Editor’s note: This article is a follow-up to the feature about Jay Heyman published in April 2016 entitled, “Heyman showcases talent as he delves into acting industry.”
Most middle school students would freak out if on their first day at a new job, they were handed a live snake. But for Jay Heyman, experiences like that were a part of his daily routine being on the cast of Hooten and the Lady.
After spending three weeks in South Africa on the set of the Sky TV show Hooten and the Lady, seventh-grade student Jay Heyman has returned to school. The show, which follows the journeys of Hooten, an adventurer, and his partner, Lady Alexandra Lindo-Parker, as they travel the globe in search of lost treasures, is Heyman’s biggest job to date. After getting a role in the show, Heyman had to be ready to leave for filming any time between April 4 and May 14, and once there, be available for up to a month and a half.
The actual filming, which took place from April 18 to May 6, was primarily based in Cape Town and Durban, two major cities in South Africa. “It started off in Cape Town, and we were there for about two weeks in a massive studio which they built everything,” said Heyman “It was all plastic and fake, but it seemed like it was real.”
After two weeks of filming in the Cape Town studio, the cast flew east to the city of Durban. “The whole crew flew over there, and it was pretty fun because everyone on the plane was people that we knew, and we were sitting next to people that we knew which was fun,” said Heyman.
In Durban, things changed quite a lot, as the cast filmed in the jungle rather than in a studio. Whether in the studio or in the jungle, being in front of the camera and working with his cast was always exciting for Heyman, “I think the best part of filming is it gives you the feeling of a team. I like the feeling [of being] a whole team and like a crew. If one person doesn’t do their job properly, everything falls apart.”
Working with the cast throughout the filming improved Heyman’s skill, and made him more comfortable after each shot. Heyman was the only kid on set, and he primarily spent his time with adults. As well as the social aspect of filming, Heyman was literally put to the test while filming. Despite usual assumptions that an actor’s first day will be pretty dull and easy, Heyman’s was the opposite. “Usually when you’re filming on the first day it’s something simple like you’re just saying a few lines, or just being in front of the camera,” said Heyman. “But on the first day of filming I had to do my own stunt. [It was] my first stunt in the show, and I had to hold a snake so it was pretty cool.”
Heyman felt as if the filming itself was a positive experience with no real negatives, but the only problem with the trip was the constant moving of places. As Heyman explained, “the only thing I’d say is a hassle is traveling after every week. We’d go into a hotel, or a safari park we’d stay in, and you’d get cozy there for a few days, and then suddenly you’d have to move and go somewhere else.”
One noticeable change in Heyman’s appearance since being back at school is his newly shaved head. In order to fit into his role, Heyman was required to get a buzzcut. Although most information regarding the show and Heyman’s role is confidential, he did mention he plays a kid who helps the main character Hooten, and that the show is set to premiere around September.
While away filming, the most difficult task Heyman faced was keeping up with his school work. “It was such a struggle. Firstly, the wifi was really bad. At one point we were in the middle of the jungle, and trying to get wifi was impossible. I tried to keep up with school work by printing everything out before going on set every day.”
Managing his school work with acting, Heyman feels as if he has caught up with his work, and his transition back into school was quite smooth. After experiencing the filming of a real TV show, and improving his skills along the way, Heyman has returned to school as a much more mature and professional actor than he was before. It is a just a matter of time before his face begins to appear on screens around the world.