11.3.2021 Correction: A previous version of this article misspelled Artur Pawlowski’s name.
Local video branding and production company Speropictures, producers of Stronger Than Carr, The Trump I Know and Lemonade, is releasing a new docuseries.
ReAwakening, which is scheduled to release via streaming on November 15, covers the ReAwaken America Tour, a series of events that have been held this year in Tulsa, Tampa Bay, Anaheim, Grand Rapids, and Colorado Springs, with upcoming events in San Antonio, Tulsa, Dallas and Phoenix.
The tour is focused on election integrity, COVID-19, and religious freedom. Or, as retired General Michael Flynn said, saving America from “tyranny, dictatorship, and communism” and protecting “religious and health freedoms.”
Recent reporting by The Guardian highlights concerns about misinformation being shared on the tour and how the events are being used politically. The Guardian spoke with author Anne Nelson, who’s written about the history of conservative political strategy. She said the ReAwakening series is designed to “build momentum for the radical right leading up to next year’s midterms and 2024.”
Gerry Hebert, a lawyer who worked on voting rights with the Justice Department for twenty years, also spoke with The Guardian. According to Hebert, “Lies and disinformation campaigns can kill, both our fellow Americans and our democracy, and this ReAwaken America tour seems designed to accentuate those problems.”
The tour has numerous featured speakers, some of whom are former President Donald Trump’s most loyal supporters including:
- Flynn, who was pardoned by Trump after twice pleading guilty to lying to the FBI about his contacts with Russia.
- Roger Stone, whose sentence was commuted by Trump after being convicted of obstructing a congressional investigation into Trump’s 2016 campaign and possible ties to Russia.
- Charlie Kirk, founder of Turning Point USA, a conservative youth organization that has raised tens of million dollars and promotes election fraud and COVID conspiracy claims.
- Mike Lindell, CEO of My Pillow, who has spread baseless claims of election fraud.
- Patrick Byrne, CEO of Overstock, who spent $3.2 million to fund “audits” in Arizona by a firm that has no experience with election audits and that election officials have condemned as unreliable due to poor methodology.
The tour also features high-profile COVID vaccine skeptics including:
- Dr. Simone Gold, head of America’s Frontline Doctors, who promotes COVID misinformation and is facing charges for her role in the January 6 attack on the Capitol.
- Another Frontline doctor and pastor, Stella Immanuel, who has made statements linking America’s health problems to alien DNA and demon sperm.
Other guests include Christian leaders such as:
- Redding’s Sean Feucht, who has held Let Us Worship events across America in defiance of COVID-19 restrictions.
- Phil Hotsenpiller, the founder of American Faith, a non-profit faith-based national media network that launched this year. American Faith purports to provide “uncensored” news, opinion, and analysis on current events, with a Biblical perspective.
- Artur Pawlowski, a Canadian pastor who has been arrested for holding church services during lockdowns. According to Fox News, Powlowski traveled throughout the US for months this year, comparing COVID restrictions to Communist and Nazi regimes. Though many Jewish organizations and Holocaust historians have condemned comparisons between Covid restrictions and Nazi policies, Powlowski has been publicly defended by Eric Trump.
- Pastor Jackson Lahmeyer, who is running for Senate in Oklahoma and has offered a religious exemption for the COVID vaccine to anyone who donates to his church.
The organizer of the ReAwaken America Tour is Clay Clark, a Christian businessman from Oklahoma, who has worked to popularize the tour using his podcast and radio show, ThriveTime. Clark offers entrepreneurial advice, and sees himself as a competitor with Tony Robbins, a prominent and nationally known self-help guru.
Clark told online news magazine Charisma News that the ReAwaken events are about “killing the spirit of fear, exposing the truth about medical fraud, election fraud, and the great reset, and sharing the truth that Jesus is King and he’s not done with America yet.” According to Charisma News, which is also a sponsor of the tour, events have included thousands, “many of whom consider themselves Christian patriots who want to see America return to its Judeo-Christian foundation.” Tickets for the events start at $250.
Speropictures is crowdfunding the ReAwakening docuseries and has raised just over $300,000 of the $900,000 they are seeking. The company was started by Matt and Joy Thayer, Shasta College graduates and Bethel Church members who came to Redding in 2009. In 2013, they released the film short Lemonade, which highlights the competitive concerns of small businesses. It now has eight million views on Youtube. The film short won the Sundial Film Festival, inspiring the Thayers to start Speropictures.
Matt Thayer is also the founder of the FireReel Film Festival, originally called the BSSM Film Festival. He worked as an editor for Bethel Media and has taught film production for Bethel Church’s School of Supernatural Ministry (BSSM) for the last ten years, according to his LinkedIn page.
Speropictures staff did not agree to an interview request despited repeated requests but according to their website, the company is building a studio on Park Marina Drive in Redding and has created hundreds of jobs locally. Shasta Scout reviewed the Speropictures’ LinkedIn page and found only four jobs currently associated with the studio.
Promotional materials for ReAwakening say the docuseries is a story about “the great reawakening” to “what everyday Americans are doing to stand up against medical tyranny, election fraud and “the Great Reset.”
The Great Reset is now most well-known as a conspiracy theory. But the name was originally used for an initiative by the World Economic Forum (WEF) that encouraged using a “rare but narrow window” of time during the COVID pandemic to “reflect, reimagine, and reset our world to create a healthier, more equitable and more prosperous future.”
WEF’s concept wasn’t well received by some Americans, who believe the COVID pandemic and the worldwide response to it are largely the work of powerful elites working to stifle freedom of thought and expression. According to reporting by the BBC, the term “the Great Reset” has received eight million interactions on Facebook since the WEF initiative was launched. Most of those are focused on the conspiracy theory, which espouses that COVID lockdown restrictions were introduced not to stop a virus but to bring about economic collapse and a socialist world government.
The Great Reset is not a new idea. The terms “global world order” and “new world” order were part of a widely-embraced conspiracy during the Cold War era. During the so-called “Red Scare,” far-right conservatives spread concerns about a collective world order pushed by Jews, Freemasons and the Illuminati. That fear came to shape political opposition to left-leaning social movements, which have been seen as a step towards a collectivist world government. “New world order” conspiracy theories have been spread more recently by right-wing radio and viral internet posts and are believed to have contributed to the modern-day militia movement. Today’s “Great Reset” conspiracy theory builds on these ideas with new details, including COVID vaccines that include microchips and 5G towers used to track the populace.
Bethel Church’s Senior Leader Bill Johnson recently spoke about a “one world government,” saying “I’m not saying we’re close to it. I’m just saying we’re closer than we’ve ever been” during a sermon in which he compared COVID vaccine mandates to “the mark of the beast.” Concerns expressed by many in the Shasta County community during public board meetings have also frequently circled similar concerns about socialism and loss of freedoms.
In an interview with Charisma News, Thayer said he decided to begin working on political projects like The Trump I Know and the ReAwakening series because of his concern about election and media fraud and big tech censorship.
“We don’t believe politics and religion are mutually exclusive,” Thayer said. “We want to help people reawaken to the truth and help them embrace what it truly means to be an American.”
An upcoming project listed on the Speropictures site is a reality TV series focused on California Adventure Academy, a Redding-based private school. California Adventure Academy is founded by Ryan Spitz and Aaron Hayes, founder of Catalyst Mentoring. Both were speakers at a recent Shasta County School Walk Out event held by activists opposing COVID vaccine mandates and have encouraged parents to find alternate ways to educate their children outside the public school system due to these mandates.
Speropictures has also produced informational short films and promotional videos for a wide array of Shasta County individuals and organizations including the Redding Chamber of Commerce, the Redding Civic Auditorium, Start Up Redding, Visit Redding, First Five Shasta, Cal Fire, Shasta Economic Development Corporation, Shasta Regional Medical Center, the Northern California Small Business Development Center, Win-River Resort and Casinos, Catalyst Mentoring, and the Shasta County Office of Education, among others.