AN ACTOR'S BLOG
Polycarp Diary, Day 13: Movement
Sunday, August 6, 2023 12:00 AM
Tuesday, August 6, 2013 - Today was a long day of work, and rewarding. The unifying theme was movement, both physical and emotional.
We began shooting a scene with motion and dialog before a green screen. Afterward we piled cast and crew into vans and headed to an outdoor location at a tree farm. It was a pleasant, green landscape, open and not heavily wooded, with trees framing the environment but not enveloping it. The weather was warm, not hot, and gradually cooled as the sun went down.
This was not our first location shoot - we had sent a second unit team out on the second day - but it was my first, and I’d been looking forward to it. There were just four from the cast: Justin Lewis (Justin), Radek Lord (Demetrius), Eliya Hurt (Anna), and myself (Polycarp) - but seemingly everyone from the crew.
We had four scenes to shoot, each with several different perspectives. All of them involved movement or travel. Polycarp and Anna part ways, perhaps for the last time, and Anna is troubled by it. As soon as Joe explained how he wanted to play one scene in particular I realized it would be more emotionally charged than it appeared in the script. It was. Just before shooting the final close-up, I whispered to Eliya, “Now let’s break some hearts” - and as before, she proceeded to break my heart. I don’t know how this could not be a moving moment on the big screen. [Note: In the final cut, this scene was shortened by several seconds. While I miss the footage, I think the scene still has an emotional impact, but it could have been more so.]
Our final scene, shot just before dusk, was a long shot that caught the travelers against the backdrop of a breathtaking sunset. Movement, emotion.
The main meal was served late (after 10 p.m.) because that’s when we got back to our base. Afterwards we moved into Justin’s Villa set where again the main technical emphasis was motion. Actually it was not just motion, but chaos - which paradoxically means that everything had to be planned and timed precisely. I had enjoyed watching the close collaboration of Director Joe Henline with Director of Photography Jonathan Hedrick and Asst. Director Joshua Hedrick all day, but now so late in the work day with so many moving parts, their teamwork seemed especially crucial.
Carry Austin (one of Joe’s other sisters), who played Justin’s wife, was present for the late scenes along with her baby who “played” the part of their child. The baby was great; while everything else whirled around, she was still and slept through most of the bedlam.
I have mentioned before that Joe does not believe in insignificant scenes. Production decided today to cut one of the planned scenes, partly because the hour was late, but mainly because eliminating that shot would make for a better, more suspenseful scene. (Fortunately it was not one of my scenes. Ha.)
Our lead actress, by the way, was present (again) from the beginning to the end of the filming day. I had wondered what it would be like to act opposite a child actor. At this point I’m hoping that I’m holding up my end of the screen, because she certainly is taking care of hers.
Top Left: Bottled water is always present on the set - actors and crew must stay hydrated! (Other snacks may not be authentic to the period.) Top Right: Screenwriter and Key Production Asst. Jerica Henline, lead actress Eliya Hurt, and Makeup Asst. Rowen Talmage on location. Bottom Left: Members of the crew on location. Bottom Right: Prooduction Mgr. David Cook discusses layout of the location set with D.P. Jonathan Hedrick and A.D. Joshua Hedrick.
*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.