By: Demetrios Cokinos
This past month has been a crazy one. Everything was smooth sailing until hurricane Sandy hit. Now we have been forced to reshape our entire shooting schedule because of the time lost. Tandem shooting schedules (days when we shoot two episodes simultaneously) happen just about every day now, versus the more familiar occasional one. My hours have increased, but I feel that I am keeping up with the pace of things. Or at least think I am. I appreciate being a part of the show every day, as I still feel like I am on the verge of waking up from some overly-detailed dream. Before I go into Sandy and her aftermath, I would like to describe a great experience I was allowed to participate in.
I had the honor of interviewing Robert Carlock, the executive producer/head writer (alongside Tina Fey)/show runner of 30 ROCK. Being the show runner means that Robert Carlock holds the overall vision of the show. He and Tina approve just about every aspect of each episode before it airs. In case you are not familiar with Robert Carlock’s work, I will tell you that he worked for Saturday Night Live (one of his most famous sketch being “NPR’s Delicious Dish: Schweddy Balls”) and later Friends before making his way to 30 Rock. In her book, Tina Fey claims that Robert Carlock’s involvement in show is one of the main reasons why 30 Rock exists. To say the least, as I was sitting in his office, I found that Robert Carlock is both a humble and intelligent man who understands in every aspect of making a successful TV comedy. The half-hour that he allowed me to spend with him stands as one of the most enriching experiences I’ve shared in my time here.
Then Sandy paid NYC a visit that following Monday. Long story short, I lost power for a week and spent the storm at a family friends in the Upper East. Bizarrely, the storm really didn’t affect anyone above 50th street, but just about devastated everyone below. The beauty behind this whole experience is that we went right back to work that Wednesday! Working that day while the vast majority of NYC was still in shambles, felt somewhat apocalyptic. For example, the subways were not working in any capacity, so the production and transportation teams running van pickups into all three boroughs – BUT sparingly because gas was beginning to run out all across the state. The phone lines were down at Silvercup Studios; so a good part of my work day was then ruined, as the phones are my best friend.
Oh, and remember how gas was running out? That became a real thing the following day. A car service for our actors called and said, “Hi, our apologies, but we cannot pick up Jane Krakowski because we do not have any more gas.” The phone rings again, “It’s Alec. It’s about Jane. It’s urgent.” Interestingly enough, I have found that Alec always tries to help some situations if he is able. It is amazing to see how everyone at 30 ROCK helps each other out in these tough situations.
I was then told to pick Jane up. Normally, I would have gotten in the production van, but there was a temporary bridge regulation put into action: no vehicle carrying less than three people could enter in Manhattan. My mission: get on the subway, jump in a cab once I get into Manhattan, get Jane at her hotel, and pray to God that the cab driver take us back to Long Island City. So down to the subway I ran, under the bridge I sped, and into a cab to Jane’s place. I called and left a message saying that I was outside. And then… “Hey Demetrios, it’s Todd – Jane, by some miracle, found a car service with gas. She’s on her way over here.”
I laughed and asked the cab driver to turn back around. I should have expected that to happen. What I didn’t expect, however, is that Jane sought me out in the office to thank me for my trouble. She is such a nice woman and it was a joy to have a brief conversation with her. And as soon as she left the production office – boom, another crisis. Tracy Morgan needed gasoline to power his fish tank generator (you know he has an octopus and a shark, right?!). After calling all around the state, I found a good amount of gas, and his fish survived another day!
Although hurricane Sandy caused for tons of chaos at the office – like I said, we’re still paying for it now with tandem shooting days. I truly enjoyed witnessing these people band together to continue providing entertainment. Looking at this job from the inside, I see that it will be a lot of long hours after college, no matter what part of the industry I go to. Either way, I am excited to be involved in it in every aspect.