A Day on the Set of DYNASTY

Discussion in 'Dynasty' started by Gabriel Maxwell, Aug 1, 2018.

  1. Gabriel Maxwell

    Gabriel Maxwell Soap Chat Addict

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    All that nostalgia in the recent "First DYNASTY Memories" thread got me to look up some old listings and newspaper scans from the former Yugoslavia, where - as I already mentioned - DYNASTY had become a ratings-grabbing phenomenon in the mid 1980s.

    One of the articles I came across is taken from a Croatian entertainment weekly magazine whose reporter got to spend a day on the set of DYNASTY in the fall of 1985, while the show was in the middle of their Krystle's doppelganger phase.

    It's quite an interesting hour-by-hour peek behind the scenes of episode 128 ["The Quarrels"] and what it looked like to an outside observer.

    I'm using Google to speed up the translation, but that also requires proof-reading, so I'll have to post this in 3 installments.

    [​IMG]


    HALF A DAY FOR A SLICE OF DYNASTY


    Behind the scenes of one of the most popular series...

    What does shooting a 46-minute $1 million-dollar episode look like?

    When done with a scene, the actors come across cordial and funny...



    *******



    What to do with a million dollars and a bunch of stars? Why, make DYNASTY, whose each episode is eagerly anticipated.

    The factory is made of two large buildings, resembling a couple of boxes of concrete, each 60m long and 30m wide. Every single day there are 70 people working for up to 15 hours, creating a series that is ultimately sold in over 80 markets.

    Warner Hollywood Studios 3, 4 and 5 are located in the two buildings. This dream factory is the home to DYNASTY. So, what does a single day of production of one of the most extravagant, most incredible and most watched TV series look like?

    It's Friday, the second day of production of the 128th episode, yet another 46-minute segment that costs about $1 million and is titled "The Quarrels" (what else?).

    The episode was prepared for months, written and re-written for weeks, then prepped to detail within a week and it is expected to be filmed in 7 days, that's about 7 minutes of the episode per day. The episode will then require an additional four weeks of post-production / getting ready to air.

    This day is somewhat unusual because there are no women in the first scene being filmed. The actresses are given an additional 30 minutes for make-up, clothes and hair as opposed to men. This morning, their chairs are empty - the actresses were given the privilege of sleeping a little longer this morning, along with Second Assistant Director Connie-Garcia Singer who is usually there to let them in.

    A total of 6 scenes will be filmed today.

    Brock Broughton is the first to arrive. Three of the scenes will be filmed in the office of Blake Carrington, another one in the room next to it and the last one in a loft - the set is in studio 4. Brock's job is to decorate the scene with his team.



    A Sofa for Alexis



    07:00 Gordon Thomson who plays Adam Carrington, Blake's son is the first actor to arrive on the set. He immediately goes to the make-up room upstairs where he is greeted by Bob Sidell, a true master of his craft.

    07:30 Thomson now ready for filming, rehearses a fairly simple scene of arriving in Blake's office.

    08:00 Joan Collins arrives to the studio in her beige-colored Rolls Royce. She got up at 7am in order to leave her Beverly Hills mansion at 7:45. She is greeted by everyone, from the guard to the last technician, while she makes her way to make-up and dressing room, where she is expected by her secretary Judy Bryer.

    The room is cluttered, but pleasant. There is an old sofa that Joan had flown in from London, an armchair, shelves and a closet. But the room is dominated by a vanity makeup table with a thousand pictures of Joan, her friends and family.

    She quickly listens to messages that have arrived on the phone, then goes over her schedule for the day with Judy, puts on a white cape and heads for the make-up room where she is expected by Bob Sidell.

    - Joan has one incredible advantage over other actresses. She has no misgivings about any of the roles. If she is supposed to play the role of a 60-year old woman, she asks that she be made-up that way. Only after the hair and make-up is done, does she transform into the character she plays - Bob Sidell says.

    Within the next hour, Joan turns into Alexis. In the meantime, her on-screen husband Michael Nader arrives and comes over to the make-up room for a chat.



    Are you quite finished?



    9:30 The short scene with Gordon Thomson's arrival and his conversation with Blake is being filmed for a full 2 hours. Finally, everyone takes a break and gathers around the coffee machine. The air-conditioning is cranked up. The crew is redoing the set along the lines set by the director Kim Forman.

    Suddenly, the atmosphere becomes tense. Joan Collins has arrived.

    [to be continued...]
     
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  2. Alexis

    Alexis Soap Chat Champion

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    In true soap style, what a cliff hanger?
     
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  3. Gabriel Maxwell

    Gabriel Maxwell Soap Chat Addict

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    [part 2 of 3]

    Joan's assistant Judy has been on the scene for 20 minutes already. They've been using her to get the lights and the camera angles right for the upcoming scene. Alexis is supposed to storm into Blake's office and accuse Krystle of cruel behavior towards Little Blake and then leave angrily.

    Kim is ready for the actors. John and Joan stop talking to the members of the crew and begin rehearsing their lines.

    Though mostly keeping to their script, they keep cracking jokes and entertaining the crew. But their professional approach is never gone and when the moment comes to shoot the scene, the familiar animosity between them reappears.

    During the first take John leaves out a line and says:

    "Why didn't you call for an appointment, or at least have my secretary... announce... or do... one or the other... whatever..."

    Joan's waiting for the laughter to subside, then smiles and quips:

    "Are you quite finished?"

    She and the director make a decision that Alexis' final line before she storms out should be: "Krystle is not and can never be the kind of a woman that you think she is. One day you'll realize that Blake and you'll regret that you didn't listen to me."

    Joan gets ready and then turns to say the line, but instead says:

    "I see you've redecorated your office".

    Everyone cracks up again. They keep rehearsing the scene for about 30 minutes until every detail is according to the director's thinking. Marks have been placed on the floor to indicate to the actors where exactly they're supposed to stand.

    10:00 The rehearsal is over. Joan is having a coffee, while John goes to the dressing room to put on his suit and adjust his make-up. Over the next 40 minutes, Michael Hugo - a French cinematographer - takes over the preparations. Dynasty is known in Hollywood as a happy family also because of Michael who always makes sure there is good mood on the set.



    The Red Light



    Joan has been very dear to Michael ever since their first meeting when she introduced herself in French. A friendly gesture, not always a feature of her on-screen character. She suggested Catherine Oxenberg that she do the same when she joined the series.

    10.40 Joan Collins re-appears and she is in character now. Her yellow dress and hat make her look sensational.

    10.42 A bell rings out demanding utter silence. The air-conditioning is turned off and the red light at the entrance to the studio is on. The first on-camera rehearsal goes without a glitch.

    [​IMG]

    The next two rehearsals are marred by botched lines and audio problems. Alexis is supposed to take Krystle's picture off Blake's desk and throw it back in the same place, but the noise she makes is too loud. For this reason they'll have to put a special cover over the desk.

    Everything is finally ready. The cameras are on. John and Joan perform the scene without a single error. Two bells ring out and Kim shouts: "And cut!"

    11:00 Is that it? Not yet. That was just the main or "master" take of the scene where the camera focuses on both Blake and Alexis. Now they have to do over-the-shoulder or close-up shots of each of the actors which will then be edited in post-production.

    There is a 20-minute break during which the crew gets ready for additional takes. Joan sits into the chair with her name on it and chats.



    The Union Timesheet



    Connie Garcia-Singer comes in with great news. Linda Evans who was complaining about her throat the day before is feeling better and she will be coming later in the day to film her scene with George Hamilton. The crew is called to get ready.

    Connie is a supervisor. She works with Ursula Alexander, an Assistant Producer. Ursula then reports to Elaine Rich, the line producer on Dynasty, who reports to Esther Shapiro, the creator of the series.

    The chain ends with Aaron Spelling, who is considered a kind of a God in this world.

    There is no break for Kim. She checks the loft scene for the afternoon filming, which has been problematic, among other things, also because Linda Evans hasn't been feeling well lately.

    11:20 The crew is testing close-up shots, but they are struggling to get the same intensity as with the original take. There is some tension, but John puts everyone at ease with his jokes.

    Elaine Rich arrives in the studio on her way to the editing room where she will be checking the footage which was filmed earlier in the day. John's jokes and Elaine's anxious presence on the set achieve their respective impact.

    [to be continued]
     
    Last edited: Aug 2, 2018
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  4. Gabriel Maxwell

    Gabriel Maxwell Soap Chat Addict

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    [part 3 of 3]

    Blake and Alexis do their scene again and the filming is actually done very quickly.

    11:40 Joan Collins says goodbye to everyone and before leaving the studio she records the time of her departure in a union timesheet. John Forsythe will remain in the studio, because he needs to film a similar scene with Michael Nader instead of Joan.

    All the scenes filmed today will be used in the same episode, but they are not filmed in order. For example, today they will be filming scenes 33, 34, 42 and 78, all taking place in Blake's office.



    Good liquor, bad women



    How does an old school professional of John Forsythe's caliber manage to remain fresh playing the same role season after season?

    - My secret is good liquor and bad women - he jokes. - But seriously, I really love the series and I think the role of Blake Carrington is a challenge. It takes an effort to make some of the scenes come across realistic, but that kind of challenge is a part of my work.

    12:10 The master was done very quickly and it will now be followed by additional takes. Blake and Dex clash in their usual manner and just before 1:00pm the bell rings out indicating lunch break. This will be the first chance for Elaine Rich to check how the 128th episode is coming along.

    If she is not happy with it, she will complain. It doesn't happen very often with this director, because Kim has a lot of experience in her work. Regardless, she is alert to any issues that may arise. Everything appears to be in order and Kim takes a bag of chips for lunch.

    2:00 Although they had no problems with the master take, Forsythe and Nader now struggle with the additional takes. It takes them till 3:00pm to get the scene right. The bell rings out, John Forsythe and Michael Nader can now leave the studio.

    3:30 The day appears to have lost a great deal of its freshness and in the course of the next 4 hours the cast and crew will really work hard for their money. As Linda Evans and George Hamilton join the crew, constant troubles and errors plague the filming of their loft scene.

    [​IMG]

    The set is claustrophobic and Linda can barely speak. One of the cameras malfunctions seconds after it is being elevated on a crane. All patience and experience of the cast is required to bring the scene to a successful completion.

    7:30 Kim is finally satisfied with the results and shouts "Cut!" bringing relief to all present. A double bell rings out and 70 workers of the dream factory can finally start their weekend rest.

    8:00 As Kim departs what is now a dark set, she does so after spending 13 hours working without a proper break. Another day in Dynasty-land has come to a close. Another $150,000 has been spent. Another luxurious dream has come to life.

    [The End]
     
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  5. Gabriel Maxwell

    Gabriel Maxwell Soap Chat Addict

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    I wonder if this is "the sofa Joan had flown in from London" mentioned above. Perhaps this is Joan's room at the studio described in the text that we see in this shot of Nolan Miller and Joan Collins going over his design ideas.

    [​IMG]
     
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  6. Alexis

    Alexis Soap Chat Champion

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    From what I remember from Kate O'Mara's book the dressing rooms at the Dynasty studios were very small. They didn't even have facilities to wash their hair at the studio. Although Joan probably had a better dressing room than the likes of Kate and Stephanie.
     
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  7. Alexis

    Alexis Soap Chat Champion

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    And that's a sweet day for Joan if she arrived at 8am and left at 3pm.
     
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  8. Willie Oleson

    Willie Oleson drilling for soap

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    I knew it! They're my happy TV family.
     
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  9. Matthew Blaisdel

    Matthew Blaisdel Soap Chat Dream Maker

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    But she left at 11:40am already! Makes the day even sweeter... and from what i understood, it's been before the weekend... so a very nice schedule actually. :D
     
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  10. Toni

    Toni Soap Chat Enthusiast

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    [​IMG]

    "...Oh and bye beech!"

    (Sorry, too much a big temptation not to insert this here...)​
     
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  11. Karin Schill

    Karin Schill Super Moderator Staff Member

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    Thank you so much for translating and sharing. I found it really interesting.
     
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  12. Gabriel Maxwell

    Gabriel Maxwell Soap Chat Addict

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    I forgot to link the original February 1986 article in case anyone wants to practice their Croatian (or Serbo-Croat as they used to call it back then, before the war):

    http://www.yugopapir.com/2016/01/dinastija-ekskluzivno-kako-izgleda.html

    Here's also a season 9 behind-the-scenes video that might belong in this thread:



    Yes, I recall people talking about 16-hour days in scorching heat & fancy clothes, under heavy make-up & blinding spotlights. But I suppose even a 3.5-hour work day can be strenuous if you're supposed to spend most of that time looking, sounding & acting like a DYNASTY doll.
     
    Last edited: Aug 6, 2018
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  13. Alexis

    Alexis Soap Chat Champion

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    Was it Knots Landing that shot the longest in terms of work hours? I think I remember reading that.
     
  14. Matthew Blaisdel

    Matthew Blaisdel Soap Chat Dream Maker

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    Oh man, i'd love to watch a 4 hour behind-the-scenes documentary on season 9 right now! :dance:
    That's an awesome clip. So David Paulsen was quite aware it might be their last season during production and just sort of hoped for a miracle.
    It's awesome how well Emma and Ray got along, love watching these two together, so much fun! :lol:
    But the greatest thing was John Forsythes' Dallas-bashing!:10: :Clol:
     
    Last edited: Aug 6, 2018
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  15. colbyco

    colbyco Soap Chat Active Member

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    - I don´t think this is her room at the studio ... her hair looks like the pic was taken in the 90´s

    Joan_in_Garderobe am Telefon.jpg
    - this one is her dressing room
     
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  16. Grant Jennings

    Grant Jennings Soap Chat Fan

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    I remember an interview with Katharine Ross to promote the debut of "The Colbys" in which she said one thing that appealed to her was the short work days which allowed her to spend plenty of time with her baby daughter.
     
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  17. Alexis

    Alexis Soap Chat Champion

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    Even her outfit, that suit in those colours is very early/mid 90s. And she appears to be looking a sketches for Linda? It's not Joan sketches. Or they could be sketches for Joan's private wardrobe when she sometimes wore her hair longer in the '90s. That may actually be Nolan Miller's studio.
     
    Last edited: Feb 7, 2019
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  18. Alexis

    Alexis Soap Chat Champion

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    That sofa is actually almost identical shape and style to the sofas at the Carrington mansion. Could even be the same ones reupholstered or made by the same people.
    [​IMG]
     
  19. Luke Fuller

    Luke Fuller Soap Chat Member

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    Thank you for an interesting article about shooting the show. Unfortunately, it was one of the worst and the most stupid episode at all - at least for me. Neverthelss, it reveals that 2 minute sequence could have been shot for 2 hours. And what about actors/actress, it was not an easy job.
     
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  20. Grant Jennings

    Grant Jennings Soap Chat Fan

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    Crescent shaped sofas were popular from the late fifties through the early nineties, many furniture companies produced them. The living room at "Southfork" on "Dallas" had an angled sofa (I think they used the same sofa but had it upholstered in three different fabrics).
     
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