A Motto for Polycarp

Aug 1, 2018 8:00 AM

My Polycarp Movie Diary, Day Ten*

Thursday, August 1, 2013 -  Today I had a later call time. With the early wrap last night and an extra hour before call, I got some rest that I needed more than I realized.

When I walked into the Green Room the first face I saw was Eliya’s. She immidately lit up with gladness to see me, and I suddenly also realize how much I needed that after such a heavy day yesterday. [See yesterday’s post, Polycarp’s Amazing Leading Lady.] At the least, that smile felt really good to me, and I was glad to see it.

The question has come up whether it is difficult to film on a nighttime schedule. The truth is, after a day or two it becomes a routine--as anyone who works a night shift knows. On an interior set I do feel like I got a taste of what life must be like on the space station: there really is no day or night, only the daily cycle and the passage of time. To me, more taxing than the lateness of the hours was the length of them. A 12-hour work day is a challenge whether it starts early or late. 

I have no room for whining. I do my best to do my job, but as I’ve said before, it’s not about me, and I’m not alone. Certainly others are paying a much higher personal price than I am, especially Joe and Jerica Henline for whom this motion picture nothing less than a commission from our Lord. 

As far as I can tell, everyone in this company - everyone! - is of one mind, one heart, one spirit. I have heard not one word of grumbling; I have not seen disagreements turn to strife; I have not observed the bosses abusing authority or the workers despising it. If there have been moods, attitudes, tantrums, pouts, or pity parties, they’ve happened outside of my view. Despite the variety of personalities and talents assembled, I have witnessed unity, harmony, and fellowship on this movie set to a level that I have rarely seen in my life anywhere, including Christian ministry. I remember Ilse Apestegui marveling, “Where are the egos? There are no egos here!” And she was right.  It’s not because the people are virtuous. Don’t get me wrong, they’re all good folks, but there is a greater power at work here, something very special, something that calls to me of the kingdom of God.

Still, making a movie is a long, hard project that wears one down, and everyone has to find something within, some self-motivator in order to keep on working at a high level. For myself, I developed a motto:

No matter how early I arrive, someone is already here.

No matter how late I stay, someone is staying later.

No matter how hard I work, someone is working harder.

I admire my fellow actors for their dedication to their craft. One of my highlights today was to have some extended conversations with Justin Lewis (Justin). In Polycarp he plays a former Roman officer who has become a Christian and a leader in the church (whose name also happens to be Justin). I found that Justin and I have a lot in common about the way we approach acting. Though his is a supporting role, his personal preparation is as thorough as mine. Justin has flown in from Alberta, Canada (although he hates flying) with his wife and baby to spend a couple of weeks making this movie. I appreciate his seriousness about his acting, and even more his seriousness about his Christian faith.

I was in only one scene today, and it was not emotionally heavy like yesterday’s, but it had a lot of moving parts - several cast members, lots of extras. The scene is important to the story, but the main thing about shooting it was the mechanics of it.

Besides that, director Joe Henline doesn’t believe in unimportant scenes. Shots were made from different angles, and in several different takes he had us explore various ways to say our lines. The work was interesting and tedious at the same time. The set was hot, and a residue of smoke from last night’s burning scene still hung in the air (did I mention that there was a burning scene last night?). At one point we needed to take an unscheduled break—Eliya needed to leave the room before she got sick, and we all needed to get some fresh air. But we all made it through, and I got to wrap early again. Tomorrow I will get my first scheduled day off, and I will take it. I’m not so proud to think they can’t do without me for a day.

Top: Cast and crew finish up ‘breakfast’ before getting started on their 12-hour work day. Background Center: Eliya Hurt, in wardrobe. Foreground Center: Me, in conversation with our A.D., Josh Hedrick. Left: Joe Henline and Justin Lewis. Right: Our hard working camera crew led by D.P. Jon Hedrick studying a shot.

*This is the fifth anniversary of the filming of the award winning Christian film Polycarp in which I play the title character. The experience of making that film proved to be far more momentous and impactful in my life than I ever anticipated. To celebrate this anniversary I am re-publishing my diary from those days which I wrote on the back of the daily sides.

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