Making The Daniel Project Part 2
Further information regarding The Daniel Project’s purpose, content, filming and distribution along with answers to erroneous misinformation
What is The Daniel Project?
The Daniel Project is a 90 minute feature length television documentary that was developed by Scottish film production company Studio Scotland Ltd in 2001 and was finally produced by end of 2010. The documentary promotional teaser trailer was first shown at the Cannes MipTV festival from 2006 in a bid to attract an international distributor.
The main theme of the documentary is an investigation into claims that the Bible contains information that foretells future events (prophecy) and, in particular, centred in and around the nation of Israel.
As the documentary was being developed, over several years it garnered interest from a number of television networks and distributors at various television festivals. However, financial support and co-production was offered only if the production company making the documentary (Studio Scotland Ltd) agreed to alterations and additions to the storyline. The producers (Stewart & Deborah Menelaws) rejected interference that would change the purpose of the documentary's message.
At the documentary festival in Sheffield (England) in 2008, CEO Tim Sparke, of Mercury Media International, agreed to acquire and distribute the documentary without interference to the storyline, although disagreements would later arise as the film drew attention from a number of networks who wanted changes made before agreeing to acquire the film. While a re-edit would bring greater financial rewards, the producers would not agree to the changes as this would alter its storyline. As the film could not get financial support without this interference, the production was personally and fully funded by Stewart and Deborah Menelaws and their media company, Studio Scotland Ltd. There was no outside funding from any other parties.
Who Produced The Daniel Project?
Stewart and Deborah Menelaws began the ground work for The Daniel Project documentary around 2001 which was finally completed by end of 2010 and was based on their previous work, Cup of Trembling: Countdown to Armageddon (1996).
Director / Producer / Camera / Writer / Editor – Stewart Menelaws
Producer / Researcher / Writer – Deborah Forrest / Menelaws
Audio Recorder / Assistant Camera – Keith Elman
Second Camera (Extras DVD interview) Andrew Graham
Distributor – Mercury Media International (2010-2015)
Distributor – Journeyman Pictures (2015 onwards)
Media Lawyers – Gateley International
Media Insurance – Allan Chapman & James / QEB Insurance (Europe)
Content license agreements - Various
Who Wrote The Daniel Project?
After a number of years of in-depth research at the end of the 1980s and early 90s, the storyline was created by Stewart and Deborah to follow an overview of biblical eschatological or end-time events. Both projects can be seen to have the same pattern but use slightly different methods to tell a story which, in the case of The Daniel Project, was more to do with following television network formatting and protocol at that time.
There was no outside collaboration with any other individuals or organisations other than the completed work was academically reviewed by a notable scholar, at Exeter University, to inspect for inaccuracies regarding theological and historical content.
Who Financed The Daniel Project?
As the film could not get financial support from broadcasters or co-production without interference of the storyline, the production was personally and fully funded by Stewart and Deborah Menelaws and their Media Company Studio Scotland Ltd. There was no outside funding from any other parties.
During the development of the film, Studio Scotland used the time to create a slate of broadcast projects which were regularly presented at the Cannes Film/TV festivals with the aid of funding from The Producers Alliance for Film and Television, a professional organisation that supports independent film production in the UK.
High Definition formats were in their infancy and Stewart Menelaws became involved in spearheading the very latest camera technologies from Sony Broadcast in Scotland and would be chosen to become a certified expert as Studio Scotland began producing numerous corporate, commercial and educational films as well as television commercials and sub-contracting for various production companies and film/video agencies in both Europe and the USA. Their work was featured in a number of industry magazines and film clips used in promotional show-reels for Sony Broadcast Europe.
Throughout this period the company was able to fully re-build their studio / editing facilities to EBU standards and finance the marketing and DVD production side of the TV documentary.
Who Distributes The Daniel Project?
The film was initially picked-up around 2008 by CEO Tim Sparke of Mercury Media International, a distribution company specialising in documentaries. When the film was completed around end of 2010, a formal contract was signed and the distributor began presenting the documentary to international outlets from 2011.
The contract allowed Studio Scotland to create a director’s cut DVD to help promote the film to those within a faith based environment and allowed them to create a second DVD disc to accompany the main film. This second DVD was produced to give guidance and further answers to those who desired to know more about Biblical topics. This endeavour was wholly financed by Stewart and Deborah Menelaws. There was no outside funding.
Around 2015, Mercury Media International went into receivership, owing royalty payments due to a large number of production companies including Studio Scotland Ltd. Distributor Journeyman Pictures took over some of the assets of Mercury Media International and, in keeping with previous contractual agreements, acquired The Daniel Project.
Where Was The Daniel Project Filmed?
For the first section of shooting, presenter Jeremy Hitchen was filmed in a voice-over booth around 2006 at the studio in Fife.
All the scenes in Israel were filmed on location by Studio Scotland in 2009 covering Jerusalem and the Negev dessert. Interviews were filmed at various locations in and around those areas mentioned.
Jeremy Hitchen was finally filmed at the home of Stewart and Deborah Menelaws (kitchen scene), while a number of finishing interviews were completed in London where a bedroom suit was hired and converted into a studio over a period of days.
The Daniel Project & Misinformation
In the world of film making, stories and myths arise for all kinds of reasons and, given time, those stories become well and truly misleading and even ridiculous. Since the production release of the TV documentary in 2010/2011, the unregulated world of social media has been recording such folly in recent years. These stories generally come from either religious or atheist fanatics or, just simply, individuals who can’t be bothered checking the facts, preferring to spread maligned gossip.
The Daniel Project is a Religious Film
False: The Daniel Project television documentary was developed in 2001 and was finally produced by the end of 2010. The documentary promotional teaser-trailer was first shown at the Cannes MipTV Festival (from 2006) in a bid to attract an international distributor. The film has no faith based affiliations and its message is simply to ask, "Are we here by chance or design and does the Biblical record hold information that claims to outline our beginning and end?"
The Daniel Project is a Christian DVD
False: In a bid to attract an international distributor, a DVD (special directors cut) was allowed to be produced, by Studio Scotland Ltd, in small numbers in accordance with the contract signed with distributor, Mercury Media International, to help promote the film within faith based groups since it highlighted biblical topics of importance.
The actual film itself never became a commercial DVD sold by secular outlets. However, a leading DVD distribution outlet wanted the film but asked for it to be re-edited to suit a wider market. This re-edit would have compromised the storyline and directors, Stewart and Deborah Menelaws, therefore refused which, in turn, caused the talks with Mercury Media International and the DVD distributor to break down.
The limited DVD (special cut) version was financed solely by Stewart and Deborah Menelaws and Studio Scotland Ltd for which they would use finances recouped to make other language versions and giveaways for various Christian charities.
The Daniel Project was financed by Religious Organisations
False: The documentary was developed in 2001 and was finally produced by end of 2010. It's promotional teaser/trailer was first shown at the 2006 Cannes MipTV Festival in a bid to attract an international distributor. It was personally financed by Stewart and Deborah Menelaws (Directors of Studio Scotland Ltd) as well as their own multi-media company Studio Scotland Ltd, a company well-known for its commercial work covering a wide range of genres for which it had received a number of awards.
Personal funding by company directors within the documentary world is a common practice as this allows them to have greater control over storylines, allowing a documentary to speak freely. Conversely, outside funding and/or co-production with other bodies usually leads to a project being written to meet the agenda of those footing the bill.
The documentary has no affiliation with any faith based organisations. It is simply a documentary looking at the claims regarding Biblical prophecy. It is a work that required many years of research, investigation and in-depth study.
Who Wrote The Daniel Project?
There has been, in some circles, disseminated misinformation regarding who wrote The Daniel Project. Misguided followers of one of the contributors interviewed for the film (James Jacob Prasch) have erroneously promoted the documentary as something written and produced by Mr Prasch himself. This, of course, is a complete fallacy and wholly false. Mr Prasch was a contributor and came to Israel to be filmed on location while visiting his son there. While his inclusion was used to help carry the storyline, his actual involvement was negligible. Production records clearly show that it was skillful editing that helped Mr Prasch come over well which is an expected requirement for most productions. At times, contributors and/or actors can get a little above themselves which can manifest in self-delusion as well as be very embarrassing for themselves.
Film and television production is a regulated industry that requires a full record of production content and includes release forms, various contract agreements and licenses, permits, insurance, clearances and financial information. Studio Scotland Ltd has a complete record from development through to final edit and production delivery masters. Under no circumstances was any third party involved in the writing of this documentary.
The Daniel Project was not filmed on location
False: Another erroneous, circulating story is that the production was not filmed in Israel. As can be clearly seen from within the film and outlined in its credits, the production team spent ten days in Israel filming from Jerusalem to the Negev Dessert in the south. Jeremy Hitchen, the voice artist and presenter was not filmed in Israel but this is explained in the storyline as it was part of the creative presentation. Six of the contributors were interviewed on location in Israel with the rest in London and the studio in Fife, Scotland. Behind the scenes production images scattered throughout the Studio Scotland web site depict the documentary crew at work both in Israel and London.
The Daniel Project does not give a full account of the Bible
Yes, that’s correct but... it’s not intended to and watching the project, from start to finish, clearly shows that the topic is Bible prophecy and the claims made. What is clear within the project is for people to investigate for themselves and, in so doing, they can read a full account throughout the pages of the Bible. The best way to understand this film is to understand it in the light of why it was made, to ask questions, to provoke discussion about our origins and explore whether the Bible holds answers to life’s deepest questions.
In short the film, at the time of production, had to meet the rules and regulations set out for broadcast production which had a bearing on what could be presented.
The Daniel Project was made to make money
This is a misleading statement. While the directors financed the project themselves, they used their media studio to act as the production company thereby giving it the required status for seeking a distributor for television distribution. The film was made from a passion to share Biblical accounts regarding our existence and greatest problem. Based on a previous documentary (Cup of Trembling: Countdown to Armageddon) which was produced for cable TV and Video cassette in the1990s, the new film had to be formatted and produced to meet broadcast requirements of the time which is an expensive undertaking.
Both Stewart and Deborah Menelaws turned away many highly paid contracts and opportunities within the commercial world to spend time putting The Daniel Project together and, in turn, the feature film version, The Daniel Connection (2014).
As Stewart Menelaws will tell you, “if you wanted to make a financially successful film, there are far better ways of making that happen”. The approach to the way they made The Daniel Project caused a number of the larger distributors and networks to ask for a re-edit to fit their particular viewing formats to which the producers refused. This meant the film lost a great deal of financial potential but, as Stewart Menelaws said,
“That’s fine; we won’t change the storyline because we didn’t make it for financial reasons although, clearly, we need to see some return to recoupe costs and also to be honourable to the organisations who help fund us to go to Cannes and other events to meet distributors thereby bringing tax revenue into the country (UK).
While a worker is worth his wages, we funded this project because it means something to us personally; no different from someone passionate about saving endangered species or searching for a lost tribe in the Amazon. You do this because you are passionate. If your project can pay for itself, that’s great. If it can actually turn a profit, that’s even better. Now you can invest in another project you are passionate about. It’s simple. Every film maker has this within them. Only misguided, stupid people could ever think the goal could be about making money. How ridiculous! The topics that make money are in another camp altogether…”
The Daniel Project does not give the gospel salvation message
That’s correct; it’s a television documentary about some of the claims regarding Bible prophecy. When the production was made, there were strict guidelines in regard to religious proselytisation which it had to abide by. This is the reason the producers managed to procure an agreement with the distributor, allowing them to make a special cut DVD with further information (extras) to help people in regard to Christian faith and the Gospel message. This extras content has been freely aired on internet based sites and at least one cable television channel. Secular TV networks have no interest in this extras content.