Filming “The FellowsHip”

I see it’s been about a month since my last post. Sorry! About a month ago was when I got a call saying that I had been offered a lead role in the feature film The FellowsHip: Rise of the Gamers (known at that time as The Fellowship), instead of the two-line day player role I had been offered earlier. I subsequently went into a whirlwind of rehearsals, finishing up my job at the Baltimore Theatre Alliance a few weeks early (thanks to the understanding of a boss who’s also an actor), and completing my student visa application.

We started shooting at various state parks in northern Virginia on August 10th, and have been shooting 12 hours a day, 6 days a week since then. I’ve therefore had limited computer access. Today is actually the first shooting day in which we’ve had wifi at the location, seeing as we’re shooting at our director of photography’s house.

I have had an amazing time shooting, even though it’s all been happening at the same time as my preparations for Oxford and moving out of my apartment (which happened this past weekend on my day off). The chance to do this type of movie is exactly why I became an actor. It’s an homage to J.R.R. Tolkien and The Lord of the Rings, especially as portrayed in the Peter Jackson film trilogy. (I know that sentiments about these films among Tolkien fans are, shall we say, mixed, but I admit that I love them, not as the definitive version of the story, but as a great fanboy re-telling of the story.) There are many Easter eggs in our film for fans of the movies. And the director has managed to assemble a group of passionate geeks, many of whom are Tolkien fans, including our married D.P. and production manager, whose wedding rings read, “Two rings under summer’s dawn / the union of Halfling and Elf,” in Elvish script. It’s a fantastically fun set. The film, as well, is funny, well-written, and greatly entertaining without resorting to crude or profane content or language – an increasingly rare phenomenon, especially in movies aimed at the teenage male market.

Today we’re filming our “escape from the Shire.” A couple hours ago, I was sitting on the couch waiting to be called to set. Our production manager’s year-old Beagle was lying curled up against my side with her head on my lap, having finally decided to trust me after a day spent running the other way. (She’s a very shy puppy, especially when the house is filled with dozens of strange people.) I had my eyes closed and my head against the pillow, resting as I lightly scratched the dog’s side. I heard one of our crew members start to play “In Dreams,” one of the songs that played at the end of The Fellowship of the Ring, on the piano in the next room. I sat thinking:

“I have a warm dog lying on my side. I’m listening to beautiful music inspired by Tolkien. I’m working on a film set, and when I’m done with this I’m going to go study theology at Oxford and live in C.S. Lewis’ house. All the stress, trouble, and anxiety in my life – it’s worth it for moments like this.”

It’s a sign of the goodness of God that He gives us moments like this, where we’re truly, truly, content, as happy as we can be on Earth. I’m in awe when I think about how even this will be nothing compared to the Beatific Vision, and eternal joy in Christ.

I should be back posting regularly in a week or so when we’re done filming. If all goes well with my visa (please pray!), I should be shipping out September 8th, and writing to you from Oxford after that point.

In the meantime, here’s some sample footage from The FellowsHip for you to enjoy! I’m the slightly chubby one with glasses.

P.S. – You can follow our producer Scott Matthias’ daily updates from the set by joining the group “The Fellowship Movie” on Facebook.

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