Like an artist dropping a new album without any warning, Darren Wilson and his company, WP Films, just launched an exciting new online channel called WP TV, that they've been secretly working on for months. We caught up with Darren to ask him about this new endeavor, as well as to find out what's coming up for him and his company.
Let's start with the obvious first. What is WP TV?
Put simply, it's an online channel that's fully dedicated to kingdom content like what we've been doing for 10 years with our films. But unlike your typical network style channel, where you simply have to watch whatever the programmers say you have to watch at that particular moment, the online platform allows for more of a choose-your-own-adventure experience. It's kind of like YouTube or Netflix but with a laser focus on the kinds of things we do in the realm of the miraculous, Holy Spirit, and God's kingdom becoming more of a reality in people's lives around the world.
It's funny, but when I was making my first film, Finger of God, over 10 years ago now, the very first prophetic word I ever received from someone was that I would have my own channel that would play my stuff 24/7 around the world. At the time I thought that was absurd because I wasn't even finished with my first movie that I was convinced no one would watch anyway, so why would I have a channel? I mean, the concept of online streaming was just barely in its infancy at the time, so this was way off the radar. And over the years, I had many, many different people give me the same word, almost verbatim, but of course, I always thought that was just crazy. But while making all these new TV shows in this past season, I suddenly had an enormous amount of new content and as I sought the Lord on what to do next, He started to reveal this vision of WP TV and what it could be, and the whole thing just kind of finally clicked for me. It was only after we started developing it that the Lord reminded me of all those words from the past that I thought were so stupid at the time!
What can people expect from this, especially those who have maybe been with you on this journey for a while and have purchased some of your films in the past? What is different here, and how will people benefit from this new channel?
It was important to me to create something that was really fresh for people who've been with us for a long time, but also that had that aroma of the familiar. All our content is on there, and putting this together I was reminded of just how much content we've amassed over the years! But beyond just the films and specials and TV shows, I've been able to go back and chop everything up and organize it in a really easy-to-use way. For instance, for all my films, we have Deluxe Editions, that just have loads of extras on them. In the past, you'd have to sit through huge chunks of extra content to see everything, and you were never quite sure what was included or what was coming up. With WP TV, all of that content has been separated and organized, so now you can see all your options and just choose whatever you're in the mood for. And as the channel grows, so will our organizational structure. It's really exciting. Add to that the new exclusive content I'm creating for this channel, and the future is wide open for this thing.
Over the past year, you've dipped your toe into the world of television and shorter form series like Adventures With God and Questions With God. Will those be included here, and can we expect more things like that in the future?
First of all, yes, everything we've ever created or will create will be on WP TV. But yes, even though I'll be heading back into making feature films next year, I've discovered the joys of shorter-form stuff while making these shows. That's actually always been one of my biggest frustrations in the past—I'd hear about God doing something awesome, or I'd be hanging out with someone amazing with tons of wisdom or great stories, but if I wasn't making a movie at the time, and that thing didn't fit the theme of the film I was working on at the moment, I'd just be out of luck. I had no outlet for these smaller, independent stories. But with WP TV, I finally have the outlet I've always dreamed of. If something is happening, I just have to get myself there and film it. Then within a matter of days, we can get it up for people. The same goes for my interviews with amazing people. Now I can focus on all kinds of topics, current events, whatever. I'm no longer beholden to just the focus of a film topic. I can jump all over the place.
I'll be starting off with a brand-new web series made exclusively for WP TV, called Conversations. I realized that one of the coolest assets God has given me is access to some pretty amazing people around the world. Ministers, evangelists, athletes, rock stars—I have a fairly eclectic friend set! So I wanted to create something with the people I come in contact with that is unique, fresh and fun but also reveals things that the public may not be aware of. We'll talk about all kinds of things, and I want to shoot it in a cool way, again, to take it beyond the normal sit-down interview, which has just grown so old and stale. With a web series, I can push the creative boundaries a bit. And eventually, I hope to be able to bring in content from other voices than just mine—there are a lot of really talented people around the world who don't have an outlet for their stories like I do. I'd love to be able to highlight other voices and styles as well.
How will people be able to watch?
They can go to wpfilm.tv to sign up. It's going to be a monthly subscription, in the same vein as Netflix. I hope people can catch the vision for this thing, because it can really grow into something cool. But people have to come alongside us for that to happen. Right now, the most precious commodity in the world is your attention—there's just so much vying for it—and we're just a small, little blip for most people. But our fan base is one of the most amazing groups I've ever seen. The loyalty they have to what we create is second to none. And I really want to take care of those who have come with us for this entire journey, and offer them something we can all grow with together.
The cool thing about WP TV is the platform we're using. We've been working with a company called VHX, which is owned by Vimeo, and it's a super solid, slick and simple platform. And since they have an app that works on just about everything (iPhones, Android, Apple TV, Roku, Amazon Fire Stick, etc.), people can have WP TV pretty much at their fingertips no matter where they are. They're not stuck to a computer anymore.
Why start your own service instead of having your content on a platform that already exists?
Well, we've kind of gotten to a point where we simply have too much content for any of the existing platforms. Places like Netflix, if they even want to license your content, will only want certain pieces of it. We had toyed with putting this on YouTube, but then they did away with their paid subscription service. But we also really like the control having our own service gives us, not just in how things are presented, but especially for the future. If enough people come on board with us, it opens up the possibility for us to feature other artists as well.
What kind of content will be featured on WP TV? You mention other voices. What would that look like?
Initially it will feature our content exclusively, but I'm not sure even our most ardent fans have a true idea how much content that actually is. I mean, at launch alone we're going to give you over 300 separate things to watch. And that is going to grow exponentially as I head into this new season of creating. But I would love to be a place for new voices to emerge, new styles and stories to be told by people around the world. Obviously we need to prove ourselves as a viable outlet for artists first, but for launch we know we're giving you a ton of stuff to watch right out of the gate.
I also think it's important for people to realize that we're not trying to be Netflix or Pureflix or YouTube. That's not the vision for this thing. We've always been a fairly niche company, and WP TV is finally owning up to it and embracing that niche. Some people may balk that the monthly subscription costs more than Netflix does and we don't offer as much as they do. I totally get it. But again, this is as much about people who love what we do coming alongside us in support for what we do, so that we can keep doing it and keep creating the kind of media no one else in the world is creating on this level. So where other services are totally geared towards a simple transaction, we realize that we'll never have as much content as Netflix or Pureflix, nor do we want to. On the one hand, we fill a major void in Christian media, and on the other people treat us as missionaries in a way, and this is a simple way for them to support us as such while also getting something pretty cool out of their support.
What's next for WP?
Making 80 TV episodes in a year-and-a-half has obviously taken up all my time, and we're nearing the end of that season thankfully. Besides launching WP TV and the new web series, in 2018 we'll be releasing Finger of God 2, which was directed by my good friend Will Hacker, and I'll start making the final chapter in these God-umentaries, The God Man, which will focus on Jesus. We're in the process of trying to raise money for that one, which is going to be one heck of a finale, let me tell you. I'll shoot that throughout 2018, with a release set for sometime in 2019. I've learned to not look too far beyond a year or two out at this point, because stuff always changes it feels like! But that's what we know for sure, anyway.
To find out more about WP TV or to sign up and start watching today, visit wpfilm.tv today.
Darren Wilson is the Founder and CEO of WP Films and the creator of various films, including Finger of God, Father of Lights, and Holy Ghost. His newest TV series, Adventures With God, can be seen on various Christian networks around the world and purchased at his website: wpfilm.com, as well as his newest book, God Adventures.