Is it Friday already?
Allan V has a Friday Question:
You recently answered a question about why some sitcoms are filmed multi-camera and others, single. What do the actors themselves think of multi vs. single, and which setup do they tend to prefer working with?
Some actors are uncomfortable playing in front of an audience. Others thrive on that. So it really depends.
For the most part, the production schedule is way easier for multi-camera shows. You rehearse during the day for three days, there’s camera blocking and maybe some pre-shoots so day four can be ten hours (although usually it's six or seven), and then shooting day is about ten hours. And after every third episodes you get a week’s hiatus.
Single camera hours tend to be 5:00 AM to whenever, every day. There’s also night shooting. So it can be quite a grind.
But I think if you polled actors, most would say they’d rather be on a good, well-written, hit show no matter format it’s in.
And along those lines, Pete asks:
It's easy for audiences to turn on a new TV show and quickly decide, "Wow, this is terrible." But do actors, writers, crew members, etc. on a bad show also realize it from the start? If so, does it affect the mood on the set? Or is everyone so excited (or in the very least, grateful for paying work) that they just ignore the show's flaws?
If an actor really hates the material going in, he should have passed on the project. And if he takes it anyway because of the money then who cares what he thinks?
Most actors, writers, everybody set out to do a good show. Often times things get derailed, there are unforeseen personality conflicts, or the folks involved don’t have the chops to fix the inevitable problems. (And I include everybody because a bad actor can pull a show down just as easily as a bad writer.)
But generally, everybody starts off a project with high hopes. Even questionable ones, because you never know? Did the cast of ALF really think going in that that show would be so successful? So there’s a lot of wishin’ and hopin’.
When you start producing your show you’re in a protective bubble because it hasn’t aired yet and you haven’t gotten feedback. Once reviews come out and the first numbers are in, that can kill morale fast. Reality can be a bitch.
I’ve seen very happy casts turn sour in one day. Bad reviews can poison the atmosphere, even if the reviews aren’t justified. And low numbers can cause deep depression.
But my heart goes out to actors who find themselves on bad shows and have to keep slogging through crappy material week after week. That has to be tough on the psyche and soul.
The Bumble Bee Pendant wonders:
Do you keep a notebook next to your bed or in your pocket for ideas, jokes, thoughts, etc. If you do, how often to you flip through these for ideas?
I used to keep a pad, but now I just send a text to myself. From there I get very old school. I have a big manila envelope that I store all ideas, fragments of ideas, shreds of fragments of ideas, possible characters, pilot ideas, movie, play, and musical notions. It’s like when you see someone go to their tax accountant with a big bag of miscellaneous receipts.
Some notions have been in there for twenty years. Others have come to fruition over time. Occasionally I’ll have an idea that still has a missing element and a couple of years later I’ll drop another idea into the folder and realize, “hey, I could marry those two.”
But I’m always on the lookout for great ideas. And you never know when something or someone will trigger one. So keep handy some means of jotting down your ideas right when you get them. Because you’d be amazed how fast they disappear from your memory.
Usually, when I'm between projects I'll go through the envelope. Most of my new projects over the years have come from that envelope.
I actually should have two envelopes. One called GOOD IDEAS, and the other called WHAT THE HELL WAS I THINKING?
And finally, from Ted O'Hara:
You came on to the staff as Gary Burghoff was cutting back to 13 episodes. Was it hard working around his schedule? Or was it 'Great, we don't need to find a bit for him this week'?
It was always harder to write MASH without Radar. His character added a lot and because he was the company clerk it was easy to work him into any situation. No one knew more about what was going on in the camp than Radar. Sometimes before it even happened.
Gary was also a great presence on the set, so on a personal level, I missed having him around.
Do you have a Friday Question? Leave it in the comments section. Thanks.
NOTE: I'll be filling in for Marilu Henner on her syndicated radio show this morning. And it will replay all weekend. You can find it here.