The Chosen is what many in the entertainment industry might describe as an unlikely success story. It’s a streaming series about the life of Jesus and those who encountered him during his years of ministry. What’s remarkable is how the show has steadily raised unprecedented funds while also accruing a massive fanbase, becoming the largest crowdfunded TV series project in history.
Working behind the scenes on The Chosen is the show’s first assistant director, Trevecca Nazarene University alumnus Adam Drake.
“Trevecca is where I discovered what I really enjoy,” said Drake. “It was the perfect community to help me find what I wanted to do.”
As an undergraduate student at Trevecca, Drake began acting and eventually landed roles in music videos and commercials. Through an internship he learned how to shoot and edit videos. Later, through Trevecca, he took advantage of an opportunity to study at the Los Angeles Film Studies Center. There, he discovered he wanted to be part of the film industry.
His interest in film became more than just a creative outlet or passion. At Trevecca, he discovered it was a calling.
“When I was a junior and really getting into film, the Lord spoke to me and said, ‘This is your mission field,’” said Drake. “There is nothing that has a bigger impact on our culture than television and media. I want to be an example of Christ to the people on set and I knew that space could be a mission field just like if I was going overseas.”
After years of acting and filming, he discovered that the position of first assistant director fit well with his natural talents. In that role, his task is to keep the production running smoothly.
“I’m basically an on-site producer for logistics. I keep everything moving efficiently because in this business time is money and everything is very expensive,” said Drake. “It is my job to limit those expenses and make us as successful and safe as possible.”
By 2021, The Chosen viewers had contributed upward of $40 million to its filming and production. The show has garnered 300 million views internationally, with 30 percent of those views coming from outside the United States. However, Drake was a part of the show since its inception and was integral to its production from day one.
“I was there from the very beginning before anyone knew what it was. I read the scripts and was impressed,” said Drake. “I remember wondering, ‘This is incredible, but can we actually pull this off?’ I knew that if the acting wasn’t there or the production design wasn’t there, it wouldn’t work.”
It did work, but at times it has been difficult to film a production of this size. This is especially true with scenes involving large groups in an expansive setting—like the recent filming of the feeding of the 5,000 which will air in an episode of season three.
“That was the most challenging week we have ever had for The Chosen. We had thousands of extras and it was 105 degrees in Texas, where we were filming. People were passing out from heat exhaustion,” said Drake. “It is my job to handle all of those logistics and to keep everyone safe. It was probably one of the biggest challenges I’ve ever had as a first assistant director.”
Despite the difficulties, Drake finds his work rewarding. The Chosen has proved to be more than just a good story—it has touched people around the world.
“The show aligns with my beliefs as a Christian, which is huge. Being able to be a part of something that is changing lives is more rewarding than just making a great show,” said Drake. “It has a dual impact. It is well done and well produced and it’s also really speaking to people and impacting the world. That never gets old.”
The Chosen can be viewed on Amazon Prime Video, Angel Studios and NBC’s Peacock.