Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Reflections, Part One

The first part in a series looking back on my internship.

Regarding my favorite department:
I loved them all! I can't choose just one. I have to say Art was the biggest surprise, mainly because everybody there was so much fun. It's not what I want go into career-wise, but I truly enjoyed everybody's company. Production also caught me off guard. The hours were long, but there was never a dull moment. I think it forever changed my image of an office environment.

Working in the Writing Department was an awesome experience. My time there was mainly spent in observation, but it was a wonderful opportunity and an honor to watch Warren Leight at his craft. It was enlightening to witness him bouncing script ideas and revisions back and forth with the other writers. The fashion in which script structure is formed is fascinating. Warren keeps a storyboard in his office. He pins a note card with a synopsis of each scene on the cork board, in order that they can be easily moved around as the story changes/evolves.

The set was a great place to be. As my career aspirations lie with acting and scriptwriting, I'd been looking forward to my time with this department since the onset. Unlike Writing, there was more work and hours involved, less observation. However, I did get to view several scenes being shot. Watching the process only further reinforced my desire to be in the industry.

Sunday, April 22, 2007

April 22, 2007 - That's a Wrap!

Packed-up and ready to go, I got up at 7 and called Allstate cab service to reserve a car for 9am. My flight was scheduled for 12:30 and I wanted to leave plenty of time to get there. Yesterday, I stopped by Allstate to see if I should make reservations. She said no, as “we’re open 24 hours.” When I called this morning, I received a different story. “Sorry, Sir, but we’re all booked for today,” she said. So much for Allstate.

At any rate, I found another service online for the same price. They were on-time (early, even) and had me there in less than a half hour (around 9:30). I spent my last few hours in New York doing Sudoku puzzles. So ends my journey…

That’s a wrap! I'll be posting a few new entries over the next week or so, reflecting on my time in New York. Stay tuned.

April 21, 2007 - Talk Radio

I set my alarm for 9am, but ended-up waking at 7. After relaxing a bit, I had breakfast at Moonstruck and got my laundry out of the way. I also started packing, as my time to do that is a bit limited.

Tsahai and I were slated to meet-up at 8pm to see the Broadway musical Wicked. Unfortunately, the tickets for that were sold out. As a second option, we ended-up meeting at one, grabbing some Thai food, and seeing Talk Radio, Eric Bogosian’s (Captain Ross) new play. It was excellent; funny, but very heavy.

Afterward, we walked around the city for a bit, before parting. I’m glad I had the chance to hang out with Tsahai before leaving. I’m sure we’ll see each other again, but I probably won’t be back in New York for awhile.

I spent a few hours walking around Midtown and Times Square, shooting movies and snapping pictures, before returning to my apartment, cleaning up a bit, and packing.

Photo Album

Saturday, April 21, 2007

April 20, 2007 - The Goodbye Guy

As I mentioned in Thursday’s post, I fully intended to sleep-in. And sleep I did. I didn’t wake up until 2pm. My initial plans for the day were to visit the Piers say my last good-byes to the crew, talk to John Roman, then walk down the Hudson River Park, as I did my first Saturday. The good-bye fest ended-up lasting the entire day.

I started out in Art, chatting with the entire crew. At first, only Lyle and Harry were there (and Harry was sleeping), which disappointed me, as I wanted to say good-bye to everybody. Luckily, people started spilling in over the following half-hour. I even snapped a picture of the Art Department crew. Nicole and Lyle finally convinced me to stay for the wrap party on Sunday. I’m slated to fly out Sunday at 12:30, but the party is 7-11pm. It sounds like a great way to see everybody one more time, network, and get cool gifts.

I hopped online and looked to change my flight. My jaw dropped. It would cost an additional $400 to reschedule it for Monday. So, the party’s out of the question. I got a great consolation prize, though. Mary from Locations stopped by and said that all the crew (including me) would be getting a free iPod Shuffle. Not bad at all. It’s blue, shiny, and inscribed (reads “Law & Order: Criminal Intent – Season 6”)

Next, I stopped upstairs and said good-bye to the Production crew. As it turned out, I would be returning there three or four more times throughout the day, so it was an extended parting. Maggie (John Roman’s assistant) snapped a picture of me with the crew. Warren Leight even posed for a few pictures. Leslie Gyson (Production Coordinator and the supervisor of my internship) wasn’t there, however.

She’d gone to set. Before going downstairs to see Leslie, I spoke with John for a few minutes. I thanked him for the amazing opportunity he offered me and we spoke about my future.

Down in the Green Room (the holding area for background and also the lunch room), Leslie and I reminisced about my internship. She had only good things to say about me, which (of course) made me blush. Our conversation and the one with Roman only solidified the fact that my experience in New York was an amazing opportunity that few people are offered. It’s been such a pleasure working with the different departments and meeting so many friendly and hard-working people. I’m very grateful for the time I spent with Criminal Intent.

I topped off my night by joining some of the crew that’d already wrapped for the evening at the Chelsea Brewery (inside Chelsea Piers) and having a few (too many) drinks. I don’t much care for alcohol, but it was nice to have the chance to relax with some of my friends and see them in a non-work context.

Photo Album

April 19, 2007 - Checking the Gate

My last day on-set (and the last officially scheduled day of my internship). The show’s filming schedule had already been extended to Friday, but I requested that day off. They were slated to shoot until 6 or 7 in the morning Saturday, and there’s no way I could pull that off and pack and enjoy the city a little more before leaving Sunday.

We were back in the Lower East Side, returning to the apartments used last week. Most of the day was comprised of interior shots within a tenement building, with a few outdoor scenes at the end of the day. To me, the most interesting thing about the shoot was their exterior lighting. As the outdoor scenes were shot (late) at night, they blew up two huge helium balls (China Bulbs, as the crew calls them), with a light bulb inside.

In preparation for the end of the episode, catering cooked up a wonderful feast for the crew – turkey, stuffing, yams, dressing, cranberries, and all the fixings. Of course, as the night was only half over, turkey might not have been the best thing to serve to an already tired crew. By the time they wrapped at 3:00am, everybody was pretty much done for. Luckily for me, I was able to sleep-in on Friday…prepare for one last fling with the city.

As the 1st AD says at the end of the night, “Cut! Checking the Gate… And, on the good gate, that’s a wrap. Thank you, everybody.” My internship with Law & Order: Criminal Intent has officially drawn to a close. Where has time gone?

April 16, 17 & 18, 2007 - Nor'Easter's Last Laugh

Monday: Morning was a real treat. Despite continuing heavy rain from the Nor’Easter (8.5 inches total in Central Park), the crew decided to film outside a coffee shop. So, everybody arrived, set-up, got the cast wired. Then, after standing in the rain for an hour, getting soaked, somebody decided the downpours and wind were prohibitive to filming, and canceled that shot.

We spent the rest of the day on the soundstages, drying off and shooting in the Squadroom. The coffee shop scene was moved to a restaurant within Chelsea Piers (where the PAs had to fight off an ungodly number of gawkers).

Tuesday: We were back in the Bronx, again. Except, this time, the location wasn’t quite as nice. It was in a somewhat downtrodden neighborhood on top of the train tracks. And, by train, I mean the subway train. In this area of the Bronx, the subway is actually above ground, the tracks hovering thirty feet above the road. Every five minutes, a train would come rumbling by. I wonder how anybody can stand living next to that?

Wednesday: The crew filmed in the East Village, at a park and bar. As far as breakfast goes, they made the unfortunate decision to have their catering truck serve food on the corner where local homeless are fed through charitable causes. Catering asked me to turn them away, which I felt bad about, but had to comply. Some of them were hungry and just looking for scraps of food. One man even rummaged through the garbage bin. Others, weren’t so nice (the drug addicts suffering from withdrawal). From what I understand, one person even spat on the cook.

Sunday, April 15, 2007

April 15, 2007 - Raindrops

I’m glad to be inside and that I got out and did something yesterday. A nor’easter is centered over the east coast, bringing heavy rain to the tri-state area. Many areas are flooded or will be, by the time the storms end. As of the time of this writing (quarter after nine pm), Central Park has had 5.55 inches of rain.

One week left to go. So bittersweet. I can’t wait to return home, but I’m also going to miss Manhattan.

(Pictures 2, 4, 5, & 8 borrowed from the New York Times web site.

April 14, 2007 - Hangin' with Ms. Liberty

I got up around eleven thirty and decided to make the most out of today. I only have a little over a week left, so my time to explore the city is running short. After stopping by Malibu Diner for a turkey, mushroom, and cheddar omelet, I took the 1 Train to Rector Street. My destination? The Statue of Liberty.

I walked to Battery Park, which was bustling with activity. Anti War and Bush protesters were peacefully walking around, as were environmentalists. I quickly veered away from the crowds and bought a ferry ticket from Castle Clinton. I wasn’t able to get into the actual statue, though, as they have limited observation tours which must be requested early in the day.

The line to board the Liberty Island ferry was exorbanently long, stretching all the way around Castle Clinton and into the park. It moved pretty quickly, though. In the mean time, a black guy with a clown wig and a ukulele entertained the crowds, asking where they were from and making up songs on the fly about their home states. I was probably on-board within a half hour. Anybody who’s taken a ferry ride to Mackinac Island will find the trip familiar. The boat ride was much the same, except with some truly spectacular views.

I strolled around Liberty Island for an hour and a half, taking dozens of snapshots and several movies. People were more than willing to take my picture (and I did the same for them, of course). In fact, one lady even offered without my asking. Don’t ever say New Yorkers aren’t nice. By the time I got back to Manhattan, my memory card was already full – and I still wanted to explore Downtown! I’d done all right for a little while, deleting pictures I knew didn’t turn out well, but I eventually only had good pictures left. So, I went to the J&R electronics superstore and bought another memory card (2gb for $20 isn’t bad at all).

Walking through some familiar territory near Ground Zero, I headed down Wall Street. Going East, I enjoyed the sights of the Brooklyn Bridge and Brooklyn itself from a nearby pier. Finally, I winded my way back to Battery Park and prepared to head home. On the way to the subway, a man who’d just arrived in the city from China today approached me. He was looking for the 1 Train. As that was where I was headed, I showed him how to get there. We chatted for a bit on the train. He had a thick accent, but was fairly fluent in English.

I ended the evening by ordering dinner from Blue Moon, a Mexican restaurant near my apartment. I had a Mexican chicken stir fry, which was excellent. It was a traditional stir fry, with meaty mushrooms, chicken, red and green peppers, and zucchini.

Photo Album 1
Photo Album 2
Photo Album 3
Photo Album 4

April 7-13, 2007 - I'm on TV!

I’ve been working twelve hour days, so I haven’t had a chance to do daily updates. Here’s a big ol’ update on my week.

Saturday: After a busy Friday, I took it easy on Saturday. Aside from stopping for a reuben, fries, and a milkshake from Eisenberg’s Sandwiches, I did nothing terribly productive.

Monday: The cast and crew was on-location in the Bronx all day. This was my first time through the north end of Manhattan and the Bronx. North of Central Park, Manhattan is mainly residential, it seems. The Bronx itself was pretty safe looking (except for one person who, it was rumored, walked down the sidewalk that night showing his gun to a couple friends).

Morning was incredibly chilly and I was under prepared, leaving my gloves at home. Sal had me stand by the catering truck and take orders until they closed shop, so I really felt the cold. Thankfully, Gary had an extra pair of gloves he lent me.

Tuesday: A tandem day (the end of an episode and the beginning of a new one are shot concurrently), with two separate crews. I was assigned to the filming in the Bronx again. This was Vincent’s last day for the season.

Wednesday: We were on-location in my neighborhood. Local noise (ambulances, construction) made shooting a little difficult, but the Locations Department was good about sorting through hindrances. This was my first day working on the next episode (last one of the season).

The highlight of my day was lunch. I was put on fire watch (basically, it’s where one of the PAs watch the equipment, when we’re on location) in front of the hotel in which they were shooting. In and of itself, that wasn’t very fun, but several people came up and talked to me. One woman, Sheila, visiting from Vancouver, was tickled to see that her hotel was being used as a location on her favorite show (it was her birthday, no less).

Thursday: Quite possibly the longest day of my life. The show went to the Lower East Side and being outdoors was incredibly miserable. Buckets of rain fell from the sky, putting a damper on the crew’s spirits. While I had a waterproof jacket to bring, I was ill prepared for any time outside. My shoes and socks were soaking wet after a few minutes outside, remaining that way all day. As there was a CVS near the catering truck, I invested in a new umbrella.

Shooting went until a quarter after midnight. The morning’s inclement weather didn’t help, and neither did the fact that they needed an animal handler for a dog appearing in the episode. From what I hear, animals and babies really slow down the filming process.

Friday: The show was back on-stage again. And I have to say I enjoyed every minute of it. The crew call was noon and we went until two in the morning. But Harry Darrow from Art made my entire day. He used my picture in a newspaper article that appears prominently in one of the filmed scenes. How exciting is that?

The first scene was shot in the sound stages for the “Mothership” (the original Law & Order). Having never been up there before, I was wowed by the sheer size and elaborateness of the sets. They’re huge (and there’s so many of them!).

Another interesting thing to note – the lighting on stage is incredibly deceptive. At nine in the evening, they were shooting a daytime scene in the CI Squadroom. The lighting in there is so good, I felt like it really was midday and was awake and alert.

Photo Album 1
Photo Album 2

Saturday, April 7, 2007

April 6, 2007 - Downtown & Ground Zero

I slumbered until noon, but decided to go out on the town today. The temperatures hovered in the mid-40’s, but it wasn’t incredibly cold. After stopping by the Malibu Diner for breakfast, I took the 1 train downtown to Rector Street. My original plan was to go north to visit Ground Zero, but I got turned around and ended-up in Battery Park. I’m glad I did, because it afforded some beautiful views of the Financial District, Jersey, and the Statue of Liberty. I bought a framed print of the Manhattan skyline, while walking around the park. Going along the park’s boardwalk, some tourists had me take their picture.

The nice thing about Manhattan is that it’s impossible to get lost, so long as you have a general sense of where you are. I may have been temporarily diverted, but I had all day to explore downtown. I walked north to Ground Zero, walking around and snapping pictures. I felt an overwhelming sense of sadness, recalling the events of September 11th, but I felt I should visit while in Manhattan. The property line encompasses a tremendous area over several city blocks. It’s hard to imagine the towers looming over the street-line.

Across the street at St. Paul’s Chapel, I snapped some beautiful pictures of a man feeding a squirrel. It was cute. The little critter came right up to his hand. I ended my journey going north and viewing the exterior of the U.S. Courthouse, the entrance the Brooklyn Bridge, and City Hall. I also stopped at the Borders at 100 Broadway, where I found an illustrated aerial map of Manhattan, something I’d been searching for since I came to the city.

For something unreal, check out this link. It’s the Chelsea Piers soundstages pre-Criminal Intent. On 9/11 they were used to set-up a makeshift hospital.

Photo Album - More than 250 pictures!

Friday, April 6, 2007

April 5, 2007 - Jonathan Starch Wardrobe Appreciation Day

Happy Jonathan Starch Wardrobe Appreciation Day! You’re wondering what that is, I suppose. I did, too, when I first walked in. A little background: Jonathan wears incredibly eclectic clothing. He’s usually dressed in a bright-colored button-up shirt, a busy tie, a colored beanie, and unusual jeans.

Going up to the AD loft, Zach sported an outfit that looked exactly like something Jonathan Starch, the 1st AD, would wear. I thought to mention it, but figured it was just a coincidence. Then I started noticing more and more people in similar attire. When I inquired, somebody said that I “missed the memo”. It was Jonathan Starch Appreciation Day. Everybody should dress-up like him, in honor of his wardrobe.

In actuality, there was no memo. This was an exercise in observing assimilation, at its finest. Throughout the day, people from several departments paid a visit to Wardrobe and borrowed a tie and button-up shirt. Lucky for me, I had two button-up shirts and a tie in my backpack (from when Nicole in Art took me to the Gap), so I was prepared for the event. At lunch, people from several departments gathered together for a group photo with Jonathan.

Speaking of photos, check out the albums below. With permission from Gary Rake (2nd AD) and John Roman himself, I went on a picture spree around the main Law & Order: Criminal Intent set. Enjoy!

Photo Album 1
Photo Album 2 - With Flash

Wednesday, April 4, 2007

April 2, 3, & 4, 2007 - Perfect Strangers

I’ve been keeping busy on-set. Although I’m not fond of ringing bells, I really enjoy seeing how things work, touring the sets, and watching them film (when I can). When I’m not on bells, Nicole (the Director’s Guild trainee) usually has me on “lock-up”, which is basically standing by the bay door for the swing sets and making sure nobody comes in when they’re rolling the cameras. So far, I’ve been putting in 8-12 hour days. Tuesday was nice, because they wrapped at 4, one of the shortest days of filming they’ve had. Thursday’s bound to be nice, too, because it’s the last work day of the week. The Screen Actor’s Guild observes Good Friday, so everybody’s off.

Photo Album