I can’t believe this most recent Law & Order: Special Victims Unit I directed is already going to be on the air. It feels like I just recovered from the return flight and jet lag. But here we go, it’s about to air.
Before we begin, I’m just going to list the guest cast so you can see how amazing it was in advance of the episode:
- Marcia Cross – famous for her role as Bree on “Desperate Housewives” and before that became known on “Melrose Place.”
- Robert Vaughn – known the world over for being Napoleon Solo on “The Man from UNCLE.” I read somewhere that in 1963 the Beatles were most excited about meeting Napoleon Solo when first coming to the US – more so than President Lyndon Johnson.
- Susie Essman – known for her role as the f-bomb dropping Susie Greene in “Curb Your Enthusiasm” and for her great stand-up comedy.
- Mercedes Ruehl – Oscar winner for Best Supporting Actress in The Fisher King (1991) and Tom Hanks’ mother in Big (1988).
- Sandy Duncan – the most famous Peter Pan known on Broadway, star of tons of other things including on “Valerie/The Hogan Family” late 80s series and The Million Dollar Duck (1970) which I watched on the Disney Channel as a kid.
- Susan Pourfar – great actor, recently known for a major and awesome season-long story arc in “Scandal.”
- Emily Bergl – also great actor, a star of the Showtime show “Shameless.”
- Michelle Hurst – great actor, known most recently from “Orange is the New Black.”
- Jefferson Mays – highly accomplished New York theater actor who reprises his role as Medical Examiner Rudnick for the second time ever (first time was on my previous episode).
Phew! That’s unbelievable. I didn’t even mention a couple of other performers who were in one scene each – all of whom were awesome, too. I also got to work with Peter Scanavino (Detective Carisi) who wasn’t in my previous episode. So it was fun all around.
Anyway – enjoy, eight readers! Let’s drive up our numbers by a dozen!
The promo is up! Law & Order: Special Victims Unit, Season 16, Episode 16 “December Solstice” – airing Wednesday February 25, 2015 at 9pm Eastern/Pacific!
(*It wasn’t a full day for me, but it was for the crew so I guess I can call it Day 9.)
Tuesday Day 9 was made necessary because of a previous issue unrelated to my episode, as written about earlier. I had to direct three scenes to complete my episode. So we started out in Foley Square which is the park area in front of the Federal Courthouse and State Courthouse.
And yes, it was cold. But ultimately short, so we went inside a nearby courthouse that has been used by the Law & Order world for the better part of 30 years for some scenes that take place within the criminal justice system but aren’t shot on the stages.
I had two final scenes to shoot there, and then that was it. The finish to production for me was anticlimactic, as compared to the previous episode. This time I finished, everyone applauded and hugged – same as last time – but then they all went back to work on the next scene while I grabbed my coat and bag and was whisked away as Jean de Segonzac, director of the next episode, took over.
That’s the way it goes in television production. The show must go on – they’re on to the next one.
And, as it turns out, editor Leon Ortiz-Gil already cut the episode together! The editors are really incredible at their jobs, just as everyone else on this show. I saw their cut today, gave my notes and now we begin post production in earnest and see the various ways in which this episode will be shaped. On to the next one!
I’ve been informed that we might be up to eight readers now. Welcome!
Today was Day 8, which would usually be the final day but I’m doing a half-day for Day 9 tomorrow – three scenes left over due faux-blizzard/issues unrelated to my episode.
Today we shot in the Bronx and the first scene was an exterior and, of course, ice pellets were raining down upon us. Every single day we filmed outside this episode we had to deal with the elements. It was uncanny.
The day went smoothly with no problems to speak of. Except that we had a last minute casting change because an actor we cast had bronchitis and we were suddenly forced to hire someone else for the part. Luckily, she was also a good actor and it worked out fine.
Today was also the end of the tandem, so a lot of the crew I had worked with during my episode are no longer going to be with me. It’s back to the main unit, who I love of course, but it’s bittersweet losing some of the folks I’ve spent the last two or three weeks with.
The show must go on. Three final scenes tomorrow and it’s on to post production!
(My apologies – I was so tired after Friday’s shoot that I mislabeled it as “Day 7” when in fact it was Day 6. This is an update about Day 7, for real.)
A rare Saturday of work and back on the stages after a long and difficult day on location. Everyone was a little tired, but hung in there. We filmed some scenes in the squad room aka SVU for what was a much more sane day of filming, thankfully. Nothing terribly complex – a scene that will appear in the teaser, another that will end an act, and another that will be begin an act.
Also, my parents came to visit me at work for the first time, so that was fun. The crew and cast were very sweet to them.
One day off, then one full day back on location on Monday. Tuesday there are just a few extra scenes we need to mop up on Tuesday and that’s it – light at the end of the tunnel.
Very quick recap here about Day 6.
Toughest day so far. Was already scheduled to be the longest day, with outside exteriors in 10-degree weather. But we also had to contend with an underground electrical fire which forced ComEd to shut down the power. Other complications with location filming ensued, but we managed to finish everything somehow.
Back on set and in the warmth for Day 7 – a rare Saturday of work. It’ll be great!
Today’s work was slightly more typical than the previous. We were in the courtroom for most of the day. The major excitement came when showrunner Warren Leight came on the set with the other producers and gathered everyone together to announce SVU was renewed for a 17th season.
It was really wonderful – Warren praised the crew, the cast, the writers and the network for keeping the show invigorated and thriving. Mariska Hargitay said some really moving things about the hardworking team that keeps the show going – which has really been evident during this tandem production time. So glad I could be there to witness this.
By luck, I happened to be shadowing a few years ago when the show found out they were renewed for a 15th season. I’d say I’m a good luck charm but I’ve been on a lot of shows that were cancelled, including a couple that were canceled after producers told me they would try to get me an episode to direct if they were renewed. So I’m not – just have good timing in this case.
Anyway, it was a great little break in the work day and we wrapped up our courtroom work for the episode. On location tomorrow, including shooting in below-freezing weather. Yikes. But the show must go on!
Short recap here. Day 4 was the most arduous of the days so far – and I sort of suspected it would be. A few shorter scenes in the morning, but one that became longer than we expected. And then one of the most difficult scenes, conceptually, but a very important one dramatically. (Sorry for the cryptic descriptions.)
Anyway, it was a long scene that required a lot of angles and critical moments and emotional beats. I think we ultimately got everything we needed, but it was a long day. Tomorrow, we wrap up our courtroom work for the episode.
Halfway through the shoot! All down hill from here.
Day 3 of this Law & Order: Special Victims Unit shoot went relatively smoothly. We were in the courtroom all day more or less, and as described in a post from my previous episode, courtroom is fun to do but it becomes tedious. The key to survival is enduring the tedium.
We had to “shoot out” an actor – meaning, get all his coverage first – in order to send him to the other production who needed him for a full day. He was in three scenes reacting to what was going on in the courtroom, and then he took off. We had a “double” sitting in his spot for the rest of the day, but we didn’t really see that corner (by design) so it was all okay.
During the day, an additional scene was added because our script was timed out to be a little short for broadcast. To be safe, the writer came to us in the morning and asked what scenes/actors/days are available to add another scene given the tight schedule and sharing of cast between two units. He went back with that information and wrote a new scene – which we will be shooting tomorrow morning! It’s a factory, this television business.
Anyway, tomorrow has that scene in a filled and very intense morning, followed by a less intense but complicated scene in the second half of the day. More to report tomorrow.
Every day of this shoot seems unique, so Day 2 was no exception. Mostly because I only worked for half the day. I don’t have time to explain why, but the previous episode had to shoot some scenes using the crew – so both me and the other director jumped back and forth between shooting and not shooting.
It was fine, I got work done in between, but it was a different pace of a day for me. After the other director shot a scene in the morning, I shot a short one with one of the guest stars talking into the camera, and then a scene in a courtroom, then took a long break. And then finished up the day in our courthouse rotunda set.
This episode is an exercise in keeping things straight in your brain. Hope my brain doesn’t get full. A complete day of work tomorrow and on through Saturday.