It has been said that it takes two to establish a lie – one to lie and one to listen. Today’s society is full of opinions and deceptions being sold as “truths.”
How do you react when you hear these opinions? How do you weigh out the facts from the deception? Do you consider yourself an independent thinker…one who doesn’t immediately take what is being given to you as solid truth, but one who prefers to uncover the whole truth for yourself?
Director, writer and producer, Andre` van Heerden is on a mission to uncover the truth in his newest documentary, The 12 Biggest Lies. Heerden, who has worked in virtually every aspect of film and video production, has written, produced and directed numerous documentaries, television programs and feature films, including Left Behind: The Movie (co-producer), Left Behind: World at War (producer), Revelation, Tribulation, Judgment and Deceived (director) and, most recently, Saving God (producer). Next up for one of the most well-known and accomplished Christian filmmakers is The 12 Biggest Lies, a riveting documentary that will help to open peoples’ eyes and minds to some of the biggest misconceptions and deceptions running rampant in today’s society.
Through extensive polling, Heerden and his team soon had quite a list of some of the biggest lies out there. The 12 Biggest Lies focuses on answering the following 12 misconceptions with the help of scientific, biblical, historical, archaeological and religious experts:
1. There is no such thing as truth.
2. People are inherently good.
3. No one should be offended.
4. Men and women are equal.
5. A fetus isn’t human.
6. The world is overpopulated.
7. Americans are greedy and self-centered.
8. Islam is a religion of peace.
9. The Jews stole Jerusalem.
10. The earth is billions of years old.
11. There is no God.
12. Jesus was just a good man.
I recently spoke with Andre` van Heerden to get an inside peek at his latest film, learn more about how the film breaks down the falsehoods and deceit that are flooding our society and to get a glimpse into where van Heerden is headed now. He is what he had to say:
Good News (GN): Do you feel that there has been a paradigm shift taking place in America in regards to our educational system, our media, Current Events, culture and the arts and even the Church? What motivated you to address these problems and how do you think your film can counteract these misleading mindsets and propaganda that are causing people to be led astray?
Andre` van Heerden (AVH): One day I was doing some research for a documentary called Dragons or Dinosaurs? and I came across a quote that literally sent chills down my spine. It said, “Make the lie big, make it simple, keep saying it, and eventually they will believe it.” There’s a real sad truth to that statement, but what gave me the chill in particular was who said it – Adolf Hitler. Hitler understood the power of perception and prejudice. He understood that if he could get people to see the world as he saw it, then he could get them to act as he wanted. He also understood that to get people to see the world his way, he’d have to paint that world for them. Unfortunately that is what is happening in our world today. Hitler is dead and gone, but there are countless numbers of people willing to deny and distort the truth to further their agendas. It’s the reason we felt compelled to produce this documentary. In our schools, our media, our Current Events, our arts and Culture and yes, even in our churches, we are continually told things that are based on people’s biases rather than on the actual truth. And anytime anyone questions those biases, they’re accused of being intolerant, or stupid, or backward, or told that there is no such thing as truth to begin with.
This documentary is produced to give people an authoritative voice to speak against propaganda and deceptions and to shed the light of common sense and facts on widely told lies. The truth is indeed powerful and we believe that if enough people are exposed to it, entire societies can be changed.
GN: There are so many diverse teachings out there and so many questions that have divided people, in addition to the twelve lies you are exposing. People are separated on other major questions as well, what made you pick these particular twelve?
AVH: Over the past year we had produced two other documentaries. The first, called Shadow Government, looks at how powerful groups can manipulate the public (through new technologies, the media and global crises) into accepting increasingly pervasive attacks on our civil liberties. The second is Dragons or Dinosaurs?, which examines the nature of dragon legends, history and artifacts and how they all originated from first hand encounters between people and dinosaurs. In both instances the documentaries challenged widely held beliefs. Shadow Government challenges how our current world is governed and where it will lead, and Dragons or Dinosaurs? challenges one of the key ideas of evolution. In researching topics for another documentary we found many other such topics to tackle. There were so many in fact that we wanted to take a direct tack with each of them. We whittled our initial list down to about twenty core topics and then did some research into which ones resonated with the most people. We didn’t want to dwell too long on any one topic and realized that we couldn’t really have more than 12 to begin with. In some cases topics resonated because those particular people polled couldn’t believe that we were saying something was a lie: like the idea that the world is overpopulated. Once we had that list we knew that the first lie we had to tackle was “There is no such thing as truth” and then conclude by attacking the lie “Jesus was just a good man”. Those two in particular literally have to be the foundational stones for any logical discussions about “what is true”.
GN: As a filmmaker, one who has worked on several different series such as Left Behind, what impact do you believe the medium of film is going to have on the younger generation (The Millennial’s, etc) in terms of reaching out to those who are not Christian and may never step foot into a church?
AVH: There is no doubt that we live in a very fast-paced, media-driven society. Unfortunately many of the younger generation aren’t familiar with doing things like going to church. Young people in particular absorb information, and in effect values, from more diverse sources than ever before. The problem with that is that many have short attention spans and a world view that supports the freewheeling lifestyle that they’re living. To engage such an audience you need to be visually stimulating like the media that they’re used to, and challenge them with something that will stay with them.
The 12 Biggest Lies is easy to ingest because it literally comes in twelve easy, highly visual and very direct bite-size pieces. Each segment deals with a particular topic and gets straight to the point. There’s no waffling and no fences to sit on. And I think that’s one of the biggest challenges for those trying to reach the younger generation. Often preachers, teachers, and parents try to sugar-coat a message, or to be politically correct, or try to tell people what they want to hear, rather than just stating the truth. Whether it’s a movie like Left Behind or Saving God, or a documentary like The 12 Biggest Lies, the themes must be based on a solid foundation of truth. It may cause some controversy and debate, but it will engage and plant some seeds. As the youth often like to say, “You have to keep it real.”
GN: Do you feel that we are becoming a society of people who blindly follow others, taking their words as facts, and not doing our own research and relying on our own independent thinking? What other avenues, in additional to a film like this, could people take to empower themselves to disprove lies that are being taught through education, etc.
AVH: We must endeavor to be critical thinkers. We must encourage others to be critical thinkers. High schools, colleges and universities love to shout that they’re cultivating critical thinking, but often that thinking is only critical in one direction. I think that most of us know that we’re often being lied to, but it’s generally easier to just go along with it than take our limited time and energy to dig to find the truth – especially when that truth may not be what we want it to be! Sir Winston Churchill said, “Men occasionally stumble over the truth, but most of them pick themselves up and hurry off as if nothing ever happened.”
A perfect example is with the topic of global warming. It became a popular idea and cause to support because it painted a terrifying doomsday scenario, attacked big industries, and championed furry animals and trees. It’s sensational and everyone likes rooting for “the underdog.” However, the historical evidence, scientific facts and even common-sense observations just don’t support that humans are actually affecting our climate to any significant degree. The evidence is everywhere now that global warming is at best based on faulty science and mistakes and at worst political fraud aimed to control the masses and make billions of dollars. Despite these FACTS, the popular idea is that global warming is still a real thing. And until more and more people actually do the research, find the facts and then bravely speak out against this misconception, it will remain a “truth”.
GN: How will this film be marketed to reach a wider audience to spread the truth to non-believers and a more mainstream crowd who needs to hear this message?
AVH: People are naturally drawn to certain types of people. Often the best interviews are not with the people who know the most, but with those who are able to communicate well.
We’re very blessed to have popular actor, Kevin Sorbo, as host of The 12 Biggest Lies. He’s best-known for his role as Hercules in the TV series “Hercules” and as the captain in the TV series “Andromeda”, as well as lead roles in the feature films What If and the up-coming Soul Surfer. He’s a perfect “everyman” and is able to set-up each topic in such a way that you just want to hear more. Kevin is approachable, trustworthy and interesting – and that comes across on camera.
We’ll be using Kevin’s appeal, the current headline nature of the various topics and interviews like this one, to tell as many people as we can about this unique project. Two other things we’re hoping will encourage people to dig more for the truth are an inspirational slide show found at: www.youtube.com/watch?v=bynFnXYbgFw and an engaging study guide that will accompany the DVD.
GN: How did you pick the experts” who are helping to debunk the lies in the film? What sort of data (biblical, historical, scientific, archaeological, etc) can the viewer expect that will help prove that the twelve lies are ill-founded?
AVH: The key for any great script, whether it be for a feature film or a documentary, is RESEARCH – and lots of it. In doing the research on specific topics, certain names keep coming up. For example, it’s hard to find a more credible, well-researched, well-spoken person to talk about the nature of truth than Dr. Ravi Zacharias, or about the dangerous tenets of Islam than Nonie Darwish and Dr. Jeff Seif, or the historical accuracy surrounding accounts of Jesus than Dr. Craig Hazen. I take note of these names and many others like them and reach out hoping that they’ll spare some of their time to be interviewed for a documentary.
For the most part, I’m humbled by those who have agreed to share their time and expertise and I always end up with more material than I can actually use. The first cut of The 12 Biggest Lies was nearly 3 hours long! Once I start piecing it all together I do yet another two steps of fact-checking on the material being shared. I get some of the experts who were interviewed to review it to find any inconsistencies and I dig for back-up sources to support some of the facts and figures. In many parts of the documentary, viewers will be given the actual sources at the U.N. or the Government agencies where they can verify what’s being said.
GN: What target audiences will you address and will this film be available in other countries/languages?
AVH: Because there are 12 different topics, we’ll be addressing a number of different audiences. When we were developing this documentary, we did a poll among our office and immediate friends and family asking them which of 20 different lies they were most interested in hearing more about. I was amazed at how varied the answers were. No two people’s lists were exactly the same. What that highlighted for us was just how often we’re all deceived everyday – and how important it was to tackle a wide range of topics. So for those looking for the straight facts about Islam and Jerusalem, they’re in here. For those looking for the truth about abortion and over-population, they’re in here. For those fed up with political correctness and gender rights, they’re in here. Really, for anyone who is part of society, there’s going to be a number of topics that will surprise them.
Cloud Ten Pictures is fortunate that we have a number of distribution partners in foreign countries that love our titles so yes, we’ll be able to share these important truths around the globe. The DVD also features both English and Spanish language audio options.
GN: Where do you feel God is leading you? Do you believe there may be a sequel to this film? Do you feel led to produce more films that will be geared towards reaching the lost, more educational films, or some other area?
AVH: Right now we have another growing list of lies that we’re planning on challenging. I know that I’ve been part of a few discussions where I’ve wished that I had more answers and knowledge to share with others – these sorts of documentaries do that.
But I also feel that God is calling us to produce more feature films as well. We have a number of incredible stories to tell that we know will reach people in a different way.
For more information on The 12 Biggest Lies and to learn more about Andre` Van Heerden and Cloud Ten Pictures, please visit: www.12biggestlies.com and www.cloudtenpictures.com.