But, before we get to that, let’s go over how Day 18 played out. The cast and crew moved back to Lawrenceburg for our final day. We started shooting early at Smith’s Gas and Grocery near Lawrenceburg, Ky. I know this is sounding like a broken record by now, but today’s shots featured our famous Jeep Cherokee, along with our main characters Jackson (Booboo Stewart) and Sophie (Rebeca Robles) .
After the gas station scene, the cast and crew broke for lunch. It was starting to sink in. This was our final day and our final lunch together. By midafternoon, part of the cast and crew shot a few scenes with our Jeep Cherokee crossing the Lawrenceburg Bridge over the Kentucky River. The remaining crew started cleaning out our production office on Main Street.
Shortly before 4:00 p.m., we closed the production office for the last time. I got the feeling that people were feeling a little sad when we locked the doors. By 5:00 p.m., everybody was together for our final scene, which was to take place on a residential street in Lawrenceburg. What made the final scene so special is that it actually is the final scene in the movie. It seemed only fitting. It was an exterior shot with Jackson and Sophie driving her Jeep Cherokee up a street and parking outside a house.
After a few takes, the crowd grew increasingly larger as several neighbors came out to watch the action. We knew the end was only minutes away. The final shot ran for three minutes as Sophe and Jackson entered the house. All that remained was our Jeep Cherokee over which would role Hope Bridge's end credits.
Soon our director, Josh Overbay, would utter the final words.” It’s a picture wrap for Hope Bridge.” With that it was truly over.
I asked a few crew members how they felt about the conclusion of Hope Bridge. Hudson Barry, Key Set Production Assistant, said, “I feel depressed, but I am excited to move on to the next thing.” Jennifer Silver, Second Assistant Director, told me, “It won’t hit me until a couple of days later. It’s sort of a bittersweet feeling. A lot of these people I’ve worked with I won’t see again.” As for Thomas Green, our gaffer, who’s been on a number of these types of productions said, “Afterwards it always feels like a funeral.”
Joe Battaglia, First Assistant Director, offered these comments. “It sure feels like a lot of stress has been lifted off of my shoulders.” Joe was like a lot of people on the production of Hope Bridge. He worked over 80 hours per week. I’m sure you can imagine what kind of stress that can cause. We all realized that everything was riding on these 18 days. There was no room for error. It seemed to be a common theme that was on everyone’s mind that finally the stress was over and that there would be a chance to get some rest. And, I might add, some well-deserved rest at that.
David Eaton, one of our producers and visionaries, told me this. “It’s going to be hard to go back to my day job to find anything meaningful. It will be sad. It was awesome to see God’s work taking place.” Many others felt the same. Production Designer, Theresa Strebeler, stated, “It seems like we just started, but it also feels like we’ve been going on forever. Now I’m going to have to start thinking about what the next job is going to be.”
Craft Coordinator, Stephanie Kruthaupt, had an interesting comment. “It felt like we were going to war together. It was a shared experience, and, in the end, I found myself hugging people that I had not connected with during the production.”
But, perhaps, Anna Phillips, Second Second Assistant Director, summed it up best. “I am sad. I will not see a lot of these people again. I’m going back to school for my senior year. But a lot of the people that I went to school with and worked on this film together with will be gone.” Anna’s right. After today, everybody will be going their separate ways. And the truth is many of the people who have worked together for the past month may never see each other again.
Hope Bridge was a shared experience that nobody will soon forget. For now there is a wrap party on Friday night to look forward to.
What comes next for Hope Bridge? There is still a lot of work ahead. The film must be edited, scored, and color graded. That process can take up to a year. But, in the meantime, Rebel Pilgrim Productions will be releasing A Strange Brand of Happy in September in a theater near you.