This summer has provided me with so many opportunities. A few weeks ago I attended a taping of the Disney Channel show, “The Suite Life On Deck”. One of our clients, Erin Cardillo, has a recurring role on the show (she plays the teacher, Mrs. Tutweiller) and I was invited to see one of her episodes being taped.
Despite the fact that the majority of the show’s target audience is half my age, still has slumber parties and imaginary dream dates with the Jonas Brothers or Hannah Montana, I’d never been to a taping before and was excited to experience it! It’s something you really only get the chance to do in Hollywood and a unique opportunity to witness how television is made.
I was glad I had read our book for class (Action! Acting for Film and Television) prior to the taping because it was a great introduction to the process and gave me an idea of what to expect.
I arrived at the sound stage at 3:30, but things didn’t really get started until around 4:15. A stand up comedian, who in a way acted like a host for the taping, entertained us before the show and between takes. Unlike film, the scenes are shot in chronological order. Some scenes were pre-shot but inserted in at the right time during the show so that the audience’s reactions, which later serve as the “laugh track”, could be recorded. Monitors are hung above the audience so that they can see a rough cut of the episode.
The audience’s job of serving as the “laugh track” is not an easy task! Multiple takes are done and we are encouraged to laugh just as hard, and realistically, as if we were seeing it for the first time. It was a LONG process! For what would end up being a half our show, I was there for a total of about 5 ½ hours. It was worth it to stay the whole time though because at the end we were able to take pictures of the set and the cast came out to take pictures with fans and sign autographs.
I cannot wait to see the episode on TV and maybe even be able to point out my laugh!
Below is a clip of one of Erin’s episodes