As a part of the summer semester I took my class went around town pitching our original ideas to producers and production companies around town. The last week of class was both stressful and adrenaline-filled. On day two of pitching we pitched to a production company who’s offices are on the Fox lot.
A studio lot is about as magical as you would expect. There are rows and rows of trailers where actors spend their down time and get hair and make-up done. Parking spots are labeled with names of actors, producers, or even just the names of TV shows, saving spaces for trucks of equipment or stacks of flats covered in plastic with labels like “Barney’s Living Room” or “Jay and Gloria’s Bedroom” (#truelife).
For our pitch meeting I carpooled with two classmates and we parked in the adjacent parking structure about an hour before our meeting was scheduled. The extra time gave us the freedom to wander the lot, practicing our pitches on each other, scoping out where our meeting was, and searching to see if we could recognize anyone. Through this wandering we happened through the studio’s backlot.
The backlot is sort of a permanent outdoor set. Most studios have one, and it’s where movies and TV shows can shoot outside scenes in a controlled environment. It’s a place that looks like a city (usually New York), but most of the buildings are hollow save for rigs to set lights. Sometimes one or two of the buildings are what’s called “practical” which means that they can film inside the building and it can be “dressed” to look like wherever the movie or show is set.
“Oh look, this stoop is outside of the bar in ‘How I Meet Your Mother’!” my friend said. We took pictures and kept moving, and as we neared the next corner is when I saw it. “It” being the set of The Royal Diner from the show Bones. I was beyond excited.
Bones was one of the first shows that I would tune in every week for. The show began the first season that I was really following and loving scripted television. Since then I’ve tapered off on the show, but somehow seeing the set reignited that spark. I suddenly missed Booth and Brennan and wondered what had happened to them since I’d stopped watching. But there was more than that too.
Somehow seeing this set in particular reminded me why I was there to begin with. I am in Los Angeles to make television that people love. TV is an escape, but the fictional world of characters can bring up questions that make you examine your own life. They can help people watching to make memories of their own, and they can inspire courage, strength, and love in our lives.
Television is powerful. And seeing The Royal Diner reminded me of that. Just a silly little practical set, but somehow so much more.