Tuesday, October 18, 2005

Shooting Episode 6

From a Livejournal, an extra reports on shooting episode 6
Day 1, Dated September 16
"Today was a long shooting day.

If you haven't seen the show "The West Wing," the program often features fairly elaborate "set pieces" involving lots of activity, lots of people, lots of vehicles, and "things going on." Well, to do those set pieces, it takes a lot of setup, rehearsal, planning, choreography, and lots and lots of takes.

The two scenes we did today included dozens of extras, two vans, two SUV's, two motorcycles, actors handling cameras (both still and video) and boom microphones, lots of props, multiple tracking shots, and at least one wardrobe change for everbody. So it took quite awhile to get things setup, moving smoothly, and looking the way the director and producers liked. As a result, we had to do our scenes a couple of dozen times to get everything looking and moving and sounding right. There were quite a few flubs by main actors, extras, equipment people, camera people, etc. before everyone was happy with the scenes.

I played a reporter covering the presidential campaign of the character Senator Vinick in the episode, "Al Smith." So the scenes I was in involved actors Alan Alda (Vinick), Ron Silver, and Patricia Richardson (as Vinick's aides.)

We finished shooting at just after 10 pm this evening.

As a side note, I have to raise my glass to the assistant director for this shoot, Shelly: she was a bundle of energy who was going through everything, jumping over fences (literally), bouncing all over the set working with LOTS of crew and actors, and making sure that everything held together. Even after a 13 hour day, she was still on top of her game. I wouldn't be surprised if she was running the studio in ten years.

And tomorrow they're doing an even more elaborate group of scenes out at LAX. (I'm not involved with those, though I may do a repeat stint as a reporter later in the season.)

For those of you who're fans of the show, I hope that this gives you some insight into the time, effort, and energy that the producers and regular crew invest to bring you the best show that they can.

And me? I'm just an extra, a very minor face in the background (along with a few dozen others) who, if we've done our jobs right, you'll never consciously notice."

Day 2, September 20
"I worked on "The West Wing" all day yesterday on the episode, "The Al Smith Dinner." It was a long day and they had me playing:

- A reporter covering the (possible spoiler - edited)Toby Ziegler trial (I'm the reporter closest to Ziegler when he steps out of the car.)
- A Santos campaign staffer (look for the light brown corduroy coat)
- A Santos reporter (I'm the one that Jimmy Smits is talking to during the video interview.)

They get away with doing that by having me wear different clothes for each one and wearing/not wearing my glasses.

In all, they had me in five scenes yesterday.

So it looks as though I'll show up in the episode about eight times when it airs sometime in November."

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