Catholics launch high-octane faith-based video series for kids
KINCARDINE, Ontario, October 26, 2018 (LifeSiteNews) – A talented Catholic couple is launching a children’s faith-filled video adventure series this week.
“The Opus Joyous Show”, video brainchild of Jason and Marie Taylor of Opus Joyous Studio, is a high-action catechetical series featuring 3-D animation, puppets, original music, along with rockets, ships, pirates, and a time-traveling Bible. After a successful Kickstarter campaign, the Taylors have four 23-minute episodes ready to roll out.
A Catholic catechetical show for children “has been on my heart for years,” writer and director Jason Taylor told LifeSiteNews.
“In 1999, fresh out of college, I was hired by the NHL [National Hockey League] Players Union, nhlpa.com, in downtown Toronto to create a new website for kids featuring hockey based videos, animation, and games,” he said.
“It was leading edge at the time. And it had a wide reach. About the same time, I was really on fire with my faith. I think that was where the idea really started to take shape. I asked myself, ‘How do I do something like this but faith-based? How do I use my creative and technical skills for God?’”
Taylor had studied Multimedia at Toronto’s Humber College, and his puppet career began when he was working as a full-time camp director at the Canadian Diocese of Hamilton’s "Camp Brébeuf".
“During this time I purchased puppets as a fun way to engage the campers during all camp skits, songs, etc. At the same time I heard about a puppet-based video contest online which I decided to enter and won first place,” he said.
Later while working for the Archdiocese of Denver, Taylor collaborated with people who inspired him with their own creative approaches to evangelism. They included Catholic media pioneer Greg Willits; Kevin Knight, founder of newadvent.org, Jason Evert, Chris Stefanick and the priest-podcasters of “Catholic Stuff You Should Know”. Taylor also met people who worked at the Augustine Institute, now responsible for formed.org.
“They really set the bar high in terms of Catholic media production,” Taylor remarked.
According to the Opus Joyous website, the new show features “characters with character”-- some children, their family and their friends, among them a priest and a nun--who “work together with the grace of God to try and stop the evil villain Captain Barnacle and his shady plan for utter darkness upon the entire world.”
Opus is the little boy hero of the series and Joyous is his dog. There are also tall ships--one sporting Vatican flags as sails.
As did G.K. Chesterton with his sleuth-detective Father Brown, Taylor modeled his priest-character on a real-life cleric.
“The priest is actually based on Fr. Steven Szakaczki,” he said. “Fr. Steven came forward with a generous pledge at the beginning of our initial fundraising campaign, and we named a puppet character after him.”
“In fact,” Taylor added, “the token phrase ‘Shocking! Simply shocking! Shocking indeed!’ often heard in the ‘Opus Joyous Show’ was directly inspired by the real Fr. Steven.”
The Taylors have five children, and although Jason Taylor says he likes “Veggie Tales”, he felt the lack of Catholic children’s entertainment.
“I like ‘Veggie Tales’: the music, the funny voices, and story-based faith content,” he said. “It's a lot of fun and a great faith-based Christian show.”
“That being said, as a Catholic parent, I also longed for a show that I could play for my kids that would encompass uniquely Catholic values and lessons that I'd like [them] to learn,” he explained.
“This was a big motivator in my decision to finally produce a Catholic video series for kids.”
Being a father, Taylor is keenly aware of the issues around children’s use of electronic media. As parents put on the brakes, are children going to want to watch a faith-based show in the screen time they’re allowed?
“That's my goal, to create an authentically Catholic video series for kids that they are really going to enjoy watching,” Taylor said. “We took this to heart when we created the show.”
“My wife [puppeteer Marie] really was integral in this regards,” he continued. “At one point as I was reading an initial script, she looked and me and said, ‘You need more action.’ This was a turning point in the scriptwriting process, and hopefully kids and parents will appreciate the edge of your seat scenes!”
The Opus Joyous Show Launch Party will take place this Sunday, October 28th at the Victoria Jubilee Hall in Walkerton, Ontario, 111 Jackson Street South.
Doors open at 2:30 and the show will begin at 3:00pm.
Episodes of “The Opus Joyous Show” can be purchased from the Opus Joyous website.
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