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The Life of an Extra (and fan) for Three Days on the set of “The Chosen” Season 5 in Goshen Utah

The Chosen Creator/ Director Dallas Jenkins took a selfie with Extras Christina Kavanaugh and Judy Shields Last Day Of Filming, May 3 2024 Goshen Utah

The Jerusalem set in Goshen, Utah holds significant importance for The Chosen production. This historical cooperation with the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has greatly impacted the authenticity and grandeur of the series. The show is the first production not affiliated with the church that is allowed to film on the Jerusalem set.  What a remarkable set it is and I was honored to be able to see it in person and watch those amazing actors portray people we have been reading about most of our lives from the Bible.

By: Judy Shields and Christina Kavanaugh

Goshen, Utah (The Hollywood Times) 05/06/2024 – I guess some of us have a bucket list and I do in fact have one. Being an extra on a movie set was one of them. So, on Wednesday, May 1st, I was able to check that off my bucket list.  I was now an Extra on the set of The Chosen Season 5.  It started out on Tuesday, April 30th, getting a rental car to make the drive from Rancho Cucamonga to Spanish Fork, Utah (596 miles) where we were going to spend the next 4 nights to be on the set for three days.

It was a nice drive with a stop in Las Vegas to eat at Cracker Barrel and continue up to AZ, then into Utah, so we had driven through California, Nevada, Arizona, and Utah all in that drive to Spanish Fork Utah, that’s way cool to have seen a Welcome to Nevada, Welcome to Arizona and Welcome to Utah signs.

We got checked into our hotel at 9pm Mountain time, as we lost an hour of time from Pacific time back in CA and NV.  Off to sleep since we would have to get up at 5 to get dressed in our The Chosen costumes, we brought with us! WAIT, brought with us, this gal forgot her costume at home, yes, I did!  My son went to my house to get my costume, which somehow made its way to our laundry room hung behind the door, which I truly don’t know how it got there and why it was left behind.  He had it shipped via FedEx overnight to the hotel for a cost of $80 (happy Mother’s day he told me).  What a way to have started this adventure, but I wasn’t going to let that stop the excitement I was going to experience.  So, without that costume, I had to go to the local Walmart to buy something that would get me through the first day of filming. Thank you Walmart!

My gal pal Christina and I made it to the set at 6:30am and boy was it cold and we were in sandals too!  It was a 20-mile drive from our hotel to the Motion Picture Outdoor Set of The Chosen. The breakfast was a chicken burrito from Chick-fil-a, protein bars, bananas, and hot coffee.  They also had food for those with dietary restrictions, like Gluten free and vegan. We got our breakfast, hot coffee and found us a table.  I recorded a short video:

It was nice to have other extras sit with us to find out their names, where they traveled from and what brought them there.  We met a group of seven women who came from Boston and they were so excited to be part of The Chosen, Season 5 as an extra.  Once settled in and most extras in their seats, we were then welcomed and given instructions as to what a background extra needs to know and what to expect.  We would be reporting back for lunch later in the day.  An assistant director (AD), Mitch Hudson came out to let us know he would be working with us to help us get through the day as an extra.  He had a great voice and great sense of humor as well.

AD Mitch Hudson (Photo “The Chosen” Facebook)

Mitch Hudson is the 2nd 2nd Assistant Director, which means he’s in charge of all the background actors and also helps lead the whole on-set team of Production Assistants. If you were to list the top five reasons people believe their set has a great vibe with people who want to be there, Mitch would be on the list.

His positive attitude is RELENTLESS. He loves his job, loves people, loves making movies, and in this picture, he’s in the middle of his coup de grace, who handled over 2,000 extras for the Sermon on the Mount and the 600 extras for Season 5 in Goshen, Utah.  He was the most amazing person who made our jobs enjoyable and memorable. So glad we were able to get a selfie with him on the last day of filming.
Assistant Director Mitch Hudson, who worked with the Extras took a selfie with Christina Kavanaugh and Judy Shields. Check out his Star Wars shirt in preparation for Sat. May 4th! (Photo Judy Shields May 3 2024)

Here are some photos from Day One:

Walking over to the set was such an exciting beginning to our Background Extra adventure.  We walked past the actors’ dressing trailers and then you could see the set of those huge columns we all saw in Season 4.  I got goosebumps and even some tears.  It was cold and windy, but the excitement seemed to bring warmth through my body as we walked to the set.  Once we got to a certain spot, we could no longer take photos, so we all had to put our cellphones away as there were no photo opportunities once on that huge set.  Who needs a cellphone to take a photo, we have our memory of this magnificent set, which gave me the feeling of God’s presence after watching The Chosen earlier this year on the big movie screen.

Once we were gathered all around the set and sitting on the steps, AD Mitch Hudson came out to say hello and assigned us a number by our lanyard color. We were blue and group 3.  Now we had our assigned number and Mitch called out certain numbers for us to go to the  and once inside the area where the scene would be shot, Mitch put the extras in their spots that they would stand (for many hours at a time) while the scene was shot.  If the actors needed to rehearse, the background extras would be shuffled out to wait until they were done rehearsing.  I could just imagine, if any of the extras had never seen these actors in person, they may have been so excited to have been there, since we were all fans of the series.  I am one of the lucky ones to have met the cast at the Season 4 Teal Carpet Screening in Los Angeles.  Here is that interview with the cast:

I must tell you, it was awesome to see these actors in their costumes and to be able to watch them bring their characters to life right in front of our eyes.  It was a fans dream come true.  The first day of filming as an extra was everything we thought it would be like, well, maybe not the fact that you must stand for so many hours and before the day was over, I knew most of Jonathan Roumie’s lines…LOL.  This actor was born to play the role of Jesus.  I am so glad that I had a great pair of sandals that felt like I was barefoot, which is what I like!  It was sunny, windy, and yet cold, but the sun would warm us ever so slightly.  Having my long johns underneath my costume was a plus.  The hardest thing for me was no makeup or jewelry.  I love putting those things on daily. I kept my mother’s ring on and used a Band-Aid to hide it.  The scene that Jonathan was doing was a powerful one and I can’t wait to see it on Season 5.

The actors on the set were:  Jonathan Roumie (Jesus); Shahar Isaac (Simon Peter); Paras Patel (Mathrew); George Harrison Xanthis (John); Noah James (Andrew); Jordan Walker Ross (Little James); Giavani Cairo (Thaddaeus); Joey Vahedi (Thomas); Austin Reed Alleman (Nathanael); Abe Bueno-Jallad (Big James); Yoshi Barrigas (Philip); Luke Dimyan (Judas); Alaa Safi (Simon the Zealot); Shaan Sharma (Shmuel); Aalok Mehta (Barnaby); Anne Beyer (Shula); Philip Shahbaz (Rabbi Akiva); and Wasim No’mani (Yanni)

“It was a once in a lifetime experience for me. It was great watching the actors play their roles. I have a new appreciation for what they do and how much work it takes to perform.” Christina Kavanaugh

There were times when some of us had to sit out in the column area to wait to go back in. Around 1:30 pm they stopped production and we all headed back to the tent to have lunch.  Chicken sandwiches and chips with coffee, water, apple juice or soda, and snacks too.  It was great to sit with different extras to find out their names and where they were from. We met a couple who had been there from the beginning three weeks ago. I couldn’t imagine being an extra for 3 weeks. That is dedication for sure.  They both looked wonderful and had great stories of the past 2 and half weeks.  They were lucky to be part of the first day of filming of Holy Week. I was hoping to be on set for that, but we chose the last week of filming.  I guess if I were retired, I would do it, but with two jobs, it wouldn’t be possible. I will come back next year if they need extras.

We had a visitor at lunch. The actor Wasim No’mani aka Yanni was visiting each table and one person at the table was asked to give a staff member their phone to take a group shot and that person could text the photo to each other. Smart! Here is our table photo with Wasim:

Actor Wasim No’mani Aka Yanni talking a photo at each table of the Extras of “The Chosen” Season 5 Wed. May 1, 2024

We headed back to the set and took our places.  We were there until 6:30pm and once we headed to the tent, they had a boxed dinner for us which was mac and cheese.  I had to pass on that and once we got closer to our hotel, I stopped at Wendy’s to get a baked potato.  It was great to finally be able to lay down on the bed, head on the pillow and fall asleep!

Day two. Tired from not truly getting enough sleep. My feet were doing okay, but Christina’s were somewhat sore and our legs and lower back were letting us know they were there!  Up at 5a to get dressed and head out to the set by 6:30. Breakfast was a delicious Chick-fil-A chicken sandwich and hot coffee!  We sat with different folks and shared our names and where we came from.  Some from Wisconsin, another from Florida, Colorado and Glendora, CA.  They all enjoyed their first day and were ready for day two.

This day we were able to go to another area of the set.  As a fan of The Chosen you find yourself looking around to remember what the actors were doing on that set, which was way cool.  This scene had us walking and cutting in and out of each other, up steps, and a ramp too.  Great to be moving for sure.  The actors, Jesus and his 12 disciples were in a hallway spread out on the steps as we all walked in the courtyard behind them. Occasionally, they would look our way and give us a quick smile but they had to stay in character.  We had a great time doing that scene repeatedly until they yelled that’s a wrap! We heard words like quiet, action, background (which was our que to start moving) and cut.  During the scene that was filmed for over 3 days we all got to say either Messiah or Hosanna.  We also clapped, said boo, and hissed.  It was neat to lend our voices and hand and arm movement. Lunch is always a great break.  Meeting new folks. On this day we met two couples both from Las Vegas and one of the gentlemen works at Excalibur handling the horses for the Medieval Times and he offered us to come see the show for free.  We will one day do that.  They told us at lunch that they would be doing a special scene at the end of the day if we wanted to stay to be part of it.  Most hands were raised so I bet they would have enough of us to hang back for that.

Back to the set to get into the areas that Mitch Hudson would assign us for that scene and my friend Christina was able to stand right next to some of the actors. If this scene is used, we will be able to see her, which would be awesome.  She said that her feet and legs were getting tired, but she knew she had to stay put.  Mitch would spend some time when they said “cut” to reposition the extras and then go back and look at the tv screen.  He asked her and a couple of the other extras their name so he could call them by their name, and I thought that was awesome. Way to go Mitch.  I stood off to the side and was so proud of her standing there and moving her head and looking so natural as an extra!  The extra scene we got to be part of was neat, but we can’t talk about the scenes, but you all will love Season 5. I believe our scenes are from Episode two or three.  We will keep you posted about that next year!  Our day ended at 8:00pm which made for a long day and they had a hot meal for us of pieces of barbeque chicken with scalloped potatoes, another delicious hot meal.  Back the hotel to prepare for another night of well-deserved rest.

Day three, Friday, May 3, which just happened to be my 64th birthday and what a way to spend my birthday than on the set of The Chosen Season 5.  Best birthday present ever!  Before we would go to sleep the night before, we would look at the forecast for the next day. So, on Thursday night it showed a 1% chance of rain, so we were good with that. Surprise! 5:30am when we woke up, I looked outside and saw it was wet and raining. WHAT?  We did not bring an umbrella because the forecast did not show any rain for the four days we would be there.  We got dressed for the day and headed to the Walmart that was just across the way from our hotel.  They opened at 6am and we grabbed a poncho, small umbrella and headed back to the vehicle in the rain.  We slowly drove to the set.  We weren’t the only ones late that morning. We got there at 7am, took our time getting out of our vehicle with umbrellas up and loaded bags on our shoulders.

I made sure folks on the set I encountered knew it was my birthday. Each and every one of them hugged me and said happy birthday.  We had bagels for breakfast with welcomed hot coffee.  We made sure to take a banana and some snacks since we were told we would have to hold up in the tent since the rain was going to keep up from continuing where we left off. It gave us time to meet more folks and take our time eating and sipping our coffee.  They also had an area where they sold merchandise and had a special T-shirt that was only made for extras of The Chosen and it was dated 2024 with location of Goshen, Utah.  I had to have one that I would proudly wear! Check it out:

Awesome T-shirt that Extras could purchase for a wonderful Keepsake for this Memorable opportunity.

Mitch Hudson came in and we all clapped for him because we all had fallen in love with him by this time.  He told us that they were not able to film since the last two days had sunshine when they filmed the scene, we had been part of the past two days.  He made us all laugh about things he had experienced with extras and us, how much we all had meant to the whole crew.  He said they are working on maybe another scene and to hold tight.

I think most of the extras were okay with having to hold off and enjoy sitting and sipping coffee and other beverages.  That was one thing being on set, we were always being offered water and told to drink up, there were bananas, protein bars, chips and especially sunscreen to put on our face, hands, and exposed feet!  It didn’t seem too long of a wait before they said they wanted a few groups to get ready to head to the set.  Groups 1 and 2 were first called then group 4 and finally our group 3. So off we went to walk the path to the set.  Once we got to the set Mitch had us hold up for a while until he could find places to put us.  Christina and I ended up towards the back right of the set, which gave us the opportunity to lean against a column which was nice and out of the sun that had come out to allow them to film the scene.  The cool thing about the area we were at was closer to the steps where 11 of the disciples were up on the steps. We got a great look at them.  The last part of this scene Jesus is being led out through the crowd (us extras) with Simon Peter, Thomas, Nathanael, and Philip. It was great to have Shahar so close as he wasn’t at the LA Season 4 teal carpet premiere.  That particular scene and the words that Jonathan (Jesus) spoke was so powerful and emotional that it made me cry and my friend asked if I was okay and I said Jonathan just made me cry and Jonathan just happened to be walking back by me and stopped mid-step and looked at me and smiled, as he must of heard me say the word cry. That was a great moment.  Wasim No’mani who plays Yanni, passed by and said thank you for being here and gave me a high five, so our hands met!

We met costume, hair and makeup folks, like Becky and Coby.  Two folks who helped us with our headpieces and had a conversation with us about what they do on the set of The Chosen.  What amazing people that work behind the scenes and who made our experience as a background extra so memorable.

Once they were done with that final scene. Dallas and the cast took the opportunity to show us their love and Jonathan had the megaphone and told us how thankful he was to have us all there on set with them.  He is blessed with the gift of motivational words!  Here is a photo that was posted on Dallas’ Facebook page, so glad this photo was taken to be able to share that moment with you.

Dallas Jenkins, Jonathan Roumie and some of the actors thanking us for being extras on the set (Photo Dallas Jenkin’s Facebook page)

Here are a few photos I found on Dallas’s Facebook and one from Jonathan too:

After that we all headed out of the set to get further instructions from Mitch Hudson.  Once we were all gathered, he too thanked us all.  We all gave him the biggest round of applause I had ever heard.  Also, someone had started a thank you journal for us extras to write something for both Mitch and Dallas, which was so thoughtful and I was so thankful to be able to write in both of them.

Mitch told the red and blue lanyards they could go home for the day and that the green lanyard could stay to help with another scene they wanted to do with Jonathan’s character Jesus.  How excited we were.  So, we watched the other’s head out and after they were all gone Mitch had us go around to the back of the set to where they filmed him the first day.  Our job as extras was to walk around amongst each other as Jesus walked out straight through the crowd and down the pathway.  It was amazing how good we all were at not running into each other or him.  We did the shot several times and Mitch would have us spread out some more.  I guess it wasn’t so fun to hear them say “That a Wrap” because now it was really over for us.  We were able to get those selfies with Mitch and Dallas.  We all headed out to the tent area to grab our hot dinner which was white rice, chicken, onions, and peppers with pineapples, YUMMY.  We headed to our vehicle and looked back and said goodbye to the Jerusalem set.

It was truly awesome that Dallas had 600 fans be the background extras for the past three weeks.  We heard so many different stories why these fans came to Utah by car or plane to be part of the show that has inspired us all in one way or another. Fans from Utah, California, Arizona, Nevada, Montana, Wyoming, Massachusetts, Florida, Oregon, Texas and some I heard from Botswana! WOW!  I am sure many folks were celebrating a milestone in their life.  There were several of us who came for our birthday celebration, one couple was celebrating their 47th wedding anniversary and that was special for then no doubt. Another couple was there on their honeymoon, now that is a true husband and wife sticking together doing something they both love and all of us will remember being a background extra for Season 5 of The Chosen.

This video was sent to us to say thank you to all the extras. Dallas is an amazing man and this brought tears to my eyes:

I found this YouTube video which shows the amazing Jerusalem set during the winter with snow.  I got goosebumps and tears in my eyes from just watching this video:

I can’t wait to go back next year for Season 6 and for a full week this time!

Season 5 of The Chosen will resume where Season 4 left off — during Holy Week before the crucifixion of Jesus Christ. In the finale, Jesus and His apostles go to Bethany to comfort Lazarus’ sisters, Martha and Mary, after Lazarus has been dead for four days. They go to Lazarus’ tomb, where Jesus raises Lazarus from the dead. Upon hearing this, the Sanhedrin, specifically the High Priest, wants Jesus to be handed over to the Romans to be killed.

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