Take two in Belgium

Movie crew returns to St. Mark’s Lutheran Church to pick up where it left off last year with the filming of ‘Through the Eyes of Grace,’ whose cast includes Victoria Jackson
Ozaukee Press staff

Movie magic returned to Belgium last week, and it’s more practical than viewers may think.

“Through the Eyes of Grace,” a Christian film based on a book by New York native Dave Payton, who is also one of the lead actors and a Sheboygan resident, began filming at St. Mark Lutheran Church last November with plans to return in June for more footage.

That happened last Thursday through Saturday, and shooting came with some new challenges.

Cameras had to stop rolling while someone nearby mowed their lawn to prevent background noise, Tara Williams, Belgium Chamber of Commerce Executive Director who helped bring the movie to Belgium and is an extra in the film, said.

In addition, a peace lily that was alive and well in November had since passed on to that big garden in the sky. Williams put out a call for another one on the movie’s Facebook group, and people stepped up.

“I was surprised so many people had peace lilies,” she said.

Some of the same actors returned, along with some new ones. The film’s biggest name, Victoria Jackson of “Saturday Night Live” fame, wasn’t back, but her stand-in was.

Dawn Gadzinski of Manitowoc has just the right features.

“Dave (Payton) looked at me and said, ‘You have blond hair,’” she said.

The back of Gadzinski’s shoulder and head will be on camera.

She got involved because her sister knows Payton and asked how she could help.

Gadzinski offered more than head and shoulders. She prepared an extra bed and broke out an air mattress to house Kurt Krauss, who plays the sheriff, and a member of the lighting crew during filming.

Krauss, who is from Door County, said he enjoys staying in a home with a fridge full of beer and a dog and a kitten.

He became a full-time actor in 2015 and does modeling.

One of Krauss’ deputies, Brett Houdek, a teacher in Kenosha by day and a part-time actor since 2012, made the daily commute from Racine but said, “I didn’t know we had a Belgium, Wisconsin.”

“It’s a beautiful community,” Krauss added.

Another deputy, Katelyn Stack of Woodstock, Ill., is also one of the movie’s producers, did casting and will help with film editing. She began in community theater in 2005 before switching to films in 2014.

“I don’t think a lot of people who go to see films understand what goes into a film,” she said.

Post-production, she said, can take years. She is still working on a film from 2018, and some projects never reach the screen for a myriad of reasons.

“People think we just shot it (recently),” she said of viewers’ impressions of movies.

Payton said the movie has 17 more days of filming, including stops in Sheboygan County, Weyauwega and Oostburg, the village in which the story is set.

“We’re doing really well,” he said of filming.

He said he is taking July off to return to his role as a husband and father.

Shooting a movie is a grueling process, to which “American Idol” contestant and Oshkosh native Franki Moscato, who plays Grace, can attest.

One night can run until 2:30 a.m., she said, and “the next day they’ll call you at 7:30 a.m. ‘We need you here right now.’

“Sometimes, filming is not as glamorous as it seems.”

Actress Diane Richardson of Appleton, a former teacher, said she blocks out entire days when she gets a filming schedule.

“When they say late, you don’t know how late,” she said.

With this production, Moscato said, “Things are going better than we planned.”

People may not think of Wisconsin as a big player in the film industry, she said, but the state is a huge hub for actors and actresses.

People also don’t comprehend how long it takes to film. One scene could require four hours of work.

Gadzinski is also amazed by that facet of filming.

“It’s just incredible how much filming is actually done for maybe a minute’s time on the screen,” she said.

Krauss and Houdek praised the background talent for their commitment.

“I give them a lot of props. It is a lot of hurry up and wait,” Krauss said.

“Without any extras in the film we wouldn’t have a film,” Houdek said.

Movies aren’t usually shot in chronological order, Moscato said. The last scene is often shot first.

To get into her character, she planned to spend a family day with her “fake family” last Sunday, going to church, minigolfing and getting ice cream.

“Some of these scenes are pretty intense,” she said. “You won’t believe what happens to our characters.”

For more information, visit www.facebook.com/througheyesofgrace.


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Wisconsin’s largest paid circulation community weekly newspaper. Serving Port Washington, Saukville, Grafton, Fredonia, Belgium, as well as Ozaukee County government. Locally owned and printed in Port Washington, Wisconsin.

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