Monday, February 27, 2006

Life on the set of [scrubs]

Greetings fellow Humans,

First off, I want to apologize for not keeping up with this blog. It's only because it's FREE that I'm slacking. If I were paying money, you know I would be writing one-word sentences every day just to get my moneys worth. Second, I am by no means, an expert on the show [scrubs]. I am just offering you a personal experience of what I do while I'm there on-set. So don't ask me for any autographs from Zach Braff or any signed photographs of Donald Faison or Sarah Chalke because I'm keeping them all for myself.

So what is it like being on the TV show [scrubs]? In one word? Fun-E!
This is how it goes. I usually get a call from my agent saying something like "Romano/Benner Casting called and want to put you on hold for the show next week. Are you available?" To which I say "Umm, let me look at my schedule... Monday... blank... Tuesday... Chiropratic Appt... Wednesday... cut the grass in the front yard... Thursday... possible shopping trip to the comic book store... Friday... Drop off wife at the airport... Yah, I'm free to do the show." I have to sound busy so they want me back.

So I get my call time the night before and sometimes it's O'dark-early (6:30am) or O'cruise-on-in-later (10:00am)... the times usually vary. I have to pack my back pack because you never know how long they might need me to be there. Checklist: Mac... check, Ipod... check, entertainment weekly... check, grooming products that I don't use because they have everything there... check, toothbrush and toothpaste... check. I have downloaded the script that the production office has e-mailed to me. I read through it and laughed my ass off at the antics they have planned for "Rex". Now, I'm ready to roll.

The set is located on Riverside drive in the valley so it usually takes me a good 45 minutes to get there from home. Needless to say, I always encounter some form of traffic going and coming. Not to mention the inconsiderate driver who cuts me off unnessarily and then goes slow as to let everyone else cut in... aaaaarrrg... some days I wish I had a high powered rifle or just a few hand-held grenades.

I finally show up at the gate. Tell the security guard I play "Rex" on the show and the check the call sheet to verify this and, after a few minutes, they tell me where to park. I used to just go to my room because it's been the same one with my name on it until one of the production assistants told me I have to check-in with the production office on the 3rd floor. When you do a few episodes on the same show, the crew knows you and you get to know them... all 200 or so of them. So, most of the crew members have been doing this since the show started in 2001. So not only is it old hat, it's rather annoying when a new actor shows up and starts asking for shit when they have one line and are a "day player" (co-star).

I, personally, try to be nice and cordial to everyone. However, it is rather intimidating to walk on to a set and act as if you been working there all year. That's why they only hire "professionals". I am a shy person by natur, but you learn to be forthcoming or you tend to be viewed as stuck-up. So after checking in with either Jeannie (the 2nd Assistant Director) or Krista (the 2nd to the 2nd AD... sounds funny but it is true), I go to my room or trailer. I change into my wardrobe which includes a tight long sleeve lycra shirt and a pair of scrubs... light blue in color to signify "Rex" as an intern.

I then check-in with the hair and make-up people who usually tell me I'm good to go. I then head downstairs for some breakfast which consists of an egg-white and ham burrito, some fruit and strawberry yogurt, and pineapple juice. Kraft service on the set has everything so I try to eat fat free because i eat and eat all day. I then go back to the room and eat, watch the news and read the sides to see where my scene is.

Sometimes I'm called to the set as soon as I get there which means a quick rehearsal and then I eat. Either way, I have to be ready to go as soon as I get there. Rehearsals are very quick. A quick "hello" to the crew members I know and the Director, Assistant Director, and fellow castmates, usually the other interns like Travis Shuldt (Keith), Shaughn Buchholtz (Jason), Jordan Zucker (Lisa), and Christina Miles (Gloria). We walk through the scene with the stars of the show and then the call in the second team to stand-in while they light the set. That's when we study our lines or hang out at the craft service table eating fruit bowls and catching up with talk of actor work, which happens a lot for me since all my lines are usually one liners.

When we shoot, it can be anywhere from 30 minutes to an hour of solid shooting and takes for one scene. If a scene is complicated with stunts or different camera angles, it can take a half a day. Either way, it's just fun to be there. Zach Braff is always cracking a joke or two and acting goofy. Donald Faison is usually dancing and singing. The set is light and fun, just like the show itself. Sometimes we break for lunch and everyone eats outside in a tent set up next to the catering truck. Sometimes I work a couple of hours and I'm rapped. It just depends on what scenes "Rex" is in and where they fall on the shooting schedule. One thing is for certain, we never shoot according to the layout of the script and there are always changes. That is why it is so important to read the whole script to get the big picture.

Bill Lawrence, the creator and Executive Producer is always there and is very hands-on. He'll add a line for me and other characters here and there, so it's important to be able to improvise. A lot of the dialog that ends up on the show were never in the script to begin with. All the actors, including the stars and yours truely, improvise and have strong back grounds in improvisation. Thats why It's so important to keep your so called acting "skillz" up.

At the end of the day, I go home with a sense of satisfaction hoping for that next day of work. I'll tell my wife how great the show is and how much fun it is to just be there. The stuff we say on the show is so damn clever, you have to tip your hats the writing staff and crew for keeping it together for so long. Hopefully, I'll be back. In this business, nothing is for sure.

Next Blog... A Day in the life of Aaron