Day Zero

Today is Day Zero, the day before I officially start work directing Law & Order: Special Victims Unit. “Day Zero” is an informal work day, not required at all. But let’s say, hypothetically, you are a first-time director on a major television show. It would behoove you to arrive at the show on Day Zero, hang around the set, become reacquainted with the crew and the actors, and generally get the low down on what’s been going on in the show.

So that’s what I did today. And the amazing thing I discovered is that this is not a mistake. They definitely didn’t accidentally hire me. I was half expecting to show up, be greeted by an awkward pause, and a “yeah, we … boy this is embarrassing… we thought we were getting somebody else… here’s subway fare to JFK, on the house.” So yeah – it’s for real!

At the time of this writing, I’m still without a script (which is par for the course in network TV – they’re putting the finishing touches on it right now) but I expect to get it sometime this evening. They’ve given me a hint of the storyline and I’ve heard some details, but the full thing should come sometime soon.

Then in the morning, on Day 1, we’ll have a concept meeting where the Assistant Director will go page by page through the script with me as well as the producers and representatives from each department. In the meeting we’ll discuss all things that need to be addressed during prep – costumes, props, locations, cast, sets, stunts, special equipment requests, etc. This sets in motion the work for the department in the seven days to come before we start shooting the episode.

The SVU team right now is currently starting a very big and complex episode. This doesn’t affect me directly, but I may have some big show hangover. (That’s not a real term, I’m sort of coining it here.) Other than that, for everyone else this is a normal work day and business as usual. For me, of course, this is all extremely exciting and I’m doing my best to contain myself.

What’s the best metaphor I can use? It’s like going from Standard Definition to HD. Or if you prefer – going from the minor leagues to the majors and being put into the starting lineup. Or, how about, leveling up – everything is faster, bigger, brighter – but basically it’s the same game. Just got to remember your training, your skill, and keep cool.

I’ll do my best to post updates as I go along because I think it’ll be sort of fun to do, a kind of production diary. Of course that will depend on my workload and how much detail I feel is appropriate given that we’re supposed to keep the story under wraps. But I’ll give it a shot.

So it begins. Tomorrow: Day One.





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