A Hixson physician wants to make the Bible come alive through video series filmed on location in Israel.
Daniel Kingsley, an oncology specialist with Erlanger, is part of a team of documentary filmmakers producing "Searching for a King" about the ancient kingdom of Israel as documented in the Bible.
The series will be the second from nonprofit Christian video production company Appian Media. Over the past two years, Appian Media produced "Following the Messiah," a 10-part series of 20- to 30-minute videos that explore sites related to the life of Jesus.
"Searching for a King" will focus on the lives of Saul, David and Solomon, three kings who ruled over the United Monarchy of Israel between approximately 1050 B.C. and 930 B.C. in the biblical narrative.
"We haven't found any documentary series quite like this one. It's 'Indiana Jones' meets 'Mythbusters,'" said Kingsley, who serves as executive producer for Appian Media.
In the video series, hosts Jeremy Dehut, a preacher from Birmingham, Ala., and Barry Britnell, who leads tours of Israel, will discuss archaeology and geography as they explore the biblical lands within the boundaries of present-day Israel.
Being familiar with the geography, or ever better, physically being there yourself, can help readers understand the Bible, said Kingsley.
"Having been over multiple times, I read [the Bible] differently, I view things differently in my mind's eye," he said.
The Appian Media team spends months researching and planning projects, while also holding down day jobs. With members spread between Indiana, Alabama and Chattanooga, Kingsley said the team maxes out Google Drive and Slack during pre-production.
Then, the crew spends two weeks filming in Israel, followed by six months of post-production to produce five episodes. In Israel, they often work from before sunrise to after sunset to get all the footage they need in just a few days, he said.
With "Searching for a King," the production team is experimenting with a new visual style. For the first time, the team will be able to use its own drones and aerial photography. Previously they had to purchase footage from other production companies.
The team is also going to Israel earlier in the year — in May rather than July — so the landscape itself will be different, Kingsley said.
Appian Media was founded in 2015 by filmmakers Craig Dehut and Stuart Peck, who were teaching Bible classes and wanted to incorporate videos to make the material more engaging for their young students. Not finding the kind of media they were looking for — high quality but also true to the text — they decided to travel to Israel and make the videos themselves.
Kingsley got involved because of his passion for biblical archaeology and geography. Though he holds the title of executive producer, he said he fills a wide variety of roles, including promoter, location scout and production assistant.
Though it is not currently feasible, Kingsley's dream series is an in-depth look at the Acts of the Apostles, which would involve traveling not just to Israel, but also to Italy, Greece, Cyprus, Turkey and Syria, he explained.
Appian Media is crowdfunded. The company has raised over $150,000 for the creation of its videos, which have been viewed more than 150,000 times in more than 50 countries across the globe.
"We really wanted this content to be available to everyone," said Kingsley. "It's so encouraging to hear from people around the world who have used this content to better their understanding of the Bible."