Who Is Chad Gundersen
Chad is truly the salt of the earth. I don’t say that only because he has salt-and-pepper hair. He is truly one of the most genuine and kind guys I have met working in film. And he happens to be the main producer of The Chosen, which has now reached over 200 million views on their app alone. It’s been a wild, wild ride, and he has been on the forefront, helping keep the ship afloat. We joked that if anything was going to happen, it would always happen on that show.
From freak storms to freezing temperatures, to managing thousands and thousands of extras all wearing period pieces, The Chosen has had its fair share of challenges. And Chad has been in the boxing ring, taking care of each of the fires. We talked a lot about what it takes to rely on God and each other, and how to avoid the self centeredness that plagues the industry. Chad gave some incredible bits of wisdom on the business side of filmmaking and talked about how to find joy in the challenges. Great advice for life, really. Enjoy!
Get to Know Chad Gundersen
Chad Gundersen is known by many as a trustworthy and good-natured individual; whether it’s someone from work, family or friends, you always get the same answer. He is known for being an actor and producer of several movies and television series. He’s described as a hard-working, enthusiastic character that never backs off a challenge. Chad is a rare human being.
Where Is Chad Gundersen from?
Chad was born on February 3, 1977, in Blair, Nebraska, and grew up in Roanoke, Texas. To this day, he still lives within five miles of his childhood home. He played college football and volleyball at Pomona College in California before moving back home to start studying film at the University of North Texas. This is also where his illustrious film career was born 17 years ago.
Now a famous Hollywood producer and actor, Chad has been married to his wife Amanda for more than ten years. He has two children: a son Kai and a daughter Kenlee. They live in Roanoke in Texas.
In the 17 years of Chad’s career, he’s reached a significant amount of accomplishments, from acting in sought-after films to directing them. Below is a complete list of projects he worked on throughout his career, both as an actor and producer.
- He was involved as co-producer in Cliche in 2003.
- From 2005 to 2006, he featured as co-producer in Midnight Clear.
- In 2008 he was the producer of the film The Secrets of Jonathan Sperry.
- In 2009 he was a producer and co-producer for the films Stillborn and Like Dandelion Dust.
- In 2010 he produced three films: The Trial, Unrequited and A Christmas Snow.
- In 2014 he produced Ace Wonder: Message from a Dead Man and The Redemption of Henry Myers.
- In 2015 he also produced two films: Hoovey and Unlimited.
- 2016 saw Chad working as a video editor and co-producing the Hillary’s America: The Secret History of the Democratic Party documentary.
- He has also been applauded for being an incredible producer of the television series The Chosen.
- In 2003 he starred in Cliche, which he also co-produced.
- The next time he acted was in 2006, when he starred in Midnight Clear.
- He played a cop in Like Dandelion Dust in 2009.
- In 2010 he played a Thug in The Trial.
- In 2014 he starred as Mr. Clancy in The Redemption of Henry Myers.
- He also stars as Bum in the Ace Wonder: Message from a Dead Man.
- In 2015 he starred as Archangel Gabriel in the film Hoovey.
He is a well known and respected producer, and the projects he completed are an excellent reflection of why. He plans to continue producing breathtaking films and embrace being a great father, son, husband and brother.
Chad Gundersen Podcast Transcription
Charan: Hey, what’s going on, guys? This is Charan Prabhakar with the Lemonade Stand Stories podcast. And in front of me is a dear friend, Mr. Chad Gundersen, who is… I mean, I was just telling him, he’s just getting handsome and handsome as the days go by. He’s like fine wine, I think. But Chad and I had the opportunity of meeting a… Man, [inaudible 00:01:50] a few years ago now. A few years ago at NRB, was a Christian conference. Now, for those of you who don’t know, Chad Gundersen is a producer, and he’s made tons and tons of movies and TV shows and things. But the thing that a lot of people know him for right now is, he is the main producer of The Chosen, and the series has done extremely well and has reached a global audience in a very short amount of time.
Charan: And being a producer is a very difficult job, as we’re going about to dive into and hear. And Chad is behind the scenes. You don’t see him as much as Dallas, talking in front of the camera and everything like that. And that’s because he’s putting out fires. He’s constantly putting out fires and making logistics happen. And there’s… like with The Chosen, where the budgets of the show aren’t as high as you would want to have for a medieval type of piece, there’s a lot of logistics to figure out. And so, anyway I’m so excited that Chad finally found some time to sit and come with me on this little journey. But, Chad, welcome, man. I appreciate you being here.
Chad: Hey, brother. It’s a pleasure. And my apologies for not making this happen earlier, but I appreciate you taking the time and all the kind words already. So let’s see if we can extinguish those and figure out something better to talk about-
Charan: All right. Well, we don’t really have anything better than-
Chad: That’s it.
Charan: That was it. So this has been a great podcast. Thanks so much for being on.
Chad: [crosstalk 00:03:18].
Chad Gundersen Talks About Getting Into the Film Industry
Charan: Yeah, of course. No, Chad, it’s awesome. So for those of you who don’t know, Chad has his own company called Out of Order Studios. And Out of Order Studios is its own production company, and it was brought on to produce The Chosen. So Out of Order has also produced tons and tons of other things. And so, I’d like to first go off and talk a little bit about how you even got into the film industry to begin with and how you… And it was Chris Juen, I believe, who you guys together formed Out of Order Studios. So how did you come into the industry?
Chad: My story in the industry is, I guess, a bit accidental, but we always know that God loves to use those little fun, little surprises in your life to do things like that. Yeah, I was a biology major in school, played sports in college. No, not at all. I played sports in school and I was… sports medicine is where I was going. That was the path I was on. And so, started school out in California, went to Pomona College out there, little small school out there, playing football out there, ended up playing volleyball at that school as well. And through various redirects from God, let’s just say, that I was not playing sports anymore. And when you quit sports, obviously the money that took you there disappears as well, right? So ended up coming back to Texas, which is where I’m from. I live just outside of Fort Worth. Texas is home for me, and where Out of Order is based, and all that. We can talk all about that.
Chad: But yeah, so came back to Texas, was going to go down to Texas A&M with my brother. He was in school down there, and actually already been accepted down to A&M, before I went to California, but oddly enough, I was a transfer student at that point, not a new student, so… And I was literally one credit shy of being a transfer student. So I was like, “Okay, well, I’ve got to go somewhere for a semester, maybe [El Ducho 00:05:29] or something like that, but ended up at the University of North Texas, which is a big school right here in the Dallas–Fort Worth area. And I had done a lot of theater, print work, commercial work, as an actor in high school. Definitely never did it as a career thing. Just something I enjoyed. Like I said, theater, stuff like that.
Chad: So my first semester at the University of North Texas, which has a very… it is a big liberal arts type school. So has a great film department theater arts, literally arguably has the number one jazz department in the world. So very art centric. And so, my first semester at the University of North Texas, I got cast in five of the student films. So really got thrown into that world there of filmmaking. And really, again, never thought of it as a career. When I was in LA, I was an extra in a couple of big movies as well, but again, just fun and stuff. But I do remember sitting on the set of Grosse Pointe Blank, if you remember that movie of John Cusack, right?
Charan: Yeah. Of course. Yeah.
Chad: But it’s a high school reunion show, right? So I’m in the crowd, and there’s a couple of times I’m literally right behind John Cusack. So it’s like one of my cool kind of things, but John Cusack has a very large head though, so you can’t see me very well. But I do remember being on that set while I was in California as an extra going, well, “This is just interesting. This is different. I mean, this is a career that people do.” But again, even at that point, that was not really where I was going. But so, at North Texas like I said, did a lot of acting there.
Chad: I did some local theater, Shakespeare in the Park, all kinds of things like that. Still a biology major, still planning on going down to A&M, which obviously has a very large biology department. But while I was at North Texas, I just started figuring out I liked the school, enjoyed being there, and started taking theater classes and film classes, still a biology major, right?
Chad: But a couple of years-
Charan: Well, this all was just for fun, right? Was just like, “Hey, I just want to-“
Chad: Yeah. Maybe I was going to do a minor on it just, as like “Oh, well you got to have a minor,” right? So I was [crosstalk 00:07:38] like, “Maybe I’ll do the film or theater minor,” or something like that. So just continued on, continued to take all those science-y, organic chemistry and cell biology and all those fun things. And then my senior year, I just say, God got a hold of me, and it really started changing my perspective on some things. And I started my first company, which was a company that I started with a guy by the name of Joe Scott. Joe is a big YouTube star now. He’s got a cool channel called Answers with Joe. So go check that out.
Chad: And so we had a company called Night and Day Films, and we literally, on a whim, started this company and immediately started getting work. We started producing music videos for local bands, commercials for mom-and-pop-shop-type places. And within that, Joe, very much a creative, right? So he was more of a writer, director. I was kind of that actor. So I’d be the guy holding the burrito in the commercial, right? Or the voiceover guy, or whatever. And so by default, our company just didn’t have a producer, a “producer.” So I just took on that mantle, realized I had a knack for leading people, and figuring things out in logistics and all those kinds of things. So I just fell into producing.
Chad: And that’s when I started producing, was with that company in college still. So my senior year I changed from biology to film. Funny enough, at North Texas, it’s the department of arts and sciences. So basically what happened is all my biology credits that I basically have a degree in, but don’t even have a piece of paper that says I do, became all my electives. And then all these electives of film and theater I was taking became my major. So I had to make up a few things to get there, but basically still graduated and ended up getting a degree in film. And then, like I said, basically have a degree in biology, just not the certificate that says you do, right? So… And then, after I graduated, just continued to do things. Did my first feature film in 2005 called Midnight Clear. And that was with Dallas Jenkins actually. So-
Charan: No way. Are you kidding me-
Charan: Were you guys buddies a long time then or how did that all-
Chad: So another funny story, how Dallas and I met. His father obviously has wrote a pretty well-known book series called Left Behind. And that was at its peak. There were probably three, four, or five books in by early 2000s. And I literally wrote a fan letter to Dallas’s dad, Jerry, wrote a letter to him, wrote it, not typed it but wrote it. And just said, “Hey, if these books ever get made into movies, I’m a film student.” I had just graduated a year or two earlier. “If they ever get made into movies, I’d love to be a part of that.” And Jerry, very gracious, very nice wrote me back and said, “Well, funny, you should say that. My son is also a young filmmaker.” And Dallas is a year or two older than me, I think; we’re pretty close in age, but he has just been out of school as well.
Chad: And he was working with the company that was making Left Behind into movies. A long story there, but obviously Dallas and Jerry split off from that and did their own thing. But in meeting Dallas, struck up a friendship and chatted. And then not too long after that, it probably would have been 2003-ish, probably maybe 2004. It was probably 2004. He was making a short film out in LA and he says, “Hey, I already have a producer. Don’t really need any help there, but hey, if you want to come help, come on out.” So I literally put myself on a plane, flew out to LA, found a buddy to stay with, sleep on couch, and was an unpaid PA on that short film. And by the end of that short film, I was a co-producer of that-
Charan: No way. How did that go down? How did-
Chad: Well, it’s just that there were just certain things that I just started filling in the gaps, helping with post-production. We did some stuff in Dallas and started filling in a lot of areas that just they needed a little help in.
Chad: So based off of that, then Dallas was like, “Hey, I’m going do another short film.” And this was Midnight Clear, the short film. And he goes, “Hey, if you want to produce this, come on, come produce this for me.” So oddly enough, we shot that in Phoenix, Arizona, of all places.
Charan: Mm-hmm (affirmative).
Chad: And then, not even a year later, we were doing Midnight Clear as a feature. And so that’s when Dallas and I worked together for the first time. And then, funny enough, Dallas and I have not worked together since then, all the way up until The Chosen. So-
Charan: Oh, wow.
Chad: … We’ve known each other… Yeah. Stayed in touch, followed each other’s careers, “What are you working on? What are you doing? Hey, we got to find something to do together,” and could just never really find anything. And so when The Chosen came, it was from shooting it here in Texas, which is my backyard, to then needing a producing entity, which is myself and Chris Juen, who you mentioned earlier, who’s the partner in Out of Order Studios. And now we’re two seasons in and getting ready for season three, and here we are.
Chad: So yeah, that’s the little bit of backstory there on how I got into this industry. So like I said, God dragged me here, kicking and screaming. And I still go, “Are you sure, Lord? Is this really what I’m supposed to be doing?” But The Chosen has been definitely a pinnacle so far within my career, both creatively, spiritually. It’s been a rough one for sure, but we joke and say, “Well, if it can go wrong, well, it’s The Chosen.” So that’s-
Charan: It’s The Chosen, right? It’s… [crosstalk 00:13:33]. Exactly.
Chad: You’ve been on set a few times; you know how challenging it can be, so yeah.
Chad Gundersen Talks About Perspective Change
Charan: Yes. Well, it’s been amazing, and we’re going to dive really hard into that, but right before we do, I want to talk a little bit… You said something, a little while ago, about how there was a moment when God changed your perspective, right? When you realized like, “Hey, this is not my path, the biology path is not my path. I’m going to go on to film,” because that sets you up for a long journey and a journey that’s very fulfilling, very tough, I’m sure at times, leading you up to The Chosen, right? So what was the perspective change? Can you talk a little bit about that?
Chad: Yeah. I mean, it was definitely one of those… In college, it’s that journey of finding self, right? And the biology thing was something that made sense. And I think a lot of people have that story of what makes sense. Even my wife talks about that a little bit with her collegiate journey of… My wife has a degree in accounting, and it really wasn’t what she wanted to do, but it was just what made sense, right? “Well, this is how you’d get a good job, and this is what you do,” and she’ll tell you she wanted to be a teacher, but teachers don’t make money, and they don’t this, and they get treated like crap, but it was a passion of hers that she looks back and says that she wished she had done that.
Chad: And so, for me the biology thing made sense. I mean, I was good at it, I understood it. Definitely, I enjoyed. I was interning at places, occupational therapy, physical therapy, sports medicine, all these kinds of things. So I was doing all the things that made sense to have a great career in that path. But I can also say that, just looking back, I always had that creative bug, right? I had, like I said, done a lot of theater in high school growing up. I had done some print work commercials, little things like that. But again, I did it more out of fun, not like, “Oh, I’m going to be an actor. This is what I want to do with my life.” Which again, makes sense because now, as a producer, I use both sides of the brain, right?
Chad: A lot of producers, they’re very categorical, right? They’re executive producers that work with finance, or they’re creative producers that help create stories, and find stories, and do those types of things. And then there are line producers that are budget and number crunchers, and day-to-day type thing. And to be honest with you, I’m all of those. I love the creative. And so, I love working that angle of things. And then I love… I build budgets. I do all of that, and work with distributors, and work with the marketing team, and stuff like that. So I have the appreciation for both sides of the producing thing. And that has helped me a lot because I can go, “Okay, well, creatively, we can’t do that because we don’t have the money, but let’s discuss and figure out how we can make… your idea, writer, director, how do we make that work within the confines that we have, from a budget standpoint?”
Chad: And so that’s helped me quite a bit. And on The Chosen, I’m not as involved on the creative side; Dallas leads that charge. And he’s got a writing team behind that, but it is those times where we do have to sit down and go, “We can’t afford to do that, man. We just…”
Chad: And so that is where that both sides of left brain, right brain numbers in creative in that sort of thing have come handy. And looking back, that’s what brought me on that journey, was that, first and foremost… and I do think God does that sometimes. It’s kind of the least expected thing, is where he’s going to throw you, and sometimes not. I mean, sometimes people just… they know from an early age what they’re going to do. But for me, it definitely was like, I had no clue. Never in my 18-, 19-, 20-year-old brain was I going, “Oh, this is what am I going to do for a living.”
Chad: But I will say, once God slapped me with that, it was like, “Well, I can’t imagine doing anything at all.” Still have a huge appreciation. I love sports. I love working out and doing all those things, so… And honestly, early on in my career, before I went full time into producing, I was a personal trainer for a long time.
Charan: Oh, nice.
Chad: Was fortunate enough to work with some professional athletes in football, in golf and baseball and different things like that. So that was a great experience to have those kinds of things. And so, I can see what God was preparing and using that as a means to an end. All of us filmmakers have done other jobs, a lot over the years. And so, I’ve been doing this full-time for, golly, over 10 years, probably 12 years now. So I’ve been very fortunate that this is all I’ve done, but for the first 10 years of my career, it was like, “Well, I would do a movie.”
Chad: You’d be gone for a couple of months, and you’d do a movie, and then you need to come back and do your normal job, right? And then you go off and do another movie. So I always had to find jobs that would allow you that flexibility to leave and come back. So it was personal trainer and it was… I worked in landscaping for a long time and mowed yards and did all that because I could go away and come back, and I still have a job. And I always joked with the personal training. I’d go away for a couple of months and all my clients would gain weight, and get out of shape, and be unhealthy. So it was guaranteed to come back-
Charan: It was like guaranteed employment, man.
Chad: Yeah. But been very fortunate, very blessed to be doing this now for quite a while and being a part of projects like The Chosen and others that I’ve been fortunate enough to do, have been a good thing. But it was definitely one of those things… When I speak, I tell young folks all the time, “You better know that you know that you know that this is what you’re supposed to do for a living.” And honestly that goes for believers or non-believers alike. I mean, this business, this industry, as you know, is, man, it can chew you up and spit you out pretty big, right? And pretty hard and it’s tough. And so, like I said, and then if you do have any sort of faith backing, you better know even more because it can be pretty rough to watch and be a part of… and kind of, you need that guidance to get through it, to stay true to your convictions and that sort of thing too, so…
Charan: Well, it’s so interesting. I feel like our paths are very similar in that sense, because I’m a producer as well, right? And an actor and… But it was the same thing. I went to school for things that made sense. I was a business major initially and I was like, “Yeah, that’s what I’m supposed to do,” because I knew that I couldn’t be a doctor because I passed out on the first sight of blood. So I’m like, “No, that’s not for me.”
Chad: Okay. [crosstalk 00:20:11].
Charan: Yeah. Check. Nope, not that. So I thought, well, I’m going to be a businessman of some sort or yada, yada, yada, all because of reasons that made sense, right? It’s the things that work. And I was good with numbers and all this stuff, but I found that I just did not enjoy it. But acting was something I always enjoyed, but I’m like, “That’s too fun. There’s no way I can make that a career because-“
Charan: But then that’s what happened. And when I did my first short film, that I was the lead actor, and there was just so many logistics that we had to figure out and do. So I stepped into figure out those logistics, and then now I’m a producer. You know what I mean [crosstalk 00:20:52] that?
Charan: The thing that fell in my lap. And it’s interesting what you were saying regarding the different types of producers. Because yeah, I feel like I’m a little bit of like what you’re saying, a little bit of a chameleon. I’ve helped raise money, so I’ve done that side of things.
Chad: It’s the worst.
Charan: It’s not a fun part. Yeah, that’s not the fun part of producing, but I actually… I don’t know. I like talking to people, so… And I’m not afraid to ask for money, so I guess that’s fine, but… So there’s that type of producing. I would not consider myself a line producer at all. I’m like, “Nope, I let other people hire everyone and handle the budgets and stuff like that. We just want to make sure that we’re under budget,” but it is fun. But man, it’s interesting the logistics that come into play and it’s like, there’s never a dull moment. There’s always something going on. So I just finished a feature, an action-y… I know we talked about this before, an action-y, sci-fi, comedy feature, and the budget was so low compared to the stuff that you guys are working on, and then we were just scrambling left and right, like, “Well, how are we going to get this shot? How are we going to get that shot? How are we going to do pick ups?” Yada, yada, yada.
Charan: But that was just one feature, that was one film. You guys are producing a TV series and the logistics behind that is just insane. The cast that you guys have is such a variety and there’s so many people involved.
Chad: It’s massive. Yeah.
Charan: It’s just massive. And I remember-
Chad: Yeah. It’s like we’re making a feature every episode. I mean, it is logistically big and very…
Chad Gundersen Talks About Producing The Chosen
Charan: And it’s a period piece. And that does not help things be easier either. Now, I remember… I don’t know if you remember this. We had a lunch right before season two in Provo. We were having a discussion about this, and you were even telling me how you felt very understaffed as far as hiring your crew and everything for the show. So let’s talk about The Chosen, man. How has that… not just how it’s coming to your life, but what the process has been like as a producer of that show?
Chad: Mm-hmm (affirmative). Yeah. I mean, it’s been… I mean, like I said, all these shows and all these projects are rides, but this one has been unique, all the way from it being the largest crowdfunded media project ever, right?
Chad: Or season one was – to becoming this kind of worldwide phenomenon. And that’s weird to say, but it’s absolutely true, right? It is… I think on the app alone, we just passed 210 million views just on the apps, and that doesn’t count all the other outlets that the show is on, from YouTube to DVD sales, to various networks that we’re on as far as platforms and stuff… digital platforms that we’re on as well. So that in itself has been an interesting thing, and pretty humbling, and you just have to ignore that just to go, “Okay, we just have to put our heads down and keep working,” because it’s definitely become one of these things now where we just don’t want to screw it up; we just don’t want to mess it up, right? Because it’s become this thing where the expectations are high, and we’re only in season two; we’re not even done with season two yet.
Chad: I mean, I think we’re probably in a space where we were praying and hoping to be, maybe after like season four, then now, and now we’re actually in season two and we’re there. And so it’s definitely been a journey. And as you mentioned earlier, we’re actually operating on half, if not less than half, of what a normal show of this scope would be, as far as networks or something like on HBO or Netflix, or Amazon, Hulu, all those places, because of episodic television becoming these huge, grander type projects, right? I mean, you think of something obviously as massive as Game of Thrones, but also something just as simple… at least it feels simple as some of these just normal network shows.
Chad: And like I said, our per episode, the budget is… it’s actually been less than half. It’s probably been a third, and we’re probably now approaching the halfway mark, but we’re going into season three, and I don’t ever honestly seeing this being as high as some of those others, even all the way up to season seven, which is the goal of the show, is to do seven seasons. So being a good steward of that money because we’re financed by the audience, our audience. I like to say the audience is our boss. It’s not a studio; it’s not a big network. Obviously Angel Studios is a part of it, and they are our distributor, and they have been a massive resource and a great partner in all this.
Chad: But our funding doesn’t directly come from them. It comes from our audience; it comes from these people paying it forward, because the show is also free, right? I mean, who does that? Who gives away a show for free? And so-
Charan: It’s, like, so completely out-of-the-box thinking, man. It’s not [crosstalk 00:25:58] really been done. So-
Chad: Yeah, it’s been really great. And a lot of that has even been a learning process. So, Derral, our executive producer, obviously Dallas, all the people over at Angel Studios, they’re even learning, and what is working? And when you start going, “Oh my gosh, we gave that show away,” and this was back in season one, we were figuring out, we’re like, “Oh, we gave the first episode away for free, and we saw this huge spike.” And then all of a sudden we gave two episodes away for free and the spike got bigger. And then we finally got to the point where like, “Let’s just give away the whole darn thing for free.” And it was just like the show exploded when we did that, and the support became even more of people going, “Well, I want to give, I want other people to see the show.”
Chad: So obviously you’ve got to make a good show, too, that people want to go, “I want to pay it forward to let other people see it.” So it’s just been this weird, crazy journey that only God could have his hand on it to make it happen. So it’s definitely been humbling in that regards, but as you mentioned, we have a cast of over a hundred people every season, right? So we’re 100, 105, and that’s speaking roles; that doesn’t count literally the thousands of extras that we have.
Charan: Oh, man. Yeah. For sure.
Chad: You were there on that day, and that’s episode eight. So I don’t want to give too much away, but maybe by the time this comes out, it’ll have already been out. But you’ll see the thousands of extras that showed up in a pandemic, went through the trouble of being tested twice before they even showed up. So we did all the safety protocols. We had no outbreak. We had no cases that we’re aware of. I mean, sure, I guess, somebody may have gotten it, but we weren’t aware of it. And it definitely was like an outbreak where all of a sudden, “Oh my gosh, 50 people all came down with it one day,” or 200, or whatever, and it was on top of that. It was record-setting cold temperatures in the state of Texas, of all places, right? And I think so-
Charan: And I remember like… I think it was you or… I forgot who I was talking to. It might’ve been you, but you were saying like, “Dude, it’s going to be cold. Make sure you pack up and wear warm clothes.” I’m thinking, “Chad, I’m from Utah, dude.” [crosstalk 00:27:58]. And then I like, “That’s great. That’s cute.” And I get out there and I’m like, “Wait, what is this humid cold? This isn’t Utah cold,” right? Totally different cold.
Chad: Yeah. It’s like seeps through your clothing, right?
Charan: Oh man.
Chad: Well in Texas we actually get that a lot. People that come from up north, they’re like, “Oh, you’re cold.” And we’re like, “Look, it’s not about temperature,” right? Our temperatures very rarely gets… If we get below 20, that’s like, “Oh my gosh, that’s crazy.” If we get below 20, so normally our winters, maybe we see the 20s, 30s every now and then, but then people from up north come, whether it’s from the mountains or Midwest or something, and they come and they’re like, “This is different. This is a different cold,” just like you were saying, because our humidity is so high. It’s like the cold gets into your clothes, it gets into your skin, because it’s not a dry cold, like where there’s snow and stuff; it’s kind of this wet, arid, thick-type thing.
Charan: It’s a cold that makes your soul weep. It’s very strange.
Chad: Yes. It is soul-weeping cold. Yes.
Chad: And then, on top of that literally that storm that came through, that day of the Sermon on the Mount was only the first day. It actually got worse from there. And I want to say it was probably… What? Right at freezing during that time, but it got down to zero that following week, which actually shut us down, which was the only time. We never got shut down by COVID, but the Texas winters shut us down. You know what I mean? Come on Texas? I mean, of all things.
Charan: I know. It just sounds like the most crazy thing, but it’s interesting. It’s crazy to think that the day that we did the Sermon on the Mount, after we wrapped, right as you were wrapping, it started raining, and before it wasn’t and then it started raining, then it just was like… And it was interesting because I was having a conversation with Yasmin and Giovanni about meeting up the next day. I’m like, “Hey, let’s go grab some breakfast or something before I take off.” And then we looked outside, and I saw that there was ice on my car, just all frozen over. I’m like, “Yep. We’re going to make an executive decision to not do that.”
Chad: That is not happening.
Charan: That was not happening.
Chad: If you got out the next day, you were fortunate, because I think people did not get on their plane that next morning; they did not get out for a week because the airport shut down. And like I said, it was record-setting low temperatures in the state. I mean the State of Texas had never seen anything like that. And again, it was all over the news. So people were familiar with it. And we had-
Charan: Oh, yeah. I mean, it was-
Chad: … the pandemic in there as well, and it was just like-
Charan: The day that I left, actually, there was like this 100-car pileup, is what they were saying.
Charan: I missed it. And some of my party that I was with, they barely missed it. But when I got on the roads, it was very weird, because I think everything just completely shut down. So the freeways were empty for me, and I didn’t really get the memo that everything’s shut down. I’m just like, “Dude, is Dallas just a ghost town? What is going on?” But-
Chad: Yeah. Is this day? “What is today?” Right? Yeah.
Chad: But [crosstalk 00:30:51] just had a relative, my brother-in-law’s sister-in-law was in that wreck, and she was fine and no problem, but she was part of that pile-up. And it was a nasty one for sure. But we started joking again. We’re like, “Well, of course, because it’s The Chosen,” of course we see the snowpocalypse of a century’s long storm. And funny enough, in season one, we were shooting in the fall of… that would have been fall of ’18 when we were shooting season one, the first four of season one. And that September was the wettest September in Texas history as well. We had gotten the most rank, because normally our falls are really quite nice in Texas. November is probably like our nicest month of all the year because there’s not a lot of rain, the temperatures are decent, all that.
Chad: And for whatever reason, right? We get the wettest September in the history of our last 40 years or whatever it was. It was some record-setting… and so we just go, “Well, that’s The Chosen.” But on the flip of that, we also… Normally I see the flip of that, that God does some cool things through that. And we basically end up doing something that we, on our own accord, never would have done. And because of said tragedy, said hiccup, said whatever, it becomes even better than what we had hoped or thought. And so, we go, “Well, that’s The Chosen too,” right? Like that, so…
Charan: Do you have a very specific example about that?-
Chad: I mean, there’s definitely… I mean, those two for sure, the crazy rain in that, and then the snow, and that one. And again, the Sermon on the Mount is going to be a great thing. Another one was a… we call it our miracle, the miracle of fish. And there is a YouTube special that we did on it for season one. And so, it’s Simon Peter and Andrew, right? When Jesus does the miracle of the fish. And that literally was one of those things where we had planned on using real fish up until literally like a couple of days before.
Charan: Oh, yeah. I remember this. Yeah.
Chad: And then we basically got shut down by the lake that we were on, by the humane society and all these things, various reasons they said, “No, you can’t use real fish. You can’t introduce them to this lake.” And again, we were working with them, so we were under the impression we could, and they were fine with it. But long story short, basically our visual effects team led, by Chris Juen, my business partner, and Will Nicholson, who’s our visual effects supervisor, basically just came up with this idea that worked. And now, you look at the miracle deficiencies in one, and it’s just an epic shot, and it looks so great.
Chad: And you would think they were all real fish, but it was just one of those things where our back was against the wall, Dallas and his wife, Amanda, they call it our Red Sea moments, right? Where we come to the Red Sea, and the enemies are at our back and we just got to go, “All right Lord, either you do this or we’re done.”
Chad: And so, that’s an example. And then there’s tons of little things that would happen periodically, so…
Charan: Well, yeah, I remember even me being cast.
Chad: [crosstalk 00:33:55] great.
Charan: Yeah. It’s like-
Chad: [crosstalk 00:33:56]. You were one of our Red Sea moments-
Charan: Well, and the theme was… And so, yeah, I mean, I think I was telling… I forgot who I was telling, but I was just saying, for me it was just like, I just suddenly felt like I should just text Dallas. I don’t even know why. Why would I text anyone a picture of my beard? It’s just a weird thing to do, but I’m like, “Yeah, I’ll just do it, whatever.” And so I did it, but then, all the craziness happened, like, “Hey, get COVID tested, get your scripts. You’re on set the next day.” I’m like, “Oh, okay. I guess I’m doing this thing.” And I remember coming to your office and you’re like, “Dude, welcome to The Chosen.” And I’m like, “Yeah, for sure.”
Chad: Mm-hmm (affirmative).
Charan: But you know what? I feel like whenever anyone does good in the world, God’s work in the world, I really feel like there’s so much opposition that’s just comes all the time. But if you’re able to have that Red Sea moment and turn to God and be like, “Okay, what do we do now? What is the next step?”
Chad: Yeah. “It’s not on me anymore,” right?
Charan: “Its not on me.” Yeah.
Chad: And that’s one of those open-handed, like, you just got to go, “All right Lord, what are we doing here today?” And that’s also what I had mentioned earlier about, like, I just don’t want to screw this up, right? With this show because of all the people that it’s touching, because it’s not just the audience, which obviously we make content like this because we want an audience to engage, and we want an audience to be entertained and hopefully be moved and touched, and possibly even lives change but also within the crew and the set and the actors too, and this is something that my wife and I have been doing for years, is that yes, the content we make, we hope touches lives when it gets out there into the world, but to be able to touch lives and to connect with people on these shows, especially in this industry.
Chad: And I get asked questions like, “There’s something different about you. You’re kind of a different producer. You’re not angry, and you’re not mad, and you actually care about people,” and all those things. And those are the opportunities where you can go, “Well, that’s… I like to say, that’s my swinging door to go, “Well, here’s what’s different about me. Here’s what it is about me, and my faith, and then what God’s done with me and through me,” and all those kinds of things.
Chad: And also just to be there for people, because this industry, like we were talking about earlier, it chews people up and spits them out, and it’s a very self-centered industry, right? And so, it is something when you can engage and care for people and show them that, I think it’s a pretty big deal, and obviously we’re not perfect at it and we want to get better, but it is a goal of ours to let people know that we do care and that there are other forces at play here that care. And we’ve seen a lot of people’s lives changed and touched. And at least their perspective changed a little bit within this kind of faith space, so-
Charan: It’s interesting, because just after being on that episode and then becoming friends with several of the cast members, I’ve had a lot of opportunities to talk to Yasmin, Giovanni, Jordan, and Austin. And it’s interesting to see, just like you said, how the show has shaped their own hearts and how [inaudible 00:37:24] changes people to become better and want to go and do more good. It’s an incredible thing. I was in an acting class in LA, and we had this moment where we would pair up with another student, and we’d walk outside and we do these drills outside with just people outside on the streets, and then we’d talk about our experiences afterwards.
Charan: And I remember this girl and I went out outdoors to go talk, but none of us wanted to do the activity. We just walked outside and we’re like, “All right, let’s just talk, let’s just have a conversation.” And she said something to me that was very interesting. She’s like, “Charan, for whatever reason, you are always working as an actor. We’re striving, but you’re always working, and things are just happening. How do you make it happen? Because I feel like we’re all struggling.”
Charan: And I was thinking about that. I’m like, “You know what? I have to give credit to God. He’s the one that is making all these things happen. I go and I try doing my part, but there is a much higher power that is intervening in my life and making awesome opportunities happen for me.” And it was interesting, because I’m like, “Well, I’m in LA. I don’t know how well she received this type of information,” right? This type of-
Chad: You got to step lightly with that sort of conversation, right?
Charan: Yeah. You have to step a little bit lightly.
Charan: But man, she was for it. And [crosstalk 00:38:49] she for it, she’s like, “Oh my gosh. I believe in God, too, but I don’t like to talk about that.” I mean, she gets a little nervous because she doesn’t know how people will respond. And I said, “You know what? I know-“
Chad: [crosstalk 00:39:01]. You look around like, I don’t know. Is everything going to be okay?
Charan: Yeah, exactly. But I’m just like, “You know what? I have to be truthful. This is just my life and this is just how it’s operated for me.” But the thing I will say about you, Chad, which anytime anyone ever gets to really know you they’ll feel, is that you really live by grace, I feel. You have this kindness about you that makes you so approachable of the people. I remember when we were there on set with the Sermon on the Mount, I ran and grabbed you, and I’m like, “Hey, come meet my bishop and stuff.” And you’re like, “Yeah, let’s do it.” And you came out and the thing is like, I’ve been on set before where the producers would never, in a billion years, mix with the extras or whatever. It’s like all these different things.
Charan: But you weren’t like that. And that’s what makes your show so different is, the people that are working on it, is like, I really feel like chosen by God to work on a show like this because… I feel like I’ve heard The Chosen story from so many different people, from your perspective, from Dallas’s perspective, from the actors’ perspective, from the Angel Studios’s perspective, every single person had this really cool part to play to make the show become a reality. And it’s not like, “Oh, I’m the sole person that did it.” There’s no ego involved that you just [crosstalk 00:40:32] be on this type of thing. I mean, I don’t want to say like, this is the Lord’s project, but in a sense is, you are sharing the Lord’s message. So in a sense, it’s like, no, he is definitely a part of it, and he’s the one that’s orchestrating things and making things move. And he allows you to know that he’s the one doing it because he gives you so much opposition.
Charan: [crosstalk 00:40:52] Okay, let’s see how you can do it out of here, other than having-
Chad: Yeah. Right. Well, and I think it is one of those things where you talked about opportunities and stuff like that. And it is finding that balance because… And I’m sure Dallas would say this, Derral would say this, the Angel guys would say this. I live by the scripture of “faith without work is dead,” right? And so there are a lot of believers out there that are going, “All right, Lord. I love you, and I believe in you, and I want all these things. So let me have it. Give it to me. I want whatever it is. Give me opportunity,” and they’re sitting there doing nothing. They’re not putting in the work, and so… But at the same time, there has to be humility too. It is well to go, “Well, I missed that opportunity” or “I messed it up.”
Chad: And 9 times out of 10, it’s us messing it up, right? It’s not something else, some outside thing or whatever. So it is finding that balance of, first and foremost, knowing what God’s called you to do, but at the same time, working your tail off. And it is the work. And so that whole “faith without work is dead” is a big one for me, that I just go, “Look, I am here to work.” And then also not being… And I do think oddly enough, The Chosen is heading in that direction of being this kind of other-worldly, big type of thing. And whether it’s Dallas, or us, or whatever, got to stay humble and all these kinds of things. And to be honest with you, those extras that you’re talking about, those are the ones. Because all those extras over there, I like to say, they were all pay it forward people, right? They were all people…
Chad: So I’m like, “You were taking me to introduce me to my boss,” because that’s kind of the way that I saw that, was like, “Well, of course, I’m going to go and talk to him.” Now, if there was something more pressing, I would assume that person, that “invested” into the show would say, “Oh, well, he’s busy working on that thing.” But I had a moment. It was a great time. And so I think God just lined that up, and obviously it was a huge lesson to be able to meet them and to meet others. And that was such a big day that we were at that point where there wasn’t a whole lot we could do anymore. It’s going like, here we go. We’ve done all the prep, we’ve done everything we could. Now, this day just has to happen. And with the weather and all those things, I would say my biggest concern was finding people and making sure nobody was like, their toes were frozen off, because it was so bad and nobody would leave, right?
Chad: I mean, part of what I was doing that day was going around and just checking on people. And we were forcing kids and various people into vans to warm them up and stuff like that. But people were like, “Well, we just don’t want to miss it. We don’t want to miss the shots. We don’t want to this, we don’t want that.” And so as miserable as it was, and I think your bishop actually mentioned this to me while I was standing there talking, he goes, “I’ve been walking around asking people and just talking to random people, and nobody’s complaining, nobody’s mad, nobody’s anything. Yes, they’re cold. Yes, they’re saying they’re cold,” yes, to all that, but not in a way of, “Oh, this is horrible and I hate this, and they don’t care about us.” And it was just kind of this cool, loving, experiential type moment for all of these people. And it was a cool thing to be a part of-
Charan: It was so beautiful, man. And I don’t know if you remember this, but… So Jeff Harmon went to Walmart and cleared out all the hand warmers, right? [crosstalk 00:44:14] stuff like that. And he grabbed me and Brad Reese… if you remember Brad Reese.
Chad: Oh, sure. Of course. Yeah.
Charan: So Brad and I, we were all in the same group, we all came out together. And so we’re like, “All right, let’s go hand off these things.” And so we started handing them off and, dude, people started crying with joy. And I’m like, “Oh my gosh, this is like a loaves and fishes moment or something. Something’s happened-“
Chad: Yeah. The toe warmers were multiplied. I don’t know what was happening.
Charan: And I’m praying. I’m like, “Please let these be replenished.” And I’m like, they weren’t organic, so they weren’t-
Chad: That’s right. Yeah.
Charan: But it was such a cool moment and a loving moment of seeing these people sharing toe warmers with each other and helping each other out. I was like, “Wow, you know what? This is what it’s all about.” I’ve never had an experience like that on a set where it was like so much compassion for each other, and it was just a beautiful thing. So I loved it.
Charan: So I want to shift topics just a little bit. Now, we talked a little bit about The Chosen having your challenges and stuff, and you’re the master juggler. You got to put out fires and juggle different pieces while putting out fires and stuff like that. I remember… Do you know who Jim Gaffigan is?
Chad: Sure. Yeah.
Charan: So Jim Gaffigan gave us special notes. It was hilarious about having three kids or something like that. And he says like… he’s just like, “Imagine you’re drowning in the river, and while you’re drowning someone hands you a baby and says, ‘Oh, here you go.'” And I’m like, “Well, that’s basically a Chad’s job in a nutshell,” right?
Charan: Just having so many logistical things to do. How were you able to manage it and keep yourself sane?
Chad: It’s a good question. And honestly, I don’t know the answer to it. My wife says I have patience to a fault. And so that might be part of it. Honestly, things don’t rattle me much, especially logistical things, because logistical things in my mind are just that. They’re just a problem to be solved. And I also always constantly remind myself, we’re not curing cancer; we make movies for a living.
Chad: We do things that people would love to do. And it is a joy, and it is a creative thing. We’re not saving lives, we’re not the military, we’re not first responders, we’re none of those things. And so, for people to get so upset and so tightly wound on things, it honestly just ruffles me a little bit, and that’s just not how I operate. Now, sure. There are times where, we’ve got work to do, and there is money on the line, and everything in this industry is based on time, right? It is all about every minute of the day counting, so you can make that day, to make the next day, to make the next day. And if you ever get outside of that loop, things will spiral quickly.
Chad: And what we do is expensive. I don’t care what the scale is. You mentioned your movie earlier and if anything, smaller movies are more difficult than bigger movies. Now, sure, the bigger than budget, the bigger the problem or whatever, but at the end of the day, you’re still making a movie, no different than we were, so the logistics are still the same, the things are still the same. And if anything, now you just have to wear more hats, right? You were acting and you were producing, and then you were probably taking out the trash and getting coffee for the PA that was caught at the corner because they’ve got to watch that street, and they needed a cup of coffee, right? So you were probably doing all of those things.
Chad: And the only thing about bigger projects is you just have more people to tell, “Go get that cup of coffee,” right? Even though I still will go get a cup of coffee for somebody. So it definitely is just something that logistically I just don’t operate that way. One of my sayings is, the best way to not solve a problem, or one of the number one ways to not solve a problem is to complain about it. And people love to point fingers and, “Oh, it’s not my fault. It was their fault. It was this and that.” And I’m just one of these people, “I don’t care whose fault it is, let’s go fix it, right now, in the moment, just fix the problem.” Whatever it is. If it’s a piece of gear, or if it’s a person that’s missing, or whatever it is, just go fix it.
Chad: Now, we will address it eventually. And if anything that probably… Sometimes people tell me that my calm demeanor scares them more, right? Because I’m not here to point fingers. Now, at lunch or after the day’s over, whatever, we will have a conversation. And whether you’re here, again tomorrow or not, well, we’ll see about that, right? Because… But in the moment, I don’t like to blame people, I don’t like to do those types of things. And funny enough, this is actually a comment in a lesson that Dallas taught me years ago on that short film, when we did Midnight Clear as a short film, and it was one of my first producing gigs.
Chad: Something was happening. I can’t remember what it was. And Dallas was asking me about this, and I don’t know whether it was an actor, or a piece of gear, or whatever it was. And I was in this moment of going, “Well, that’s not my fault,” or so-and-so didn’t do this, or didn’t do that, or didn’t do this, or whatever. And Dallas goes, “Well, Chad if you’re the producer, everything’s your fault.”
Charan: Oh yeah.
Chad: And so, it’s a piece of advice that I still live by today, and I say it all the time: if you’re at the top of the totem pole, if you’re up there, and whether that’s Dallas and Derral and the executive team and myself and all these, at the end of the day, everything is our fault because either (A) I hired that person (B) I found that gear that didn’t work properly, or I need to replace it, or I didn’t budget properly, or Dallas didn’t prepare properly, or whatever the case is.
Chad: And so I just view everything as, everything is my fault. Everything, every problem that happens, every person that complains, because either I set an environment where people don’t complain, or I set an environment where people are thankful, right? And so sure it takes time and people to get those types of things but… So I just address everything that way, that everything is my fault. But I also say, if you see me doing something, somebody is not doing their job, because it’s my job to hire people to do all the things that happen. And there’s a hundred things going on at any given time. But I always say, “Well, if you see me taking trash out or you see me doing something, that means somebody else didn’t do their job.”
Chad: No, I don’t mind doing that and I do it all the time, and sometimes you just do it because it’s there and the opportunity is there, and not saying that it’s somebody’s fault, but you want to create an environment where people can do their jobs, and do them well, and not be overstressed and overworked, which we all are, all the time in this industry. But I think showing people care too, and I always say most people, especially when we start a project, they don’t know who I am or what I do, because I don’t tell people who I am or what I do. I always say, I look like a grip back in the corner, over there somewhere. And then they find out who I am, but that’s just not how I operate. I’m just there to work. And it takes all of us to do this. And that’s why there’s so many credits in a filmmaking thing, because it just takes so many people to do what we do.
Charan: So many people, man. The logistics are crazy, but I love your attitude of not getting overly angry or emotional or anything when there’s a problem that needs to be fixed, you just go and do it. Do you feel like that’s your approach for life as well?
Chad: Yeah. And again, sometimes it’s a good thing that I don’t stress over things, and sometimes it’s a bad thing, because sometimes it is good to be stressed over something. And not stressed in the sense of worry, or confusion, or whatever, but just the sense of urgency.
Chad: But it is something. And again, my wife likes to point it out, I’m just never in a hurry. I don’t worry about things like that, so-
Charan: You’re not a frantic. You don’t have that energy. You don’t have that frantic energy.
Chad: No. And like I said, I’d say the only time I get upset or mad or whatever is if people are being mistreated or talked down to like that. If you want to really drive me crazy, act like you’re some big shot, because nobody’s a big shot on their own volition either, right? Somebody helped get them there, right? And obviously it takes work, and people work their tails off in this industry, and I’m not putting down any of that, but at the same time, it could all disappear tomorrow. It could all be gone. And then, we’ve seen it, right? And you pick the career, you pick the industry, you pick whatever. And people go from the top of the pinnacle to the bottom of the pit really fast.
Chad: And sadly, a lot of it is because they just weren’t humble enough to be grateful that they’re there. And that just drives me crazy a little bit. And obviously this industry is full of egos and that sort of thing. I said, I think a certain amount of ego can be healthy, a healthy ego in the sense of, “Yes, I am good at my job. Yes, I do deserve to be treated better. I do deserve some things,” in that regards, but that is also something that you can apply to others, right? Because if you’re saying, “I deserve to be treated better,” hopefully, in the same sentence you’re going, “And so do you. So do you deserve to be better.”
Chad: But it’s a kind of a creed that my business partner and I have as business partners. I say that, I know that he has my best interests at heart, and he knows that I have his best interest at heart, that I would fall on the sword for him, and he would fall on the sword for me. And as long as we both are doing that, then neither one of us will fall, right? Because-
Charan: Yeah, I like that.
Chad: But if it’s all of a sudden, I get focused on me and he gets focused on him, well, now all of a sudden that pulls us apart because we’re self focused; we’re not doing this to where, “Okay. I’m keeping him propped up,” or vice versa. And it’s kind of like a marriage or a relationship or anything, and I think that’s something that I like to apply to everything that I look around and go, “Okay, what can I do for somebody else?” And I pray that my team does the same. “What can I do to help Chad? What can I do to make his job easier?” And if we’re doing that constantly, it just helps go… And it also keeps people in that caring nature, as things get chaotic, right? That I care about you. I’m not focused on me, it’s what can I do to help you? And if I’m doing the thing back to you, well, then that’s how things get solved, so…
Charan: No, dude, I love that. That is how any relationship is formed and strengthened is, when you’re constantly looking at, hey, what can I do to help lift somebody else up or take care of each other’s needs in a sense, instead of just looking out for me? It was interesting. I had a conversation with a girl just yesterday about a workshop that she attended, because she’s just getting into this industry filming acting and-
Chad: Did you tell her to stop, quit, go away?
Charan: I told her. I said, “Listen, I’m going to stop you right now.”
Chad: Yeah, “We’re going to stop me right there. Let’s just-“
Charan: There’s a great guy I know that he had a biology major and gave it all away.
Chad: Should have became a doctor.
Charan: He could have became a doctor. No, but she was talking about how the presentation… the lady that was giving the workshop described the industry is very cutthroat, and you have to not step on each other’s toes but be like, “Hey, how are you going to stand out and be better than your competition? Like kind of a dog-eat-dog world out there. And I’m like, “No, I just don’t see the industry… I mean, it can be like that, but a lot of the people I’ve worked with have the spirit of cooperation,” right? “And they want to help each other out, and want to lift each other up,” like “a rising tide lifts all ships” type of thing, right?
Chad: That’s right.
Charan: Where you’re there to help. And so I said, “My perspective, take it or leave it, is definitely different than the way that workshop was presented.” And I even posted our conversation on a Facebook thread I belong to. And it was so amazing how many people were chiming in with the way I was feeling as well and saying, “Yeah, we feel like it needs to be more of a cooperative thing.” And so to change that mindset of being cutthroat and stabbing each other’s back to get ahead, I just feel like, hey, if you have that abundance mentality and are really willing to help each other out, you can lift each other up and succeed.
Chad: Well, and I think our industry is now starting to realize that. I think that was the truth of the matter, that it was very self-centered and not self-sacrificial. It was very much “what I can get, how I can do it.” And I think we’re starting to see that, right? And sadly, the industry is eating their own right now. And whether it’s the Me Too movement, or racial inequalities, or whatever the case is, it is very interesting to me to watch that happening in our industry — all of the crying, and the screaming all rightfully so. I’m in agreement with a lot of those things in the sense that they need to be brought to the forefront, but at the same time, it’s all within the same industry, right?
Chad: Our industry is one of the worst when it comes to these men in power taking advantage of women, or racial inequality, or whatever the case is, our industry is the worst at it, and yet our industry is screaming and I’m going, “Well, what is our industry doing about it other than just screaming about it,” right? Because it is an attitude thing, it is an attitude change, and it is this whole, you got to be focused on other, and “what can I do for you?” not “what can you do for me?” Right? Because, now, if you’re saying, “What can I do for you, Chad?” Great. But if I’m saying, “Charan, what can you do for me?” That’s the self-centered-
Charan: That’s the self-centered [inaudible 00:58:00].
Chad: Yeah. It can’t be asked for; it’s got to be given, right? And that’s the same thing with any of these situations, right? Of people taking advantage of other people. And sadly, because this industry draws people, and it has this kind of bewitching attitude about it of young actors and actresses, young filmmakers doing things that they never should be doing. And that’s a sad reality that we live in. And hopefully the tide is turning. I do believe it is. And I am glad that the awareness is there, but I also hope that definitely it’s an attitude change, right? It’s not…
Chad: I hate to use it as an example, but it’s that whole “guns don’t kill people; people kill people,”right? Now, guns are very powerful, things that need to be done responsibly. And you and I, being from Texas and Utah, we have an understanding of that. But at the same time, I’m very much on the responsible side of those kinds of things too, so… And I think that applies to anything where power is involved. Power with responsibility is great; power unchecked can be a huge problem. And that is that self centered thing, right? Because that’s always an ego trip and, “Look at me, and look what I can do, and look at the control I have over people, and look what people will do for me when I speak.” All those kinds of things are just dangerous places to be.
Charan: Well. I mean, I didn’t even expect to get into this topic, but where do you think self-centeredness comes from? Because it’s a real problem, and I don’t just mean our industry. I see everywhere, all the time, among communities and stuff like that. And I really feel like that is the detriment of society, that is what destroys society, is the self-centeredness as opposed to helping each other out.
Chad: Yeah. Well, and I think this goes back to whether we go into too much depth or not, but I think faith is a big part of that, right?
Charan: Mm-hmm (affirmative).
Chad: And I think, obviously you and I, as believers in Jesus, that’s not a self-centered thing. I mean, Jesus was the most non-self-centered individual ever.
Charan: Yes. Yeah.
Chad: And him as our example is easy, right? And obviously you can apply this to other faiths and you can have those conversations, and I think that’s one of the biggest things, is that people rely on self to get things done. Well, it’s, “What do I need to do to get out of this scenario? What do I need to do to make more money? What do I need to do?” versus, “All right Lord, you tell me what I need to do, to do these kinds of things.” And it is a hard, humbling thing, and I think it is something that our society and honestly, obviously America, where we’re all about “go get ’em” and all those kinds of things and… But at the same time, I think the roots of it is, as well, God ordained these kinds of things, and that’s why we get to be where we’re at. But if people aren’t careful, it’s going to get ugly.
Chad: So for me, I think that’s the biggest thing, is where are your priorities? And obviously if your priorities are on one that is arguably the least self-centered human in history who also happened to be God, that’s at least a good start, right? I mean, there’s definitely plenty of self-centered Christians out there; let’s not fool ourselves there either. But usually there’s a route there somewhere, that you can dig into it and go, “Okay. Well, there’s where that is.” So yeah.
Charan: It’s interesting, there’s this… in John 15, I believe, is where it was. Jesus talks about him being divine, right? And we are the branches, and when we’re connected to him, legit, we can bear fruit, but when you’ve severed yourself off, you’re nothing. You’re withering away, and…
Chad: Yeah. Good luck, right?
Charan: Yeah. good luck, right? And it’s like, how long do you think you can remain just without his help? Right? And so, I don’t know. I try to live my life very focused on surrendering. Every day it’s like, surrendering my will, just letting go of that, because I realized that there’s so many things that we think we have control over, but we don’t have control over them.
Charan: We really don’t. And if we acknowledge, “Okay, wow, I really didn’t have control over those things.” And The Chosen is a great example of all these things that you don’t have control over and yet somehow miraculously, things work out in a way, way better than you could have thought-
Charan: It helps you realize that.
Chad: If we had forced our will on some of those things, within The Chosen, it definitely would not be where it is. And if Dallas had forced as well, or I had, or anybody, leading the charge with the show, if we had done that, then there would be things… whether it was the Sermon on the Mount, whether it was the fish issue, or as simple as those daily things, like with your scenario, right? We were just trying to force these issues, and it was just kind of that quieting moment for you, right? Hearing the Holy Spirit going “blah, blah, blah.” And you didn’t know it at the time, but looking back, right? You’re like, “Well, that was obviously God working there.” And for us, I mean-
Chad: I remember when you sent that text, Dallas is like, “You need to call Charan right now. You need to call him right now. He is perfect for this role,” because I know that you and Dallas had talked multiple times before that, and Dallas was going, “I need to wait. I need to figure out…” He didn’t want to stick you in the right [inaudible 01:03:17] place, and he wanted to find that moment. And now looking back it was like, well, that was obviously the role you were supposed to be, and continuing on. And that’s where we have to be, is just in those humble moments of going, “Well, all right Lord, we don’t know what’s going to happen, but you do, and here we are, and we’ll just continue to take one step at a time.”
Charan: It’s the most perfect opportunity to live by faith, man. I mean, you’re always working, but it’s like such… I feel like God gives us these beautiful lessons in life to help you realize, “Hey, learn to walk with me and learn to let me be your light in your life.” And it’s just a beautiful thing now when that happens.
Chad Gundersen Talks About Turning Lemons Into Lemonade
Charan: Okay. So I want to wrap things up a little bit, but with wrapping things up, I want to get a little bit more personal. So you, Chad, has there been a moment in your own life where you’ve faced a severed lemon and you’re like, “I’ve got to be able to turn this into lemonade, and how do I do that?”
Chad: Well, sadly, the example I’d want to use, I technically can’t talk about, but I can talk in generalities about it. There was a project that I believed in a lot, developed for honestly years. I think we worked on that project for about three years, and a lot of money spent, a lot of momentum made, and a project that really had a lot of potential behind it. And it was just one of those scenarios where… And you can’t control other people. And it was a lesson in that I think for us, is that you may go, “You know what? We’re on the right path. We’re doing the right thing. God’s leading us. We’ve got a great team. We’ve got all these things,” but you can never control other people, right? I think that was the lesson in that, was… And basically these people that decided they didn’t want to be a part of the project anymore; they were the money people, right?
Chad: They were the people behind the project that were the financers. And it wasn’t that anything was going wrong, or that we had done anything wrong, or that… I think it was almost like, “Well, we’re just not feeling it anymore.” And again, I don’t even know the details of what and why, but it was one of those moments where the entire team… and we were talking to a lot of people. This was a bigger project, and a lot of money had been spent, and more money needed to be spent, and it was just one of those moments, everybody sat back and was like, “Well, was it something we did? Was it something we did wrong? Was it a mistake? Was the project not good?” And you do those kinds of self evaluations.
Chad: And that wasn’t just for us. It was me and Chris and the rest of the team and all those things. And we really had to come to that point of going, “You know what? No, it wasn’t that,” but you can’t control other people. You can’t control what they do. And it also was a good moment of going, “You know what? That God is our source, that God’s our provider.” Not the money guy, not the… It’s that whole, “he who has the gold makes the golden rules,” right? And ultimately that’s not true, right? I mean, because for those of us that put our faith in God, in Christ, in what he’s done for us, that that’s where this comes from, and that was a great lesson in that of going, “Okay.” Because at first it’s, you want to be angry, and you want to be mad, and you want to point fingers, and you want to do all those things.
Chad: And it was a great moment going, “Well, okay, fine. That’s your choice, because you have a choice just like I do, and my choice right now is not to be angry with you.” Now, again, like I mentioned earlier, I obviously would think twice if that individual in that group came back to us again and said, “Hey, let’s do a project together,” right? I’d be like, “No.” It’s that whole “fool me once, shame on you; fool me twice, shame on me.”
Charan: Shame on me.
Chad: And that would have been that one. So that’s probably the one that just comes to mind where you just said, “You can’t rely on people; you can’t control what other people do.” But it also was a humbling moment and almost a career-turning moment. But like I said, once we humbled ourselves and said, “All right Lord…” Then honestly, things like The Chosen pop up, and other projects pop up and that sort of thing. Yeah.
Charan: Isn’t that interesting though, man? Sometimes you have to go down that path with relationships, and that’s the one thing that God will never do, is violate our agency. That’s something I feel like he always gives us our gifts, and he will strongly suggest certain things, but at the end he’s like, “Hey, but this is your choice. I’m giving you this gift.”
Charan: And with that, sometimes we may make blunders, and sometimes we work with people that choose to do things, you’re like, “Oh my gosh, why-“
Chad: It’s up to us to live, and learn, and keep going. And if anything, what it does is, if you approach it right, it’s strengthens your faith and then you’re a smarter, more adept, more focused on him the next go around, and the easier it becomes because you start seeing things through his eyes, and he can show things to you easier the next go around.
Charan: I love that.
Chad: Yeah. Cool.
Chad Gundersen Talks About His Greatest Source of Joy
Charan: So leading with that, what is your greatest source of joy right now?
Chad: I’m in a really cool place. I mean, not that you’re not always in a cool place with your family, but I would say family. My kids are teenagers now, and it’s kind of this new phase of life, but they’re not children anymore. I mean, they are my children, my wife’s children, but every phase of life with children is a new thing, and both of my kids right now, because they’re in these teenage years. And obviously there’s trials in that and there’s interesting moments in that.
Chad: But it is just awesome to see them start to come into their own, and figure things out, and where life’s going to lead them. And honestly the biggest thing, both of them have these new milestones in their faith, right? I mean, as a parent, you… and especially as a believer, right? It’s like, you always have those moments of going, “Your kids need their own faith,” right? They can’t live off of my faith, they can’t live off my wife’s faith, or the pastor’s faith, or the youth leader’s faith, or anything. They’ve got to find their own and they got to find their own path, and I think that is a huge moment for kids, is to find that out. And both of them have different moments, and they’ve had various other moments, but they both recently had some really cool moments.
Chad: So I’d say that’s a big thing right now. And if anything, I want to be around my family, be around my wife more, be around my kids more because I’m so busy. And so within the blessing of The Chosen, currently anyways, it’s been a hurdle. And that’s something that honestly the entire team, whether it’s Dallas and his family, Derral and his family, Chris and his family… And what I do love about The Chosen, the entire team, we are very family-focused. So we always… If something happens or something needs to be done, we don’t even blink. It’s just like… And everybody has the same attitude of, “Go take care of your family. We will figure this out.”
Chad: My production manager, Carrie Navarro, and my coordinator, Renee Motes, they’re kind of my right and my left hand, and they are just so good at focusing on those kinds of things, and looking for scenarios to help people, and it is one thing I do love about The Chosen and the team that we have around it, is to be able to do those things. But yeah, for me right now, we’re just in this cool place where I just honestly want to be around them, and see them, and whether it’s sports, or school, or extracurricular activities, whatever it is. But again, even finding their own faith and doing those kinds of things has been a really fun thing to be a part of. As a dad, you don’t ever… I’m like, “I don’t feel like I’m that old to have teenagers,” but here we are and it’s what it is so… Yeah, I’d say that’s a big one right now. Yeah.
Charan: That’s amazing, man. And it’s cool that you’re able to have so many memories with them. It’s just an awesome thing. And I think like… I was talking to a friend of mine who… He was a former Disney exec, right? And he said he was traveling the world, was just promoting… He was a big marketing guy for hundreds of movies, like Pirates of the Caribbean, all those type of hundred million dollar big movies. He’s traveling the world, doing all those things, having all the parties, yada yada, yada. And he’s like, “But I never saw my family.”
Chad: The worst.
Charan: And he said it was the worst. And in the end, he ended up leaving. He was like, “I can’t. I miss my family too much. I miss seeing my kids grow up.” So it’s beautiful that you’re able to recognize that, man, and enjoying this phase of life, for what it is, and all that stuff-
Chad: Early on in my career with my wife, when we first got married and before even kids, we put this two-week rule in effect. And so, we don’t ever spend more than two weeks apart. We figure it out, whatever it is. Normally it’s them coming to me. So if I’m on set for months on end, then they come and visit, and we’re not batting a thousand on that, but it’s… we may go beyond a little bit, but when you start setting these goals and setting these priorities of going, “No, we’re not going to be apart for that long.” And it’s been a really good thing for us, and it is something that I try to tell young families, and young parents, and young people in the industry is, this industry will…
Chad: Again, it goes back to what we were talking about earlier. This industry is tough, man, and it’s tough to have families, and it’s almost a joke in Hollywood of people splitting up and kids without their parents, and it’s all those things, it’s just not what you want to see. And so, when I was joking earlier about… You were saying about giving some advice to that young actor or actress, there is something, but it takes us back to that thing when I was saying earlier about “you better know that you know that you know,” because like I said… And that’s on either side of the camera, on the creative production side or on the acting side. It is something that… This industry is tough.
Chad: It is a very tough one. And if you do have faith, then it’s going to be a little tougher because everything in this industry will fight against your faith, every piece of it. The projects that come, and the projects that go, and the people that you interact with. And it’s a sad state sometime. But if we can be a light to that, and be an example to that, and you’ve already said, you’ve had some encounters and we all have them all the time, it is a joy to see people… I mean, even whether they come to the Lord or not, that’s fine, but at least you can be that light, that moment, and that little, hopefully support system for them.
Charan: Because it’s a choice, right? It’s always a choice whether they choose to go, but man, to be a light to them and to share goodness in their life, it’s a beautiful thing.
Chad Gundersen’s Advice to His Younger Self
Charan: So I want to wrap things up. Well, and I think you may have wrapped it up for me, but because I was going to ask you, what advice would you give your younger self? And do you want to add anything more to what you just said?
Chad: Well, it’s funny. This is actually very logistical, left-brain, right-brain kind of thing. You mentioned earlier that you were a business major. And when I do speak, and I speak actually quite a bit, just spoke at an actor’s conference, and I’m doing another one next week, and it is something that I bring up to young filmmakers on both sides, especially within this industry, you have to remember that this is show business.
Chad: It’s not a show.
Chad: If you want to do a show, go do community theater, go do things for free. But if you’re going to do show business, there is a business side to this, and I think that’s what catches people so often, whether it’s planning… I think God definitely knew what he was doing when he put me with a wife that has a degree in accounting, right? Because she… And I always joke. We say that I build multimillion dollar budgets as part of my job for a living, but I’m not allowed to touch our finances at home. She controls those, but I think God knew what he was doing because she’s very good. The way her brain works is, she’s very good at planning ahead and looking forward. And this industry is feast or famine, right?
Chad: And so, I always tell people that you need to look at that business. So I always say, “I wish I had gotten a degree in business, or finance,” at least a minor, right? To have that business [inaudible 01:15:45]. Because I think this is said all the time, like, what does school teach you and doesn’t teach you? And it’s like, you were never even taught to balance a checkbook in college. How is that not a basic necessity of life of how to do your bank account, and planning, and in these kinds of things, right? And so it is something that I always make sure to tell people. And again, regardless of the piece of the industry that you’re thinking of going into, look at it as a business thing, because if this is your career, then it’s not just a game. This isn’t… Again, if this is fun for you, then go do theater, go do those that are free, because obviously there’s professional theater out there as well that you can make a living at.
Chad: But I just think people don’t look at it that way, and that’s where the burnout comes, that’s where the “making very poor decisions” come because they’re not approaching it that way. And I think that was a huge piece of advice, very practical, obviously not heavy-revvy kind of thing or anything, but that’s what I say all the time that, I learned it very hard knocksy. I didn’t get that business, or that finance, or whatever, and I’m constantly learning, but that’s definitely a piece of advice, is look at this as a business and then obviously work on your craft, because that’s part of the business too, is working on your craft, right?
Chad: If you’re an actor go act; if you’re a writer, you better be writing. I like to say, if you’re a writer and you don’t have a stack of scripts this high in the corner of a room somewhere, then you’re not a writer, that nobody’s ever read, and probably never will read, and probably shouldn’t read because they’re horrible, but at least you’re honing your craft. And as an actor, be out there, do theater, do short films, do student films, do those types of things. If you want to direct, I mean, this is a poor case thing right now, go shoot a movie, go shoot it right now. Yeah.
Charan: No, I love that, man. That’s great advice. It’s funny. I had some friends of mine come up to me, and they were talking to me because they’ve known I have helped raise money a little bit for movies and stuff. And so, they’re talking me about this movie idea and I’m like, “This sounds awesome.” And I knew that he was a talented filmmaker, but I said, “So dude, what’s the marketing plan? What’s the plan to get it out there?” And they’re like, “Well, we’re going to make a good movie.” I’m like, “Great. And I believe you. I know you’re going to make a good movie. I’m-“
Chad: Nobody’s goal is to make a bad movie, right?
Charan: Yeah. “So you’re going to do great job in that, but how are you going to… What’s the plan? What’s the distribution ideas in mind? Let’s talk about that.” And it was interesting because they just hadn’t thought about that in their plan at all. And I’m like, “You know what? You have to think of this as a product that’s going to go out into the world. Don’t even think of it as a movie; just think of a product going out into a marketplace. When a product goes out into a marketplace, what is the exit strategy? What is it that the investors are going to make their money back? And if you don’t have that clear in your mind, it’s going to be very difficult to make a movie-“
Chad: Yeah, you can’t sell that.
Charan: [crosstalk 01:18:37] And then-
Chad: Well, at the end of the day, what’s your widget, right? Our widget is a movie, our widget is a TV show, or a commercial, or sort of film, or some sort of piece of content on YouTube or whatever. And any other business, if your widget is an eraser, or whatever it is, you have a plan. “I got to get it to stores. I got to sell some, I got to make marketing calls, I’ve going to do these things.” And our widget is our content. And you have to keep those things in mind. You’re absolutely right.
Chad: And especially in today’s day and age, there’s so many outlets now. I would say a couple of years ago, it was impossible not to get your stuff seen and made because there were so many outlets. Now, those outlets are making their own content. So now you have to have even better plan because the Netflix, the Amazons, the Hulus, the Angel Studios, they’re making their own stuff. They’re not waiting on good content to come to them; they’re going to go make it. And so if you are this independent filmmaker, then yeah, you definitely better have a plan in place, or here we are, again, back to the beginning, so.
Charan: Back to square one. Exactly.
Charan: Well, oh, man, Chad, I really appreciate you taking the time. This has been awesome. And we’ve had some good conversations about God, about logistics, about staying calm, and not being self-centered. So I feel like, well, you hit the gamut of all the different topics you can talk about and have a very engaging podcast. So, yeah, man, thanks so much for joining me. And any last words, or should we wrap up?
Chad: Let’s wrap up man, but hopefully we can do it again, and I do appreciate you man here. You’re a light all to yourself, man. You’re a piece of jewelry that I love experiencing, so it’s been a pleasure, brother.
Charan: Appreciate that. Likewise, dude. Okay, we’ll talk soon, okay?
Chad: Bye, brother. Take care.
Charan: All right. Bye.
Charan:Thanks so much for listening to the Lemonade Stand podcast, and we hope you enjoyed this episode. Be sure to subscribe to the podcast on whatever platform you use to be alerted when we release new episodes. We’d also love to hear your feedback and the reviews, and if you or someone you know, has an awesome Lemonade Stand story, please reach out to us on social media and let us know. Thanks so much and have a great day.