show for a year, before ultimately coming back. So what are you doing to keep that from happening to you and to The Chosen?

DJ: I gotta tell you, that is a great question. And it's the first time I've been asked that, and I appreciate it, because it's absolutely true. And yeah, a lot of my favorite shows suffered these, these rough periods, if not, kind of fell off the cliff altogether. And a lot of times it had to do with who was running it, and who was kind of the voice in the room to protect it. We are taking steps to protect that from happening. You know, we are building a team around me, I have been doing too much. Yes, I have a great team. And, you know, I'm not at all dismissing, in fact, I'm embracing and honoring the contributions that everyone has made. From strictly a kind of running the show standpoint, from a creative level, I've been, myself and two writers, Ryan and Tyler, the three of us have been writing the show. And most shows have writers rooms of at least eight people. So the three of us have been carrying a heavy burden. But if we're allowed to focus primarily on the writing, then we can pull it off. It's just that the show has become so much more than just that. I mean, there's it's a whole marketing mechanism now. And it's becoming, it's becoming a huge weight to carry. But that's what we're doing. We're building an even bigger team around it. We want to protect the main thing, which is making sure that the seasons themselves are strong. And that's a big, the way to do that is for me, with my wife, with my pastor, with God, with my close friends, making sure that I don't get ahead of myself. That I don't start to care more about the results than I do about the process. That I don't start think caring about things that aren't the show, whether it's the success or the financial burdens or anything like that. Ultimately, at the end of the day, we have to remember what got us here. And that is focusing on making a show that God honors and that is honoring to God, and honoring to the stories and character and intentions of Jesus in the gospels. And questions like what you just asked me are my accountability to make sure that that we don't do that. And I I do pay attention to all those shows that you mentioned. And they're they're also good accountability to make sure that we stay true. Because it's even more important with our show than it is with those shows. Because if we start to slip, then not only does the show quality suffer, but our attention to detail and our attention to making sure that we're making the main thing the main thing, which is honoring Jesus, that starts to suffer as well. And we can't let that happen.

WS: [00:05] Well, Dallas since you mentioned the writers room, a couple of minutes ago, I wanted to ask about the process of adapting the Bible. I know you got some theological experts that y'all refer to. But the first pass has got to be out of your brain and out of the brain of your co writers. What does that look like when you're in the room trying to, you know, take a passage of scripture and, and be, you know, have be faithful to it, but also make it interesting and dramatic.

DJ: Yeah, so we take this, the main characters that we've chosen, no pun intended. And then we combine the fact that we're doing a television show that needs to be a good show, and needs to be entertaining and needs to have characters and storylines that people follow and want to watch from episode to episode and season to season. And we combine that with the gospel as our foundation. So the gospel provides, of course, our primary source of truth. And the big swings, the big moments that come in each season, are almost always going to be from the Bible. Now, there's also going to be some big moments that aren't from the scriptures. But the stuff that we really need to hit properly, and we need to make sure that we earn that moment and make it as impactful as possible, is going to be centered typically around a gospel moment. So when we're going through the gospels, and we're talking through some of the stories we really want to cover, typically, they're going to fall under two categories. One is, does this story say something profound, that we really want to say, that we believe God wants to communicate in a way that only our show can? The Bible is the Bible. We're not a replacement for God's word. And the Bible stories have resonated and have changed lives for centuries and generations, in the context of the Bible. In the context of a TV show, in the context of media, some of these stories haven't necessarily broken through in the media world and haven't broken through to certain audiences. And sometimes, some of these audiences when they read the Bible, the context is missing, and they don't resonate with the stories quite as much. So we're thinking, this is a story that we believe we can tell in a way that doesn't change it, doesn't change the truth of it, the plausibility of it, the character or intentions of it. But comes maybe we can do it in a Chosen-esque way that gives people a different perspective on it that might unlock something that has previously been difficult for them to connect with. So that's one category.

The second category is, does this fit with the story? The story that we're telling, the characters that we're following, does this make for good drama, good conflict, good character arc. And one of our writers, Ryan, who's our head writer, he's kind of the keeper of this, of the storytelling. So like, my co writer, Tyler and I, are a little bit more Biblically literate. And we have our Biblical consultants who, you know, make sure that we don't stray too far outside of, of orthodoxy or of plausibility. But we do have Ryan who's like, this doesn't make for good television, for a good show. That doesn't mean we're not going to do it. But we need to make sure that we connect the tissue towards that story to make sure that it fits within our show. We're not a documentary, and we're not church, and we're not the Bible. The Bible is the Bible. And we're not trying to replace that. So I know I'm giving a long answer to the question. But it's really important because there are some people who will say, oh, please do this story, or make sure you cover this character. And, and sometimes the answer is no. And it's not because that's not a great story. And it's not because it's not an important story. But the Bible told that story. And The Chosen isn't going to tell every story from the Bible, nor is that our responsibility. We're just trying to make a great show that can be impactful, and ultimately point you to Jesus and ultimately point you to love for the gospels. But that we have a different, a different method and a different genre than what the Bible was written for. So I hope I hope that makes sense. But that's kind of how we approach it.

WS: Yeah, it does make sense. And something you said, leads me to this question is, as well, that's kind of a follow up to everything you just said. You said that, you know, you want to tell it in a Chosen-esque way. And that reminded me that lots of television shows have what they call a 'bible' for the show. That that's that the show runner up often in you know, even before the show is started will kind of go, it's kind of a world building exercise, I guess you could say. And, you know, obviously you guys have the real Bible and you have history to do to go from. But in addition to Is there a sort of a show runners 'bible', a Chosen-esque, you know, policies and procedures manual for The Chosen?

DJ: Yes. And as I speak to you, I'm going to I'm going to actually pull this up. It's a recent. It's a recent post that I did where I, where you know how Facebook will sometimes pull up like a something that happened three years ago on this day or four years ago on this day.

WS: Right.

DJ: And the other day, Facebook pulled up on my feed, a picture that I had posted of my two co writers and I, in our very first writing session, for The Chosen, when we literally came up with the show. And yes, in the television world, the term is 'bible' for the the, like you said, the world building the document that outlines where the show is going to go, who the characters are, what the seasons are going to look like. It's called the bible for the show. And so it's a picture of myself and Ryan and Tyler in my basement. And we are conceiving of The Chosen for the very first time. And up on the wall are these are these white strip, you know, big white pieces of paper taped to the wall. And they include, you know, a picture of like, you know, the writing of who Mary Magdalene is, and who Simon Peter is and, and what season one is gonna look like. And we also have a paper that's called the rules, The Chosen rules. And here's the first five.

The first one is realism over the cosmetic. So we're going to focus on being realistic over being having it look pretty, and being cosmetically pretty. We're going to err on the side of what is human and true. And the words human and true are an all caps. Relationship over spectacle. So we're not going to be a traditional sword and sandals, big epic Bible spectacle. We're focusing on the relationships. The non-scripture must be plausible. So anything that's not from scripture, we're not claiming as fact. But it needs to be plausible, that this could have happened either historically, culturally, or, you know, spiritually. That this fits within the character and intentions of Jesus in the gospels. Then the fifth one is the settings and costumes must be, 'lived in'. So, you know, we don't want it to feel like we went into the, the costume store and put on new costumes. It needs to feel like they've, they've been living in these costumes, and then these sets for a while. That were kind of coming in, in the middle of their journey, not in the beginning of it. So when I look back on that, I was like, alright, I feel like we've done a fairly decent job of holding true to those principles. And I pray we, we don't we don't lose sight of them.

WS: Well, Dallas, I want to get you out of the writers room and on set. And tell me tell me what that looks like a little bit. You know, a lot of TV shows are, are very tightly scripted. You know, you look at like, you know, for example, I mentioned Aaron Sorkin and West Wing, there's, you know, the the scripts for an episode on those shows are sometimes twice as long as you might find. I mean, a lot, you know, very, very word, a lot of precision, a lot of banter back and forth. Another show like, I don't know, Friday Night Lights, handheld cameras, a lot of ad libbing. Northern Exposure, another, you know, a lot of ad libbing. Where do you where do you guys kind of fit in that continuum?

DJ: I love that question because both West Wing and Friday Night Lights are huge influences on The Chosen. I would say that when it comes strictly to the script, we're pretty tight. I mean, we I allow for freedom for my actors. And, and the actors will tell you that they'll say, you know, we feel like I mean, they can come to me and say, this line doesn't feel natural, or I'm not sure I quite understand it. Or, can I try this. And, and every now and then on the set, they might, you know, while we're rolling, they might ad lib a little something at the end of the scene. But for the most part, the ad libbing kind of comes on the front end. That, you know, we we see each other a lot, obviously, when we're on the set. And be beforehand, they'll come to me and say, I'd like to try this or can we do this? We always leave room for some kind of spontaneous stuff. And I think sometimes the Spirit leads to some certain things. But usually those are emotional responses, not lines of dialogue. You know, you just you'll see some of the actors, sometimes they're just overcome in certain moments that weren't scripted. And you know, I think a lot of times it's because they're they're quoting, they're saying things that were actually said in Scripture. Or they're, they're face being faced with a choice that Jesus has given them about following him. And even though it's actors, and even though you know, it's not the Bible, some of our some of our actors, I don't, it feels real. They feel like they're, they're, God is really piercing their hearts. They'll

WS: Do a lot of, Do y'all do a lot of rehearsing like table reads in rehearsals and blocking and that sort of thing or not?

DJ: No, we don't do any table reads. Our rehearsal starts on the set. I have conversations in advance with certain actors who, but I mean, we've been doing this now for a couple seasons. So the first season, I met with each actor for an hour and talked through some things. But for the most part, yeah, we show up on the day. And we do a walk through where they come on, they come onto the set, and they've got their scripts with them, or if they've got it completely memorized already. You know, they're, they're walking through the set and feeling it out. And I'm kind of telling them what their, I always say, this is the playpen. I always give them this, you know, you can't go past here and you can't go, you can't end up over here. But other than that, let's let's be free, and feel free to move and figure out where you want to be. And our cinematographer watches that and might tweak a few things a few a little bit. We try to give the actors some freedom to kind of discover the scene. And that's where we do our rehearsal, which typically is, you know, 15 minutes or so. And then they go back into wardrobe and hair and makeup while we set up the shots. And then they come on the set, and we go. And that's where it is a little bit more like Friday Night Lights. Because Friday Night Lights was very unrehearsed. They kind of turned the cameras on and said, go. And I don't quite go as far. But it's definitely got some of that influence.

WS: Yeah. Let me just one more time in our conversation, Dallas, you know, as, as you've gotten more successful, more people have opinions about what you're doing. And I don't necessarily want to rehearse some of the criticisms here. You know, I mean, you know, at what point does the rep, you know, representing Jesus become idolatry, and so on so forth. There's, you know, I'm sure you've heard them all. And people that are interested can go online and find them, I'm not gonna give them a platform.

DJ: We post, we post, some of them. We post our best ones each week, just because it's fun.

WS: Yeah, well, except to say this. Your you've already mentioned Facebook. You're pretty active on Facebook. And just this week, I think. I discovered it this week. But and I think you actually posted this we, you posted, what am I what, in fact, what you called a statement of faith for The chosen? And I guess my question is, why now? Why, you know, after the second season, are you doing this? Is it, is it a response to those critics? Or is this just something that you felt like, you didn't need to do up until now? Or? Or what?

DJ: Oh, yeah. So I can, I can help settle this. Because we, this video, actually, I did over a year and a half ago. And we released it, relatively early on, because we knew some of the questions that would be coming. And we and so then we just put this video out every every couple months, you know, just as a reminder and for new people to the show. It's not a response. It is a it's it's it's a kind of getting ahead of the game a little bit for those who are on the fence or those who have legitimate questions. There are a lot of people who don't have legitimate questions. They're just there to, there's nothing you can say that will convince them. They've made their decision that that we're dangerous, or evil or blasphemous. And, you know, for anything, whether. So what we tried to do is I made a video that covered what I believe to be the biggest, most kind of vision casting questions that people would have, and concerns that they might have, that I thought could would be rooted in a fair concern. So for example, the fact that we work with and I'm partnered with people of all faiths. I've got Mormon partners, I've got Catholic partners, I've got atheist partners. I've got cast and crew who aren't believers, I've got cast and crew that come from every every stripe that you could possibly come from. And I wanted to get out ahead right off the bat and tell people we do not have a religious litmus test for for being part of this show. If you're a good actor, if you're a good crew member, if you're a good marketer, whatever, that's the litmus test for being involved. But at the same time, I want to let you know where I stand. So that I say I'm a born again, evangelical. I believe that the Bible is God's word. You know, I have no desire to rewrite the Bible. And I you know, I address some of those large questions.

We talked about a little bit of the content. You know, like, why, why we do portray things that aren't from scripture, and the difference between the show and the Bible. And we just knew there would be certain basic, sincere questions that people would have, before they wanted to commit to watching the show, or especially if they're going to invest in the show or contribute by paying it forward. Because the show is free. We, I believe people deserve to have some level of trust in me that, that they kind of know a little bit of where it's, where it's going, and what kind of hands it's in. And so that's, that's the reason why we did that. It's about a 10 minute video. And it's really been helpful for people to share with friends. Because I'll have friends who go I can't watch that show because it's a Mormon show. I can't watch that show because, you know, there's nothing there's things in it that aren't from scripture, and the Bible says to never show anything from that's not from Scripture. And so they're like, well, here's what they have to say. about it. And it's been very, very helpful and as those who might have otherwise been a little bit concerned?

WS: One of the things that has been said about The Chosen is that it's not like other Christian, you know, movies. It's not. In other words, it's not cheesy, it's not corny. And yet, I know that there's often a really, really fine line between, between great and corny. I mean, you look at some of the great lines in movie history, you know, like, you know, you had me at hello. Or, you know, we'll always have Paris. Or here's looking at you, kid. These are all lines that in the wrong hands could be extraordinarily cheesy. And yet when done right, become iconic, become classics. When you're on set and you guys are, you know, when you holler cut or whatever, how do you know that you're there? How do you know that, oh, man, this is just gonna be cheesy. How do you know, in other words, if you need to do it again or not?

DJ: Oh, that's a great question. Um, so I think there's two things that are important that, that we follow and kind of practice as artists when we're on the set. Number one is cheesy is typically means false sentiment. There's nothing wrong with sentiment. I mean, I love to cry at movies. And I'm a very emotional person when it comes to books and movies. And I mean, commercials. I mean, my wife and I cry at commercials sometimes. I mean, I love having an emotional response. Sentiment is beautiful. But false sentiment is when you're not telling the truth, when you're skipping steps, when you haven't earned the moment, when it's rooted in a sugar coated version of reality. That's when things are cheesy. And, but but having an emotional response to something or saying something profound or beautiful, or heartfelt or loving, that can be awesome, if in the right hands, as you said. So I think the first thing is, is that does this feel true? Does is did we did we is the backstory that led to this moment true? Did we not skip any steps? And that's an that's in the writing. And that's where I just, we're really obsessed with that in the writing stage, making sure that when we get to an emotional moment that I know will, you know, if we do it right will cause the audience to feel something, we have to earn it to get there. If we just skip all those steps and just go right to it, it's like when you take a rubber band that's been in the freezer, and you pull it out of the freezer and you pull it, it will break. But if you gently you know, warm it up first, eventually it will stretch and stretch and stretch. I think that principle is true of your voice when you're gonna sing or when you're working out. It's also true of storytelling. The second thing is, is we really are obsessed with the delivery of the dialog being human. And I mentioned that earlier, when I gave our rules. I say to this when we're casting. A lot of people who show up to audition for The Chosen, they see it's a Bible show. They see it's first century. They kind of come with this almost Shakespearean formality, because that's how so many of these Bible projects have been presented. And I say right off the bat, before you start, just let you know, I want you to be a real human being. You can see this in the writing, you can see it in the dialogue. These people talk like normal humans. So that's what we're going to be focused on in this show is a human portrayal of these people. And so on the set with the actors, they feel it and they know they and we all just have that on the radar on our radar that this worked, if it felt real, if it felt human. If it was bigger, or more formal, or more presented, or the dialogue felt more written than, than what we're used to and what we what what feels like The Chosen, we know it, and the actor will feel it. And I'll feel it and and that's how I think we've managed so far to keep it from ever getting too far outside of the of fake. You know what I mean?

WS: Yean, I do. Dallas a couple of years ago, more than a couple of years ago, I had lunch with Adam Bellow, who is the son of Saul Bellow, one of the great fiction writers of the 20th century, won the Nobel Prize for Literature, on and on. Adam had just written a book that was a pretty good book. I'd read it and I thought, wow, this is a good book. And so I asked Adam, Adam, you should write more books. You know, you're pretty good at this. And he said, well, as you might imagine, I have a pretty complicated relationship with the craft of writing, which, you know, you know, his dad, one of the great writers of the 20th century. Yeah, I'm just wondering how that how that as context hits you. Your dad is one of the best known evangelical writers in history. You know, one of the most successful. Was there anything that you know, you had, were there any demons you had to fight? Or any kind of like, do I really want to pick a craft that is, you know, the same as my dad's? Is good as the comparison going to be constant for my entire career? Or Did y'all get over that pretty quickly?

DJ: Yeah, I, I just didn't get wrapped up in that at all. I think my being Jerry Jenkins son is a extraordinarily, extraordinary privilege on a personal level and a professional level. So shame on me to ever care about that kind of stuff, if I did. I think it's, I think it's a kind of slaps the face of God in many ways for giving you this great opportunity and going, oh, I want to want to make sure my reputation is kind of in my hands. I just think that's not a great perspective for me, personally. And, you know, I benefited greatly from the Left Behind books. I mean, the Left Behind books are what allowed my dad to have the means to start a production company. So we were able to finance some films. You know, I, I've benefited from, like the world benefited from those books of just being drawn closer to God because of it. And, you know, my, you know, my dad has done so much for so many people, through the financial success of the books and from the career opportunities I had because of the success of those books. Yeah, I had no problem getting over that. Nothing whatsoever. Nothing. But love and seeing my dad and how he reacted to the success of the Left Behind books and how it humbled him has been a great model. And so yeah, and now that The Chosen is what it is, um, it's fun for my dad. My dad's able to, like, he has so much excitement and the buttons on his shirt burst every single day, seeing what's happening with The Chosen. He actually predicted it early on. He's like, oh, this is going to be bigger than Left Behind. I mean, he's just been thrilled. So we just don't care about that kind of stuff. We just want to we just want Jesus to be known and loved by more people in the world. And that's the piece that I inherited from him is the Left Behind books, I think, did that many ways. And hopefully The Chosen is, too.

WS: Yeah, well, final question. Obviously, you've got a few more seasons left of The Chosen, but The Chosen has really charted a path for other people. I know, I know Angel Studios is financing Andrew Peterson's Wingfeather series now. And other projects that are you know, are just sort of popping up, largely because of the success of The Chosen to the chosen. You guys have sort of demonstrated what's possible, that it can be done. So I guess my question for you is, you know, what's next for you, other than getting these next few seasons of Chosen in the can? You must be getting some, some more opportunities.

DJ: That's funny. I am getting some some great opportunities now. And they're coming at a time when I stopped caring, I pursued Hollywood for so long and pursued affirmation for so long. And then and now it seems to be arriving. And yet I just, I'm like, unless, unless I can help unless I can make Jesus more known and loved by by people, it's just not interesting to me. And I don't say that with any arrogance whatsoever. It's just that God has shifted my priorities. That said, there are some projects that I've been passionate about for a long time, that I now have an opportunity for,one of them being Left Behind. I mean, I you know, I've always wanted to give my dad a Left Behind that, that he would truly love. And so we're there's some potential opportunities for that down the road. Not, not at the moment, but I'd love to be able to do something like that. And, but but I don't want that to distract from right now what God has given me to steward in The Chosen. So in between seasons, we might try to fit in one or two projects that are very, very important to my wife and me and, and that are on brand with what we're trying to do, which is to make Jesus known. But until The Chosen is done, I'm not going to get too caught up in many other projects. The Chosen is a big enough, a big enough weight as it is, so. But yeah, if God opens some doors, I will gladly walk through them.

WS: That brings to a close my conversation with Dallas Jenkins. We’ve been discussing the streaming series The Chosen, which is the story of the life of Jesus. I should also mention that you can hear the 2020 interview I did with Dallas, the one I mentioned at the top of the program, by going to the WORLD News Group website and typing Dallas Jenkins into the search engine. That interview—and WORLD’s coverage of The Chosen—will pop right up.

Listening In comes to you from WORLD News Group, and this program is just one of the many benefits of WORLD membership. One of the best ways you can support this program is simply to become a member of WORLD. To find out more about becoming a member of WORLD, go to GetWorldNow.com.

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I just mentioned my 2020 interview with Dallas Jenkins, but you can find more than 400 other interviews I’ve done over the past eight years by going to the World News Group website and using the search engine to find what you’re looking for. That’s WNG.org.

The producer for today’s program is Leigh Jones. She gets technical support from Johnny Franklin, Carl Peetz and Kristen Flavin. Our executive producer is Nick Eicher. I’m your host Warren Smith. And you’ve been Listening In….

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