Monday, September 28, 2015

Karin Gleason's #GACrewCall: Department Head Make-up Artist [20150924]

*This GA Crew Call WAS NOT written by me. Unfortunately I missed this weeks periscope session. It was written by Alida @librarynerds. This post was reposted from

*This logo is owned by ABC's Grey's Anatomy

*I am not a professional writer and do not work for ABC, Grey's Anatomy, or anyone involved with this amazing show

Norman Leavitt: Department Head Make-up Artist

*Image Source
Norman is the make-up department head. He's been with the show for 12 years. He did the pilot and has been there ever since.

He's asked what his job entails. Running the department is about coordinating the supplies that everyone needs and making sure everything runs smoothly. Each actor or actress wants something different. They use different materials for different ones.

She asks if they come in knowing which ones they want or if he recommends them. He says they have a trailer full of supplies and things that work really well and different actors will come up with ideas of different things they want. They also have to work around allergies.

He's asked about his background. When he was young, he wanted to be an effects artist. At Universal Studios, there's a lab and he found out that being able to do wounds and such made you more valuable than just regular makeup. He says in his career, he has made up some monsters. He works closely with Tom Burman and Bari Burman. He'd worked with them on previous shows as well. Back at the time he started working with them, he had just one other guy working on makeup with him. He'd do the makeup for the day and then go back to make the stuff for tomorrow. He does the blood and bruising and wound makeup for the show. He also makes the fake vomit. He mentions Linda Klein, who says he's one of the better ones to make bodily fluids. It has to be non-toxic and edible, because it's sometimes put in someone's mouth and he knows how to do that. He says it's best made with a yogurt because so many people are vegan or vegetarian now. Or using health drinks, like Naked juice or papaya juice, which he says has the right color. All the tasty juices mixed together look nauseating. You can make some disgusting-looking vomit that tastes good. It has to taste good because they sometimes have to swallow it.

He's asked if he made Arizona's leg and he did not. That's a separate department.

Must have skills for a makeup artist aside from applying makeup is dealing with multiple personalities. Very early in the morning or very late at night, you have to be professional.

He says his blood is made out of an old-timey recipe. It's carob syrup and different food colorings. It, like vomit, has to taste good.

The best part about his job is doing a show where he does regular makeup and then getting to do blood and bruising and fluids. It's neat, but unusual to be able to do that.

His advice to people thinking about doing this is if you really want to do it, do it, no matter what the cost. Learn as much as you can about doing makeup and go for it.

He's asked about doing stitches. He says he makes the mark on the body and the stitches are just glued on the wound. If they have to make it look like it's being made and there's a guard put in place to make sure it doesn't hurt the actor. The appliance goes on top of that and the actor sews that.

His favorite thing from the show is hard to say. He says the plane crash was days and days of fun, but challenging. Everybody looked horrendous because of the crash and that was fun.
He's asked about the cat man and that was the prosthetics team.

Apologies again for missing out on this weeks session, life happens sometimes. Thanks again to Karin Gleason and Norman Leavitt for their time on Thursday. Feel free to follow Karin Gleason on twitter @karingleason for updates on future #GACrewCall sessions on periscope. You can also follow my random rants @TheAmandaAponte on twitter. Don't forget to catch a NEW episode of Grey's Anatomy on Thursdays or catch up on Hulu or On Demand.

Sunday, September 20, 2015

Karin Gleason's #GACrewCall: Script Supervisor [20150917]

* I do not own this logo. It is owned by ABC's Grey's Anatomy
Nicole Rubio aka Nicole Cummins: Script Supervisor
*Content written below is based on what was said directly from the periscope session in a mix of my words and his

Nicole Rubio is the script supervisor for Grey's Anatomy. She has been working on the show since the pilot re-shoots known to Karin Gleason as Season 1 episode 1.1. Nicole has also directed a few episodes (9.20, 10.18, 11.04, 12.04) and also plays Paramedic Nicole on the show. Karin Gleason and Nicole both state that they've been on the show for a long time. Nicole's daughter has grown up on Grey's, she was 3 when she started and is now 14.

According to Nicole the script supervisor "writes down everything that the camera shoots for the editor so that the editor can put it together later on." Nicole than proceeds to show a regular episode script (11.21) and then shows the script she does as script supervisor that consists of additional pages with copious amounts of notes. (Script notes consist of whether an actor didn't say this line, camera was out of focus there, ladder was in the shot here.) The completed script goes to the post department and music department so that they know exactly what lines were cut during shooting. Karin adds that "essentially she is the eyes and ears of post on set." Yes, she helps the directors and actors with lines and continuity, but because post can't be on set themselves, she is the one that is their on filming day that informs post of what decisions were made on set. She tells post what was good or bad of each take, or how the beginning of a take was good but not the end, etc.

Nicole states that in TV most editors can figure things out when it comes to events or changes on set, but with movies the script is almost twice as long as a TV script so the job of a script supervisor is the same but has a different rhythm and pace. With television even though the script is smaller than that of a film it is faster paced, all the shooting is completed in about 9 days. "TV is a condensed version of a feature." Also of all the other departments on set the script supervisor has almost no down time. For example, when actors are acting grips kind of sit around and when the lighting department is doing their thing actors have their down time, etc. However, script supervisor always has something to do, they don't get to sit around.

The script supervisor position is important because part of her job is to make sure all the shots needed for the day were done because they're not going back to pick it up. At the end of a day the set dresser and construction break down the set and prepare for the next scene. It's almost impossible to go back and fix, but sometimes re-shoots are needed. Nicole states that in 12 years that has only happened about 3 times.

How did you become a script supervisor?
She started in the business as an actor, she worked doing commercials and small parts. She was introduced to the position through a long time friend Dawn Gilliam who is the script supervisor for JJ Abrams. They met when Nicole was a Los Angeles Raiders cheerleader and Dawn was a Los Angeles Rams cheerleader. One day Nicole showed up for a job and Dawn was the script supervisor. After that Nicole thought "wow that is a really interesting job and I love all the responsibilities that you have and being able to sit, watch, and learn." Nicole then asked Dawn to show her the ropes and she learned on the set of Tales from the Hood (1995). After that producers got to know her and they hired her for their movie Sprung (1997) and she has been working ever since. Karin adds "it's an interesting job because you have to learn by doing, you have your task but you need to find your own rhythm to get things going." On Nicole's first solo job she didn't think she could do it but Dawn told her to give it time and that she just has to train her brain to be on all the time. She gave it time and formed her own system of doing the job. For example, while a camera lens is being changed you clean this up, tell that person a line, you come back you tell the sound department about a line change, go tell the property department that a cup in the shot was half full, and this and that until you get back to your chair and their rolling.

Having done acting, directing, and script supervising do you have a preference?
"They all excite me in different ways." Nicole then adds an anecdote of how she got the part as Paramedic Nicole. One day someone forgot to cast a paramedic and Executive Producer Rob Corn came into "video village" asking everyone to say the required line. Everyone was basically auditioning in video village and he even asked his 12 year old son he was so panicked and Nicole said the line and he was like "you're hired go do it." Even though she was working as an actor she was still running around doing her script supervisor duties once "cut" was called. It was also the day her catch phrase was birthed, whoa, whoa, whoa! (It was made clear that NO union violation were made)
*Photo Source
Do you find that being a script supervisor gives you another awareness of things?
Nicole states that she has been caught numerous times when directing giving lines to actors when they've forgotten it even though it's the script supervisor's job, that skill doesn't turn off. The attention to detail and communication skill that is required as a script supervisor is especially useful when dealing with someone who doesn't know their lines or needs guidance. She is trained to look at the lines, the action, and be aware of it all.

Do you think if you hadn't been script supervisor, if you had stayed being an actor, would you have segued into directing?
Being a script supervisor made her aware on set, but she was always interested in directing. Nicole describes that sometimes with being an actor you get pigeonholed. You get put into an "actor box," even though there are many actors who have directed successful productions. With all that said Nicole states that her answer is "I don't think I'd be directing if I was just still acting."
*Photo belongs to ABC & its affiliates
What are skills needed for the job?
In this job you have to be able to think for at least 18 hours a day, be organized, focused, be a people person, punctual, and jokingly have a strong bladder. Nicole states that your heart really has to be in it. She recommends that if you know anyone in the business that you shadow and intern not just her department, but all departments (hair & make-up, property, sound, etc)

How much did you like the flash mob episode (9.23)?
"It was the best!" It was long days with long rehearsals, but she was dancing alongside people who've danced with Michael Jackson. After it was done she was super sore, but she really liked it.

Best thing about your job?
Everything changes, the job is the same but everyday comes with a different situation and new way to deal with it. You never know what your going to get from guest actors, some are just amazing. The best part is the ever changing not knowing what you're going to get and being up for it.

Any advice for anyone trying to get into your profession?
Her advice is to learn it all, and keep it fresh. Learn all you can about all the working parts of a production. Also to explore all the different professions and people around you.

Where did you go to school?
Nicole did not go to film school. She learned all she knows while working on set. What you learn in film school she learned while on set as an actor and working with Dawn as a script supervisor.

At the end of the video Karin Gleason assures viewers that she will continue doing #GACrewCall sessions even after the premiere of the show and hopes to re-interview some of the crew to discuss things that couldn't be discussed before in order to prevent spoilers.

Thanks again to Karin Gleason and Nicole Rubio for their time today. Feel free to follow Karin Gleason on twitter at @karingleason for updates on future #GACrewCall sessions on periscope. You can also follow Nicole Rubio at @myfriendnicole or you can follow my random rants at @TheAmandaAponte! Feel free to leave comments below.

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Karin Gleason's #GACrewCall: Unit Production Manager [20150910]

*I do not own this logo. It is owned by ABC's Grey's Anatomy
*I am not a professional writer and do not work for ABC, Grey's Anatomy, or anyone involved with this amazing show.

Chris Hayden: Unit Production Manager
*Content written below is based on what was said directly from the periscope session in a mix of my words and his.

This season of Grey's Anatomy (season 12) Chris Hayden has taken on the role of Unit Production Manager (UPM). The UPM "looks over budgets." They hold on to the budget and make sure the money is being spent wisely. It is a union job that falls under the Directors Guild of America (DGA).

Chris has been working on Grey's Anatomy for 12 years. He started working not on the original pilot but during the pilot re-shoots (when Justin Chambers was added to the cast). He has been working as an Assistant Director (AD) until this year when he became the UPM. He has also directed 2 episodes of Grey's Anatomy, one of which was split into two episodes ("Throwing It All Away" 10.15, "She's Leaving Home" 11.22) and is set to direct another episode in season 12.

How did you get into your field?
Chris was born and raised in Los Angeles, California. He majored in Philosophy from the University of California, Berkeley. He started doing entry level jobs in TV commercials. After doing that for a few years and getting into the DGA he worked as the 2nd assistant director on commercials then television shows. The first show he worked on was The Pretenders (NBC) for 3 seasons and then worked as 1st assistant director for a year. He also worked on The Shield (FX) for a few seasons and the movie Hustle and Flow until he got to where he is now.

How does being an AD differ from being a UPM?
Chris states that they are very different from each other. As an AD he is out with the crew working on set getting the shots needed for the episode and as the UPM he stays in his office looking at budget reports, reviewing where the network money is being spent. He looks over preliminary call sheets to see what money will be spent the following day such as wood, boards, linoleum, etc. He jokes how his job is the most glamorous on set. However, even though it isn't the most exciting job it is a necessary job. He states how his philosophy degree has helped him, western philosophy has lots to do with rigorous analytical thinking which has helped him in his job. As a UPM he supports the director by making sure they get what they need to get the best shots. He has to find the most efficient way to get the story told.

What are must have skills?
Chris states that you need to be analytical, logical, and have an easy to write signature to prevent writers cramp. He works closely with the accountant to crunch numbers but it would help to have knowledge/experience with budgets.

What is the best part of your job?
After so many years on set he has a bigger image of what goes on to make a project work. Chris recalls when he worked as a director, how he was so nervous and how different it was from what he has ever done before. He adds that he considers it a fun experience now that the episodes are done. He has worked on both the creative side of a production and now working on the efficiency side which all in all is what he considers the best part of his job, seeing all the working parts of a whole.

What is your favorite Grey's Anatomy episode?
Chris and Karin discuss how with so many episodes they all tend to blend. Chris states that despite how difficult it was to film he really enjoyed the Thanksgiving episode with Burke ("Thanks for the Memories 2.09) He really liked the bomb episodes ("It's the End of the World " 2.16, "As We Know It" 2.17) and working with executive producer Peter Horton. Another favorite was the two part ferry boat episodes ("Walk On Water" 3.15, "Drowning On Dry Land" 3.16). He adds an anecdote about a guy on set dressed as a firefighter that had his knee pop out of its socket. He was cool about the whole situation and had it popped back into place and came back to work the next day fine.

Any advice for someone wanting to go into your field?
Chris Hayden states that he never went to film school and he doesn't thing it is required. He states that in order to be proficient at something you have to do it everyday. It's something that needs continuous practice. His first job ever was a Sunkist commercial that a friend got him one day of work on. He knew that he didn't have experience on sets or had knowledge about equipment but what he did have was strength, he was smart, and he had hustle. He remembered how the other production assistance were telling him to slow down because they were making them look bad. But in this business you have to "up your game or get out of the way."

What was the most expensive episode?
It was determined that the gala event which so happens to be the 200th episode ("Puttin' On the Ritz" 10.04) was the most expensive stand-alone episode. It cost more because of the many extras, the circus performers, and formal wear cost more than street clothes. However the ferry boat episode was costly with the use of green screen and the extras but because it was a multi part episode they spread the budget between the episodes. The musical episode ("Song Beneath the Song" 7.18) was also costly because they had actors on set more time to rehearse, had to hire another team to manage the musical music, and a team to prerecord the music.

*I do not own this content. It is placed to show the viewer the content of the ep that made it costly.

Thanks again to Karin Gleason and Chris Hayden for their time on Thursday. Feel free to follow Karin Gleason on twitter at @karingleason for updates on future #GACrewCall sessions on periscope or you can follow my random rants at @TheAmandaAponte! (Does not look like Chris has a twitter or social media account.) AND don't forget to watch Grey's Anatomy's season 12 premiere on September 24th on ABC.

Friday, September 4, 2015

Karin Gleason's #GACrewCall: Property Master Angela Whiting [20150903]

*I do not own this logo. It is owned by ABC's Grey's Anatomy
*I am not a professional writer and do not work for ABC, Grey's Anatomy, or anyone involved with this amazing show.

Angela Whiting: Property Master
*Content written below is based on what was said directly from the periscope session in a mix of my words and hers.
Angela is the property master for the ABC drama Grey's Anatomy. She began the job during season 2 after Ryan Blank moved on from Property Master to Video Playback Operator.

The most basic explanation for what a property master does is that they are in charge of everything that the actors touch. However, it is more involved than just that. The most incomprehensible things are props such as license plates, certain costume jewelry, food, pens, badges, watches, etc. Angela explains that when envisioning what props are needed for a scene you have to imagine the scene as a whole ("the world off the page"), not just the certain objects in a characters hands like a scalpel for surgery. For example, if actors are having a park picnic scene (imagine little Bailey's birthday party in ep 10.17) you have to imagine what is going on in the background. Like the people playing softball, or kids playing Frisbee, or someone walking a dog, or lady jogging with her ear buds and water bottle. You have to imagine and prepare for everything around the subject as well as the subject itself, and anticipate for things that can come up unexpectedly. For example, Angela states how one time "horse pucky" also known as horse feces was needed last minute for a scene she was working on and she had to get some (fortunately they were at a horse stable) and she scooped some up into a cooler and made it work. "The glamour never stops"
*Photos are brought to you  by Angela Whiting herself.

How did you become a prop master?
Angela states that, "I love the movies." She got a Bachelor of Fine Arts from the University of California, Santa Barbara and then moved to Los Angeles, California because she was fascinated by how movies were made, the physical production aspect of movies. In LA, "I worked doing everything except for wearing a sandwich board." She worked selling advertising for a trade paper, worked as an arts and entertainment journalist for a now defunct (no longer existing) paper, she worked for a talent representative and development company, and then eventually began working for a FOX producer, Robert Lawrence. Lawrence got Angela a job as a Production Assistant (PA) and there she met people who wanted to do props. They all banded together and figured out how to get into the props part of the film industry. In other words she knew she wanted to work in the film industry but just didn't know what part just yet until she started in props. Since her degree was an academic degree and she didn't have any production experience she did all she could to learn as much as possible about the collaborative process of filmmaking.

Karin Gleason then adds that when working at a lower production level, and work with so many people, a person can see all the aspects and learn what they don't want to do on set. This is exactly what happened with Angela. Robert Lawrence was a project developer and she knew that it wasn't what she wanted to be doing. After working for him for a few years she took time off to travel for six months to Australia and when she got back she got a call from him about a project that got green lit. She goes on explaining that even though you may not be working doing something your passionate about at the moment make it known what you do want to work on and you just might get that magical phone call to do it.

What are some must have skills for a Props Master?
Patience, flexibility, and imagination are some of the few things Angela highlighted. She goes on explaining that you have to be able to "role with the changes." Many of the props are the product of ideas made from different people (color, shape, size). Angela has to take the decisions and make things or have things made based on their wants and recommendations. Also when a situation arises you have to have "instantaneous problem solving" skills as well as know who to call when you need to have something made. Angela adds how some challenges arise when you have to create pus, mucus, or vomit and make it look as realistic as possible, but user friendly to where the cast and crew aren't cringing with the smell which is where the craftiness and imagination skills come in handy.

 "Props are a small piece of a bigger machine, props are there to tell the story and move the story forward. You have to make sure your piece of the story integrates seamlessly."

Do you have a favorite prop?
Angela states that she can't choose because she loves them all. Although, in this upcoming season there is one that she is very proud of (she can't say what it is but will tweet about it when it airs). Because a lot of the props are procured by shopping or having it manufactured she got so happy with this particular prop because she made it herself. She states how the fun props are the ones where you sit at your desk for hours trying to craft it; a combination of art, crafting, and writing.

*Photo brought to you by Angela Whiting

What is the best part of your job?
Angela states that their are three things that she loves most about her job. First, she loves how every day there is something different, every script is different. Sure, you come to the same place with the same stages but there is always a new obstacle to overcome. She also adds that it doubles as a downside because she never knows what's going to happen. Secondly, she loves the collaboration. She loves working with other people. "I take great pleasure in accomplishing goals with other people that are often complicated and pressure filled." Lastly, she loves representing the science. She explains how a few seasons ago there was scene in a stem cell lab where it was written in the script that a character (Dr. Alex Karev) was creating a trachea from stem cells [7.06]. However in the script all it said was "[Karev] was working in the stem cell lab." Therefore, Angela as well as Linda Klein (Medical Producer), Jason Gustafson (Special Effects Coordinator), and Nicole Cramer (Set Decorator) had to figure out what exactly he would do while "working in the lab" in order to make it as realistic as possible. They did tons of research and watched many TED Talks to figure out the phases of creating the trachea. About two weeks later she got a knock on her door from the doctor, "stem cell [trachea] guy," who she based the scene. She brought out the shoe box with the prop in it and showed it to him and he said "that's exactly how it looked in the lab." She takes the science seriously and for the actual doctor who pioneered the science to say her hot glue and clay made trachea looked real, it made her really happy. "That's a good day at the office."
*Photo belongs to ABC

How did you make the lifelike pigs used in a number of episodes?
Angela didn't make them herself she worked with a prosthetic company (Legacy Effects) to make it. They build big animatronic animals with organs to go inside. NO REAL ANIMALS ARE HARMED OR USED IN THE MAKING OF THE EPISODES (It's in the credits). She also makes a point to add that all the animal actions are made shot by shot. If a shot requires the animal to breathe in a scene that is the main focus in the shot, same thing if it needs to bleed or make any type of movement, they don't need to make every action all at the same time.

Do you work closely with the medical producer?
Yes, both her and Linda Klein meet to find out what body parts are needed for each medical procedure scene (shredded kidney, necrotic bowel, etc.). There is a production meeting and then a medical props meeting to go through all the action that will go on in the episode to make sure everything is as accurate as possible. Other departments are looped into that meeting such as special effects and set decoration. "It takes a village"
*Images below are brought to you by Angela Whiting .

What is some advice you'd give someone wanting to go in your profession?
To immerse yourself in the culture. All of it encompasses culture as a whole so she recommends getting knowledgeable in history, architecture, pop culture, understand character, read books, listen to storytelling podcasts, and listen to music because it tells stories as well. You don't necessarily have to have a passion for every aspect of the job or specifics but love it as a whole. She references Mimi Melgaard (costume designer) when she says this job isn't for the faint at heart. It's really hard work, you really have to love what you do in order to do it.

She uses shows like Game of Thrones (HBO), Downtown Abbey, and Mad Men (AMC) to explain how all the things she mentioned would be needed since you have to envision that time period and that particular world. What tools would they use? What are their weapons? What did they eat off of? What did they drink from? What kind of furniture did they use in that time period? "It's good to know a lot, as much as you can."

What is the tequila made out of on the show?
It is made of iced tea and water. It's a calorie free and caffeine free beverage. All liquor is made out of it because it most accurately depicts the actual color of the real beverage.  

Thanks again to Karin Gleason and Angela Whiting for their time today. Feel free to follow Karin Gleason on twitter at @karingleason for updates on future #GACrewCall sessions on periscope. You can also follow the talented Angela Whiting at @GreysProps  to see the MANY awesome prop photos or you can follow my random rants at @TheAmandaAponte! Feel free to leave comments below.

*Below is a video Angela did years ago showing the many props on Grey's Anatomy. I do not own the video. It is used solely for educational purposes.

Grey's Anatomy Props Department by Schokowutz