Hiding Place – Easter Short Film
Church: Odessa Christian Faith Center
Submitted by: Jonathan Hohstadt
Church Size: 1,001-2,000
Location: Odessa, TX
Category: Best Concept
ss film project was created to premiere at our 2021 Easter services. By the end credits, I wanted the audience to be empowered to carry forward the mission given to the first Disciples, understanding that though they (may) not have seen Jesus in the flesh, they are blessed who carry on anyway, unashamedly proclaiming their faith.
In the writing process, I treated this project like a stage drama. I expected the end result to look and feel like a Renaissance painting come to life. During rehearsals, I coached the actors to be a bit stage-y in their performances, slow and enunciative, to lend towards that feeling of aged high drama. I do believe that in many ways that mark was hit, not least because of the chiaroscuro look attained by the color/texture of the set and the high-contrast lighting, then maintained by the color grade. However, the process of planning the shots and then executing them naturally started to lean towards a more intimate and raw dynamic, making the audience feel more like a close and intimate participant rather than a distant observer.
We used two Blackmagic Cinema Cameras, one on a tripod, and one on a manually operated crane. Most of the time, only one camera was shooting, but both cameras being there made it easy to switch between getting a static and moving shot as necessary. Though the crane is very much analog, it still provided the stability necessary to smoothly move a camera with a zoomed-in long lens. For Thomas’ rant, we brought the crane in close and switched to a significantly wider lens so as to fully communicate his imbalanced mental state and reeling hopelessness.
This project pushed the envelope for our church in many ways, and one area was in efficiency. The whole day of filming, from cast call to clean-up, took roughly five hours. I believe that we are used to film projects taking longer because we have always had to deal with practical locations; this was our first project filmed entirely on a soundstage. The set was constructed in-house. Our soundstage is actually our old children’s facility, which was left somewhat abandoned after our church built a new building. The facility already had rigging and lighting and lots of empty space, so it was a perfect conversion opportunity.
Though the actors (all volunteers) had acting experience ranging from none to little, they did a great job exploring the intricacies of the characters. Part of the shoot’s efficiency certainly came from the actors choosing to truly live inside of those characters during the filming process, and not taking those characters off until we wrapped. They maintained a flow and they helped keep the atmosphere of the room holy and consistent to the story we told. For that I am truly grateful.
A challenge for our level of sound design was matching Jesus’ voice (dubbed in post) to the room that the disciples were in. In general, we made sure to spend a lot of time on sound design, more so than in previous projects.
The music was also done in-house by a volunteer, a very talented musician with training in classical performance and composition. She got a full string ensemble sound just by layering lines from her cello, utilizing the fullness of a cello’s range. A couple of electronic elements were also present. Creating and placing the music was also an exercise in restraint…I believe it paid huge dividends to be very intentional about when the soundtrack was silent and when the music was brought in, and the level to which it supported or heightened the emotion of the moment.
Thank you for watching ‘Hiding Place’!