by Davy Liu
[Editor’s Note: We are looking forward to Davy Liu joining us as a teacher of one of our new Thursday classes and a speaker at CHEA’s Parenting & Homeschool Conference, July 13-15 in Downey.
This introduction to Davy is only a sneak peek into what both kids and adults can glean from him this summer. Registration for CHEA’s Parenting & Homeschool Conference is now open.]
As a little child, I loved the magic of Disney animated films. After seeing Dumbo, the elephant with big ears, I was hoping that I could fly too, so I tried to pull my ears bigger as well. Like Pinocchio, I did not want my nose to grow as long as a tree branch, so I tried not to lie. All of these moral lessons stuck with me as a child growing up in Taiwan. The beautiful visuals that Disney created needed no translation and the animated characters were so endearing, so relatable. I told myself I wanted to be an artist when I grew up; not just any artist, but a Disney animator.
My family moved to America when I was barely 13. Growing up in Orlando, I got to visit Disney World and Epcot, and all of my childhood memories came to life. I wasn’t your typical Chinese academic kid and did not do well in the regimented school. While I often struggled to pay attention to the teacher, I loved to draw during class. In fact, one of my drawings won top 20 in a national art competition during my first year in America. That is when I first realized God didn’t give me a gift to make straight A’s but to draw straight lines. I pursued art with passion. While my peers dreamed about becoming a doctor or lawyer, I was busy trying to get into Disney as an animator. That dream became reality in 1990, right before my graduation from art school. Disney selected me as one of eight young artists in the world to work for “the Mouse.”
I loved working for Disney on films like Beauty and the Beast, Aladdin, The Lion King, and Mulan, among others. While I was developing major franchise films for the largest children’s entertainment company in the world, I noticed that church kids and adults had their sing-along songs with cucumbers and tomatoes. As a content creator, I noticed the contrast in the quality and the way it was presented. One Sunday, our high school pastor shared that after four years of college, less than 5-percent of students retained their Christian faith. This statistic became my wake-up call, as many families around the world faithfully followed Hollywood’s magic.
The Lion King was created 29 years ago. The classic line “hakuna matata,” the opening song “The Circle of Life”, and the love ballad, “Can You Feel the Love Tonight” are timeless and will remain in both children’s and adults’ hearts for years to come. Films like this required four years of hard work, over 600 animators, and 45 million dollars to produce. This film’s success continues to be measured by the countless fans that still purchase merchandise from the film.
Disney is the world’s largest children’s ministry and has made over 14 billion dollars of revenue on The Lion King alone. Ironically, when developing the original screenplay, Simba’s journey was inspired by the life of Moses. Further, if the world is willing to invest in content that requires using the best talent on earth, exemplary creative storytelling, and superior artistry, it is no wonder that the fans of Disney continue to be in awe of this magical kingdom.
In the late 90’s, while working on Star Wars: Episode I with George Lucas, I was troubled to see Disney celebrating non-traditional family values. At that point, as a follower of Christ, God called me to forfeit my dream job and start my own animation company, Kendu Films. It was during this time I envisioned building an ark to protect the future of traditional values for children, values that were now being twisted and distorted. I also saw how Jesus told his parables with no boundaries. Each one was timeless and easy to understand for all ages. Now that I had the call on my life to reach the unchurched children and families across the world, my intention was to retell Bible stories with no boundaries as well. Moreover, these classic stories of faith needed to be innovative and creatively compelling. This was the beginning of introducing the gospel to kids through the animal’s viewpoint, the foundation of Kendu Films.
To that end, Kendu Films began to develop a series of books called “Invisible Tails” in 2004, currently featuring six titles, such as The Giant Leaf, a story of how the animals discovered Noah’s Ark. All of the titles are currently available in picture book format. They are printed in English, Chinese, and Portuguese. Our picture books were even recognized as the best children’s moral educational books in China in 2015. We believe that using excellent artistry and innovative storytelling are the tools to introduce the heart of God to every child.
Our first feature animated film, The Giant Leaf, is in production. This allegorical story will be a tool for parents to introduce The Great Flood story to their children. Kids will love the twists and turns in this whimsical illustrated adventure as they explore this classic story of faith.
Our non-profit ministry, Kendu Kids, was born in 2019. We seek to foster and facilitate traditional virtues and moral values among young children through art, creative expression, and children’s picture books. We would appreciate your prayers and support in this mission. You can learn more about what we do at www.kendukids.org. You Kendu it.
Davy Liu identifies himself as a Chinese Forrest Gump. He struggled with making straight A’s, but later found his life’s calling in making straight lines. His artistic talent quickly led him to work for Walt Disney on classic films such as Beauty and the Beast, Aladdin, TheLion King, Mulan, and the Star Wars franchise. Davy is the founder of Kendu Kids. He is an innovative creator who brings stories of faith and hope to the world.