The final episode of the first season of The Book of Jer3miah is supposed to be posted sometime today. I watched all 19 of the previous episodes earlier this week (each episode is only about 5 minutes long), and I have to say that I think its worth a look.I don’t know that I’m really qualified to review a film (or a television program–this is more like a televison drama series), so take my review with a grain of salt. [Perhaps someone else with better chops can weigh in later.] You’ll also have to be prepared to overlook the problems in most experimental, no-budget films: acting that is uneven or untrained, no special effects to speak of, and overall barely adequate production values.
But Jer3miah is ambitious and willing to dive into delivering a television-like drama (albeit with very short episodes) over the Internet. I’m not aware of any other Mormon work delivered this way, which makes me wonder if it is possible that Jer3miah could open up a new type of distribution for Mormon film, though how a producer would make any money from this distribution remains to be seen.
The series tells the story of Jeremiah Whitley, a BYU freshman whose parents travel from Seneca Falls, New York to visit him for his birthday and give him a video camera as a present. But when the family travels to Manti for a family reunion things start to get strange. Jeremiah is susceptible to “promptings” and a series of events lead him to both heartache and joy and to mystery and fear. All is not what it seems, and Jeremiah must puzzle out exactly what it all means. Jeremiah also must figure his way out of a few moral dilemmas along the way.
Overall, the plot moves along fairly well, without confusing the viewer or revealing the mystery at all. While the acting was reasonable, I’d have to call it flat–the ideas get across, but without much emotion. You may also struggle with the sound levels (which came out too low on my machine) and with getting the video delivery to work (I used the vimeo system on the Book of Jer3miah website and had to puzzle through two episodes where the video stuck on a frame while the audio continued. The episodes are also available on youtube, but there seemed to be at least a week’s delay there).
But despite all these problems, I have to admit I’m hooked a little. I’m looking forward to today’s episode, but, realistically, I don’t think the mystery will be solved, or most of the questions answered. I fully expect a cliff-hanger.
I should note that Jer3miah is not without controversy. A post on the blog ‘Twas Brillig drew more than 40 comments, mainly discussing the portrayal of the sacred (even though there isn’t much portrayal of the sacred — apparently some object to Jeremiah’s “promptings”) and the idea that Mormon stories should be told at all.
But, there were a few thoughts in the comments that struck me: the idea that there is a bias in Utah county against telling Mormon stories, the idea that discomfort can or is used to determine when a work is “appropriate,” and the question of when something is “just entertainment” or whether anything can really be “just entertainment.”