Discussions about religion and faith can be popular after all.
The first season of The Story of God with Morgan Freeman set all-time ratings records for the National Geographic Channel. A new season, starting this Monday at 9 PM/8 CT, brings new subjects to the discussion, including The Chosen One, Heaven and Hell, and Proof of God (we’ll have a review of the first episode on Monday).
ScreenFish recently had the unique opportunity to spend some time talking to the executive producers of the show—Morgan Freeman, Lori McCready, and James Younger. It was a fascinating discussion that helped to bring the purpose of the show into greater focus while providing a potential vision of the show’s future.
Freeman mentioned that the show’s success has been due more to the concept of discussing faith than the method of presentation. The format provides information in a non-proselytizing manner; it simply asks and explores what people are doing already when it comes to faith. Younger added that the key is explaining what exists and what it means; he’s been heartened by the fantastic ratings so far. McCready was thrilled that the show has shown that females are important and are being recognized for their role in faith.
The filming has been a bit of a challenge, according to Younger and McCready. Making accidental mistakes (actions, filming, or otherwise) in a holy place can lead to getting kicked out. As a result, everyone on the staff has learned to be respectful in their ways and how they interact with the specific faith. And sometimes, as in the case of the Sikh faith, that respect leads to a mutual respect—and access not granted to other groups.
One focus of The Story of God with Morgan Freeman has involved the use of science in areas of religion and faith (both McCready and Younger are scientists), so I asked what role virtual reality would play in the future. Younger saw the technology as more as a prayer/meditation element, since VR tends to not necessarily be useful for communication—at least for now. McCready seemed thrilled with using VR as a storytelling medium where one’s experience could be replicated for others to see (and interact with). Freeman wasn’t quite as keen on VR, stating he felt it’s a fad that will phase out because “it’s not reality.”
When asked what a future episode of the show might focus on, the three had unique perspectives that have helped to make the show a success. McCready thought a good show would involve a discussion of God’s plan for one’s life. Freeman added that he’d like to see a show about whether males or females came first regarding their creation. Younger brought up the topic of the effect of schisms and how they’ve affected faiths over the centuries. Perhaps we’ll see those in the future. But for now, we’ll work with the episodes of Season Two.
Because of the new season, many people are going to get an opportunity to take a look at the series for the first time, as Season One is now available on DVD. There’s definitely stuff to think about, and I’m looking forward to seeing what the next episodes offer.
(Thank you to the National Geographic Channel, Revelations Entertainment, and Different Drummer for making the interview possible)