On the Set - Consulting for a Television Drama Miniseries (The Slap)
By Don Murray
December 5, 2014
I recently was lucky enough to have been asked to provide a very small bit of technical consultation for one scene in the upcoming NBC miniseries called The Slap. The scene involves the arraignment of one of the main characters in New York City Criminal Court after he is arrested for "the slap" of a child. While I have been informally consulted before by television producers, and authors, for insight into the New York City criminal justice system, the difference in this case was exciting. This time, I was invited to the set for the actual filming of a real scene.
It was fascinating.
One thing that became apparent to me right away was the incredible effort and attention to detail that is involved in the production of even one brief scene like the one I observed and consulted on. A virtual army of crew and cast worked in what seemed to me a boiling mass of motion.
I ended up helping to explain the "choreography" of the arraignment and I was able to correct an error in terminology. Even when I was simply present and not being directly called upon to help, it was fascinating to be a fly on the wall. Watching the actors work gave me a new appreciation for just how difficult it must be to be a good actor, and how professional the actors I observed were. They spent the whole day doing the same small arraignment scene over and over and over again, and each time, when the director yelled action, the actors "turned on" their characters. Anyone who thinks acting would be easy or all fun and games needs to see what I saw that day. These people are extremely focussed, dedicated, professionals.
Amazingly, and completely unexpectedly, toward the end of the day, they asked me if I wanted to be in the background of a scene where one of the real actors was being filmed walking down the hall. I didn't say no. Assuming "my scene" is not edited out, there I will be for a brief moment in the background talking to "my client".
Great day. Lots of fun.
This was a fascinating, if small opportunity to get a brief glimpse into the process of making a television show. They even put me in the background in one scene. On top of that I got to be in the show itself...for six seconds. It's a start. There are no small roles...