An opportunity of a lifetime recently came to San Juan High School junior Ian Pugh, of Blanding, when he was selected as an extra for season three of the new Book of Mormon films for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
Season one filming started in 2017, and at least a dozen of those short segments have been released. The first season focuses on Lehi’s family and leaving Jerusalem. (www.youtube.com/watch?v=edg-0hAM3iA)
The shooting for seasons two and three is now complete, and the editing and production work is in high gear.
Season two focuses on Lehi and his family as they exodus from Jerusalem to the new world. Actual filming for season #3 finished up September 11, 2019, and films from it will be released in 2020.
Season three focuses on the teachings of Alma in Zarahemla. Ian is in several of those scenes. Every effort was made to not only depict the history but replicate the landscape; plants and even foods are authentic to the era of the Book of Mormon.
Ian stated, “I found it interesting how realistic the filming set is. I really enjoyed being there and being part of this project and was sad when it ended.
“I can’t wait to see the release of season three next year. It will be fun to watch.”
This rare experience began when Ian’s mother, Solange, noticed an announcement on their ward Facebook page recruiting actors and extras for church films, so Ian applied.
He next followed up with photos, and was hired by the Casting Division for the Book of Mormon film series.
He, along with other actors and extras, were all asked to prepare spiritually before filming began and reading the specific chapters of the Book of Mormon that would be depicted.
Ian explained, “As I prepared for the film, and focused on reading the scriptures that related directly, the people became very real and in many ways are like we are today.”
Some scenes allowed for impromptu depictions, and that is where inspiration, even from the actors, came into play.
Before school began this fall, Ian and his parents began a series of long-distance trips to Goshen on the weekends for filming.
“Everyone involved in the project was given an apostolic blessing by Todd Christofferson,” his mother explained.
“The power of that blessing has helped us many times,” she added. “It has helped our family and has strengthened us and given us comfort in the face of challenges.”
A typical day started with makeup, then wardrobe fitting which replicated clothing of that era down to leather sandals. Sometimes touch ups were required on long days.
“It was interesting to learn that hair styles depicted status in community in those days,” Solange said. “Script writers did a great deal of historical research on styles, hair, and customs before filming.”
Actors spent 10-12 hours working both morning and evenings during the filming with a long break in between.
Ian was asked to let his hair grow and NOT use any products on it, nor was he allowed to shave.
Those involved came from very diverse places, but primarily south and central America. Though most of the filming was done on the church property at Goshen a few specialized scenes were filmed elsewhere, one being along the Provo river that flows behind the Olive Garden.
All filming was done on a “closed set,” Solange explained. “Only those directly involved were there. The one exception were parents of minors, so I was able to watch the filming.
“Once we heard ‘action,’ no other sounds or movement could be made. They were ready to film.
“We both made lots of friends in the process, and even for those watching, it was a spiritual experience.”
“All of this happened with such good timing for me,” Ian explained. “I will be turning 18 next year and will be a senior and entering into a new phase in my life. The tools I learned from this experience will help me in planning for after high school. This has given me a new perspective on many things.”
Whether or not a person is a member of a church or not, the series is a terrific movie, which will inspire others, Solange explained. “Alma left his career as a career politician and lawmaker and accepted the gospel of Jesus Christ. He then taught correct principles to others.”
These new films will be used for the next 20 years as scripture enrichment in the home and church. Most of the segments are short, anywhere from three to 10 minutes, but there are a few longer ones.
Applications are currently being accepted for next year’s filming of Third Nephi, the Appearance of Jesus Christ. Those interested may visit http://casting.churchofjesuschrist.org.