Two Mistresses

I didn’t really get a chance to write about this, but hey, I’m directing another show! And hey, it’s starts this week! Mistresses on ABC. It’s Season 4 of the summer show and I’m directing episodes three and four of the season. I just got the job last month so I’ve been catching up on the previous seasons leading up to my episode.

mistresses

This poster is two seasons old – Alyssa Milano isn’t on the show anymore. Season 4 poster not out yet I believe.

The production does what’s known as “cross-boarding” where one director directs two episodes at once. They schedule locations that are in both episodes – say a coffee shop or bar or whatever – and shoot everything in that scene at once. This is the first time I’m doing this, so it’s that’ll be a fun new challenge.

They also shoot in LA – sort of. They film at these newer studios in Santa Clarita in the outskirts of town. So it will be a bit of a commute, but I’m excited to do these two Mistresses … the show. It’s important to add “the show” whenever talking about Mistresses on ABC.

Also, this past week I delivered my director’s cut of Grimm. There’s still a long way to go in post production, what with the visual effects and all. It’s a lot of fun going seamlessly from a fantasy procedural show to a soapy drama. That’s the fun of being a hitman director in TV.

Speaking of the mercenary life – the episode of Scandal I directed was supposed to air this past Thursday. But the preceding episode before mine was split into two (!) episodes. Likely because it went long and they liked a lot of the material, but that’s pretty amazing. So now it’s going to air March 10 – which means “Sharat Raju Shameless Self-Promotion Week” will be pushed to next week.

Now I go work on preparing for my two Mistresses The Show.

Grimm Shoot Day 8

20160204_194537.jpg

Rolling on the river – our set for Day 7 and 8.

Final day of the shoot – started with a couple of short day time scenes and then about 10 hours of shooting at night. The elements were kind to us the previous shooting day, but this night it started raining steadily for several hours. Fortunately, it didn’t rain the entire time so we were spared utter and total annihilation.

 

20160203_213458.jpg

My slate, as taken by my phone’s camera.

We spent nearly five (maybe six) hours on one scene – the climatic scene of the episode which included a fight. Matt Taylor, the show’s stunt coordinator and his team choreographed the fight in advance and showed it to us on video. Then they came to set, rehearsed it with the cast and with us and we set it up with cameras and shot several angles throughout until we covered the scene. So much fun.

20160204_194423.jpg

A portion of the crew, surrounded by fake fog. (These are terrible pictures I know, but hey, I’m not on set to spend time taking behind-the-scenes photos.)

Around 3:30am we wrapped. It was, as it always is, bittersweet. I so love working with this crew and this cast. It’s truly a family – even more than other crews I’ve been on, I believe. Possibly because it’s Portland, but likely because it’s the creative environment created by those at the top – David Greenwalt, Jim Kouf and Norberto Barba in particular. Dedication to the work, freedom to be creative, and an open exchange between the writers, producers, and directors that makes its way down throughout the production.

In my handful of times directing episodic television as a guest director, the one thing that I’m reminded of is how great the hardworking crew people are and how difficult it is for me sometimes to move on and know that I might not get a chance to work with those same people again. In this case, for Grimm, I could mention a bunch but to name a few, Jason Ruffolo – fellow Chicagoan – in his first time as the 1st Assistant Director on the show (was a 2nd, bumped up to first when the previous 1st AD left) and his incredible team of ADs and PAs, some of the best I’ve worked with. The DP, Ross Berryman, an Australian cinematographer of mostly features who made my life easy. And the super talented and relentless camera operator Tim Spencer – who did some of the greatest operating in TV history as the operator on Battlestar Galactica.

There’s still a lot of work to do to bring the episode home (including some scenes yet to shoot and of course the effects), but I hope it comes together and everyone’s happy with it. Later this week I start editing.

Grimm Shoot Day 7

First day on the river bank location for the final two days of the episode. We had one daytime scene and then worked all night for the rest, finishing at 2:30am. Some really fun stuff, beautiful imagery along the river, as well as some fast moving action.

And luckily, the weather held out and was kind to us. Forecast predicts that tomorrow will be less forgiving – but who knows? Fingers crossed. Final day coming up with one big climactic sequence.

Grimm Shoot Day 6

Final day shooting on NE Alberta Street where we had three different houses we filmed in. Shot every variety in each house – day exterior, day interior, night interior, night exterior – over the course of three days. We basically took over one neighborhood for most of a week. Out by the river next, Thursday and Friday.

Grimm Shoot Day 5

Grimm Day 5, all day in one house with many scenes in a basement and a stunt. We’re all building up to the final two days out by a river that have crucial story elements and complex production aspects. But before that, one more day in this neighborhood at two different houses.

Grimm Shoot Day 4

First day of five straight days of location shooting started today. We started in the dark to get our day exteriors and our interior day scenes before the sun went down. It was close – there’s a lot less daylight in the winters, especially in a place that’s always overcast like Portland.

But we got ahead eventually and decided to add a scene to the schedule. That’s the first time I’ve been able to do that – we quickly added one of our Day 5 scenes to Day 4, which means our Day 5 will hopefully be more manageable. We had to quickly get one of our guest actors to the set and in wardrobe while we prepared to shoot the added scene. Thankfully, we’ve got a great production team here at Grimm and it happened without a hitch.

Back at it tomorrow morning. More than halfway done!