This morning, after we read/discussed some articles in Variety (an “insider” entertainment magazine called “the trades.” It’s 1/3 press releases, 1/3 articles about European film festivals we’re never going to go to and 1/3 actually relevant articles about TV networks and what they’re poised to pick up), we went on a tour of the Castle set.
That’s right. We went on a tour of Castle. CASTLE. The hit ABC show starring Captain Mal “Tight Pants” Reynolds himself. Of course we didn’t see Nathan Fillion, because the whole reason we got onto the set is that they were filming on location (and not filming until that evening), but it was amazing. We saw the morgue, a couple “murder boards,” the precinct (which is called Precinct 12 because it’s filmed on stage 12) and Castle’s loft. The entire set was gorgeous, and it was so crazy to stand in places I’ve seen on television.
My classmates and I also got to pick the brain of a Castle PA, who discussed how to get into the biz (the only consensus is that there is no one way to get in, and also that you have to know someone. So now I know someone! A PA on Castle!). The PA (Eric) is looking for a new job–something that requires more creative work, and less fetching and carrying.
After Castle, we got a tour of Paramount, which is actually right across the street from Raleigh! Paramount is gigantic. It’s like a little city all contained within itself. We got a lot of history of the studio and the business, and we saw lots of people doing their thing–carpenters, PAs, tourists and tour guides, security people making sure no one wandered into an exterior shot…
We also saw a couple cast members from Glee! They were busy, and we didn’t want to be crazy, so no one talked to them, but it was kind of surreal. It was also my first celebrity sighting!
Then we got to tour… the set of Community! Community is a second-season sitcom on NBC, and it’s amazing. Joel McHale is the sort-of-star (though it’s really more of an ensemble cast), and the show is about a group of mis-matched students at a crazy ass community college. We got to poke around one big sound stage that was like a labyrinth of rooms–the library, part of the cafeteria, the dean’s office, and the study room that acts as the hub for all the characters. It was crazy. Like, crazy.
Our tour-guide spent a lot of time pointing out the ways that the sets are made to “feel” real–like how exterior windows are set up to allow “natural light” inside, because otherwise our brain’s think it’s fake. I mean, it is fake, but the sound stages are all set up to stop our brains from realizing that it’s fake.
Mostly I just couldn’t get over the fact that I was standing in the study room where Joel McHale (on whom I have a huge crush) was standing. And sitting. And talking. And being Joel-like.
After Paramount, we went back to the classroom and got to pick the brain of a writer’s assistant on a new AMC show called The Killing. The Killing is an adaptation of a Danish show, and it’s a little bit like Damages and a lot like Twin Peaks. The writer’s assistant is a coveted, coveted position, and ironically it’s harder to come by than a staff writing position, by virtue of the fact that there is only one per show (whereas there are anywhere from 8 to 12 staff writers).
What is so coveted about being a writer’s assistant is that the WGA forces all union shows to include 1 episode written by a non-staff writer (2 episodes if the season is 22 episodes instead of 13). Often this means they’ll bring in a free-lancer. If there’s a writer’s assistant on the show, and if the writer’s assistant is a hard worker and not a dick weed, then the non-staff episode often goes to him or her.
It was really cool to talk to someone who had clawed his way up the chain and was now poised to become a staff writer on a cable show.