I finally fulfilled one of my bucket list items – being an extra on a movie set!
This past week I had the exciting opportunity to be on the set of The Chosen TV show, based on the lives of the disciples who followed Jesus. This show is fast becoming the most popular crowd funded project in movie making history!
It’s the first-ever multi-season series about the life of Christ. It’s the free show that tens of millions of people won’t stop talking about.
The truly amazing thing is that it is defying all the Hollywood rules of how to make a TV show, and is being funded by the fans who love and support the project.
It all began back in January 2019 when I first heard about this out-of-the-box production. Having worked in the TV industry many years ago, I’m familiar with how things are run. So when I heard that this series was being crowd funded I was intrigued. When I heard it was all about Jesus, no questions asked I was all in! So naturally I decided to become one of their early investors through their distributor the Angel network.
I’ve watched the show grow in popularity and have seen how God has moved to orchestrate all the pieces into place. There have been miracles in all areas of how things have fallen into place, doors have been opened, and even changes in the weather seen with natural eyes!
As an investor, I was invited to be part of the epic event they were planning for filming the scene of Jesus feeding the 5000 from two fish and 5 loaves (hence the term 5+2). Of course my first thought was, they probably will only have 200-500 people then CGI everyone else in. But no… they wanted a real life crowd of 5000 people to ensure the scene was authentic!
In Hollywood terms that is all sorts of crazy organizing that many people for a movie scene! The amount of crew needed and moving parts to make things happen is nothing short of miraculous. But as we all know, God is in the business of miracles.
The planning included sourcing my own authentic looking first century outfit, which I rented from a movie costume company. We were not given too much notice but as soon as registration opened, I jumped on to reserve my spot, book my covid test time and book my hotel and flights.
Originally the event was going to be held in the Fall for cooler weather, but as it turned out all 10,000 people headed to Midlothian Texas in June! To say it was hot was an understatement. Temperatures soared over 95F and we were prepped to bring umbrellas, sunscreen and cool clothing.
My trip started with me taking a PCR test before departure, but as soon as my plane touched down I had not received my negative results yet. The organizers were taking covid precautions very seriously and would not allow anyone on the set with a positive result. So as I waited for my rental care I searched for the nearest 2 hour lab to do a test. I was not going to get this far to let a silly test stop me!
Miraculously (thanks God) I found a local lab and grabbed their last appointment. It dawned on me while waiting in the car that I needed to print the results, and was praying for something to come to mind. As I headed to my hotel I drove up to the front of the building and noticed a UPS store right next door! God thinks of everything, so there I was negative test in hand ready for dinner all before checking in.
So what does one do when in Texas? Go to Texas Roadhouse for a steak of course! The air was filled with excitement and you could feel that something amazing was about to happen.
The morning of the shoot started early at 4:00AM as I had to check in early to get tested once again. I was so impressed with their level of organization keeping the car lines moving, and the volunteers that were administering the antigen tests while we sat in our cars. No one was allowed to exit their vehicle until they received a negative result and lanyard with a ticket pass. After the all clear we were directed to park and to go through security before getting on a bus to the movie set.
Arriving on set we were greeted by staff and crew, two large tents with tables, a gift store (with air conditioning), and several more tents with ample refreshments and food. They had live entertainment by Christian artists like Big Daddy Weave, that kept the crowd entertainment between takes.
From Covid testing to security to bus drivers to food and crew, it all ran like clockwork. The only thing we couldn’t control was the weather and we all baked in the Texas heat of 95F #toastedchosen
The organization was amazing with shaded tents, a gift shop, food, loads of water, electrolyte powder and bug spray. They thought of everything!
Due to the large amount of people and the excessive heat, they decided to break the group into 3 smaller groups of 1500 each for filming. This meant we only needed to be in the direct sun for a 2 hour block versus 6 hours. There were medics on call who helped a bunch of people who needed medical assistance who were suffering from heatstroke. This experience was definitely not for the feint of heart! Yet I was shooketh at the amount of young children, and even pregnant women, who made the arduous journey to be part of it.
What many people don’t know is that it takes hours to film one single scene in the movie business. So for every 5 minutes of screen time, it took probably 5 hours to shoot. This is to ensure every angle, both long shots and close ups, are included so the director will ask for several takes in repetition.
The director, Dallas Jenkins, is the one who spear headed the entire project after creating a short video he made for his church as a Christmas special. Dallas is no stranger to moving making and has been creating movies and films for years. He has a famous father, Jerry B. Jenkins, whom you might recall wrote the book series “Left Behind” (and subsequent movies).
The assistant director prepped the crowd with cues like “umbrellas up” (in between takes), then “umbrellas down” and “pictures up” (take glasses off and prepare), then “rolling sound” is when the cameras and sound start recording, and then “action” when you perk up and act. Our job was to hold character without making eye contact with the cameras and look interested in what Jesus (Jonathan Roumie) was saying.
The scene I was part of is the scene where Jesus says “I have fed you spiritual food, now it’s time to eat real food!” and the crowd cheers. Then the disciples walk amongst the crowd to distribute the bread. I was so excited to be close enough that Judas himself handed me a piece of bread! And no… I did not eat it:)
The fun part was meeting people from many different walks of life. On the bus, in the food line, in the gift store, waiting on the movie set etc. I met people from Hawaii, Ohio, North Carolina, Guatemala and even my home country South Africa! It amazes me how this show has touched people from all over the world, and how many made the effort to take time off work and invest their own money to be there.
Movie production requires loads of patient endurance to keep yourself entertained and looking fresh, even if you have to do a take 10 times over! It’s only over when the director yells cut after the martini shot (aka the last shot) and they yell “It’s a wrap!” That is when you know your job is done.
Did I mention there was lots of waiting? It took an hour waiting for our bus to shuttle us back to our cars, and the crew kindly fed us a packed meal. Everyone was kind and patient and there was no drama.
I was so impressed to meet the director, Dallas Jenkins, in person at 9:00 PM at night in the parking lot! I thought after such a long day that he would be too busy to greet fans, but there he was with his lovely wife, Amanda, meeting and greeting fans until way past 10:00 PM.
This scene will appear in season 3 of The Chosen, and the scene of feeding the 5000 will probably be the climax of the season in all it’s splendor. So we wait with baited breath to hear when we will get our first glimpses of the season, so stay tuned!
If you have not yet watched season 1 and 2 you can catch up now and watch for FREE, thanks to the fans who make it possible. It’s available on Roku (search for Angel studios), Apple TV, Google Play, and on Amazon.
You can support the show by paying it forward and becoming an investor through their app at https://thechosen.tv and you can buy gifts and merch like t-shirts, journals, hats etc.
Stay tuned and watch this space, I will announce when the episode of feeding the 5000 goes live so you can watch along with The Chosen army!
Help spread the word on social media by using these hashtags:
#f5k #thechosentvseries #thechosen #bingejesus #getusedtodifferent