January Internship on the Set of NBC’s “Harry’s Law”
March 15, 2012
Guest Blogger Hannah McDonald (Fiml Production ’14) shares some of the highlights from her January Internship on the set of ”
“. You can find her original blog and all the
day-by-day details on her tumblr
. Enjoy! -JP
Dodge College has an exciting opportunity called “Interterm,” where during the month of January you can either take a long vacation, get one class out of the way, or do an internship. And as luck would have it I had the amazing opportunity to intern on the NBC show,
. So for an entire month I got to go to work at the Warner Brothers Studios Lot every day and experience what working on a professional television show was like, and get school credit for it! It was incredible! Here’s a rundown of all the adventures I had during my awesome internship.
After driving alone on the freeway for the very first time I got to set and checked in. And I was off to my shiny new cubicle! All the people I work with in the office are so fantastic!
Inside are all the offices for people who aren’t on the actual stages doing production constantly. There are the people who do all the pre-production! Some offices do set design and their walls are filled with elaborate plans for the exact look of each room on the show. It’s really impressive how they map it out – choosing everything from rug color to the size of the books on the shelves. Every detail is intricately thought out. Pretty cool! Oh and they have this huge storage rack of stencils. Never have I seen so many potential stencil options!
My desk is right next the cubicles of the writing department and I can hear all of their conversations. So naturally, I listen. Today they were doing something I found interesting. They were calling high schools in Cincinnati (where the show takes place) and asking them what the official procedure would be to punish a student selling over the counter drugs to fellow students. I thought it was so cool that they thoroughly researched the things in the story. So when I read a script I know that every fact and situation a character may be in is legitimate. In my screenwriting class we actually talked about how logic is super important, specifically in dramas. Because if your logic is off and it doesn’t seem realistic then it comes off as comedic which is a writers worst nightmare when they aren’t trying to be funny.
The next department I helped out in was Casting. The two parts we were casting were a 17 year old boy and his 25 year old female blonde lawyer. It was interesting to watch guys my age put themselves out there. Every person was trying to present themselves professionally while throwing in a bit of charisma to make themselves unique. There were about 25 or so boys reading for the part of the 17 year old and guess what, there were two boys from my school there! I kid you not. I walk out in the waiting room and boom! There’s my friend Patrick Stogner who lives in my dorm! It was weird enough seeing one familiar face, but then an hour or so later boom! There was David Ruby! Another freshman that goes to Chapman! It is very interesting to watch casting from the opposite side of the table. And I was really surprised to find just how many people come all the way out to audition and only one gets the roll!
One day I went on a “Tech Scout” which is where, the day before starting the next episode, the heads from each production department go and scope out the locations that we will be filming and they discuss how they plan on lighting it, set designing it, setting up camera angles, and all that good stuff. This next episode we are filming has 3 “on-location” set-ups, but because the art of television is so magical we’re filming them all of them on the back lot! It’s incredible how this one little area has been set up in so many different ways for so many different productions.
Here’s what one of the location streets looks like when empty:
I love being on set. There’s something just so fantastic about seeing how everyone’s little job comes together to create this masterpiece! And the people are amazing. At first I sat in ‘Video Village’ behind the Director and the DP (Director of Photography) and got to see how their whole process worked. Our show is filmed on 3 cameras (brand new Red Epics I might add) and these two guys sit in front of the three screens and watch how their work is displayed making sure it’s all just right. Naturally, since this set has a fondness of recurring names, both the DP and the Director are named Mike and these two guys are hilarious. They act like kid brothers constantly poking fun at each other and bantering back and forth about which way is the right way to do things. But man, are they good at what they do! Adjusting lights, adding set design, moving the camera, and so on, until everything is just right for the shot!
I now have such a new appreciation and admiration for filmmakers whenever I turn on the TV because it really is their art being displayed.
Oh! Also, I learned a fantastic trick from our 2nd AD Deborah to help remember someone’s name when you first meet them. Just try to work their name into the conversation at least 3 times and it should stick! So you’d say “It’s nice to meet you Deborah.” And then later you could say “So what was your position on set again Deborah?” And then at the end of your conversation you could say, “Well it was great meeting you Deborah, see you later!” Boom. There’s no way you’re forgetting her name now!
There are three editors on our show and each editor switches off every 3rd episode. And the reason they do this is because it is such a large task to edit one episode of television. Each day those editors receive 8 hours of footage, yes, 8 hours! And they have to go through all of it, choosing the best takes that fit together best with the other best takes to make the best final product! And that’s just for one day which averages between 4-6 minutes of the total 54 minute long show. They always say, you’re only as good as your editors, so luckily our editors are very good!
I literally got to help in just about every department on the show. From costumes, to writing, to camera, and even to craft services! I did it all and it has given me such a great perspective on what it really takes to put on a show! The time flew by and my internship was over before I knew it. But looking back I am astounded at all the stuff I was able to do and learn and how much fun I had doing it! And now being back at school it’s amazing how the knowledge I’ve gained has already been put into play. Just last weekend I was working on a student film and I was actually able to answer questions and solve problems because of my internship experience! I could talk and talk forever but in conclusion, I am so happy that I had the chance to intern on
. It’s an experience I will never forget and it’s nice to know that I have a little bit of industry experience under my belt.
Don’t forget, you can read the whole experience in more detail in the original posts on
my Tumblr blog
Thanks for reading!