UPDATED January 22 —
In September, we featured an interview with Jason Satterlund and Garrett Caldwell, the makers of a new web series following the lives of angels called The Record Keeper. The series, sponsored by the General Conference, is an ambitious project from a media and filmmaking perspective – and also from a content one, as it seeks to answer the question: Is God fair?
The first screenings were last October, and enthusiastic audiences at churches, academies and colleges around the US, welcomed the series. But now it seems the project is under threat of being shut down.
“There is a lot of controversy surrounding this project. It is no surprise, since it is inspired by The Great Controversy,” Satterlund told Spectrum today.
Satterlund noted that Caldwell shepherded the scripts (“that were both compelling and spiritually sound”) through “dozens, if not hundreds” of committees, ensuring that the project – which had initially been commisioned by the General Conference – had approval. He asserts that everyone was on board.
But after the episodes were viewed and interest in the project exploded, “the higher ranking officials of the church began to take notice,” Satterlund said.
It is important to note that this series was created for the outside world. Our congregation is not the target audience. Everything in the series from the action, to the steampunk, to the non-threatening political language, to the parkour, to the multi-cultural approach was specifically designed to that end. These are the kinds of things that the world likes to watch, and they are already being drawn to the series. Even as we were filming, people were asking questions. The doors were already starting to open. Many deep discussions were happening on set!
Unfortunately, a small handful of people at the GC simply don’t understand this. It is very important to note that it is a small group that opposes this. Most of the people at the church are behind it. What is sad is that the few who oppose it happen to be in positions of great power.
I like to think that this church is a democracy, not a dictatorship, so hopefully it can be voted to pass through untouched.
Satterlund said that he has been amazed at the far-reaching, grassroots campaign to save The Record Keeper. He has received letters of support from Mexico, Britain, Germany and Poland.
“It is God’s project, and His people are fighting for it,” he said.
A Facebook page called Save the Record Keeper created January 18 says:
The Record Keeper is in danger of being shut down. The completed series is just waiting to be released, but there are some who would rather it not see the light of day.
That would be a travesty. Help show them that this is an important project to you personally and that it must not be hindered.
Get Involved: Mass numbers of support are needed — send an email with the subject line: ‘The Record Keeper’ and explain why we need this in our church.
We have to do something bold and beautiful to reach people today. The Record Keeper is precisely that.
Williams Costa, Executive Director of General Conference communications, is collecting letters of support.
Email him at: firstname.lastname@example.org
As blogger Keisha McKenzie says:
The 11-part web series
- was “vetted through many [General Conference] committees and approved for production”;
- was co-written by an Adventist college professor;
- includes GC communication staff and 2 GC vice-presidents on its executive producer team;
- premiered to great reviews at a DC metro congregation in October 2013 (the linked reviews were compiled by GC staff, not the filmmakers);
- has screened very well at Andrews University in Michigan and at other universities and academies around the country; and
- has been highly anticipated by young and artistic Adventist members worldwide.
It has already won film festival awards and has been promoted by the Adventist News Network and other Adventist news sources.
After premiering in October 2013, release was then delayed until this February.
But now it’s at risk of being shut down. The General Conference of Seventh-day Adventists owns the rights to the series and so is free to block its distribution before it starts or edit it into a shadow of itself.
Image: The Record Keeper premiere at Emmanuel Brinklow SDA Church in Maryland, outside Washington, DC.