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Phil Vischer Talks Vegetables And...Boldly Going Where No Buck Has Gone Before!
Phil Vischer Talks Vegetables And...Boldly Going Where No Buck Has Gone Before!

Phil Vischer Talks Vegetables And...Boldly Going Where No Buck Has Gone Before!

By Jacob Sahms

In the early 1980s, Phil Vischer attended St. Paul Bible College where he met Mike Nawrocki. By 1993, the two had created Big Idea Productions, and the legend of VeggieTales began. But while the company grew, Vischer found that it was unstable financially and he ultimately sold it, experiencing the death of a dream. After a few years of soul searching, Vischer launched Jellyfish Labs and his next series, What’s In The Bible? Now, as Vischer launches a new science fiction series starring Buck Denver, caught up with the creative, wild mind of Vischer … and the man himself.

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When I caught up with Vischer at his home in Illinois, I asked him how he had made the transition from a few famous talking vegetables to a telemarketer leading a space rescue mission. “With Veggietales, we primarily reinforced life lessons with spiritual basics, using what I learned from my two heroes growing up, Walt Disney and Jim Henson,” Vischer said. “I spent a decade teaching kids how to behave Biblically without explaining what Christianity was. I wanted to ask questions like, how do you define salvation or redemption, the meat of the Christian faith?”

“With What’s In The Bible? we explained our orthodoxy, having built all of the puppets,” he continued. “But I wanted to move to orthopraxy, how we act when we believe that way, to show kids how to put the gospel into action. Could I show that by having a kid going to school in the suburbs or could we make this more fantastical?”

“I loved Star Wars as a kid and I watched Star Trek. I thought we could show this faith in action in a galactic way.”

Vischer, who voices all of the characters on the new film, Galaxy Buck: Mission to Vector 9, talked about how he put the characters together to tell the story. “I was only about half of the voices in VeggieTales. But when I’d hear an interesting character in a movie, like a German scientist or the weasels in Who Framed Roger Rabbit? I’d try them out to see if I could pull them off and put them in my back pocket,” he said.

While What’s In The Bible included animated episodes narrated by puppets, Vischer set out to avoid CGI when animating his latest series. “The characters are all puppets,” the creator shared. “One of the things I really enjoy is making films that kids could do at home. I really wanted to build real stuff and show them to kids. While we used puppets and green screened them for What’s In The Bible? we built stop animation size sets. It was just a lot of fun!”

Vischer had clearly warmed to the subject of animation and explained that what we see in Galaxy Buck is real - more real than we could have imagined. “The bridge of the starship is a five foot by two foot set, with two-and-a-half inch television monitors we hooked up to DVD players to run information,” he explained. “Then we could actually shoot with a handheld camera inside the set and track the puppets right into their chairs. I actually started to build a spaceship model but it wasn’t going to hold up to the close-up shots.”

When the conversation turned back to the plot of this first Galaxy Buck film, Vischer explained that he had used his own experience of receiving a God-sized dream and then realizing it wasn’t what God wanted for his life after a time. “I’ve been sharing my testimony for ten years. I’ve told college students who are about to leave school to follow their dreams,” he said. “I wondered if I could tell that to younger kids. What would it look like for me to share that with an eight year old?”

“I want to get into discipleship,” he said. “What does it mean to have a mentor, a Yoda? What happens when you take your hands off of the wheel? What happens when you recognize that you are not in charge of yourself or your desires but it’s about God’s heart?”

“The first thing Buck Denver wants is for it to be his way and get God to help with what he wants. He has to learn to give up the steering wheel.”

Phil Vischer once piloted a moveable feast of talking vegetables, but now he’s letting God steer a starship of his own creation into bold new adventures, faithfully. Who knows what they’ll discover on their latest mission? Give Buck Denver some time, and a unique blend of faith and humor will guide the way.

5 of 5 Stars!
Just wow. Thanks for sharing your story Abby.... [read more]
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- Hebrews 10:24

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