On Friday Nov. 2, the Church of the Nazarene in White Stone became both a nursery and a hospital for the upcoming film “You Follow Me Like the Moon.”
The movie, produced by Ron Herrsche and directed by Ashley Zahorian, focuses on Herrsche’s daughter, Mikela, and the trials and tribulations she endured after losing her unborn child. The film seeks to communicate the depths of sadness that a mother experiences after suffering prenatal loss.
Zahorian, who has directed short films prior to “You Follow Me like the Moon,” discussed the movie’s focus.
“The film is very much centered on the characters and their relationships as they deal with the loss of Mikela’s baby,” Zahorian explained. “However, we also incorporated the scenery in ways that are deliberate. There’s one scene where Mikela is standing on a beach beneath the moon that showcases the rural beauty of the county, but ultimately has a central role in the story.”
While waiting for a transition from a scene where an upbeat Mikela with a baby on the way handles a problem between two children at a day care center, to a scene in an emergency room where Mikela fears losing her baby, actress Alicia Bonham, who plays Mikela, described the challenges of playing a character whose goals are different from her own.
“At this moment, I don’t have any desire to have children, so I’m afraid of not being anything like Mikela,” Bonham shared. “The challenge for me will be bringing this role from a truthful place.”
However, production manager Pixie E. Curry said that Bonham has immediately connected to her character, and believes her performance will set the tone for the film.
“Alicia wasn’t even slated for audition. She showed up on the last day and made the hair on my arms stand up on its ends,” Curry said. “When you have people that have that kind of talent and connection to the character, you can’t help but have a great movie.”
Bonham’s trembling and tearful portrayal of Mikela in the emergency room scene moved Devi Herrsche to the point that she turned away from the scene with a sharp inhale, recalling her daughter’s struggle in that very situation.
Devi Herrsche, Ron Herrsche’s wife and Mikela’s mother, wants people to recognize the lacking support system that the mother typically receives from both the community and even her own family after she suddenly loses her unborn baby.
“Well-meaning people will make insensitive statements such as ‘I know you miscarried, but I know you’ll be strong and get over it and then you’ll be able to try again,’ as if the baby never mattered,” Mrs. Herrsche stressed. “A lost baby is not irreplaceable, but that’s not the impression most people surrounding the mother, tend to give. That’s why they hold it in.”
She added: “When I told a 70-year-old woman of Mikela’s story, she cried because she was reminded of the unborn baby she lost 50 years ago. She had been holding it in for all those years with no one to turn to.”
Mrs. Herrsche hopes that the film will be the eye-opener that society needs in order to extend further support to these women.
“We hope this movie is the ruckus that society needs to awaken its sense of empathy and acknowledge the burden it’s carrying from all these invisible losses,” she said.
Assistant Director Audrey Hurd said that one particular instance “hit home” for her as to why the film needed to be made.
“We had just shot a scene where Mikela was holding her baby [Kayla] and had decided to have her cremated,” Hurd described. “It was then that the real-life grandmother handed me the real blanket that the baby was in. That was the moment that to me confirmed all of our reasons for telling Mikela’s story.”
Hurd hopes to see the film incorporated into therapy sessions and women’s health centers.
“To me, movies can be a powerful means of therapy,” Hurd said. “We hope we will have shot this film in a way that resonates with people the way that the script resonated with us.”
Bonham said in an interview that both her sister and her best friend lost their unborn babies.
“So many women have gone through this,” Bonham stated. “To me, this is a film that allows us to authentically share their pain and show that there is a healthy way to go about healing from this kind of loss.”
Bonham added: “If this film brings healing to one person, then it’s worth it.”