The Challenge of Continuity

Aug 5, 2018 9:00 AM

My Polycarp Movie Diary, Day 13*

Monday, August 5, 2013: Day Thirteen. This day was long and full of waits and tedious repetitions - and I enjoyed it thoroughly. They are making a movie, and I’m in it! It’s a wonderful experience.

One of the things that interests me enough to study it is the arrangement of the scenes to be shot on a given day. Today we filmed a cluster of scenes around the judgment hall, but which are separated from each other in the storyline by as much as 50 days. And we did not shoot them in a chronological sequence at that, but primarily according to the logic of how the camera would need to be set up.

Situations such as this bring to mind the ever-present challenge of continuity. Continuity is an issue with which everyone involved in a movie must deal, from the director to the extras, from the producer to the grips. Every film has issues with continuity, and even some very big, famous, award-winning movies have easily spotted continuity errors. It’s an inescapable side effect of trying to tell a story cinematically; the problem can’t be eliminated, only minimized and hopefully made insignificant.

I am impressed with the professional, proactive way this film company approaches the issue. Every department that has anything showing up on camera (i.e., every department) has someone keeping track of the details of that department: set design, costumes, makeup, script, name it. I love being part of a team in which others know what they’re doing and delight in doing it. It gives me confidence and sets me free to focus on doing my part and getting it right without worrying about how others are going to make it look.

I got to work again with Gary Bosek (Quadratus). His approach to preparing for a scene is thoughtful, intelligent, earnest, and open. He invites suggestions and makes good ones himself. Our work today was an early confrontation between Polycarp and Quadratus. It’s brief, but it is a key scene and we spent a good deal of time on it. Director Joe Henline wanted to get the right tone of restraint, cordiality, and underlying tension between the two men. As actors, Gary and I both enjoyed the joust. On screen I think it will be apparent that these are two very different men with entirely different goals. [Note: As it turns out, this whole scene was cut; none of it made to the final edit—not because the scene didn’t work, but because about an hour needed to be cut from the film in order to reduce it to an optimal running time. Too bad—I thought it was a good scene.]

The other scenes took a lot of time because they were action scenes—no, not like a chase in an Indiana Jones movie, just walking and talking. (It is after all, though, a motion picture.) The sequence doesn’t seem momentous in itself, but it develops the relationship between Polycarp and Germanicus (Rusty Martin), and also shows Anna (Eliya Hurt) in an early stage of emergence from her slave mentality. They're simple scenes, but significant.

Here's one of the places also where actors have to maintain continuity of characterization. Rusty and I have already filmed scenes that are much further along in the story. Today we had to back up from those scenes to an earlier moment. I've seen movies where the actors don't change anything about how they play their characters from the title scene to the credits—and seldom is that a good thing. Rusty, I think, showed a freshness and appropriately lighter tone in his portrayal of Germanicus today that will contrast beautifully with scenes we've already done—and he did it easily. His experience as an actor is apparent.

I continue to be impressed with Eliya’s stamina and determination. She works hard, never complains, doesn’t lose focus, and follows direction wonderfully and without attitude or ego. She’s one of a kind!

Above: Polycarp (Garry Nation, Right) takes advantage of a teachable moment with Germanicus (Rusty Martin, Left). This is the second production photo of Polycarp to be released.

*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.

**There were indeed some surprises, mainly in what got cut, including a couple of great lines. But it made for a taut, suspenseful scene, and the camera caught some wonderful nuances that made this scene stand out as a high point to me.

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