The children’s book her “Grandma Doc” published in 1955 taught the stories of Jesus in simplistic styles for little ones to come to know and enjoy the Bible’s most famous narratives at an early age.
The birth of Jesus, the Three Wise Men, Jesus’ preaching beginnings and making fishers of men – are a mere sampling of the stories children read in “The Lighted Trail.”
McMichael, a Trinity Episcopal School music teacher and longtime composer, has teamed up with her husband, Chuck McMichael, to turn “The Lighted Trail” into a children’s puppetry and animated TV series, and they’re already working with some of the industry’s best.
Terry Angus, a Canadian puppeteer of “Fraggle Rock” fame, is assisting with “The Lighted Trails” puppets.
They’ve also collaborated with Martha Datema Lipscomb, a former producer of “Barney & Friends.”
“That’s what’s so very interesting about this project. It’s their creation between the songs and puppets and photos. It’s going to be able to teach these stories in a very accessible way that’s truly international in my opinion,” said Lipscomb, executive producer of development for “The Lighted Trail.”
Lipscomb’s role is helping the Victoria-based children’s series come to market and locating a permanent broadcast home for the show, which may be domestic or international, she said.
There is discussion around translating “The Lighted Trail” into at least three languages in the beginning, Lipscomb said, noting the demand for Christian content for children in Korea and throughout Latin America. The show, with its supplemental materials and score, will also be sold to churches for vacation bible school programs.
“We know it will have a church home. The question is will it have a streaming or broadcast home,” Lipscomb said, mentioning her plans to pitch the show to various streaming companies, such as Netflix as well as traditional broadcast markets once a trailer and pilot are complete.
Mary Lynn McMichael said she has been piloting the songs she has written for the show with her students, who are eager to learn and sing along.
“I love writing music for the children,” she said, mentioning she’s already written 30 songs and continues to write more. “They’re teaching songs. We’re teaching the morals through our puppets and it always goes back and teaches a Bible story.”
For a new children’s TV show, it’s rare to be able to pilot music before the show is created but it will be a huge selling point when it comes time to pitch the concept, which they hope to do later this year.
Currently, the McMichaels are attempting to raise money to complete a trailer and hopefully film a pilot this year.
“Two teachers can only take this so far out of our own pocket,” Chuck McMichael said, mentioning they are hosting an auction in April to raise funds for the show’s release. “We have a real love for this project and for the mission of this project and we want it to get out.”
The first season has been storyboarded, the music is mostly complete, and much of the cast is local and assembled and ready to film their part, his wife said.
They are ready to move to the next step of production if only they can find funding.
“This is absolutely a God thing, and I know my grandmother would be proud to see it coming together like this,” she said.
Jennifer Preyss-Mathlouthi writes about religion and faith for the Victoria Advocate. You can reach her at jenniferpreyss.com, or on Twitter @jenniferpreyss.
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