Mistresses Shoot Day 14

Final day of the longest TV shoot I’ve yet done. Although it was for two episodes, it was essentially putting together one long 2-hour movie over two weeks of shooting. The final day was part of a double-up day – the incoming director started shooting his Day 1 and this was my final day. Mostly straightforward scenes that we had to finish quickly because we had a lot of them. Finished up at night with a couple of pieces of coverage that we had to save until now. Spent about 6 weeks with the same people – I’m going to miss them.

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Let’s Play Two

Here we go – directing two episodes of Mistresses at the same time. Let’s do this.

The title of this post is a quote from one of the all-time great baseball players from my favorite teamthe late Ernie Banks, Mr. Cub. Back then, in the mid-1950s to mid-1970s when he played, doubleheaders were the norm in baseball. Nowadays, they are sort of rare, but they were common before the present era.

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Ernie Banks of the Chicago Cubs circa 1963. (Photo by Louis Requena/MLB Photos)

And on the eve of baseball’s Opening Day, a sitting US President attending a baseball game in Cuba yesterday for the first time, and me about to go shoot two episodes, I think it’s particularly relevant to quote Mr. Cub.

While some would bemoan the doubleheader – the strenuous pace of two games back-to-back in the hot summer sun – Ernie became famous for saying some variation of following: It’s a beautiful day for a ballgame … let’s play two!

I love this simple and straightforward quote. It reflects his joy, gratitude, enthusiasm and love for his chosen field – a profession that is a game, and a privilege to play. I know that feeling well.

So yeah – let’s play two. (Cryptic daily updates to come!)

Living the Actual Dream

Scandal airs today!

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Just my family with the cast of Scandal. You know – the usual. (Photo by Mitch Haddad)

Today, I have one show in prep (Mistresses), one show in post (Grimm) and one that’s airing (Scandal). This marks the first time that has ever happened for me. This is basically living the dream. I may not have a lot of days like this, so it’s critical that I appreciate and enjoy it while it lasts. Pretty great day.

Cue the shutter clicks!

Grimm Shoot Day 8

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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.

 

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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.

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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.