SVU Shoot Day 7

Penultimate Law & Order: Special Victims Unit Episode 8 shoot day recap coming up here.

Today was the longest day so far. I thought it would be going into it. We had a big couple of scenes in the courtroom, an added little bit at the beginning of the day, and two toddlers on set. Turns out the toddlers were the easiest part.

But the courtroom required a lot of coverage, somehow more so than a usual courtroom, with some action in the gallery. It took far longer than we all hoped it would, and I tried to figure out if there was a way that I could’ve saved time with different blocking. The conclusion we came to is that it was a big scene and it ended up just taking longer than we planned.

Consequently, a little bit of a scene we had planned for Day 8 that was moved to Day 7 is now back on Day 8 as originally planned. Does that makes sense? Ah, it doesn’t matter. Tomorrow is the final day! A critical emotional scene, the final scene of the episode, is up tomorrow as well as some squadroom scenes.

Oh, an additional bit I learned: Michael Green, the Director of Photography on the show, was the focus puller (First Assistant Camera) on Tootsie, which has, in my opinion, one of the greatest shots in movie history (it’s about 36 seconds into this trailer – I couldn’t find it online.) The shot appears in every Oscar season montage. I bring this up because the shot required a 1000mm lens set up across the street and absolute precise focus adjustment without the aid of a monitor assist like they have now.

It’s been fun working with greats. Final day recap tomorrow.


SVU Shoot Day 6

Very short update because it’s late and I need to get some rest before tomorrow and Day 7.

The main cast of SVU returned today after a week in Chicago shooting their scenes for the crossover episode with Chicago PD.

We spent all day on Stage A, which is the Squadroom, otherwise known as Special Victims Unit. It’s a great set that I really love because it’s very permanent. Other sets are meant to be versatile, but the Squadroom feels like an actual police precinct. Oh sure – walls disappear, desks are on wheels and can move easily and things are made of wood not metal. It’s a great space and I loved getting back into it with some longs scenes.

Tomorrow we’re back in the courtroom and other fun stuff. More about that later.

SVU Shoot Day 5

This exercise in recapping each day of production is actually turning out to be worthwhile. Each day sort of blurs together after the fact, so it’s nice to have a place where I can at least recap what happened in a general way.

Yesterday was Friday, the end of the work week so everyone was eager to get the day under our belts and go home. We had another long day in the courtroom with two very key scenes, both pivotal in the episode. We also had to film one shot of Hoda Kotb, morning television personality, for a reprise of a her role playing herself. (She also sort of leaked the premise of our episode.)

Two straight days of filming in the courtroom was tedious, as everyone warned it would be. But still it was fun. The actors and the guest actors are so good, so professional. I’m grateful – there’s enough to worry about, directing episodic TV for the first time. It’s nice that the actors are the least of my worries.

So now it’s the weekend and I’m doing my best to let my brain reset and prepare for the final three days. I’ve done most of my prep for what remains, so it’s just a matter of gearing back up on Monday and finish up strong. Three of SVU‘s  main actors return to New York on Monday after spending most of the week in Chicago on the crossover episode with Chicago P.D. It will be good to have them back.

SVU Shoot Day 4

Shoot Day 4, cryptic recap here. Slightly less cryptic because I’m writing this the following morning.

We filmed all day in the courtroom – the same courtroom from the original Law & Order. I came in early to do my own prep, and a set painter was there doing touch ups on the floor. He told me it’s the original, probably 25 years old, so this is how they keep it fresh.

When the crew saw on the schedule that we were in the courtroom all day, they groaned and wished me luck. Not because the room is difficult to shoot in, but because it usually requires a lot of angles to make sure you film the lawyers, the person on the stand, the judge, the gallery, the jury and other details.

But on the other hand, there are not a lot of different or new ways to shoot the courtroom. After doing it yesterday, I see that it’s not so bad – it just takes time. We finished the day more or less on time and got some good stuff. And I still haven’t been fired.

More than half way through! One more day and then we get the weekend to catch up on life management and prepare for the downhill run of the three days next week.

SVU Shoot Day 1

Okay, five readers, I’m going to do an incredibly bare bones recap of what we did each day shooting this episode of Law & Order: SVU. Consider these more a haiku-like retelling than a recap because I don’t have a lot of time available for updates. But I thought I’d give it a shot, partly for myself to remember.

Today we started early, started with a difficult but critical scene in a dive bar. It was nerve racking doing the first one but hopefully it turned out okay. We moved to the stages, shot on a built precinct that wasn’t our SVU precinct, then filmed interrogation and another scene in the squadroom. Some discussions about cast, photos, and FX during the day.

A big relief to get the first one in the can. On to Day 2.