LANCASTER, Pennsylvania — The Department of Sight & Sound, which has provided biblical entertainment for decades in theaters in Lancaster, Pennsylvania and Branson, Missouri, is expanding its entertainment portfolio by creating content for the silver screen.
During the global COVID-19 pandemic, the ministry launched the streaming service Sight & Sound TV. This allows people from more than 100 countries to virtually watch a live performance of “Queen Esther”. Following God’s guidance, the organization felt compelled to make unique Christian films for the world to see.
As Sight & Sound President and Chief Story Officer Joshua Enck said in a video published Friday, Sight & Sound Films will take their passion for storytelling from the big stage to the big screen with true stories about historical figures and events that “the world changed because Christ first changed it.”
Sight & Sound’s Director of Marketing & Communications Katie Miller, granddaughter of company founder Glenn Eshelman, spoke to The Christian Post about how the new film studio came about.
†[My grandfather] is really excited,” Miller said. “It felt like a big undertaking to get out of such a challenging season and we are just incredibly grateful, and so is he, that we were able to [do this]†
The company began discussing a potential venture in movies just before the COVID-19 pandemic hit. Though they felt it was the direction the Lord was taking them, they had no idea how they would get there.
“When we first posed the idea, the questions were really, how are we going to do this, shouldn’t we? And when COVID hit, it felt like it was going to be this thing that was like, ‘OK, maybe someday we’ll do this’. would, probably years later,'” Miller said.
“It felt like the Lord allowed that season to not only give us space to make feature films, but actually speed it up, something we really thought would slow us down,” she added. “That became such an answer to prayer and just really felt like God’s faithfulness in the whole situation.”
Eshelman has always had a predilection for theater and multimedia, as well as for mixing the two. He originally started his productions as a slide show for churches in 1976. After years of traveling he opened a theater.
Ten years later, Sight & Sound embarked on their immersive live animal experience and performance on a 300-foot panoramic stage. Now they have built their movie studio next to the iconic theater in Lancaster.
“I think it feels really special to see the next generation of storytellers take up the mantle and take the next step,” Miller told CP.
“We’re so passionate about the stories we can tell and the messages that are in them. So if we were to do it and get into something like movies, we wanted to be able to do it at the same level of quality that everyone already knows us when it comes to our shows.”
All Sight & Sound productions contain original content inspired by biblical stories in the scriptures. With their loyal team on site, they were able to use those same gifts and talents in a different medium to tell the stories of several heroes of faith not found in the Bible.
“When it comes to the theater side, Bible stories are what we should be doing there. And at the same time, we started to feel this excitement for other stories that we know are out there with just as strong messages of faith,” Molenaar noted.
“And so the question became real, how do we start telling those stories? And film is what rose to the top,” she recalls. “So it’s partly about a different medium for us, but it also opens the door to a whole host of different stories, all still with a biblical foundation, and inspiring faith stories we hope we can continue to depict.”
With endless possibilities, Sight & Sound now wants to continue to provide inspiring content to the believing public in a larger capacity.
Miller described their goal to “tell true stories about historical figures who changed the world because Christ first changed them.” According to Miller, “That’s really the gist of why we want to do this and why we’re excited about what’s to come.”
“It’s overwhelming when you try something new, you see the end road from where you want to go and the path doesn’t always feel super clear,” she concluded.
But now that the pieces have come together, Miller concluded by saying, “This is all turning out to be so good. So it’s exciting and it’s also nerve-wracking. There’s still a lot of unknowns, but we’re excited to get started.”
On Friday, Sight & Sound Films released the trailer for their feature film debut ‘I Heard the Bells’. The film is slated to hit theaters in December.
Known as the poet of America, Henry Wadsworth Longfellow leads an idyllic life—until the day his world is devastated by tragedy. With a nation torn by civil war and his family, Henry puts down his pen, silenced by sorrow. But it is the sound of Christmas morning that revives the poet’s lost voice as he discovers the resounding hope of a renewed faith,” reads the film’s synopsis.