While on a camping and canoeing outing a group of ten young people learn about an investigation looking for evidence of Moses and the Israelites’ Exodus out of Egypt. By the end of the weekend, they decide to go with investigative filmmaker Timothy Mahoney on an adventure to explore the Bible. Over the following weeks, they look for ancient clues in the biblical text, which prepares them for face-to-face encounters with Egyptologists and archaeologists. But there is more to the investigation than Timothy lets on. He has a secret device, the Exploration Chamber, which is a digital hologram space that allows them to actually travel to the places mentioned in the Bible. What they ultimately find is a pattern of evidence that matches six major events of the Exodus account. It’s a faith-affirming experience establishing the historical credibility of the Bible that could change their lives. (Press Release)
It was a great pleasure having the opportunity to interview Timothy Mahoney, creator of Patterns of Evidence: Young Explorers. In my review of the series, I stated that if I had to sum up the series in one word it would be: Phenomenal. Needless to say, it was a tremendous honor speaking with Timothy Mahoney as he shared some thoughts on the series and the accompanying curriculum for the readers here at Hollywood Jesus.
Why did you create the Patterns of Evidence Young Explorers series?
I felt I had to make it because there really isn’t anything for kids. I felt it was something I just needed to do.
How did the Young Explorer series get started?
Two parts. One: When we would have showings (of the Exodus film) people would bring their children. I was surprised how many children were coming and asking questions. Two: Egyptologist David Rohl came to Minneapolis, and he was invited to a school, and they brought three classes together, about 90 students and they were all mesmerized by Egypt and everything he had to say. Then we went to a high school, and the same thing happened. We showed clips and talked about it, and students lined up to talk to him. That was the beginning of me saying to myself that we need to do something. Almost within a week we gathered together the students that you see and started filming just to see if it would work. That was the beginning of this idea, and from there I realized that it was working and it was important for kids. One thing led to another then we wrote the five episodes based upon the content of the first film. That is how we were able to create Patterns of Evidence Young Explorers.
How did you create the cast?
All friends or family related. Two were my grandkids. We just asked kids that were around us. Everybody from our production team suggested some students participate. They were a great fit. A great bunch of kids and there was a wholesomeness to them.
What was it like working with younger children?
One thing, when the camera wasn’t rolling, all the kids were really becoming friends. Really good to each other. They had a lot of fun. They enjoyed the whole idea of it. After a while, they became very professional at what they were doing. They weren’t difficult to work with at all.
What was the most challenging part of the whole process – filming, producing of it all?
The virtual reality, green screen. Highly complex editing and compositing. Putting all the effects in. I think the biggest breakthrough for me came when I was able to figure out how to have the kids talk with the Egyptologist and archeologist and bible scholars. By taking from something that was filmed several years earlier and then be able to put them in that virtual reality situation was the breakthrough. It took a lot of hours to put all those effects together.
Additionally, as we wrote, we started to realize that there needed to be more personality. There are times you have the story of the bible you are telling, but you realize that you have to make and give opportunity for the kids to be real people. When we first filmed that we didn’t have those children scenes when they are just doing things at home or hanging out, so we wrote a bunch of additional scenes for that.
What would you say is the biggest motivator in keeping the Young Explorer series going?
I think that this series gives children the foundation in the Bible. The Bible is such an important book, and so the thing I saw happening with these kids was when I was able to give them opportunities to read the stories and to search for something it became more real to them and more alive. I think by them seeing and experiencing the series they are going to understand what is written in the Bible and apply it to their own life.
There is a lot more of what we are hoping to do. We are working on the Moses series: The Life of Moses. It will cover a little of what we saw in the Exodus, but we are going to fill in the route of the Exodus and what happened during the route: The crossing of the Red Sea; Can miracles happen; What happened at Mt. Sinai with the Israelites there; The giving of the Ten Commandments and the law and how that echoed through history and how that shaped the world. Those ideas are going to be explored in the next series.
There is also an accompanying homeschool curriculum, what does it offer to parents?
Included is an instruction guide, and suggested schedule. Every episode has a series of 10 activities to accompany the video. Each section of activities is designed to be completed in a way that best suits your family and the needs of your students in elementary and middle school. A high school curriculum will be coming out in 2018.
Expert Homeschool Developer, Sherri Seligson consulted in helping with the curriculum. One thing I’ve noticed is if the quality isn’t there, people don’t want to do things. We worked hard at trying to do quality in the productions, in the writing, in the way the books are made. We tried to figure out how do we make this as affordable as possible and yet keep the quality up.
If you would like to learn more about Patterns of Evidence, sign up to be a Thinker.