Part 5 of 5
Say you sign a deal to film your show with Warner Bros. You’ll need sets. Warner has a full construction shop to build all your interior and exterior sets. Sets are designed and built in the shop, then taken apart and rebuilt on their sound stage. This sounds inefficient, but it is better than having construction crews spread out across the entire lot.
Your sets will need props. Boy, does Warner Bros have props. If the construction shop is like a Menard’s, the props department is the ultimate home furnishings store. It is a very well organized maze of desks, lights, cabinets, utensils and everything else you can possibly imagine that a set might need. Your contract with Warner allows you to use most of what you find, but some pieces cost extra. These props are typically rare or from a famous film, such as these exceedingly expensive lamps.
You’ll probably also need post-production. They have that, too. This is the kind of thing you don’t think about when you’re watching a show or a movie. Most of the dialogue is captured during filming, but maybe a helicopter unexpectedly flew over the set during the take with the best visuals. The actors will head into a studio for Additional Dialogue Recording, or ADR. They’ll repeat their lines and that audio track will be synced with the video. Sometimes on a TV show you’ll notice a line that doesn’t sound like the rest of the conversation, usually from a character who is off screen or has its back to the camera. That’s most likely ADR.
Think about the scene from the Lost pilot when Sawyer shoots the polar bear. Other than the dialogue, most of its audio was not captured on the set. The grass rustling, bear screaming and gun shots were most likely recorded on a foley stage. The music was recorded by a live orchestra on a scoring stage similar to the Eastwood Scoring Stage we got to visit at Warner Bros. The front of the room features a full-size movie screen to display video for the directors, editors, actors and other technicians who are mixing all of the sound with the video on several editing bays. A simple Google image search for “Eastwood Scoring Stage” will bring up several photos of the room during recording.
They don’t show something neat about the room that you see when it’s not working or doesn’t need a live orchestra: The pool table and the ping pong table. Before things went digital, there would be extended breaks during the editing while someone loaded a new reel of film onto the camera. The people involved in the project would play games to pass the time. Eastwood would often bring in a gym to get his workouts in. Everything streams off servers now and loads instantly, so the tables are more of a nostalgic throwback than anything else.
The last stop on the tour is the Warner Bros. Museum. There’s no photography allowed and security guards are posted everywhere to make sure you don’t photograph or touch anything. The second level is all Harry Potter, meaning I didn’t go up there. The main floor features a lot of costumes and a few props from historic shows and movies and some revolving exhibits that feature pieces from current films. Having seen Man of Steel, the exhibit with the Kent’s mailbox, costumes from Kevin Coster and Diane Lane and the Superman suit was fun to see. Some Batman things were neat, as was the area featuring costumes and novelties from some of Ronald Reagan’s movies. But for me, the coolest thing by far and the highlight of the day was the Fringe exhibit that included the tulip note Walter sent to Peter in the series’ final scene. I loved that scene so much and thought it was the perfect way to close the show, seeing the emotional focal point was very, very cool.
I’ve done Warner Bros. twice now and got to be on the set of ER and Friends, two shows I watched religiously when I was younger. I’ve seen sets and props that my favorite president used during his movie career, two Superman suits, the Fringe tulip, the Growing Pains house, $3 million worth of lamps and so many other cool parts of movies and TV shows I’ve watched. If you’re a fan of a television series or movie and you’d like to see where it is filmed, find out if it shoots at a studio that offers a tour. You’ll enjoy it.