I’ve worked on a movie set before, but last June was my first time crying on one. As a blogger, I was invited to the film set of The Cokeville Miracle in Layton, Utah. When I arrived, the scene was set much as it looks in the above picture. The extras were taking direction and reenacting the scene where parents and community members arrive at the elementary school after the horrific hostage and bomb situation.
The mood was somber and I carefully watched the faces of the people in the crowd. Take after take, I took note of their pained expressions – skilled actors had surely been hired. Much to my surprise, I discovered that many in the scene had actually been there in Cokeville, Wyoming, when it happened. Children now grown up and adults who had witnessed the crisis firsthand now played an integral part in the making of the film. The tears that had been welling up before now came down as I imagined the raw emotions the filming must resurface. What unimaginable grief and worry must have struck their hearts as they wondered about their children and friends inside the school. As I thought about my own school-aged daughter, the film suddenly became very real to me. What happened that day and what pulled these strong people in front of me through it?
Witnessing this scene filled me with gratitude that they have allowed their story to be shared and agreed to be a part of something that was clearly not easy. The story of The Cokeville Miracle will be screening at the LDS Film Festival March 7th and I am looking forward to seeing the film in its entirety.
The movie is a true story of 150 people, including 135 children, held hostage for almost three hours at a Wyoming elementary school in 1986. You may have seen the preview before Meet the Mormons. Teachers and students were confined to a small area in a classroom by the hostage taker. When the children became restless, the teachers led them in prayer. The bomb did accidently go off in the small classroom; however, none of the hostages were killed.
Children were hurt and badly burned, but they all survived. Being in the classroom used for filming that was approximately the same size as the original classroom increased my amazement at this story. It truly is the Cokeville Miracle. Bomb experts did not have an explanation as to why the bomb did not do incredible damage.
I’ll let the preview do the rest of the talking:
The film is directed by T.C. Christensen and comes from a line of Christensen’s faith-promoting films such as Ephraim’s Rescue, 17 Miracles, Work and the Glory. “I have two real themes for my work: There are still miracles and there’s power in prayer,” Christensen said in an interview with the Deseret News. The Cokeville Miracle definitely reflects these themes in spades and I am looking forward to seeing it.
My friend June of Simply June was able to speak with several of the survivors about their experience that day in 1986 as well as their experience filming the movie. You can read her heart-warming remarks and about her experience on set here.
For more behind the scenes footage, be sure to check out this video:
It was my pleasure to be on set with the talent cast and crew of The Cokeville Miracle. The vulnerability and the strength of the survivors who helped make this movie possible touched my heart. This is their story and TC Christensen honored that in the making of this film. Hope to see you at the debut.
Tickets are on sale now for the debut screening of The Cokeville Miracle at the 2015 LDS Film Festival. Join me in seeing this faith-promoting film!
Where: 2015 LDS Film Festival – Scera Center for the Arts, 745 S. State, Orem
When: Saturday March 7 at 7:30 pm
Tickets: Tickets can be purchased for $7 at scera.org\ or by calling 801-225-2787.