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Christ in the 21st Century

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Submitted Photo The poster of the video series "The Chosen" features Jonathan Roumie as Jesus.

Copyright © 2021 Roswell Daily Record

The video series “The Chosen” brings a unique perspective to the story of Jesus

By Christina Stock

Vision Editor

Ever since the first cinematic portrayal of Jesus was made in 1897 — which was produced in Paris, France and lasted only five minutes — there have been a multitude of producers, directors and actors stepping up to bring their version of the New Testament and the story of Christ to screens large and small. The stories changed with the times, from epic Hollywood versions such as the 1961 film “King of Kings” to the rock opera of the 1970s “Jesus Christ Superstar” and the more or less realistic approach in 2016 with “Risen.” “The Chosen” is unique for our time as it is a crowd-funded film series. There is no church or big Hollywood film studio funding the series. It truly is supported and funded by the public, supported by churches around the U.S. and overseas showing the series free of charge.

In Roswell, the first season of “The Chosen” will be shown every Friday night at 7 p.m. free of charge at Grace Community Church. The first part kicked off on April 9, however, anybody who has missed the launch can catch up on YouTube or on its app.

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Next to the new concept of a crowd-funded film, there is also another equation that makes “The Chosen” newsworthy for Roswell. One of its actors, Steve Shermett, moved to Roswell last fall. The actor is best known for his recent appearance in the TV show “Mr. Mayor,” and the film “Fronteras.” Next to acting, Shermett has been a producer, writer, casting director and director.

In a phone interview, Shermett talked about his experiences, what the series means to him, as well as why he moved to Southeast New Mexico.

Shermett said that he and his wife had just moved within Arizona when the pandemic hit. It couldn’t have come at a worse time for his family. “My wife is a new nurse practitioner and she got her first job up in the White Mountains of Arizona,” he said. “They took it from her before it even started because of the pandemic layoffs, and Roswell was one of the few places in the country that still needed somebody with her skills. She got a job offer, she came down to town and we moved here in fall.”

“The Chosen” is important for him, Shermett said. He appears in episodes four and eight. He was offered the role of Pharisee because he knew the director, Dallas Jenkins, but that wasn’t the only reason why he wanted to be part of the series. “I would have done any role in ‘The Chosen.’ I love the story of Jesus, I am a man of faith and religion myself. The entire first season is done and the second season, first episode was just released on Easter,” he said.

The second season has been 100% funded by crowd-sourcing as well, which makes the series the first-ever multi-season show about the life of Christ. The first season holds the No. 1 place as highest crowd-funded media project so far, according to the director, with more than $10 million donated. The second season is fully funded as well and the third season’s second episode was already 93% funded as of press time.

“This series is different, not only because of that — you have more time to delve in the character and the stories,” Shermett said. “This story has been done from the perspective of those around him (Jesus), more so than just focusing the entire story on Jesus. People fall in love with it.”

Shermett said the pandemic had changed his approach to finding roles in a positive way because he doesn’t have to live in or nearby Los Angeles. “We live in a very interesting time as actors,” he said. “Most auditions are now done virtually. I have an audition I am working on right now. I have to turn it in today (April 7) or tomorrow for a very significant production and I send in a tape. I have an actor read for me (playing other parts) and his or her voice will be on camera, my face will be on camera and then I’ll send it in. If they like it, they may call me back for a ZOOM-style audition or may bring me to L.A. in person. The first auditions are almost all done online. These self-tapes and ZOOM-style auditions were really picking up steam and momentum before the pandemic. The technology and the platform was already there; the infrastructure was there, so when the pandemic hit, it exploded. It’s great, it’s been very helpful to me, I like it, the auditioning portion online.”

A new project is already in the making for Shermett. “I play a gunslinging preacher in a movie coming out on the July Fourth weekend called ‘The Righteous Twelve,’ it is a Western. It’s going to be fun.”

Asked what his first impression of Roswell was, Shermett said that it was not a very positive one. In the middle of the pandemic, he said everything seemed dead; adding to that the barrenness the drought caused, he thought Roswell was dusty and not pleasant. His views changed, he said, as he started to meet the locals. “I think it’s going to be a very pleasant place to live. It’s a good place,” Shermett said.

For more information, visit roswellgrace.com/the-chosen or watch.angelstudios.com/thechosen.