Lee's Summit Journal

Stage to film: Summit Christian student balances script with ad lib in ‘The Favorite’

Hudson Harris (right) poses with Andrew Koch and Amye Gousset, who play his brother and mother, on the set of “The Favorite.”
Hudson Harris (right) poses with Andrew Koch and Amye Gousset, who play his brother and mother, on the set of “The Favorite.”

Hudson Harris is ready to hit the big screen. The Summit Christian Academy sophomore filmed his part in the new film “The Favorite” three years ago, but it’ll finally hit B&B Theatres at 1451 N.E. Douglas St. this weekend.

The film follows the story of two brothers, Benjamin and Luke. Luke, who is their father’s apparent favorite, gets injured in a serious car accident, and everyone has to deal with the fallout.

Hudson plays the younger version of Luke seen in flashbacks.

Although Hudson has been on stage since he was 8 years old, both with Christian Youth Theater and in school productions at Summit Christian Academy, he’d never acted on film.

He also attended the Annie Moses Summer Music Festival camp, which he credits for preparing him to perform the national anthem at a Royals game in 2017.

The Harris family knew Luke Bernard, who wrote the screenplay and stars as Benjamin in the film. He suffered injuries similar to the ones the character of Luke does in the film and wrote the story as he recovered.

Bernard asked Hudson to audition for the film.

“Hudson brought more than what I envisioned when I wrote ‘The Favorite,’” Bernard said.

The audition process was new for Hudson.

“Screen auditions are very different than theater auditions. Theater auditions, you’re in front of people, and it’s very open. You can move a lot,” Hudson said.

His audition for the film had him reading a few scenes in front of a video camera, then playing soccer in his backyard.

“It’s a little weird looking at a camera and not people’s faces,” Hudson said.

As far as acting goes, the biggest adjustment for Hudson was that film focuses more on “a whole lot of your mental expression and not as much of your physical expression,” Hudson said.

The actual filming took place near Tampa. Hudson and his family flew out twice, and he filmed one day each time.

Playing his dad was John Schneider of “Dukes of Hazzard” and “Smallville” fame.

“We get on set, first day that I was filming… and me and my film brother rattle off lines, just nail our lines, and he is just completely off the script, which is hilarious,” Hudson said. “I’ve had some experience with improv … but Andrew, who was my film brother … he had no idea what happening.

“Finding the balance between script and ad-lib — that was really fun.”

Their ad-lib made it into the final cut of the film.

“I was a little intimidated to see him in person, because I literally grew up watching ‘Dukes of Hazzard’,” Hudson said.

Hudson and his mother, Krista Harris, praised Schneider and the film’s crew as being “very kind.”

Overall, Hudson enjoyed getting to see all the behind the scenes work that goes into making a movie. One disorienting thing for Hudson was how a film will take the exterior of one house and pair it with the interior of another as if they were the same place.

The filmmakers also asked Hudson to write out the text of a note for the film by hand to use as a prop — only in the story, the note is actually from his onscreen brother.

At some point, someone on the crew asked him, “How’s your handwriting?”

“And I said, ‘Eh, not that good.’ And they said, ‘O.K., do it,’” Hudson said.

Another scene used Hudson’s real dad’s handwriting in a similar way.

Although he loved seeing the director work and watching how the script changed, another particular favorite for the teen was craft services.

“You could go and get different kinds of food mom doesn’t always have in the cabinets,” Krista Harris said.

Mixed martial arts fans will also recognize Tyron Woodley, a four-time UFC welterweight champion, in the film.

Hudson’s sister, Ariana, and brother, Hunter, got in on the production as extras, and his dad, Mark, who has a little bit of film acting in his background, got the role of a soccer scout.

Being part of this film has encouraged Hudson to try for more film parts and maybe even have a career as an actor.