The faith factor when filming during a pandemic

Local News

Columbus has played host to another faith-based film crew over the past month. Mustard Seed Entertainment just wrapped up shooting their movie “The Inheritance” this week.

The movie’s director, John K.D. Graham, is one of the founders of the company. I caught up with him on the set of one of their shoots on a country road just outside Columbus. He explained how his faith comes into play during the making of a movie.

“Sometimes we’ll have a shot that gets ruined for some reason. It’s easy to get frustrated and upset about it. But part of faith is just thinking that there might be a reason why that shot’s not the right one. Maybe the audience wouldn’t connect to that take, you know. I find that once you start to see the world in that lens, not only do you feel closer to God, but I think you lose some of the stress that we carry as humans…because it is in God’s hands at the end of the day.”

You may wonder why the movie is being shot in the heat of the summer. Meredith Riley Stewart, a Phenix City native who landed a part in the movie, says the pandemic didn’t follow the script. “Originally we were going to be here in April during beautiful 70-degree weather and 20% humidity and flowers blooming everywhere. But Covid had other plans for us.”

John says, “Covid is not to be feared, it’s honestly to be respected. The biggest challenge of shooting under the umbrella of Covid is just not knowing for sure that you’re going to be okay. If our actors catch Covid we are in a really bad situation because we can’t bring them on the set anymore. And if you can’t have your actor, you can’t make a movie.”

Everyone on the set is required to wear a mask. The actors take theirs off when it’s time to roll film. A representative from Mercy Med in Columbus serves as the film’s Covid officer. Meredith says, “He’s on the set everyday all day. He tests all 40 something of us, cast and crew, on Sundays. And then he tests all the actors and people who interact directly with them, like the director, two other times a week. So we are probably the safest place in Columbus right now.”

John adds that it gets back to your faith. “We’re doing our part wearing masks, trying to social distance, testing often, following guidelines set out by the local unions. But at the end of the day, there’s only so much you can do and that’s where faith comes in that we’re going to be kept away from it.”

From Meredith’s perspective, shooting a movie during a pandemic offers some life lessons. She believes “having this great pause with quarantine and Covid has made people realize that some of the simplest things in life are the most important. And that’s really the heart of our story…that when it comes down to it, family is almost all you’ve got sometimes.”

Speaking of family, Meredith is the daughter of the late Aubrey and Mary Jane Riley. Her father was a founding professor at CVCC where he spent his entire career. Her mother worked her way up through the Phenix City school system from teacher to counselor to principal to assistant superintendent.

The movie “The Inheritance” is scheduled to be released sometime next year. To learn more about Mustard Seed Entertainment you can click on their website: www.mustardseedent.com.

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