Sunday, September 25, 2005

A proud moment.

Wednesday night, I went to set to meet with one of the executive producers. To clear up what the set is, it is when we are filming on location. The location is called "the set," and when the show is filming on a soundstage, it is of course called "the stage." I had a hard time finding "the set" since it was located in a bad neighborhood that I'd never frequented. To people who have never been to Baltimore, I am putting it lightly when I say bad neighborhood. Until you've driven the streets of the decayed parts of the city, you cannot know what I speak of. It has to be experienced through your own eyes to believe. However, I had an interesting experience there that I will mention some other time. A pleasant surprise, of sorts.

I arrived on set, just about having given up and calling it a night. It was nearing 9pm, and I hadn't eaten dinner yet. It was an informal meeting, so that would have been okay. On a hunch, I decided to take one more street that led into a dead end. Sure enough, I looked to the left, and the cross street was blocked off by an officer in a police car. Behind him were lights, camera, action, and lots of curious onlookers. I didn't know it, but my proud moment was about to begin.

I walked up and stood with a group of neighborhood kids, including a cherub-faced toddler in diapers with her hair pulled up in two big puffs on her head, and waited for the scene to finish. I heard "Cut!" then made my way over cables, past grips and gaffers, around trucks and lights, through make-up people, actors, P.A.s and extras to find the person that I was meeting with. I kept out of the way of the hustle and bustle, maneuvering expertly when the director spotted me. I know the director from the office when he isn't on set. However, I'm very careful not to abuse that when people are in the middle of production and working. They are under a tight schedule and serious pressure to get the shots done. It's not a time for chit chat.

He greeted me excitedly and told me that it was great to see me on set. By that point I was standing behind the director's chairs and monitors, trying to stay out of the way between shots. The director asked me what I thought of everything and I said it looked great, and we chatted a bit. At that point, another executive producer came up to me who is also an executive producer on a seriously longtime running New York City based detective show with several spin offs. You can figure that one out for yourself. He also told me it was good to see me here and offered me his headphones so that I could listen to the scene as it was filmed and watch it on the monitor. On set, one can listen to the sound on a pair of headphones that work on a remote. It's like a walkman, but you are hearing the actors loud and clear as the microphone does. I put them on and it was really fun. When Cathy took me on set for The West Wing, I'd do it there as well. However, this was being offered to me not as a guest, but because I was part of the show.

And that's when it happened. After the scene finished, I gave the headphones back and watched everyone at work. It was there that realized I was a part of it. And not only part of, but welcomed with open arms by talented, accomplished people who were genuinely glad to have me there. I watched the hair and make-up people pat powder and apply hair product on several of the actors, two cameras being rigged onto a car for a moving shot, the enormous amount of equipment and people at work, and the massive amount of coordination that it took to make it all happen. As I stood there, the proud moment hit me like a mild current going through my body. I was part of this. Not a guest there, but a part of it and appreciated. I watched it all in front of me and was almost moved to tears. I'd found this and pursued it, and had not only gotten there but was valued for my contributions to literally, the Big Picture. Many of my efforts will be seen on screen as they were last season, and earlier in day we had an emergency and I'd risen to the occasion and handled it with a cool head.

After I had my meeting with the other executive producer, who had treated me with kindness, respect, and sincerity, the creator of the show (COS) approached me and we all joked around a bit. By then, the cop car had gone to another part of the street, and the COS asked me where I was parked. I pointed, and he walked me the one block to my car rather than have me do it alone. He didn't call a P.A. to do it, he did it. What a sweet and protective gesture.

I wish I could discuss what everything was about, but I can’t. I can just say that it just underscored what I think about the people on this show. That they are not only extremely talented, but are good and decent people.

Recognizing that I was a part of that made me proud.

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