A young boy with Manitoba connections just got back from L.A. where he shot a series of videos using Lego to bring the Bible to life.
While some kids think of starting up lemonade stands for their first business venture, Ryland Dixon decided to go online with two of his favourite things, the Bible and Lego, and it paid off.
Ryland, along with his mom, dad, and two siblings live in Charlotte, North Carolina.
"I like to read and I like to play Legos. Me and a few of my other friends from school decided to make a little group where we had a Lego building challenge."
In early 2020, when the pandemic moved most people indoors, socially distancing from others, Dixon took the group online as his school shut down.
"Me and my dad were talking about starting a business. We remembered that little Lego group I had, and I thought that if we added the Bible to it, then a lot of Christian kids would do it, and it turned out it was a really good idea," says Ryland.
His weekly group of encouraging people to learn about God and build Lego at the same time grew to a following of between 20 and 30 people.
"I wrote all the scripts myself. I wrote one every Sunday and then we typed it into a teleprompter app," says Ryland.
Brian, Ryland's dad, is a personal coach for Christian authors looking for help growing their brand. The technology, recording and editing video, and uploading are second nature to him as Brian does with all his clients.
"We'd film the script and do a little video editing, and then email the video link to all our members. We had a few members from England and Canada and all over the United States. They'd have from Sunday to Friday to build their Lego set according to that story," says Brian.
The online community would send in a picture of their 'Bible Build' of whichever Bible story Ryland shared from the previous Sunday. Then, the followers would vote on their favourite.
A few months into Ryland's passion project, Jeff Bethke reached out to the Dixon's to present them with an opportunity to turn Bible Builds into a TV show.
"On a whim, I reached out to the dad and said 'Hey, we love this. Is there any way we can partner together and take this to the next level?'" says Bethke in a video on their website.
In March of 2021, Ryland and Bethke will be releasing Bible Builds 2.0.
"We want your kids to love and learn the Bible at the same time. Learning the Scriptures, loving the Scriptures, and having fun with the Scriptures all at the same time," says Bethke.
The project also aims to encourage and equip parents to teach their kids the Bible, while playing with Lego.
"I could tell it was a big deal that he wanted to partner with me and I was really excited. Now me and him both do the videos. He writes the scrips and I'm on the videos and building some of the sets," says the 11-year-old.
Brian and Ryland took a father/son trip to L.A. to record episodes for Bible Builds 2.0 in early 2021.
"We just went to L.A. to film some videos and have a little vacation," says Dixon. "We went to the TBN studios where they film all sorts of Christian shows," says Ryland.
Over three days the team recorded 16 episodes in total.
"I'm originally from New Jersey and when I was in grade 5 we moved to Manitoba," says Brian, whose dad was a professor at Providence University College. The family lived in Kleefeld during their time in Manitoba.
"It's kind of a full-circle moment because I remember when my dad and I took the trip in the U-Haul van. Now my sons in grade 5 and he got to spend time with me, not moving, but filming these videos," says Brian.
The two checked out local restaurants, went to the beach, and hit up the movie theatre when they weren't filming.
"Jeff said that we might go back to L.A. in about six months from now," says Ryland when they'll plan on doing more episodes.
Brian shared three lessons he learned from all this on his Facebook.
"Three lessons here: 1. Never underestimate the creativity of kids 2. To take your idea to the next level, find a great partner 3. Start small, get fancy later."