Thursday, May 18, 2017

STRICTLY ON BACKGROUND, PT. 9: LAW & ORDER SVU

It's unlikely that many people lifting weights, playing racquetball, or rock climbing at Chelsea Piers on the West Side realize that some of New York's worst perps are often on trial upstairs.

Not to worry, however, since they're all SAG members.

It was apparently no secret to anyone but me that when not on location, Law & Order: SVU filmed its prison and courtroom scenes at Pier 59 Studios. Who knew that it took only an elevator to go from Rikers Island to the Golf Academy? (And if you think I'm kidding about this not being a secret, go to this site. Just don't expect to walk down the studio halls without your SVU ID badge, or you'll be escorted right out to the West Side Highway.)

My second SVU appearance was also my first ever in a studio and not on location. Finally, I was an actor. Of sorts.

When it came time to shoot, we walked down the hall to the courtroom set, which looks quite realistic. It was startling, however, to see one of the crewmembers walking "outside" the window when we were supposed to be several stories up.

As with Blue Bloods, my part was that of Courtroom Gallery Spectator, requiring only that I appear attentive and, when appropriate, stunned. And, if you're a regular SVU viewer, you know there's plenty to be stunned about.

Perhaps that's why the regular cast keeps it light between takes. Raul Esparza, in particular, is a funny guy, joking around right up to second the director says "Action," and right after "Cut." I wonder if it takes more talent to do that, rather than stay in character all day.


We spectators weren't randomly seated; the p.a. moved us around like chess pieces until the desired look was achieved. As for what the formula is, you'd have to ask her. I appeared onscreen for several seconds, drilling my eyes into the back of the head of the perp's shifty lawyer.



The second day of filming was also the second day of the scene, which required a clothing change for everyone onset. I was placed closer to the end of the bench, allowing a quick shot as Esparza approached the jury. Note my attentiveness.

I shot a third scene, too, exiting an elevator. It didn't make the final cut, which is a shame, because it contained some of my finest work.

The second day of shooting coincided with the presidential inauguration. While waiting in the holding area, one of the extras pulled it up on her iPhone. It's only in hindsight that I realize the appropriateness of watching Donald Trump becoming president while waiting to shoot a TV show about criminal activities.

                                                  *****************************

No comments: