Behind-the-Scene Heroes

The Heroic SpiritAwesome Moments

I guess I should start by introducing myself. My name is Ethan Wills. I am a normal kid with a really cool job. I am an actor. Currently, I work on a new television drama called “Granite Flats.”

Life on set can be a challenge. Every day you are flipping back and forth from being a kid in school to being a working professional that “plays a kid.” As a professional actor, I am always preparing for the next scene, the next day, and the next audition. I am always aware that time is money in the whole production process. Every minute of filming is worth a lot of money, because of all of the professionals and equipment that are needed to make a scene work well. Sometimes heroes arise amidst these pressure-filled moments on set.

Ethan Wills and Creative Director Beth Howard

Photographs by Heather Wills

When I am working, I rehearse a scene with the other actors for the director to see how they want it to move through the room for location that the scene is in. This is called blocking. We decide where everyone will begin and where and where the action takes place. This is all done with the director and the director of photography (DP), and then the crew comes in and watches as we “do the scene” so that they know how to set up lighting, sound, electrical, cameras and equipment. Every single job is so important in filming because you have to have every member of the team doing their job perfectly in order to capture the perfect picture. Sound, lighting, cameras, acting, directing, wardrobe, set design, hair and make-up, electrical — all of this must work together just right in a short amount of time to get each scene just right. I love it because I love being a part of telling a great story and working with so many funny and great people.

When I think of a moment where someone “heroic” greatly influenced me, I immediately think of Beth Howard, the Creative Director on the show. Popular heroes in film (Batman, Superman, etc.), are always coming to the rescue, but are comfortable being behind the scenes until they are needed. This is Beth Howard. When on set, she is quietly working to get the job done, but goes out of her way to help others.

I remember one day in particular that was really challenging for me. I had a lot of dialogue and was working with a large group of kids who were watching me in a classroom setting. To top it off, there was a new director on set and we had just returned from a long break from filming. I had put a lot of pressure on myself to make my part of the scene PERFECT. However, if you have ever watched bloopers or out-takes of any show or movie you would know that sometimes actors make mistakes. Well, I did and I was feeling awful about my performance. I felt guilty for slowing up the filming process and setting back production. When I was at my weakest moment, Beth stepped in. She was so reassuring and made me realize that I had put too much pressure on myself and made it a much bigger deal than it really was. (An actor being dramatic, how ironic is that! Ha!) Most importantly, Beth was a friend. I needed a friend at that moment. I think that being a true friend IS heroic. Beth inspired me and reminded me to be that friend to others in my life.

California native Ethan Wills discovered his love of acting early in life performing in school plays and musical productions. Ethan loves being part of the entire storytelling process and production, from meeting directors and industry professionals to working with and learning from other actors and crew. Ethan has a huge heart for serving others and has worked for many years with Hoops of Hope, a charity that helps kids in Africa. Granite Flats airs on Sundays at 8pm Eastern/5pm Pacific on BYUtv. You can connect with Ethan on Instagram (@EthanWills), Twitter (@EthanRossWills), Facebook (Ethan Wills) and his website,

Like what you're reading?

Sign up for the KidSpirit newsletter!

Let's make sure you'll get the best content for you:

Thanks for Signing Up!

You'll receive the next issue of our newsletter in your inbox