Saint Faustina’s Death, Jonathan Roumie’s Jesus

Director of Photography, Randy Sellars, reflects on filming these powerful moments.

When I first signed on to Heart of Mercy, I was looking forward to collaborating on a period narrative. It turned out to be so much more.

Take for example, the filming of Faustina’s death. We were shooting from a high angle, right over the hospital bed, with the camera on some tracks so that we could move. It took us a long time to rig that up.

Maria Vargo, the actress playing Faustina, was emotionally ready to shoot this death scene, but things kept going wrong, forcing us to start over. This took its toll on Maria, but she was a consummate professional and entered into the intense moment again and again. She delivered an incredible, powerful performance that literally brought tears to my eyes. That doesn't happen often on set.

It was a pleasure to work with actor Jonathan Roumie, known famously for The Chosen, who plays Jesus in Heart of Mercy as well. He is riveting in the role, capturing the emotional, spiritual and physical intensity of the Passion of Christ.

When we were filming the Crucifixion, we tried to work very quickly so that he wouldn't have to stay on the cross for too long. When delays couldn't be avoided, it was physically excruciating for him. You could see he was experiencing Christ’s suffering.

Watching the scenes where Jesus was being scourged had a profound effect on me personally, as well as on the rest of the crew. This project has a special place in my heart. Heart of Mercy is about a person undergoing an extreme spiritual crisis, who experiences God's infinite compassion and forgiveness. I am grateful that I’ve played a part in telling this story.