Re-making the ‘Holy Cribs’ films

The first series of Holy Cribs was made over a decade ago. These remain extremely popular with teachers, but there is no doubt they are looking dated. We at TrueTube have re-made the films to keep them relevant, and so that teachers will keep using for another ten years!

The Holy Cribs films are popular because they are useful. We have kept all the information and vocabulary that teachers need to impart, and added a little more visual flair with improved production values.

The original idea was a tribute to MTV Cribs, where a celebrity shows the audience around their home. Our presenters are young members of the religious communities which gives the films a wonderful authenticity. The audience is welcomed in and shown around, not talked down to.

For most of the young presenters, the filming was a first- time experience. They all gave us a brilliant performance. For anyone who hasn’t done any filming before, even for a short film with a very small crew, the pace can feel frustratingly slow. There’s a lot of waiting around while a shot is set up, then the presenters have to come on camera all smiles and energy, and then they’re waiting around again. The filming day was long and tiring for our young presenters, but they all enjoyed themselves and felt that they had learned something by the end of it. At least two of them now want a career in TV!

There were some unexpected issues to address. Worshippers came in and out of the Vihara, Gurdwara and Mandir all day, so we had to strike a balance between not getting in their way, and getting the shots we needed. We were expertly guided by our young presenters, but we needn’t have worried – most people were welcoming and accommodating and very glad that our films would educating young people about their faiths.

It is always a privilege to film in places that you probably wouldn’t otherwise visit, and often to get treated like an honoured guest. The food is always superb – the langar at the Gurdwara was especially good! It was an odd experience to be on the roof of East London Mosque in thick snow, getting a shot of the dome and minaret. It felt so peaceful, despite the loud sound of traffic on Whitechapel Road below us.

One member of the crew had never visited any holy building other than a church, and he undertook something of a spiritual journey. The filming gave him a fantastic introduction to other faiths.

Although the beliefs and practices of the various religions have not changed since we made the original Holy Cribs films, we feel it is important to present a more current version of people and places. The older fashions and spoken expressions can – perhaps strangely – be more of a barrier to learning than the unfamiliar beliefs and practices of a religion. The visual language of filmmaking has also changed: the way shots are composed and edited has evolved with better technology, video effects that looked cutting edge a decade ago now look rather dated.

Learning through films does offer something unique. The Holy Cribs films “show” instead of “tell”. They give young people an opportunity to see inside a building they might not be able to visit, and to hear about the beliefs and experiences of someone they might not ever meet. The films also provide engaging content for a lesson that – increasingly – might not be taught by an RE specialist. Our film can be the expert in the room.

Most of our films on TrueTube are made because teachers request them. The TrueTube team have their own ideas for topics that are on the curriculum or social media, but it’s always better when the people who are using the site – the teachers – get in touch to tell us what they need. We can’t fulfil every request, but themes often emerge in the requests we get. It’s why we updated the Holy Cribs films – we had a lot of teachers saying, “These films are great, but…”. Keep the ideas coming!

Check out our videos below. You will find links to the 6 Holy Cribs films. Look out for ‘extras’ on the website.

Holy Cribs Christianity – Anglican Church
Holy Cribs Islam – Mosque
Holy Cribs Judaism – Synagogue
Holy Cribs Buddhism – Vihara
Holy Cribs Sikhism – Gurdwara
Holy Cribs Hinduism – Mandir


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