An Exclusive Visit to the Set of TOUCH

Posted on August 9, 2012 by

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morning-chairs

A perfect blue sky and light sea breeze graced the on-location set of Touch on the first day of principal photography for Season 2. I was honored to be a part of it by invitation of Tim Kring, the Executive Producer, and learned a lot about how shooting a television show works. I’ll probably get a lot of terminology wrong, so bear with me. Also, there aren’t any spoilers really, because you just see people walking around—you won’t find out why until October 26.

On the set of Touch with Kiefer Sutherland

Between takes on scene 2 of the first episode of Season 2 of Touch. Kiefer Sutherland gets a touch-up on his hand makeup while the cameras inside the cafe are moved for another series of takes. The food and place settings on the tables would be used later as the actors walked out past the extras who were playing customers.

The first scene to be shot for the day was Scene 2, which takes place immediately after the finale of Season 1, in which Martin and Jake meet up with Lucy. I won’t give details, because I hate spoilers myself. What I will say is that they were filming for quite a while inside one of the little cafes to the left and below Santa Monica Pier, right next to Muscle Beach. They got lots of different takes and camera angles of this one key scene where something new is discovered.

Inside the Touch "Video Village"

The view from “Video Village” as a scene is being shot inside the cafe (behind the mesh wall on the left). Executive Producer Tim Kring listens to the audio and watches the incoming video for cameras A and B while Script Supervisor Annie Melville takes notes.

For much of the day, I was in “Video Village,” which is where the primary monitors are for the three cameras they were shooting with that day. Here is where the Director, Executive Producer, Script Supervisor, and any other producers or directors would watch and listen to the live video feed coming off the various cameras.

The primary actors were all very kind and gracious. I was introduced to Kiefer Sutherland, who was extremely interested in how to better communicate with and energize the fans. He was funny and soft-spoken, but with an underlying intensity that comes up front when he’s passionate about an issue. He’s a guy that looks you straight in the eye and tells you what’s on his mind, and there’s nothing I admire more in a person.

David (pronounced Dah-veed) Mazouz was a delight. He’s a bright spirit that’s always smiling like a cherub, and you can just feel the happiness radiating out. When I asked for a photo with him, he quickly jumped up and said “sure!” like I’d just offered him cotton candy. Maria Bello was seeking some shade at the end of the day and introduced herself (not that an introduction was necessary). We started talking about social media, and she lit up, telling me how her Twitter followers doubled after a speech she recently gave. Before we could finish our conversation, however, she was called back to the beach for another take.

Chess Park dolly shot for Touch

A dolly camera follows the actors as they walk in front of Muscle Beach across from Chess Park, near Santa Monica Pier.

The second scene involved a dolly shot along the sidewalk in front of Muscle Beach as well as some other camera angles. Martin, Jake, Lucy and a young lady walk together, until finally Martin turns away and looks out over Chess Park. A series of great locations, all within a few hundred yards of each other.

David Mazouz playing on the set of Touch

David Mazouz (pitching, center) and a barefoot crew member (right) play an impromptu game of stick ball with a soon-to-be-famous fence slat and a wine cork meant to be used as a marker in the sand for the actors. Kiefer Sutherland is just off camera, talking to a crew member (left).

As the day wore on, the production moved out behind the lifeguard building and closer to the pier itself. The four of them walked along the wooden boardwalk until Jake grabbed a stick (which had been borrowed by a prop guy out of a nearby fence) and ran off onto the sand. The last shot of the day was a beautiful crane shot that pulls up to reveal what Jake did—I cannot wait to see the final edit of this scene.

Crane shot at the end of the day on the set of Touch

Overview of the final shooting location for the day, taken from Santa Monica Pier. To the right of the camera (at the end of the crane), you can see the four stand-ins of the same height that were used throughout the day to get the cameras into position before the actual filming took place. Every take required the sand to be groomed smooth to eliminate marks and excess footprints.

The end of the day saw me hanging out with Kenn Fuller, Production Sound Mixer. I recognized him as having been on Heroes and we talked for probably an hour about that and other topics while more and more beachgoers stopped to watch what what going on. If you visit him on IMDb, the profile picture there was taken in the small mirror on his sound cart, and you can just see the edge of a white button that says “Fun Meter” with a little paper “needle” that can be moved left or right. That day, it was well over into the red for pretty much everybody on set.

The mood was hopeful, happy and eager to see what Season 2 would bring. I overheard some crew members saying they felt really good about the direction of the show, and the changes to the formula that had been made. It’s going to follow the story of Martin, Jake and Lucy much more closely, with less secondary characters. Kenn Fuller said that it might be too smart of a show for some viewers, and that suits me just fine. There has to be some pearls among the swine, and Touch is very much one of those rare gems with meaning and a soul on network television today.

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