Are Adventist Leaders Abandoning Contemporary Cinema Version of Ellen White Classic?
by Monte Sahlin
By AT News Team, January 23, 2014
The Record Keeper is an 11-part film series that premiered in October based on the primary theme from the book The Great Controversy by Ellen G. White, one of the cofounders of the Seventh-day Adventist Church. It uses at least two new approaches to film; distribution on the Web and a “Steampunk” genre, as Adventist Today reported last year.
Now there are indications that denominational leaders may be thinking of abandoning the project before it is released despite the positive response to it. Release of the series was delayed until February and Adventist Today has been told that it is at risk of being shut down. The denomination's General Conference (GC) owns the copyright to the series and so it is free to block its distribution before it starts or have it deformed through directed edits.
The film series is very likely the first use of “Steampunk” in communicating the Adventist message. “Steampunk” is a literary genre and design aesthetic originating in the CBS Television series from 1965 into 1969 entitled The Wild, Wild West and a 1999 Hollywood movie by the same name. It focuses on 19th century technology (the steam engine being the central piece) and a type of science fiction or alternative history. The most representative recent literary piece of this type is a novel, The Anubis Gates by Tim Power, according to the Web site www.steampunk.com.
Distribution of television dramas via the Web has emerged in the last couple of years and is becoming widespread with many major television channels maintaining web sites where viewers can see all of their programs. This may not be the first such programming by Adventists, although sources have told Adventist Today that it may be.
Principal photography began early last year by Big Puddle Films with funding from the GC as well as private donors, as reported by the official Adventist News Network (ANN) at the time. An independent youth ministry blog, www.asabbathblog.com, carried a link to a pilot episode of the series.
A blog has urged Adventists interested in encouraging creativity to write to Williams Costa, GC communication director, and urge the release of The Record Keeper. His Email address is email@example.com.
"This situation presents a clear choice for denominational leaders," an Adventist academic who has taught courses on the media for many years told Adventist Today. "Are they really interested in communicating the Adventist message in contemporary contexts or is it more important to hold onto literary and artistic formats that are becoming outdated?"