While the CD includes all the songs for the project, Doerksen said there are “gaps” in the story between the songs. The CD is not intended to tell the full story but to “get the project rolling” and “build hunger and interest’ for the full thing.
The plan now is not to put together a theatrical production (although that may come eventually) but to produce a movie. The funding is in place and the script is almost finished, but filming won’t begin until at least the summer of 2011.
The movie will be done somewhat as a theatrical, something like Jesus Christ Superstar (but with dialogue), a “creative hybrid” between a movie and a theatre production. “It will be like a long form music video,” Doerksen said and added with a smile, “but it won’t sensationalize sex.”
Turning the project into a movie will mean that Doerksen will have to relinquish full control. He will be part of a team that will include co-writer Christopher Greco, director Morris Ertman and a couple of producers.
“I am not a visual artist, I am not gifted at writing dialogue,” Doerksen said, adding that a movie will take many different talents.
Although Doerksen sang the part of the older brother on the CD, he said it is “extremely unlikely” that he will play the part in the movie – “I am not an actor, and I’m too old.”
Doerksen is not focused on his part in the project as much as he is gripped by the story itself. It is the well-known story Christians know as “the Prodigal Son,” but told in a way that may be disturbing. “Religious people think they know that story,” Doerksen said, “but they will be pushed back by the title.”
This is why Doerksen said the story has a significant element of danger – because it wrestles seriously with theology. One of the producers grabbed the essence of the story when he told Doerksen he didn’t want to make a movie that was stuffy or religious but that “I want the Kingdom in it.”
The intended audience, Doerksen said, is the kind of people whom Jesus originally told the story to – “religious people who struggled with how Jesus was reaching out to broken people.”
In Doerksen’s understanding, the younger son is “not just out there doing bad stuff,” but is like his father, “a chip off the old block, being generous to people who don’t deserve it.” Doerksen added that it is precisely the brashness of the younger son that leads to the transformation of the older son.
Doerksen can identify with people who struggle with that understanding of the story because it is something he has struggled with himself. He said he could sing the role of the elder brother on the CD because “I’ve walked that road.” He added, “I feel the bitterness of the older son. I get ticked off by the wasteful ways God gives grace to people who do irresponsible things.”
Ultimately, Prodigal God has the same theme as the Level Ground CD that was released a month earlier – worship themed on grace.