Filmmaker launches online funding campaign

'Kid Shorts' video series puts biblical stories in a modern-day context

February 26, 2014 | Young Voices
Aaron Epp | Young Voices Co-editor

A Mennonite filmmaker is enlisting the public’s help to fund his next project, a video series that retells biblical stories in a modern-day context from the perspective of a child.

Paul Plett launched a Kickstarter online campaign in February to create “Kid Shorts.” The 28-year-old hopes to raise $30,000 by March 24 to finish the six-film series as well as produce DVDs and accompanying study guides. Once finished, he hopes the videos will find a home in churches, Sunday schools and Vacation Bible Schools, as well as in public schools and online.

“I wanted a platform to make Scripture relevant in my life and also to make some of the issues that the series is going to touch on relevant as well,” says Plett, who relocated from Toronto to Winnipeg this past summer. “When you do it in the context of a kids’ movie, people don’t raise their guard as much. You’re willing to have these ideas spoken to you because it’s a kids’ story.”

Plett filmed the first video, Dave vs. the Bully, this past December, and released it online in January. The six-minute film re-tells the story of David and Goliath, and explores themes of schoolyard bullying.

In Plett’s version of the story, a student named Dave shows up at his elementary school to find a boy named Greg terrorizing his classmates. Dave takes two stones out of his pocket and challenges Greg to a game. If Greg can throw one of the stones and hit the gong at the back of the classroom, he gets to pummel Dave. If he misses, and Dave hits the gong with one of the stones, Greg has to stop abusing his classmates.

“It retells the story of David and Goliath, but also demonstrates conflict resolution by imagining the way the story might have played out if the characters used peaceful means to solve their differences,” Plett says, adding that, in mainstream films, redemptive violence is typically the solution to a film’s conflict and the source of entertainment for the audience. “The idea behind Dave vs. the Bully was, ‘Why don’t we take conflict transformation and try to make that entertaining?’ ” he says.

Plett produced the film with funding from Mennonite Central Committee Canada and private donors, as well as with his own money. Mennonite Church Canada provided support by allowing Plett to hold auditions, as well as rehearsals for the video, in its offices.

If all goes according to plan, the next five videos will explore the stories of Job, the Good Samaritan, the feeding of the 5,000, the Prodigal Son and the story of the Good Shepherd.

Each video will cost $6,000 to script, cast, film and produce, as well as to make the DVDs, study guides and supporting materials. Plett will film most of the material in Winnipeg, but also hopes to travel to Kenya and Guatemala to film as well. He plans to have everything finished by November.

People who contribute to Plett’s Kickstarter campaign will receive a variety of rewards, depending on the size of their donations.

For Plett, who graduated from the Toronto Film School in 2007, the project is exciting because it bridges the gap between the independent films and documentaries he has been making for the last few years, and the contract film work he has been doing with a number of international nongovernmental organizations to pay the bills.

“These videos will take issues that these organizations already hold dear and put them in the context of a video that’s entertainment first,” Plett says. “It’s not a branding opportunity. . . . It’s not talking about a program they’re doing. It’s about an issue.”

“Kid Shorts” will only be funded via Kickstarter if at least $30,000 is pledged. Plett says that if he fails to reach that goal, his hope is to produce at least two more videos so that he has a half-hour of content he can shop to television producers.

 “There’s already a community of people coming together and supporting this, and supporting my work, and that’s awesome,” he says. “So I really want to reciprocate that in a way.” 

Visit and to learn more about the campaign and Plett’s work.

--Posted Feb. 26, 2014

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