TabernacleTalks Docu-Series Creators Reflect On Their Success
Today we’d like to introduce you to TabernacleTalks!
It’s an honor to speak with you today. Why don’t you give us some details about you and your story. How did you get to where you are today?
In early 2020 during the early phases of the shelter in place orders due to Covid-19, The Tabernacle Baptist Church of Dayton, like many churches had to decide how to continue program and educational offerings to our members. Dr. Michelle Pierce Mobley and Curtis A. Welch, Jr. sprang into action by investing their time and collective talents in creating an urban talk show called TabernacleTalks. With faith, prayer, and grant funding, we invested in equipment to retrofit an education and learning studio inside the main sanctuary. We also invested in lighting, computers, streaming equipment, copyright licenses and backdrops, going one step further to secure a sound engineer and animation artist. According to TabernacleTalks host Dr. Michelle Pierce Mobley, “while others were investing in bricks and mortar projects, we took another path by expanding our virtual educational framework. We now have the capacity to reach a global audience of a billion by social media. Millions of people will be connected to our messages about everything from how to make yeast rolls, to grief counseling.” We certainly were not prepared for what happened next. Since TabernacleTalks inception, others have taken notice of our social impact work. In 2021 we won a Gold Telly Award, three awards in the Best Shorts Documentary Competition and have been invited to showcase our work in this year’s Christian Film festival, an international film festival that according to FilmFreeway.org has been rated in the top 100 film festivals out of 6000 festivals globally.
I’m sure your success has not come easily. What challenges have you had to overcome along the way?
The biggest challenges we had to overcome was the reluctance of others to see the unlimited possibilities of TabernacleTalks. There were vocal critics who thought the show should only focus on Christian theology and biblical topics. We thought differently and felt that people seek connection and information in non-traditional ways. TabernacleTalks allows us to communicate across so many barriers, religions and faiths that we have garnered a global audience. One of our programs had more viewers in India than the United States so we wanted to create inclusive messaging that could reach anyone interested in the topic while not necessarily being interested in joining our congregation.
Let’s talk about the work you do. What do you specialize in and why should someone work with you over the competition?
We specialize in telling stories from an Afro-centric point of view. Many of our stories have been sanitized by main-stream media outlets who don’t understand the cultural nuances of black life. We recently developed a series on the Jonestown tragedy featuring a survivor and researcher who conducted focus groups with the survivors. When Jonestown was first reported in the late seventies, it was more about the People’s Temple Leader – Jim Jones. There wasn’t much written about the 918 people who died – 75% of whom were African American; 300 were children. There was no national day of mourning, and nobody talked about the mass grave that would become many of the victim’s final resting place. There comes a time when we must tell our stories in a way that honors our culture and our collective experiences. We know nobody can tell stories like we can because we combine research with creative cinematography that results in vibrant stories that moves you to act. “You can’t sit through one of our productions and not feel something” says Curtis A. Welch, Creative Director. “I remember one broadcast where Dr. Michelle was trying to hold back her tears.” Our stories hit you in the gut and forces you to wake up and try to make a difference.”
What’s your best piece of advice for readers who desire to find success in their life?
We decided early-on to create work that we liked and not base it solely on how much others liked it. If it moved us and it could help inform someone else that was enough for us. We didn’t go into this seeking notoriety or fame. We just wanted to produce great work. We put our heart, mind, and soul into our work. We are proud of the hundreds of hours of research, outtakes, writing and production time that has resulted in a thought-provoking body of work. When one of the Jonestown survivors cried and thanked us for finally telling the story right, that is the best reward you can get. Now don’t get us wrong, we love the laurels, statuettes, and other public recognition – but when you love what you’re creating you don’t really see it as work, you see it as your life calling
Speaking of success, what does the word mean to you?
The success of TabernacleTalks meant having people contact us to be on the show to tell their story. It meant being able to get grant funding and other in-kind resources and support. It also meant being honored by those in our creative field, who have tons more experience and work in the industry. We can also tell you that moment when we saw our winning work in the Telly Award category of social impact next to Disney and the Smithsonian……. let’s just say we were blown away. On a personal note, success has also meant finding a creative and talented partner that shares your vision of excellence and is always looking for ways to improve our body of work. I’d say we’re equally invested in TabernacleTalks and want to continue to create work that future generations can appreciate.
What’s next for you?
We eventually want to sponsor an urban film festival that showcases work in the social impact arena. We envision an event where we showcase some of the best and brightest documentary makers in the world. We know there are other like-minded artists looking for the venue to not only share their work but to discuss it with the audience, so they gain a deeper understanding of the work’s meaning. We’ve already been invited to share our work at an HBCU and to participate in discussions with the students about one of our documentaries. That’s exciting to us and we welcome the opportunity for educators to check out our work and invite us into the classroom to unpack issues that are critical to our enlightenment and survival.
Finally, how can people connect with you if they want to learn more?
We encourage people to contact us at TabernacleTalks@gmail.com. They can also see our work at The Tabernacle of Dayton YouTube site. When you select video, you will see the roster of TabernacleTalks program offerings. There may be someone out there looking to make the perfect pound cake. We’ve got a show for that. Fitness? We’ve got a show for that. Grief counseling, wedding planning, and when your partner just doesn’t want to act right – yes we have something for everyone.