Friends and Heroes

I invited Dave Carlos, Marketing Director at Friends and Heroes, to tell us something about the company’s vision…

“Where there is no vision, the people perish” – Proverbs 29:18

I find this a fascinating verse and one which I see as at the heart of the inspiration for Friends and Heroes!

The Friends and Heroes team were in the USA recently, at ICRS, manning a stand (they call them “booths”) and telling folk about the Friends and Heroes project. Our opening line when talking to Christian booksellers was “What is your passion?” It could just as easily have been “What is your vision?”

Several folk had to think for a while but most replied with something along the lines “To reach out to people with the gospel through the medium of Christian books”. We discussed their answers a little before saying, “Can we share our passion/vision with you?” That’s what I’d like to do in this column and it’s quite a vision!

I recall vividly as a child that the Bible permeated my young life: Bible stories; Bible pictures; Bible quizzes; Bible exams; Bible readings and even TV Bible stories. They came at me from all angles: home (my mother was a Methodist minister); school; church; Sunday School Union and even the BBC. How times have changed!

Many schools now teach Comparative Religion. The radio and TV are almost devoid of clear Biblical content and even some churches place less emphasis on the Bible than I experienced as a child. I took my last NSSU Bible Examination in my mid twenties (the 1970’s if you must know)!

It is this dearth of Bible material in our culture which inspired David and Alison Dorricott to become involved in Friends and Heroes – a TV series which has Bible stories in every episode – with the aim of introducing a new generation of children to the truth of the Bible in an understandable form which they love – TV!

Macky

Meet Macky: Macky is a fourteen year-old boy living in Alexandria when the Friends and Heroes story starts. Bright, funny, sometimes hot-headed and courageous, also confused and torn at times, Macky is not much different to teenagers today!

Friends and Heroes tells a historically-accurate adventure story set in the First Century AD when the stories of Jesus were circulating in the oral record. Our teenage heroes, Macky, a Jewish boy and a Roman girl, Portia, hear the stories in a real-world context – when they need help or inspiration – and so the stories, from both Old and New Testaments, are presented in such a way that their meaning is clear and their application obvious!

Portia

Meet Portia: Born into a noble family, Portia has an easy life in Alexandria living with her uncle Tiberius, the Roman Governor of the city. She finds herself drawn to Macky and his family after she is rescued from a runaway horse.

I think this is what inspires our young viewers so much – they not only see the Bible stories in superb 3D computer-generated animation – they also understand why they should respond and what they can mean to them as they face everyday life in the 21st Century AD. You can see the story of Daniel in the Lions’ Den here:

Watch Daniel in the Lions Den

Watch Daniel in the Lions Den

I said earlier that this project doesn’t lack vision. By the time the production is completed there will be 39 half-hour episodes in three series – over 16 hours of video, that’s nearly 10 feature-films worth – at a cost of over £10 million!

The action moves around the world from Alexandria in Egypt, to Jerusalem and eventually Rome. But we have an even greater world vision for our programme and will soon have dubs in 10 languages other than English including Mandarin, Russian, Portuguese, Spanish (South American), German, French, Korean, Arabic, Hindu/Urdu and Manx!

Friends and Heroes will soon be broadcast in Taiwan, the Middle East including Iran and broadcasters in many other countries are interested in seeing it broadcast in their language too.

Where there is no vision, the people perish and without hearing who Jesus is they can’t accept Him as their Saviour! Friends and Heroes is trying to play its part in the Great Commission – by letting children see and hear Bible stories!

You can learn much more about Friends and Heroes from our websites:  www.friendsandheroes.com and www.friendsandheroes.tv

All images courtesy of Friends and Heroes, used by permission. Contact Friends and Heroes online if you’d like to become a stockist…
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11 thoughts on “Friends and Heroes

  1. Friends and Heroes is a great series and will hopefully reach a lot of people.

    Unfortunately they aren’t available through any online retailers such as Eden.co.uk, WesleyOwen.com or even your own christianbookshops.org store. This is because Friends & Heroes don’t want to supply internet retailers because they say ‘we have our own website’.

    Although this kind of thinking was common a few years ago, with one distributor describing internet retailers as ‘cowboys’, things have moved on a long way and publishers recognise that customers will choose to shop with their preferred retailer.

    This Christmas we will sell thousands of children’s DVDs but not a single copy of F&H. It’s a real shame because they deserve to be seen.

  2. Phil – are you saying that restrictive trade practices are a good thing in case someone gets too successful? Really???

  3. Causabon, Isnt that what the concept of entities such as the monopolies commission would sort of infer??

    Gareth, have you considered that there is possibly also a case for them not wanting their product devalued by it being readily available at discounted prices on single copies or on short order amounts when it is perfectly possible for it to achieve its current going rsp anyway??
    Most physical Bookshops won’t tend to discount as a matter of course (I ignore Asda, Tesco etc as I dont actaully consider them to be bookshops even if they do sell a lot of cheap books – its a booksnob thing I know and willingly admit it – though they can make interesting wholesalers!!), and I notice that F&H’s own shop only offers discount on 10+ or if you join their DVD club?
    Something to consider perhaps?

  4. Phil

    It is always good to be reminded of folly, no?

    Melanie – the idea of not selling to someone because they might discount is a perfect example of anti-competitive practice (it is the sort of thing electrical manufacturers were slapped on the wrist about a few years ago). If a shop wants to discount out of their margin that is their business, in the same way that any other shop may want to. As I said in the Eden thread – there are plenty of church-goers not shopping in christian bookstores at the moment to make every outlet a viable opportunity.

    It seems strange that Friends & Heroes are more interested in protecting their route to market than they are in getting in the hands of as many people as possible.

  5. Protecting their route to market? Is that really how you see it, casuabon? Seems to me that the internet is, well, kinda world wide, isn’t it — the old www & all that? There’s no restriction: on the contrary, it’s wide open and not difficult to find. Why should F&H give their online competitors — because that’s what eden.co.uk and wesleyowen.com are — an edge over their own global storefront?

    But what no online retailer can do is put the product into the customer’s hand there and then. What no online retailer can do is be there, on the spot. As Gareth says, “customers will choose to shop with their preferred retailer” — and for me, when I’m making like a customer on my wife’s birthday or on Christmas Eve or simply on the spur of the moment, my preferred retailer is the one who knows his or her stock and can say, “Have you considered this — it’s…” whatever suits the moment or occasion; and can then sell it to me. Wins every time. 🙂

  6. Casaubon,

    Personally I dont find it ultimately that strange – as i have said in a previous thread (can’t remember which one now) i find the discount culture to be one based on an ethic of greed and selfishness – the principle of I want it now and I want it cheap.

    Yes Eden, Amazon or anyone else has the right to discount out of their margin (heck yes I admit on secular new fiction top titles I do this as I have 2 waterstones and a whsmith, along with a works and a publishers discount store all less than a minute in any direction!- if i didnt then I wouldnt be able to sell any new books as the average comsumer now expects not to pay full price on a top 10 new fiction title!! But lets remember that the discount I, or any small independent, gets in the first place is significantly less than the competition as I am just not the same size as them and can’t command the same discount levels! – but look at the press on Amazon (and asda etc) demanding ridiculously high margins to enable this discount!
    Not that I am saying Eden do this – I would think being Christian they don’t but then I know I try to get the best discount I can (and yes I see the inherent hypocrisy in this whole line of argument – I never said I wasn’t influenced by the sin and culture, I just see the root cause and ackowledge it and try where possible to balance it with fairness and a prayer for forgiveness and the strength to resist giving into the temptations!).

    However I do believe a producer/manufacturer should have the inherent right to safegaurd their product and not have it undervalued in the eyes of the public.
    Because ultimately one must look at the knock on cumulative effect, goods do become meaningless and devalued in the eyes of people – Burberry is a prime example of this! and if you watch topgear BMW suffered the same fate due to footballers & middle class execs loving them!

    Are we saying this is really what we want our communities and societies to be about – the devaluation of everything with no intrinsic worth other than a bargain!
    The most common refrain heard in most music shops and also in bookshops I am sure, or so I was reading (sorry cant quote what as I don’t remember, but think it was one of the sunday papers) is along the lines of ‘I can get it cheaper on the internet!’ and ‘thats a rip-off i can get it for…’
    Hence the reason HMV and other music stores seem to have never ending sales these days!
    Therefore it has been devalued at a base level and the inference is that everyone is trying to rip the consumer off if they are expecting them to pay the going rate in shops, there is no realisation of the base level and intrinsic costs – and the real looser in all of this is not the shop, the internet seller, the consumer or even the producer but it is the artist, the writer!

    So I think it is not unethical or unprincipled to say no you can’t sell my stuff and devalue it – rather I think it is rather principled to say that.

    The problem is not when the fair price is asked, the problem comes when the price is inflated due to having initially been devalued – and lets face it thats where discounting points things in the end, the producer eventually puts an inflated rsp on an item knowing they will achieve at least 20% less than that quoted!
    I thought thats what was happening in the electrical trade a few years ago? oh and suppliers only selling at the cheaper price to a few big boys and thats what was unfair, well that and that only a few were allowed to offer or could afford to offer the discounts?

    To me it’s not anti-competitive if we insist everyone has the exact same rules of play – a level playing field and all that!
    For me that doesn’t Sound a bit like the margin situation with Amazon, etailers, Tesco & Asda’s of the world that can demand higher margin due to size and get it leaving smaller independents in a situation where they then consider using them as the wholesaler of choice as they are cheaper than the wholesalers price (Harry Potter! This was one that made the tv news as well as the paper press!).

    There is something intrinsically wrong with this – a bit like sub-prime loans really!
    Eventually choice is eroded and we are left with a fractured inherently unjust and greedy situation.

    Yes you are right there are plenty of people in the churches not shopping with any of us- but then there always have been, the problem is they aren’t customers and never were, just because someone goes to church doesn’t mean they read or want to read! Just check out the figures on how many church goers read or have read the bible to see the proof of this one!

    Don’t get me wrong – I am not against internet selling, until 2 years ago it was my great love and personal joy! and in time i would like to raise the capital to do it in tandem with my brick and mortar!
    But I am though against discounting as a culture and all the inherent problems it brings on a longterm basis- and yes I concede the hypocrisy and wear the shame accordingly.

  7. Phil – by route to market I meant their own website. It is global – but it isn’t the only website. They have decided on the route to market (their website being the only online presence) and this will restrict the distribution. For example, if Marmite decided that Tesco cannot sell thie rproduct online and that F&H are cutting off their nose to spite their face here.

    Melanie – I can see what you are saying, but the law states that a supplier cannot dictate retail prices (the NBA was the last vestige of this), and by not selling online F&H are just restricting the reach. It doesn’t preserve the intergrity, it just reduces the impact unfortunately.

    I am not specifically defending online stores here – I haven’t actually ever shopped with Eden or Weslyowen.com and try and use my local Christian bookshop when I can (I try and visit at least monthly) – I have even bought from Phil’s shop when passing through!

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