The life of evangelical churches and their spiritual leaders has been portrayed in some recent films and series. Can they help us start conversations?
“We wanted to create something that not only told the story of Luther and the Reformation but also the good news of Jesus”, says Jonathan Carswell.
A Martin Luther figure has become the most sold Playmobil toy in the company’s history. A group in the UK used the figure to produce a stop motion video to tell the Rerformer’s story.
Jonathan Carswell, CEO of 10ofthose, was one of the many surprised by the toy’s success. “We started bringing in and selling the Luther Playmobil figures as a bit of fun really, with the hope that they would raise the profile of the Reformation celebrations, and ultimately the Reformation. They are a fun way to share the story with children… though I think many pastors have them in their study!”, he told Evangelical Focus.
Out of that came the idea of creating a little world around the figure and produce a 4-minute video. After building a set and taking more than 5,000 photographs, the video was ready to be launched on social media. It has been viewed 14,000 times in its first week online.
Question. How did you come to the idea of producing a stop motion film about Luther's life using Playmobil?
Answer. Nearly a year ago we created a position of ‘Digital Evangelist’ and a website called Go Chatter videos with the desire to create short, evangelistic videos that people could watch, share and download, and get people talking about the gospel.
We employed a guy called Dan Rackham, and together we try and think of creative ways to share the gospel through videos. Dan had some experience of doing this before and it seemed a good medium to do it. It was a bit of punt and would never make us money but that wasn’t the point.
So knowing the 500th anniversary of the Reformation was coming up we wanted to create something that not only told the story of Luther and the Reformation but also the good news of Jesus. With all the hype around the Playmobil character, Dan thought a stop motion movie might be a fun way to do it… and so he got to work!
Q. What have been the challenges in the process of producing the video project?
A. Dan has had to be incredibly patient and determined. First, getting all the Playmobil characters and set from anywhere he could, some bought and some borrowed. He then handmade the sets and began writing a script. The film is made up of over 5,000 unique photos, each needing to be set, taken, checked and then put in sequence. It’s been a huge, one man job!
Q. The script clearly explains the importance of the Bible and how grace changes everything in one's life. Why did you touch on theological realities like these in your video?
A. They are the focus of the Reformation. Luther believed in the inerrancy of scripture and the gospel of grace through Jesus. There was nothing more central to him and therefore nothing more centrally important for us to focus on in the film!
Q. Theologian Mike Reeves gave his voice to the project. How did he get involved?
A. We have a close friendship with Mike. We had worked with him on an evangelistic Reformation book called The Freedom Movement and also have a super working partnership with Union Theology (whom we publish for).
When he was speaking nearby our HQ in Leyland (England) we thought we’d try and make it all happen. Mike graciously agreed - and had some really helpful input in making the script as clear and concise as it is.
Q. What people are you aiming to reach with the video?
A. I think of three groups of people. Christians - to help remind them what the Reformation was all about and to take great joy from good news of the gospel.
People who aren’t yet Christians - we hope Christians would share the video on social media so others might see it.
And then churches and groups - we offer this video as a free download so that churches can show it in their services or at a youth group or camp for example. This way we hope to reach the two groups above.
Q. Tell us a bit about "Go Chatter". What makes it unique as an online video platform?
A. We wanted to provide a place where people could discover some of the best evangelistic videos around, made by multiple groups of people. We have deliberately made it free so that anyone can use it. We also wanted to allow people to download the videos so that it wasn’t just a case of having to play it online.
Our whole passion at Go Chatter and indeed 10ofthose, which funds it, is to provide a one-stop-shop of the best resources around, that point to Jesus - at low or no cost. Our prayer is this will happen and as a result more people will fall in love with Jesus!
See the Making Of Video: