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  • Writer's pictureChuck Johnson

First time in a coffin

Had an interesting shoot this week. Without giving away too many details of it, I was working on a Reenactment drama about a person, who among others things was given a paralyzing agent and then buried alive for several days… which by definition meant climbing into a coffin in the ground for the shoot. It was a surreal experience. Granted I was surrounded by production staff and camera crew looking down on me instead of family members in suits… but still.

Originally they asked me if they could put the lid on fully; to which I promptly replied “Hell no, you aren’t putting the lid on.” But then it started raining, and as I laid there getting soaked, I offered to meet them in the middle and have it put on but not completely shut it. As I laid there in it with the crack of light, I could see a spider sitting on the wall of the coffin next to my face, and I had to wonder if this were my true circumstances at that moment , if I would actually be comforting to have the company. As nerve-racking as this may have seemed, I couldn't help but think that it was nowhere near as hard as another reenactment drama where I was playing a guy who went through hundreds of thousands of dollars of plastic surgery , so I had to get a plaster mold made of my head for all the prosthetics they had to make for it. That meant they had to encase my entire head in plaster (with nothing but straws sticking out of my nose to breathe through and sit there motionless for 15 minutes while it hardened. For that one I failed the first time and freaked out, and they had to start the process all over. (Got through it the second time).

Overall, this time around was a pretty smooth shoot though, and at the end of the day I actually enjoyed it. If for no other reason, then simply because I couldn’t imagine anyone else getting to have an experience quite like that. (Not like most people would want it😜)

It reminded me of a really good quote I read the other day; “A man who enjoys the journey will always he able to walk farther than a man who only wants the destination.”

And when it started to rain, and I had to get lifted out of the casket and have my body thrown down into the wet dirt, I thought to myself, “This is it. These are the kinds of moments in this career that I will always remember.” And at that moment I stopped worrying about feeling dirty or even being cold, and I just enjoyed feeling like a kid getting rolled around in the dirt. I got it in my hair, in between my toes and all over everywhere else and I honestly loved every second of it. Helps that I was paid pretty well too tho😂

Despite what everyone says about “Saigens”, (Japanese reenactment dramas) this kind of experience (and the fact that I usually get to play the main character in them) makes them continually interesting for me. They can certainly be nightmarish too... and this shoot was the very next day… It was cold, rainy, and windy, and I was slowly walking around outside all day like a zombie... barefoot and in a tanktop. At that time, I missed the warmth of my coffin, haha. Anyway, it was a cool experience and a fun day, and I much more look forward to doing this once the cold weather finally breaks. Onwards and forwards. 💪🏽🔥👍🏾

PS. For anyone who in Japan who wants to see the show, it was World Kyokugen News and it will be on TBS on the evening of April 13th.

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