Sunday, May 6, 2012

Sundays with Sarah (2)

To find out more about Sarah and this feature go here.

Behind the scenes of Film and Television

I’ve have worked on various film and television projects and in various roles from the “Twilight” Series, to “Charmed” the series, and my recent works with series “Pretty Little Liars”.

But have you ever wondered HOW they make a TV show or a film or wondered what happens behind the camera.

Most productions can take as little as a year to plan to as long as 3-4 years, and it first starts with the story or “script” from a writer. This is called the “pre-production” stage. This is where producers acquire the financial means to make the production happen to the selection of the artistic staff like directors, artists and actors. During this process, there is lots of planning going on technically as well. From selection of a production manager to technical director and the crews that will be needed to make the production happen. Once the pre-production phase is complete and the cast selected and the sets built, the production goes into the next stage called the “shooting” stage. This is where the camera’s will roll and the production of the story takes place.

But what happens when the camera’s have been turned off?

Well what a lot of people don’t see are many “takes” and practice runs at trying to block the scene so when they shoot the scene it will be perfect. Sometimes there are about 50 to 100 people or more that will work on a production. There are many positions that the normal person doesn’t see. The actors are usually housed or situated in trailers called “Honey wagons”. These are the places where Wardrobe, and make-up are also housed in addition to housing for actors and production staff.

From the Grips to best boys to the D.O.P (Director of Photography a.k.a the cinematographer) it takes many man hours and people to make a 10 second scene happen. But while the sets are getting set up and while camera equipment is being calibrated, there is also the fun that goes on. During one production I was working on the cast and some of the waiting crew will play card games to water fights to goofing off. These activities are done to keep the spirits high for the cast and crew and provide a boost to the cast when getting into character. Some serious actors while waiting in between scenes and shoots, will remain in Character while “off camera” if there is a scene being shoot right after. In some ways it can get quite humorous but on some occasions things can get nasty.

During one production being shot in Alberta (Assassination of Jesse James), the main lead actor was so “arrogant” that he mistreated those he worked with just because he felt he could get away with it because of his status as a highly paid professional actor. That actor has since been “blacklisted” from making further productions in Alberta.

But Some actors or producers are so generous and wonderful to work with that they take great pride in making sure productions are safe environments. During my time working on “The Last Mimzy” as an artistic and story consultant, the production staff and cast were wonderful to work with and even surprised one of the actors for her birthday while ON SET.

Most people don’t understand the amount of time and effort goes into making movies and television shows. The television shows you see on TV now, most were shot months, if not a year or two in advance. Once shooting is finished, the productions enter the last stage called “post production”. This is where the editing of the shooting will take place, the addition to music, and touch ups will take place. This process can take weeks to months to accomplish.

Did you know: That it can take anywhere from 4 to 10 days to shoot one episode for a television show, and while that show is being shot, the next episode is also being shot.

Like theater, it can take weeks to prepare but only minutes to “strike” a set (ie take things down). And in film it is the same way. Most TV series will recycle most set pieces and sets for future use. But with the advent of CGI, most shows are turning to CGI or blue screening scenes.

Anyways, thats my minute about the movies, I hope you enjoyed and learned something new. If you’re interested in learning more about how movies and theater shows are made, check your local area and look at trying to become an extra for a show or audition for a theater play. You may find it quite enjoyable to be on the other side of the audience.

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