|4/9/2021 12:17:00 PM|
Role as an extra in 'The Chosen' a blessing
A Chisago City real estate coach and team leader had the opportunity to play an “extra’ in a film production of Jesus’s life, that reviewers and industry analysts expect to have a lasting impact on entertainment and popular religiosity. Neal Lawson gathered with about 1,500 other people, on a hillside outside of Dallas Texas for the filming of Jesus’s sermon on the mount for the The Chosen— a free streaming series with the distinction of being the largest crowd-funded television or cinema project of all time.
The Chosen website viewer count is in the millions and $10 million was raised from 19,000 individuals, which is how Lawson said he became an extra. He is in the final episode in the bring-the-Bible-to-life series’ season two, which premiered Easter Sunday.
“This is exactly what the world needs right now,” Lawson stressed.
“In this Netflix period of time we live in...and people get attached to shows and even to individuals in the shows” he can’t help but notice that Jesus Christ, his disciples and other characters in the Bible, who are portrayed in “The Chosen” are just as compelling and relate-able as any cast in a made-up show.
As he watched the first season episodes he found himself wanting to get to know Jesus and the people around him, as they were back then. “The Chosen” goes a long way to help understand His true love for us, he said.
“The Chosen” is a production of the family friendly streaming application VidAngel. (See thechosen.tv.)
According to VidAngel “The Chosen” will have seven total seasons.
Lawson made a donation along with the original call for crowd funding donors and he was thrilled when he was invited to be part of the cast. He flew to Texas on his own dime and was there Feb. 9-11. He said everybody had a covid rapid test before they got on-set. Some first arrivals were at the mobile test lab by 4 a.m. to facilitate the massive effort.
The filming was a masterwork of logistics, Lawson continued. Managing the crowd itself was quite the chore, plus getting all the appropriate costuming in camera view and keeping everybody on the same page, it was literally strategic.
Texas was unusually chilly this February, said Lawson. There were outdoor patio-type heaters where lunch tables were placed, and you could get inside heated tents. Those who wore cold weather garments had to toss them aside or hide them under robes, when recording started. Sandals were nobody’s favorite.
When the buses showed up, “Everybody was friendly and super excited to be aboard the warm bus” he continued. Extras called themselves the “Frozen Chosen.”
There was an incident that tried the patience of Jesus himself.
Lawson explained, the Savior is played beautifully by Jonathan Roumie. “He did so well under the pressure” while working in weather that was hardly desert-like. Then, someone held up their cellphone to record the scene, as important lines that had to be delivered by Jesus just so, and Lawson recalls, “Roumie wasn’t pleased” when the cellphone came out. Another time a bystander walking past on a hill was using his speaker phone and that “messed up the whole take.”
In general, though, it was like something out of your imagination being immersed in Texas countryside surrounded by the costumes, tents and all.
Lawson even had a good start on growing a beard, but he noticed in the series that not all characters wore beards and he gladly shaved. Lawson’s historically accurate garments were provided by his friend, Kevin Norwood, who had saved costumes from doing seasonal passion plays.
The upcoming episodes are now being made in Utah, on property owned by the Church of the Latter Day Saints, as Texas pandemic numbers shutdown filming and producers needed a new site. LDS creates original educational videos and has its own locations to mimic Jerusalem landscapes, which are now being leased to “The Chosen” production. A press release from the AngelVid group said working with the LDS and the classic look of these properties has provided a remarkable experience.