I finally got a chance to transcribe all my notes of our set visit, and now realize that I have to divvy up my report into several parts. This first part covers a rough timeline of our day, as well as some of the places we got to see.
What was our set visit schedule for the day?
Our set visit started at 9am and ended at 6pm — a full and very jam-packed day!
Here is a rough order of events:
- The day started promptly at 9am, when we met Unit Production Manager Kent Zbornak at the production trailer. He showed us around the various sets (see the section below).
- After the set tour, Kent dropped us off at the main stage. For the next few hours, we watched the shooting of an actual episode. (More details on that later.)
- When the cast broke for lunch (I’m guessing this was sometime between 1pm and 2pm), this was Kathie’s and my opportunity to walk around the main set, and that is when we took the bulk of our pictures. We were escorted by two NBC publicists, who were gracious in pointing out items of interest, as well as actually serving as our photographers!
- We managed to grab a few bites of lunch ourselves, then we headed back to set to take more pictures. We were able to take photos of Angela, John, Rainn, and Jenna on set; the rest of the photos were taken either in or around Greg Daniels’ office.
- At some point after lunch, the NBC publicists said their goodbyes, and Kath and I were left on our own. I supposed we could have done more wandering around, but we wanted to be respectful of the shooting schedule and so we basically hunkered down in Greg Daniels’ office for the rest of the day.
- All throughout the afternoon, we would continue to watch filming on the monitors in Greg’s office. Cast members would walk by, come in and introduce themselves, talk with us a little and take pictures. They would ask us how we were enjoying the day, and a few of them toward the end of the day would ask, “are you bored yet?” HECK NO! The atmosphere was so relaxed that by the end the day, we actually became comfortable talking to the cast members like we had known them all along! So very surreal.
- Our set visit came to an end around 6pm, after which Kath drove me to the airport so that I could fly home! We were there for a full nine hours and although we were exhausted, we felt that the time just flew by.
What did we get to see?
Kent gave us a tour of:
- The writers’ room: a really informal area with a large round table and surrounded by bulletin boards and index cards taped to the walls showing various story ideas. There were multiple episodes taped to the walls. A pretty messy place. :)
- The writers’ offices: an interesting tidbit — whenever you see Michael look outside his office window, that is actually shot from writer Jennifer Celotta’s office — they clear out all her stuff, replace it with Michael Scott’s stuff, and film. On the actual DM set, Michael’s office window doesn’t open out onto anything.
- The DM New York set (very snazzy).
- The DM warehouse, including Darryl’s office (smaller than it looks on TV, and was also being used that day as a construction workshop).
- The DM parking lot (also smaller than it looks on TV).
- The DM front entrance, where Dwight gets his badge from security (“Drug Testing”).
- The elevator (fake) leading up to the second floor.
- The hallway where people lined up for Pretzel Day ( “Initiation”).
- The hallway that Michael and Dwight run down when they realize Michael’s accidentally emailed that picture of Jan to everyone in (“Back From Vacation”).
- The actual ladder that Jim climbs in “The Client”. A fake ladder was replicated on the main Office set for continuity.
After the short tour, Kent dropped us off at the main stage, where we spent most of the day:
- Walking through the main stage entrance, there are two offices on the left. One office is showrunner Greg Daniels’ office. Greg’s office has a desk with a Mac, two couches, and two TVs, each one broadcasting a camera that is shooting on set. This is where Kath and I spent a good portion of the day, chatting with the writers and watching the filming.
- The room next to Greg’s is called ‘Video Village.’ It also has two TVs showing the action on set, and a Mac laptop computer, but hardly any other furniture. This is where Veda, the script supervisor, would take very detailed notes on each take to make sure there was continuity from scene to scene. This room was where we were first taken. We were given headsets so that we could hear what they were filming without disturbing Veda.
- The main hallway leads directly to double doors that open on to the actual main Office set, the one we see every week. A red light blinks above the doors when shooting is in progress. Unlike the warehouse and the DM parking lot, which are in reality much smaller than they appear on TV, the main Office set seems surprisingly normal-sized.
Coming up next: The process of shooting an episode (my favorite part!)