Author => JustDreaming83

NCISLAFamilia Meet-Up 2013 Write-Up (6/6)

The group moved back in to the meeting room and was told that there was yet another surprise. After a little while, the door opened, and there was literally a huge gasp when in walked Renée Felice Smith! She had met sindee earlier in the week, and had graciously agreed to come and show us a short film she had written, directed, and produced. Setting up the film to play proved to be a bit of a technological challenge. After a few minutes, Renée turned to the group and said, “I play a tech girl. But I am not a tech girl.” While others took over the job of loading the film, Renée used that time to talk to the group and answer questions. She talked about her beloved pet, and said that the cast and crew were “dog people.” She told the group that she reads the part of Hetty when Linda Hunt is unable to attend the table read. When asked about the “sunglasses scene” in Season 4, Renee said this was an added scene. She explained that when an episode is running short, sometimes Nell and Eric will get an extra scene. She told the group that things were changing up just a bit this Season. She said Nell would be going into the field a little more after the 100th episode. And of course, this meeting with Renée could not go by without someone tattling on Barrett for his comment about wanting Eric to “make sweet, sweet love to Nell…”

Renée gave a little background information on her film, “Young(ish),” such as that it was filmed in her home town, on a boat she played on when she was a child. She said she got the inspiration for the film from her grandparents, who apparently have maintained a good sense of humor about aging. During the showing of “Young(ish)”, there was a bit of giggling, several outbursts of laughter, and even a few tears. It is amazing how much emotion was packed into just a few minutes of film. Such a perfect ending to the afternoon!

There are no words to express the unanimous gratitude felt for the actors and crew members who contributed to this exciting day. It was truly humbling to think that these men and women would give up their time to be a part of this. Day two of the Meet Up could not have been any more perfect! The wealth of information presented, intermingled with a heavy dose of wit and humor, was more than anyone could have imagined. A huge “thank you” to sindee for making all this happen. We look forward to the next gathering of the NCISLA Familia.

NCISLAFamilia Meet-Up 2013 Write-Up (5/6)

Surprise Guest Panel
As a special treat, John Scott Mills stopped in. He not only had a lot of behind-the-scenes information to share, but he was absolutely entertaining. As a Digital Imaging Technician, he has access to sound and camera feeds from throughout the set. The audience learned that Chris O’Donnell sings constantly while on the set, and that he has a great singing voice. In fact, according to Mills, Chris once “killed” an Elvis song at a karaoke party, a performance worthy of a Los Vegas stage. Mills added that O’Donnell likes to mess with LL right before a scene. Another interesting observation he has made is that, in between takes, Daniella and Eric sit together, and Chirs and LL sit together, just like real partners. The audience also learned that even the people on the show are occasionally star-struck, like when Jonathan Franks is directing. (It was pointed out that Franks also has a wonderful singing voice.)
When asked about pranks among the cast and crew, Mills said that Osama Shofani apparently thinks it’s a good idea to put water in Don Frazee’s chair so that he goes around all day with wet pants. Messing with an expert in special effects can only result in high-tech retaliation. Shofani once found his car chained to a tree when it was time for him to go home. And on another day, while filming on location, someone kept disrupting the takes by honking their horn. It was discovered that it was Shofani making his way to where they were shooting. His car had been rigged so that his horn honked each time he touched his brake. The audience laughed so hard, imagining Mr. Shofani coming through the streets of LA, pulling up behind other cars at stop lights, and honking his horn as he applied his breaks. Before leaving the panel table, Mills mentioned the monthly Magazine calendar, and that he thought the great villains on the show deserved a lot of credit. Everyone assembled that day agreed.

At the conclusion of the panel discussions, more prizes were distributed. Each person received a CBS tote bag, a “Hetty” t-shirt, and a CBS “Watch” magazine. Coming back from the lunch break, some wearing their new “Hetty” shirts, was time for picture-taking. Then the group gathered outside for a “family” photo. There was plenty of laughter while taking what was supposed to be the more “serious” shots. And then the various personalities really shined though in the final photos of everyone giving their best “goofy” poses. Who would have thought that taking pictures could have been this much fun?

NCISLAFamilia Meet-Up 2013 Write-Up (4/6)

Special Effects / Tech Panel

The next Panel consisted of Don Frazee – Special Effects Supervisor, Troy Brown – Stunt Coordinator, Osama Shofani – Technical Advisor, and Kris Killian – Graphics Technician. Don Frazee, an explosives expert, revealed that his favorite special effect so far was when they blew up the warehouse in “Sans Voir,” the scene where Kensi, Deeks, and Sam came flying out of the exploding building (or their stunt doubles, to be more precise.) He said that this scene was particularly challenging because they had only one day to prepare and rehearse, and only one “shot” at getting it right. Troy Brown explained that the cast does about 90% of their own stunts. He said that the main thing he looks for in a stunt person is toughness, and their ability to get up and do it again. Kris Killian, whose job is to produce the real-time computer graphics, said that making something appear on the screen at the exact time the actor hits the button “is often a happy accident.” When asked about what it takes to coordinate the stunt people with a special effect, such as an explosion, Shofani jokingly stated, “You run fast.” Listening as these men described their work on the show, and observing their interaction with one another, it was obvious that they were not only experts in their fields, but they had fun carrying out their respective jobs. (Later on this morning, the audience will be given a bit more insight on just HOW much fun they have.)

Behind the Scenes Panel

Two of the show’s Co-Producers, Christopher Molnar and Chad Murray, and the Production Coordinator, Laura Napoli, took their seats at the table to make up the Behind the Scenes Panel. Chris Molnar described the challenge he faces in his job of ensuring that each episode is in compliance with Standards and Practices. As an example, a list of names appearing on a computer screen may take up to five days to approve. (The same Standards and Practices that protect “real people” by requiring phone numbers in movies and TV to all begin with “555.”) One of Laura Napoli’s jobs, as Production Coordinator, is to oversee the table reads. She said that this can prove to be very stressful, especially since the table once fell, dumping food into the lap of one of the actors.
Chad Murray summed up his job by saying, “I fabricate evidence.” He is in charge of generating the photos and documents seen on the show. He said that he’s done as many as sixty-five photos to get one drivers’ license to appear right on the screen. (And apparently, LLCool J feels compelled to tell Murray when the person in a crime scene photo does not “look dead.”) Murray said that his favorite episode this season is the 100th, as it delves into Callen’s past. He described how Chris O’Donnell brought in his family photos that were then photo-shopped to become “young Callen.” This was a perfect lead-in to the surprise showing of a scene from the upcoming 100th episode! After viewing this short clip, Napoli concluded by stating that the interest and enthusiasm of the NCIS LA fans is unlike anything she has seen in all her years of TV.

NCISLAFamilia Meet-Up 2013 Write-Up (3/6)

Writers’ Panel
As exciting as it was to watch as the Actor’s answered questions, this particular group of fans seemed to be equally as interested in learning about what goes into making the show, finding out what makes NCIS LA “tick.” What a better place to start than sitting face-to-face with amazing writers for the show?

The group was honored to have Dave Kalstein and Andrew Bartels attend the meet. Erin Broadhurst, now working as a Writers’ Assistant, was asked to join the Panel. Kalstein, a veteran writer for the show, explained how Bartels had been hired as an intern, and was basically the “lunch guy” until recently promoted to writer. Kalstein praised Bartels on how he took the characters of the show and began writing for them.

When asked the degree of difficulty in writing for each character, Bartels said that Callen was tricky to write because he “doesn’t come off as a funny guy, but he still says funny things.” Everyone laughed, and Bartels sank in his chair just a bit, when his mentor’s immediate response to that remark was, “You know they’re going to tweet this to Chris O’Donnell.” However, Kalstein also admitted that writing for Callen was challenging – “You’re writing for Chris, but you’re also writing for Shane.” And with Callen, “it’s not about what he says, it’s about what’s in between the lines of what he says.” According to Kalstein, Hetty is fun to write for because Linda Hunt gives him such great feedback. And Kensi and Deeks are the easiest characters to write for because they are similar in age.

The audience learned that, rather than each writer having his or her own office, Shane Brennan has them grouped together in one room. (Brennan’s dedication to family, and his endeavor to create a family atmosphere for the Cast and Crew, was a common theme connecting each panel discussion on this day.) By sharing a space, the writers learn from one another, and are able to maintain continuity in their writing, and consistency in developing the characters. Then, to everyone’s amusement, Dave Kalstein revealed that Brennan sometimes uses a robot, a cylinder with an iPad attached to it, to communicate with them at work. It comes rolling into the Writers’ room, Brennan’s face filling up the entire iPad screen. And apparently, in order to communicate effectively, the thing creepily invades people’s personal space.

Kalstein addressed the topic of why certain aspects of a story may not be consistent with real life. He said that real police cases would not be solved in the allotted time for each episode, and that the primary focus is not on the crime, but on the characters. Listening to Dave Kalstein talk about something that he is obviously so passionate about was something akin to mesmerizing, and the time slot for this panel discussion seemed to be over in the blink of an eye.

NCISLAFamilia Meet-Up 2013 Write-Up (2/6)

Day two of the Meet Up in Van Nuys proved to be both exciting and informative. The “family” assembled in the meeting room at 9:30 am on Saturday morning, where there was a greeting from Christine Park, a Publicist from the CBS Press Office. After a DVD give-away, it was time for the video of the Actors responding to questions that had been submitted by the Meet Up attendees and other Magazine followers. It goes without saying, everyone in the room was on the edge of their seat.

Actor’s Panel
Eric Christian Olsen was the first to appear, apologizing for not being able to attend the Meet Up, and thanking the fans for their support. “It means the world to us. Cause without you – I’d be homeless.” In response to his question on doing comedic versus dramatic scenes, ECO said he loves the ability to do both. He said that it was a blessing that he had been given a great storyline (end of Season 4) to come back from.

LL Cool J was asked about his co-stars’ different approaches to acting, and how that has affected his performance. He briefly described each member’s distinct approach to the material, and how it has “rubbed off on him and made him better.” LL Cool J chucked when answering the questions on if he would he like to see Sam go undercover as a rapper. Still smiling, he pointed out how it may be difficult to explain how this Navy Seal “suddenly developed his talent to do music. But you never know…” But for now, this singer/actor is “cool” with keeping his lives separate.

Next on the Actor’s Panel was Chris O’Donnell. He said that he knew he and LL would work well together when they were shooting one of their very first scenes. On the topic of directing, he said that he “already had a pretty good idea of each actor’s comfort level, and the different styles, and ways that people like to work.” But in the role of Director, he enjoyed being able to make suggestions more freely. COD was asked a question pertaining to the mental aspect of handling gruesome and frightening scenes and plots. The Actor compared his character’s personal struggles, to his own life where he had a big family and a rich childhood. He said that putting himself in his (Callen’s) shoes “seems more of a nightmare to me than any of our plots.”

Miguel Ferrer was asked to elaborate on a tweet in which he had said he wanted to re-shoot his first Granger episode now that he knows the show and crew. “It’s just I had no idea how great, and giving, and wonderful, and gifted these people were going to be.” When asked if Granger was misunderstood, Mr. Ferrer described his character as a “mission first” guy, “often at the expense of personal relationships.” Ferrer disclosed that Shane, and those in the writers’ room were developing his character this season. Granger would be out of the office more, “more operational.”

Renée Felice Smith was next on the panel. In response to a question on Nell’s biggest fear, she explained how she thought this has evolved over time. When Nell was new to the team, her biggest fear was being wrong. But now, it was probably “getting lost a bit in her career and not building a full life.” Renée was asked what kind of music Nell Jones would listen to. There was laughter from the audience when she said that she thought it “would involve a lot of ukulele.” Miss Smith seemed touched by the question on where she would take Hugo (her dog) for a walk, if she could go anywhere in the world. She said it would be back home in Brooklyn. “That’s where he was a puppy. That’s where he grew up, and that’s where he learned to be my son.”

Barrett Foa had the audience roaring with laughter with his response to his first question, If you had the ability to do anything with Eric for an episode, what would you have him do? “I think it would be making sweet love to Nell Jones on top of the OPS center table.” Next Foa explained that, for the first couple of seasons, there was a certain degree of anxiety associated with filming on a set as opposed to performing on stage. When asked if Eric Beale would be able to take a gun and shoot someone to defend himself, he said that he might be a little scared about taking the gun, but that he thought he could use it if it were to save “an important person – part of the team or a good guy.” Then the actor playfully “willed” a gun into Eric Beale’s hand someday soon, “to see what happens.”

The final cast member to answer questions was Daniela Ruah. She was asked what aspect of Kensi’s past and history she wished she knew more about. Her response was to know more about Jack, “the fiancé who ran out on me on Christmas Eve and who suffered of PTSD.” She said Jack was the only “seed” the producers have planted that has not yet been resolved. The next question pertained to Kensi’s undercover work, and if there were roles she hasn’t done and would like to play. She said that she would like to do something that “wasn’t sort of more on the sexy side of things.” She said it would be really fun to “steal Deeks’ homeless man for an episode or two…” Miss Ruah was asked to finish this sentence: In Season Ten Kensi will finally… The audience once again erupted in laughter with her response. “Kensi will finally realize that the man for her is… Sam. I think… Sam and Kensi. Putting it out there!”