In church yesterday the stage was configured for an Easter special which included a rock tomb with a large round ‘stone’ that will roll away during the performance.  That reminded me of a time many years ago I thought of with a smile.

In the 1990’s, I was working for Second Baptist in Houston.  We had a first-class media department where we recorded services and events for broadcast TV.  Each Christmas the church would put on an elaborate Christmas special that had many showings. The house was always packed with people there to see the performance.   Every musical the story of Christ was integrated with the play write which usually concluded with the resurrection of Jesus Christ the Messiah.  Each performance we shot with different camera angles to get the best footage for the editing.  Most of these events I worked as video engineer and sometimes filled in as a camera operator. 

One of these performances I was tasked with operating the hand-held camera inside the tomb and the shot the director wanted was as the actor who played Jesus exited the tomb, the camera shot would show His silhouette among the fog as He stepped out of the tomb as the Risen Savior.  Inside the tomb were two benches on each side far enough back where they could not be seen from the audience.  I was sitting on one of the benches waiting for the time to get the shot.  The actor playing Jesus was sitting across from me on the other bench.  The fog machine started up as a signal that we were to get ready for him to stand up.  I asked the actor how many performances he has done for this event, he answered seven, this would make eight.  The inside of the tomb filled with the fog from the machine for the special effects I asked the actor, “So, it doesn’t bother you that the fog is asbestos?”

The stone rolled away right as I said that. The actor almost lost his composure.  He stepped out of the tomb with his arms spread wide as the stage lights shined on him as well as the light from inside the tomb lit him up for the effect.  I got the shot I needed; I heard over the headset as the director took my shot before going to another camera.

After the show the actor found me and asked if what I said was true.  I said it wasn’t, I was trying to be funny.   He said, “It is funny now, but not at the time.  I almost lost my composure at the worst time.  Don’t do that again!”

We looked at the camera footage and you could not see him lose composure from my camera angle, but the tight shot from the front you could see in his face.  His eyes were wide as he looked around.  The other performances his facial composure was totally different.

I worked a few more performance over the remaining years I was employed at Second but was always more conscious of not distracting the actors.