As with all his pioneer films, Christensen hopes people come away from “Ephraim’s Rescue” with greater appreciation for what the pioneers endured. One scene in the movie depicts the North Platte River crossing of a woman named Elizabeth Bradshaw and her son who both nearly drowned. Christensen said the crossing actually happened during the winter, but they shot the scene in 90-degree summer weather.
“The actors were feeling hypothermia and shaking,” Christensen said. “We just can’t fathom what the real people did in the winter, with 32-degree water and floating ice.”
Making a movie like “Ephraim’s Rescue” can be stressful and challenging, mostly because budgets are tight, but people who work with him say Christensen is able to get the most out of his actors and crew because he is honest, patient and has a sense of humor.
Darin Southam, who plays Hanks, said Christensen does a masterful job keeping track of tiny details that keep an audience engaged in the story. He learned to trust Christensen when shooting a scene that involved a rattlesnake.
James Gaisford, who plays Dobson, appreciates Christensen’s demeanor.
“You don’t doubt for a second that he loves what he does, and that’s so nice,” Gaisford said. “But he will be honest with you when he needs to be — ‘That was awful, James, now let’s do it again.’ He’s awesome.”
Dawn Bollinger, an extra in the film, said there is always a special spirit on the set.
“T.C. and Ron always treat us with kindness and gentleness, a lot of respect,” Bollinger said. “They feel their stories, they have done their research with the characters and the feelings portrayed are authentic. Many times on set we’ve been moved to tears.”
Rick Macy, who has worked extensively with Christensen over the years in various films, said the filmmaker’s work bears testimony of Jesus Christ.
“It’s more than just telling a nice story; it reflects his commitment to the Lord and the gifts that he has,” Macy said of his friend. “He likes to commemorate the Lord in his work through what he does in visual form, like through the life of Ephraim Hanks and lessons that we can learn from the examples of other people. It reflects his own testimony.”
“T.C.’s films deal with ideas and stories that tap into inner feelings and thus the spiritual dimension,” Merrill said. “When the spirit touches your heart in the middle of a movie, as so often happens in a T.C. Christensen film, there is no question hearts are touched, lives are adjusted and they make a difference.”
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