How Crowdfunding for ‘The Chosen’ Proved Positive Stories Can Be Successful

By Ella Kietlinska
Ella Kietlinska
Ella Kietlinska
Reporter
Ella Kietlinska is a New York-based reporter for The Epoch Times.
and Joshua Philipp
Joshua Philipp
Joshua Philipp
Joshua Philipp is an award-winning investigative reporter with The Epoch Times and host of EpochTV's "Crossroads" program. He is a recognized expert on unrestricted warfare, asymmetrical hybrid warfare, subversion, and historical perspectives on today’s issues. His 10-plus years of research and investigations on the Chinese Communist Party, subversion, and related topics give him unique insight into the global threat and political landscape.
July 19, 2021 Updated: July 19, 2021

“The Chosen,” a biblical drama about the life of Jesus that became a multi-season TV show viewed by millions, has opened new business opportunities for creators of films amplifying positive values, according to the CEO of its production company.

The crowdfunded project to produce the series was created in response to overwhelmingly negative stories produced by the entertainment industry, said Neal Harmon, CEO of Angel Studios, the company that produces and distributes “The Chosen.”

“There’s a very dark cynical media that might be very honest and gritty but wherever society goes, it becomes a negative, reinforcing activity of telling these stories in a way that we are. And that tends to move us down,” Harmon said on EpochTV’s “Crossroads.”

“At Angels Studios, we’re looking to amplify stories of light, there’s plenty of darkness, there’s plenty of negativity, there’s plenty of cynicism out there. There’s an opening [in] the market, where people just want to see stories that are filled with light, and that make them want to be better than they are.”

To illustrate his filmmaking philosophy, Harmon said: “A really good story with childlike delight … helps us remember who we are … and to be a better person and to try to make the world a better place than we found when we were born here.”

“I think that we come to this earth, filled with boundless light as a child. … But then, adults, jaded adults that have gone through life, tend to snuff out that light over time.”

New Business Model of Filmmaking

Angel Studios was started with the help of 19,000 people who invested over $10 million in the first season of “The Chosen” and the company was named after those people, the CEO said.

The series is distributed on The Chosen mobile app that connects to streaming devices. Viewers who watch the show for free can select the “pay it forward” option to help generate income for future episodes and seasons. The traditional Hollywood business model of paying $10 for a ticket or $15 for a monthly fee is turned on its head, Harmon said.

“The Chosen” became the number one crowdfunded film of all time, the company website said.

“But this only works with content that people really care about,” Harmon said. “And it just so happens that people care about telling the story of Jesus and that we need it today. And it needs to be told in a fresh and authentic way.”

Epoch Times Photo
Jonathan Roumie and Dallas Jenkins take a photo back stage for winning the Film and Television Impact award during the 2021 K-LOVE Fan Awards in Nashville, Tennessee, on May 30, 2021. (Jason Davis/Getty Images for K-LOVE Fan Awards)

 The CEO credited the high quality of “The Chosen” to its director and producer Dallas Jenkins. “He knows how to make a film to his budget. He knows how to make it feel big,” Harmon said.

Jenkins made the first 19-minute long episode of the TV series and the company used this to raise $10 million to fund the first season.

“You wouldn’t believe the budget that he created it on. But it feels right, it feels good, it feels high quality.”

Season one “is beautiful, the writing is excellent, the storytelling is good, the period settings are authentic. But an equivalent show in Hollywood would cost 4 to 10 times the price as what Dallas created it for,” Harmon continued.

Hollywood needs big budgets to produce films with high-level content, but big budgets require widespread distribution, the CEO said.

“Unless you were able to become part of the Hollywood distribution system, you could never get a large enough budget to make it look really good,” the CEO said.

But the 19,000 people who invested in the first season proved it is possible to achieve Hollywood quality without using the Hollywood distribution system, Harmon said.

The series is available in 180 countries and has been viewed almost 200 million times.

The success of the business model used to produce “The Chosen” paved the way for creators who want to partner with Angel Studios to create entertainment projects “to amplify stories of light,” Harmon said.

“We at Angel Studios invite everyone to just come, be part of the stories that matter. And we can really make a difference,” he said.

Ella Kietlinska
Ella Kietlinska
Reporter
Ella Kietlinska is a New York-based reporter for The Epoch Times.
Joshua Philipp
Joshua Philipp
Joshua Philipp is an award-winning investigative reporter with The Epoch Times and host of EpochTV's "Crossroads" program. He is a recognized expert on unrestricted warfare, asymmetrical hybrid warfare, subversion, and historical perspectives on today’s issues. His 10-plus years of research and investigations on the Chinese Communist Party, subversion, and related topics give him unique insight into the global threat and political landscape.