{Playback} Behind the Scenes

A little over a year ago, I made my primetime television debut. While it was certainly fun to search for me for the few bits that didn’t end up on the cutting room floor (in the computer trash can?) what was really interesting was how much time, energy and money went into the set up for those minutes on screen.

It’s something that I’ve realized makes a big difference for me — all that prep work — but that I don’t spend much time with.

I’m practicing setting myself up for success by spending time in advance of my work periods to know what exactly I’m going to work on, make sure I have everything I need, and get in the most useful frame of mind for the kind of work I’ll be doing. A physical and mental mise en place.

Remembering the massive scale of mise en place that was used for just a few scenes of this episode of Leverage makes it just a little easier for me to do what helps me most.

*   *   *

Last night was the season premiere of the television show, Leverage. While I enjoy watching it when I can, after all it is filmed in Portland, it’s not something I watch regularly because it’s on TNT, and I don’t have cable.

But last night I had to make sure I could see it.

See, back in March, I spent a long day at the Evergreen Aviation & Space Museum in McMinnville, Oregon. I was there to be an extra in a future episode. When I showed up, I didn’t know that it was going to be the season premiere, and also the first episode in which they are officially located in Portland, even though they’ve been shooting here for the last three years, which made it even more special.

It was a fun day.

I met so many interesting people, even reconnected with a high school classmate and learned that Timothy Hutton is even more handsome in real life.

And also a long and tiring day.

I left my house just after 7:00AM and arrived back home after 9:00PM. Being an extra is the epitome of the phrase, hurry up and wait.

Being on the set was fascinating.

But not as fascinating as seeing how those hours translated in to just seconds in the show. The number of people required to shoot those scenes was unbelievable. Cast, crew, extras. The equipment. Food.

It was a really amazing lesson in how important the set-up is, something that’s easy for me to forget. I’m often so anxious to get to the thing, whatever it is, that I don’t always spend as much time as I could setting things up for success. I forget that the practice, the set-up, the rehearsal, is all part of the thing.

The thing does not happen by magic.

Whether it’s a teaching a class, coaching a client, or running a race, there’s so much to it besides the class, session or event. While I don’t intend to ever have the number of moving parts involved in making a TV show, there are lots of pieces that come together to make the final product as good as it can be. And perhaps more importantly, making it look easy, believable and enjoyable.

Want to see it?

If you missed the show, you can buy it on iTunes. And if you just want to play a little game of Where’s Shannon, all the scenes I appeared in are in the sneak preview clip that you can download for free.


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