June 11, 2022

Reflections on the F5K Filming of The Chosen

In the aftermath of my experience as an extra in the Feeding of the 5,000 (#F5K) filming for an episode to appear in Season 3 of The Chosen, I am reflecting on things I found remarkable.

First, for the entire two days (long days) that I was on set (along with over 4,500 extras plus a lot of “first-liners” (directors, cast, crew, paid extras, staff–another BIG number!) I did not hear a single (that’s right, ZERO) complaint. In light of the far less than comfortable set conditions (in scorching heat wearing several layers of 1st century garb), I find this utterly miraculous.

DISCLAIMER: I have heard rumors that a few have taken to social media to register complaints about various things, but I find this more likely a reflection of ignorance or arrogance or a posture of entitlement or any combination thereof. When you consider all the permutations and combinations of details that had to be arranged to accommodate this many people in this complex of a process with so many necessities (incl. Covid screening, security checks, portapotties, meals, water, bus transportation, medical personnel, and the list goes much farther on!), any expectations of conditions resembling those of a 5-star, all-inclusive beach resort are at best unreasonable. Of course, that’s hyperbole, but I think you get the point. Nuf said!

Secondly, I was amazed at the lengths to which The Chosen team went to assure that we “extras” were well accommodated: Plenty of food (and not standard low-budget stuff!). Air-conditioned buildings to temporarily refresh from the heat. Entertainment by well-known artists. Transportation to and from set in magnificent, immaculate coaches. And, if you’ll permit me to sink to the level of scatological details, portapotties with hand sanitizing stations better than I’ve seen anywhere in the world. Likely you’ve used the expression “bending over backwards to accommodate,” well the F5K event took that to a whole new level. Somehow we were even shielded (miraculously?) from those relentless microscopic domestic terrorists—the fire ants. I found their complete absence nothing short of remarkable.

Thirdly, unpaid extras on a film set are among the lowest on the cinematic “food chain,” yet we were treated with the dignity and respect worthy of royalty. Every single staff person, including and especially, the director Dallas Jenkins, treated us as highly valued and appreciated co-laborers for this “Kingdom” project. We were thanked and affirmed repeatedly by the director, producers, actors, and all supporting staff. The F5K staff was not only well trained in discharging their various duties, but also well coached on the importance of discharging their service honorably. Everyone was incredibly gracious.

Fourthly, watching director Dallas Jenkins at work was at once impressive and inspiring. Constantly attentive to how whatever is going on is affecting (or is going to affect) every individual or group involved in the process, he does everything in his power to make the experience frequently pleasurable, but always positively transformative. And like any GOOD leader, he sees positive transformation—not pleasure—as the endgame. He and his equally praiseworthy wife Amanda made themselves accessible to people wanting to personally express their support (and get selfies!) even after an incredibly long stretch that likely exceeded my 3:50am to 11:00pm. This is a Christlike model for ministry to which all of us should give attention and for which we should praise God.

Neither my time nor your kind patience will permit me to express here all of the things I found remarkable at the #F5K event, but I hope what I have noted above encourages others to share their experiences, so that all of us will be blessed and encouraged to “Go, and do thou likewise!”

THANKS BE TO GOD for inspiring and empowering Dallas Jenkins make this the most impressive, impacting, and inspiring media presentation of Jesus and the Gospels that I have EVER seen. May God take the “5 & 2” of this show and multiply it to become the most effective tool for evangelism and discipleship this world has ever seen! (and may it inspire others to do the same.)

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