Journeys Below the Line
A video series that will help introduce film students to different areas of film production

October 3, 2006

Imagine spending time in Hawaii with the crew of the TV series “Lost.” Or shooting footage during a filming of “ER” … or “24.”
During the past few years, Lynne Gross, professor of radio-TV-film, has spent a great deal of time behind the scenes … most recently working on educational videos that demonstrate some of the “behind the scenes” work that occurs during the production of prime-time television programs.

Journeys Below the Line
As part of the educational video series, “Journeys Below the Line,” Bruce Bilson, left, series director, and Lynn Gross, associate producer and professor of radio-TV-film, interview Michael Bonvillian, director of photography for the television series, “Lost.” “Journeys Below the Line,“ demonstrates behind-the-scenes work for television programs such as “Lost,” “ER” and “24.” In addition to cinematography, the videos showcase such areas as editing and prop making, which are critical to the success of a film or program, but aren’t often thought of, especially by students considering careers.

“Areas such as cinematography, editing and prop making are considered ‘below the line’ jobs in film and television,” Gross explained. “They are critical to the success of a film, yet you often don’t realize what time and talents are involved in each of these creative areas.”
Gross, with several partners from the Academy of Television Arts and Sciences, is involved in producing a video series called “Journeys Below the Line” that will help introduce film students to different areas of film production.
“Students often sign up for film classes because they want to write, act, produce or direct,” Gross said. “There’s certainly nothing wrong with that but there are lots of other jobs to consider as well. These videos can show students some new career opportunities or help explain the importance of these different fields.”

Journeys Below the Line
The crew of the education video series “Journeys Below the Line,” are allowed on the stage for the television show “Lost.” At left, Lynn Gross, professor of radio-TV-film, monitors sound and makes notes that will be used during editing of the video on cinematography. In the background Jorge Garcia, the actor who plays Hurley on the show, is filmed for an upcoming program.

While taping “Lost,” the crew focused on the job of the cinematographer.
“Essentially, we were filming the filmers,” Gross said. “We conducted interviews with them and also showed the types of work they do. I was quite impressed with the way they were able to handle heavy camera equipment in the jungle. When you see one of the actors running through the jungle, just remember this — there is a film crew running in front of them. And they’re running backwards and shooting footage at the same time. It gives you a whole new appreciation for the work they do.”

Journeys Below the Line
Cal State Fullerton professor Lynn Gross, who served as associate producer on the educational video series, “Journeys Below the Line,” joins program producer Michael Gallant and Marsha Cohen from post production house, Laser Pacific, in typing up credits for inclusion on the first episode of the video series. That first video  dealt with editing on the television show “24.”

For their video on the Fox television series “24,” the focus was on editors. The scene that Gross and her colleagues shot had FBI agent Jack Bauer (played by actor Kiefer Sutherland) running through a subway station.
“The script supervisor was there the whole time taking notes on everything to ensure that the continuity of the footage was accurate,” she said. “They’d even note such things as whether or not certain characters were wearing rings during different scenes. Then, when the footage is being edited, editors would refer back to those notes to make sure the scene ran smoothly even though it may have been filmed in different sequences or parts of the scene were filmed at different times.”
A scene where a balcony collapses in “ER” was a nail-biting experience.
For a program on property masters, Gross and her partners covered the prop makers as they prepared for the balcony collapse scene — a story line that would continue to the resulting scenes of many people being sent to “ER.”
“Of course, they had to get the shot in one take — nothing could go wrong,” she said. “I was impressed with the number of times they rehearsed everything to ensure that the filming would go smoothly. 
“They needed and ensured that nobody would be hurt during the filming. All the props had to be soft so if they hit somebody, they wouldn’t really hurt them,” Gross noted. “There were 19 stunt people. In total, more than 300 people were involved in that shoot.”
Gross also was impressed with the program’s sound stage. “It really does look like a hospital,” she said. “Obviously, there are lots of props needed on a medical show.”

Journeys Below the Line
On the set of “ER,” are, from left, Bruce Bilson, director and executive producer of “Journeys Below the Line,” an educational video series on behind-the-scenes film work; Lynn Gross, CSUF professor of radio-TV-film and associate producer; Maura Tierney, the actress who plays Abby Lockhart on “ER”; Michael Gallant, producer of “Journeys Below the Line”; and Steve Fish, attorney for the educational video.

The episodes covering the editing process on “24” and prop masters on “ER” are currently available through First Light Video Publishing. The program about the cinematography team of “Lost” is in post production.
“I enjoy seeing the students’ reactions to the series,” she said. “I think it really opens their eyes to the many possibilities in filmmaking … and focusing on popular television shows doesn’t hurt either.”

Lynne Gross
Lynne Gross