One of the challenges that kept things interesting in Israel was filming in locations that we’d never seen. We didn’t know what we’d find, so we had to come ready for anything.
“Good news today!” I told the crew enthusiastically as we drove to our first shoot in Jerusalem. “We’re filming indoors, in a quiet museum! No wind, no rain. This will be easy!” What did I learn from the Wohl Museum? Never open my big mouth.
The Wohl Museum contains the actual ruins of several first-century houses. Carl and Aran explained that these homes belonged to priests in Jesus’ time, and that one house, which archeologists call “The Palatial Mansion,” might even have been the place where Jesus’ trial was held.
“This is neat,” Bill, the team production assistant told me, as we walked past a case of ancient stone vessels. He didn’t want me to miss out. It was Bill’s self-appointed mission, between tasks, to share a sense of the awe of our locations with the busy and distracted crew.
The priests in Jesus’ day were rich. The crumbling stone walls, arches, tables and jars were elegantly decorated with ornate mosaics or carved designs. The ruins were beautifully lit, with miniature spotlights to show their depth. Sometimes, a hole in one of the stone floors showed a tantalizing peak at a second level far below. Visitors viewed the homes from fenced, darkened walkways. It was a fantastic design for a museum. But not great for a film crew. The stone ruins looked lovely on camera, but Carl disappeared in the darkened aisles.
It was Jerry, my film professor, who saved the day all the way from Walla Walla. Before we left, he’d looked at our gear list and suggested that we add two color-changing, wand-shaped lights. The wands, which the crew immediately christened “light sabers,” were perfect for illuminating Carl to match the different-colored spotlights in the ruins. We got a few muscle cramps from holding up our “light sabers” all day, but the shots looked studio-polished.
Thanks to Jerry, the Wohl Museum wasn’t a disaster, but it took extra time, and we had to reschedule a few scenes for another day. Then, when we left the museum mid-afternoon, it started to rain again, and soon the sidewalks were flooded ankle-deep as it poured. Like it or not, we were done for the day, and we’d fallen even farther behind.
But somehow, it was OK. The night before, we’d told God that this whole trip was his, and for once, I didn’t try to take it back. Instead, I jumped out of the car with Aran, the pounding rain soaking us to the skin in seconds, as we waded through water and mud mid-calf-deep to explore a location. The site wasn’t usable. The storm had turned it into a lake. But it didn’t matter. We’ find another. In that moment, with the rain lashing down from above, the current in the flooded streets tearing at our feet, and with thunder and lightning roaring through the air, I felt electric, glowing, throbbing with irrational joy. I was in Jerusalem. It was a good day to be alive.
Photo credit: At this link