I noticed that today is July 11th, or 7-11. I also noticed that I have seven hundred and eleven followers. I couldn’t pass up the opportunity to thank each and every one of you 711 followers for your support. I hope my words have helped you in some way no matter how small. Your friendship and support has helped sustain me. Thank you.
To continue in the spirit of imparting wisdom, please allow me to share an experience with you. One of my coping mechanisms is being involved in the performing arts. Whether it’s acting, writing, or assisting in some other part of a production, being part of something bigger than myself helps me forget about my troubles.
Recently, I had the pleasure of participating in an epic undertaking by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. It’s been reported to be a five-year project and we’re two years into it. The project is the creation of videos based on events described in the Book of Mormon. I had the honor of portraying an ancient Israelite last year and this year an ancient inhabitant of South America.
I would like to share with you three lessons I learned while filming over the past two years. I learned what it means to be courageous. I’ve understood better the concept of friendship and unity. Most importantly, I saw the importance of communication practiced to the uttermost degree.
Let’s talk about courage. What does it mean to have courage or to courageous? It’s not always about strength and overcoming physical obstacles. I witnessed the most courageous and tender moment while filming a scene from 2 Nephi. Let me paint the scene for you.
We sat on steps in front of an ancient temple listening to the words of the prophet Jacob. We represented his extended family and he desired to impart wisdom and testimony. As he spoke he became teary-eyed and choked up. As Jacob wept, a young boy no older than 4 years crawled up the stairs and wrapped his arms around Jacob’s neck. As far as I could tell, it was not rehearsed. The moment was so touching that the director incorporated it into the shot.
That young child had the courage to comfort a stranger in a crowd of strangers. The woman sitting with him acting as his mother wasn’t his real mother, yet in that moment he didn’t think about his uncomfortable situation. His thoughts turned toward somebody else who appeared to need comforting. That act was a testimony to me of childlike charity and Christlike love and courage.
Camaraderie was another characteristic displayed on set. Hundreds of people were called to take part in this epic event. We were gathered in a large covered arena and directed here and there. First to costume and then to makeup and hair. Then we were instructed to hurry up and wait. (A phrase you’ll hear often on any film set.)
The thing I liked most about waiting was making new friends. Although, we had never met before it felt like we had a lot in common. There was a sense of unity on set. We all worked under the same director with a common purpose. In this case, we were all sharing our testimony of Jesus Christ by portraying characters and scenes from the Book of Mormon. However, I’ve been on other sets where that same sense of unity was also present.
It takes both a good director who adequately shares his vision for the project and a good actor who actively listens and adopts that vision. I learned that there can be no lone wolf on set if the film has any chance of being successful. Everyone must work together in order to create something worth producing.
In conjunction with unity on set, communication was vital. I never had to wonder what the director wanted or needed because a team of assistants very effectively relayed that information throughout the set. When the director spoke, his message was repeated many times all over the set to ensure that everybody received the same message at the same time.
My favorite part about being on set aside from being in front of the camera was to witness the coordination of cast and crew. It was all done with effective communication. Being on set of a movie production has given me a greater appreciation for the word “production” when used to describe the making of something magnificent. Everybody had a job and continually performed that job without fail and without stepping on toes.
What a wonderful world we could live in if everybody adopted that ethic.
Remember to have courage. Sometimes that means having the courage to make the right choice. Go out and make new friends. Have the courage to comfort a stranger. You just might meet a new best friend. Always practice effective communication. As human beings, we have yet to conquer the ability to read minds. Don’t fall into the mindtrap of assuming what somebody else is thinking. Ask questions and be honest with your responses. You’ll be happier when you do.
I love you all. I hope your 7-11 is a wonderful one.