SHANNARA On MTV: Back On Set & Filming

Terry and Manu Bennett (Allanon)

Terry and Manu Bennett (Allanon)

Greetings All,

Back on set today, Monday, the first of three in which we will be watching the shooting, after which we are on our way elsewhere. This time out we were rested and got an early start – for us. We were there until dinner time, then had an evening out with the writers Al and Miles, talking shop and laughing a great deal over stories of other times and places. Such good guys, and I am reminded again about how well we bonded right from the first.

A word about how filming works, time-wise. Things begin around 3:30 am. At that point the crew begins set up for the day’s shooting, starting with hauling stuff from the base camp to the shooting site, lugging everything that is needed for the day in the way of cameras, scenery equipment, and all the rest out to the shooting site. Breakfast is around 5:30. Make-up and costuming is frequently before that with additional stuff afterwards. Crew call is at 6:30 am, the actors are on set and ready to go at 7:30, and everything is underway at that point. They film all day and frequently into the night. Sometimes a shoot can go for 18 hours.

My vision for all this was somewhat off the mark. The first time I was taken to the base camp to witness filming – last Thursday – I was expecting a few trucks and a few cars and maybe 20-30 people on set. As if. One section of field was filled with cars – at least 100. Another was filled with trailers for equipment, actors, crew, costuming and makeup, food and everything else you could possibly think of. Probably 25-30 of those. There are four-wheel drive vehicles for transporting to and from the shooting site because things are far out and the roads (read paths) are not much. The entire operation is massive.

How many people are we talking about? For the film crew, somewhere north of 600.

It looks like chaos at times, but everything is controlled. Everyone has a job and knows what is expected. There is lots of running around and prep work preliminary to every scene. In a given day, they will shoot maybe 4-8 scenes, all of it with designated actors and from different perspectives. Multiple takes are required for everyone. The director (Jonathan, in this case) wants different voice inflections, different looks, different responses so he can see what meshes best later in editing. Everything is very professional and patient with the process.

I was told by more than one crew member that what is happening here is closer to a movie shoot than to a traditional TV show. I believe it.

So watched one scene in the morning and two others in the afternoon. One involved horses (Artaq, in particular). Beautiful animals, and the actors (Manu and Austin) handled them well. The day was warm, gray and windy with a few drops of rain but nothing else to cause them problems. You watch all this mostly on monitors with headphones that allow you to see and hear the actors clearly while the shoot is in progress. For obvious reasons, they don’t want a lot of observers crowding out on set to watch, so doing it from afar on a monitor is better. We did watch a bit from a hillside, just for the experience.

Ate lunch with Austin Butler and members of the crew. Meeting new people every day, but having trouble sorting everyone out, as you might guess. Aaron Jakubenko wandered out late in the day from weapons training to watch the filming with us for a few minutes. It was a fascinating and enjoyable day. More of the same tomorrow, although I have to do some interviews and general publicity so I will have to be a little sharper than normal. You know, don’t say anything stupid? Does this sound like me?

More when we finish with all that. Hope all of you are enjoying the blogs and accompanying pix. We will keep them coming for the time we are here.

Best to all of you, Terry

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Written by Terry Brooks
I am the author of the Shannara, Landover, and Word/Void series, as well as Star Wars: The Phantom Menace and Street Freaks. I love to write, read, and travel. For more information about me, you can read my writing guide/memoir, Sometimes the Magic Works.