Friday, May 27, 2011
One of the major reason I wanted to be in the movie was so that I might possibly meet some other descendents of Elizabeth. It seems that no matter where I have lived, I have run into someone who is descended from her...Virginia, Germany, Colorado and who knows how many I didn't know about. There was hope that I would meet quite a few on the set. I did meet Utahna, a sweet, very English looking woman, who is descended from Elizabeth’s daughter, Jane, who came across the plains with her mother. Obviously, her ancestors didn’t marry into the Scandinavian blood that mine did!
I have the dark brown Cranney eyes that came from Elizabeth's husband, Hyrum King Cranney. Being from a different husband, Utahna obviously could not have inherited that from Hyrum. We did have one thing in common-- we both have had large families—contributing to the enormous descendents of Elizabeth.
While we were the only relatives who didn’t know each other there, I did have some of my more immediate family participate for several of the days. .
Thursday, May 26, 2011
The first day we spent in Heber, Utah at the old railroad station. I felt like everyone else's chore woman that particular day. Everyone was dressed “pretty fancy” except for me. I think Annie, our costume manager (that probably isn't the correct terminology for her position), said I would be the "little Welch woman." In the scene below, I was in a train car behind the one where the filming was taking place. The camera was pointing away from us and toward the other side of the train. When we asked exactly what good we were doing, we were told that many positions wouldn't be seen, but the presence of people even that far back and that out of the way, can make a difference in the shadowing and nuances of the scene. The beginning of my education as an extra!
My sister, Eileen, and I-- waiting for the take of the scene in which we are not. Note the man behind us. He looks like he is using some kind of electronics. Probably a good thing that we were out of sight of the camera!
I actually was put into a scene on the train that day with just one other woman, with the camera very up close! With no warning or explanation, I was so nervous. As I sat there, I thought about how I have often felt as I left my homeland for a strange land, not knowing what was ahead. I am sure there was excitement—because I have felt that also when moving to a foreign country. But there would have been tears—sadness at leaving home, family and the familiar. If I would have had time to prepare for that take, I could actually have cried, wiping my tears with a requested hanky for a prop. I can feel the emotion still. I am sure many of those saints did cry even as they rejoiced in their opportunity to go to Zion. As it was, I did such a poor job, I would have cut me out of that scene for sure!
In October 2009, my search on ancestry.com had revealed little information about Elizabeth Crook Panting Wilkes Cranney, my great grandmother. There was information on her son and her daughter. Feeling sad about the neglect, I posted that I had her stories if anyone was interested.
A month later, I received an email from T. C. Christensen, requesting the stories. Elizabeth was an amazingly strong woman, full of faith, who suffered many trials on her journey here. Through all of them, she was an example to her posterity. Because I have traveled and lived in several foreign lands, I have always felt a special closeness to her. This is not unusual. I think many of her descendents do.
After realizing who T. C. is (I never paid attention to the director of movies until after this experience), I sent him the stories I had. They were stories of the miracles that occurred which saved Elizabeth, Jane and Chris on the difficult journey to Zion. When I found out T. C. was going to use the stories and that he often used family members, I emailed a request to participate. He and Ron Tanner, who managed the extras, were gracious enough to allow me to come. Thank you, T. C. and Ron!