I was cleaning out my inbox today when I happened across a bunch of old prep schedules and call sheets.
For those of you who are wondering, “prep” is, of course, short for “preparation” and “prepping” an episode involves (in my t.v. producing experience) a little over a week of meetings with director and departments heads in which an episode is detailed, drawn up and discussed. Here, for example, is the prep schedule for the Stargate: Universe episode “The Hunt” –
Even though it was prep week on “The Hunt”, early prep work began on later episodes. There’s a preliminary art department meeting for “Common Descent” and “Epilogue” (suggesting BIG plans for what would turn out to be our final two episodes) followed by a prosthetics life cast with actor Louis Ferreira (to help him achieve that “Old Young” look, as Akemi coined it).
Director Andy Mikita was away and, with the director away, the meetings are pushed to other days. Note that, while a director begins prep on one episode, another director starts shooting another – in this case, Episode 215, “Seizure”. Also, 2nd unit shoots scenes for Episode 214, “Hope”. 2nd unit usually involves a scaled down crew shooting smaller scenes from a given episode. Also on this day – a casting session! I remember heading down to the lot and watching auditions in the casting trailer, trying to ignore the trucks that would rumble by at the most inopportune times.
Finally, prep begins early Monday morning with the concept meeting. With all of the department heads in attendance, we would go through the script, page by page, and break down each scene. We followed with an art department meeting in which we no doubt discussed the builds for this episode (as I recall, a cave set and a design for the creature)…
…then headed over to props to discuss what was required from them (besides our standard guns, there’s that makeshift spear one of the character wields late in the episode) –
…followed by a sit-down with the costumes department (we would need to get our uniforms dirty and, in some instances, torn and bloodstained), and, finally, a field trip to scout out some suitably rough terrain in Lynn Canyon where we planned to shoot some of the exteriors.
Prep week continued full force on Tuesday with some of our biggest meetings: stunts and SPFX (there was that stunt sequence off the top where our camp is attacked by the creature), a playback (not too many big onscreen elements in this one if I recall correctly), and visual effects (the creature was pure CG as was that space deer we see in the tease).
The following day was the extras meeting (always a number of background players in every episode), and then hair & make-up (cuts, bruises, and general disarray).
Preliminary budgets from the various departments were due to give us a sense of how the episode was costing out.
No meeting scheduled for the Friday, but that didn’t mean we weren’t busy having discussions, finalizing the details. A tech survey in the a.m. to Lynn Canyon during which we all sign off on the location and the director finalizes his visual game plan for the exterior sequences.
And then, finally, the production meeting which is a mirror image of the concept meeting except that, by this point, the director and all of the departments know exactly what they’re doing and are in the process of putting the finishing touches on their work. And, of course, final budgets are due and we find out where our budget stands on the year (which, of course, has a direct effect on ensuing episodes).
Speaking of prep, prep week kicks off on Dark Matter Episode 204 tomorrow with a 10:00 a.m. concept meeting headed by director John Stead. It’s gonna be fun!