Polycarp's Teachers

Aug 14, 2018 8:28 AM

My Polycarp Movie Diary, Postscript 1*

Wednesday, August 14, 2013 - Today is day one of my journey home. Polycarp is a wrap for me, but major photography for the film continues. I’m on the road, but the crew and several of the cast are still on the set and on the job. 

Today is Eliya Hurt’s birthday. Happy birthday, dear Eliya! The eleven year-old actress turns twelve today, and takes a well-deserved day off to celebrate. It is her first day off (other than Sundays) since the filming began. I’ve pointed out before that I often motivated myself by noticing that Eliya was usually there before I arrived, still there after I left, and in general worked harder than I did.

She was not the only one. I’ve given shout-outs to several people, and really everyone deserves mention. I’ve focused on members of the cast because they’re the ones I’ve related to the most. Today I wish to call attention to three people behind the scenes who also are there early, stay late, and work harder, and who inspire me to raise my game.

Ryan Chartier is our Locations Manager. I don’t have a copy of his job description, but by observation I can tell it involves opening up, setting up, cleaning up, and closing up. I see him often and he always wears a Trilby hat and a wide, wide smile. His work, though it will never be seen on the screen, is indispensable to what we all do. He is a servant to all of us. He shows up and serves, and his joy lifts me up.

Joshua Hedrick is our Assistant Director. He and I had a good, purposeful conversation early on, but once we started shooting we only met on the set. I wish I’d had more time to get to know him well. He is a thoughtful man who displays the quiet confidence of someone who thoroughly understands his job. Therefore I was surprised to find out that this is the first film where he’s worked as A.D.

He basically runs the set, participating in every aspect of the scene. Oversimplified, the Director establishes how the scene will be shot and the A.D. sets it up, explains the action to the cast, gives us our marks, calls “action” and “cut,” and much more. Josh handles all these responsibilities with admirable professionalism - but that’s not why I’m highlighting him. It’s for his leadership.

Josh doesn’t lead by telling, and never by yelling, but by doing. He keeps everything moving without losing sight of the people. One of the most memorable moments for me on the set was the day about a week or so into the shoot when there was a lot of talking, joking, and even light horseplay among the cast and crew. Yes, even I was caught up in it. Josh spoke up to get our attention and said words to this effect: “Everyone is relaxed and in a good mood today, and we’re getting along real well, and that’s a good thing. But we’ve let ourselves get off task and we’re using up valuable time. Let’s just stop right now and pray that God will help us regain our focus and get done the scenes we have to do.” And we all bowed our heads with him as he led in a prayer, from which as a company we emerged with our mood still high but our minds renewed with the seriousness of our task. I said to myself then, and I say now, that is leadership. 

Jerica Henline wrote the screenplay for Polycarp, and, based on the historical person of Polycarp, created the character I play and all the other characters of the film. She created the story of Anna the slave girl. She put words in all of our mouths. But that’s not why I’m bringing her up now. 

As the writer her job is done, and now she must let it go and watch her brother Joe lead the rest of us to turn her story and characters into a motion picture. Now she plays the role of Key Production Assistant ( I think that’s her title). What I think that means to her is, whatever is necessary to help get this movie made, she will do it.

She wrote the movie we’re making, but there is no job beneath her, nothing she is not willing to do. She walks the actors from the Green Room to the set. She hands out bottles of water. She sets tables. She helps the extras. If something needs to be done and no one is appointed to it, she takes on the task. She has become the last of all and the servant of all.

She has been a servant to me. I’ve seen her physically and emotionally drained, yet more concerned about what I need than what she needs. When I’ve faced my most challenging scenes, the simple comfort of having her walk me to the set helped me calm my heart and focus my mind. She’s there before I arrive and stays after I leave and works harder than I. She makes me want to do more.

Only Jesus Christ and the faith founded on him has extolled servanthood as a pre-eminent ethical and spiritual value. I have studied and learned of servanthood as I’ve played the role of Polycarp. Many have been my teachers, but these that I have named are three who stood out to me as examples of them all.

Above (L-R): Ryan Chartier, Joshua Hedrick, Jerica Henline

*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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