The new year is here and with new energy on the set, the crew continued the new month with episode 14 of season 5. During the month, they finished episodes 14, 15, 16 and halfway up to episode 17. So, january is an exciting month for Castle fans during which the cast and crew filmed this season’s two-parter. When asked about the up-coming episode, Andrew answers: “Two-parters are known for one thing – cliffhangers.”
This month, our favourite camera operator Andrew Bikichky received a lot of questions about his work and his cameras. It has already been mentioned before, Castle crew uses Panavision Platinum 35mm camera with Kodak film. It uses 15-18 film reels in a day (2-5 hours of footage on them). We learned from Andrew that there are few other shows that are using the same types of camera as Castle – like “Grey’s Anatomy” from ABC. Andrew indicates that the decision initially to use film and Panavision cameras was done by Rob Bowman and Bill Roe. The biggest difference between film and digital is that when shooting digitally people tend not to cut the scenes, resulting in longer dailies to sift through. In Castle’s case they capture everything on film, one episode at the time (to avoid messing up the cuts). More cutting – less film to use. They do not shoot the scenes in the story order. Scenes are played in front of the camera a number of times using different angles and different acting choices. .
Andrew says that moving the camera is like a dance between three people – the 1st AC, Focus puller and cameraman (who is apparently the lead in the tango). He also says that the best thing doing his job is having to see everything through eyepiece. The worst thing about his job would be having long hours of work. The person Andrew hangs out the most on a daily basis would be his 1st AC and dolly grip of his camera (part of the camera team).
He also shares some background information of some of the technical parts of shooting the show. The hardest part to film are the action sequences – because of the many cuts and angles. Long setup time and lots of stunts makes it harder than usual scenes. Castle also has a stunt-coordinator as a regular team member – Denis Madalone.
Castle’s team decides when and where to use locations depending on their availability. Usually the location-finder of the team is 1st AD (assistant director). Castle crew reuses a lot of the locations because of convenience and they work well for the stories. When a fan asked if it tricky to make LA look like NYC, Andrew praised @CastleArtDept and location department on doing a great job doing just that. Whenever they use sets for filming, they have an On-Set dresser (representative from art department) that is there at all times and makes sure that the set is dressed accordingly and fits the image of the scene and series in general.
Andrew also mentioned that nobody is stationed in NYC for the inserts. When the takes are needed, the cameramen are hired in NYC to get some. Moreover, many of the shoots are “stock inserts”, like precinct, street views, camera pan of the city, traffic, Castle’s loft exterior, Kate’s loft exterior and so on. They are used as needed. If actors aren’t in the shoots, they are usually stock shots.
The most challenging episode to film this season so far has been Probable Cause – it had such challenges as overnight shooting and scenes with the giant bridge. The most difficult scene to shoot was the morning aftermath on bridge after working all night and trying to stay awake. Whenever actors shoot a gun on screen, they use usually blanks (the bullets may be fake, but the shots definitely are real). Special effects are needed sometimes, but they are used with precaution when they can’t make noise on set. When they use SWAT teams on screen, for example the episode Cops & Robbers – real/retired SWAT or military are used.
All the phones on screen are props (although, according to Andrew, when the phones are not in focus of the story, actors can use their own too). Switching the phones on set from props to real ones can be a hassle sometimes, but usually actors have the same models as the prop-phones, so for continuity, it doesn’t make a difference. Every once in awhile a cast or crew member forgets to switch off their phone and gets a call or text during takes. And according to Andrew, Jon Huertas has the BEST ringtones around.
In the documentary episode (5×07), it wasn’t Andrew who ended up in the Janitorial room, it was Steph, the A-camera cameraman. For the camera crew (especially the cameramen) the episode Swan Song was harder to film because of the physical demands of handling a hand held camera. In the episode “Significant Others”, Andrew’s favourite scene to shoot was the “War of the Roses” and Castle stuttering/mumbling in front of his ladies (he was great at it, wasn’t he?). Nancy Lee Grahn was fun to have around on set and she was spot on with breaking those vases and things on the set.
.@trinxikene From all over the world we come together here and find that we have more in common than not, that we’re all in this together
— Andrew Bikichky (@AndrewBikichky) January 30, 2013
“@evilapprentice: how much of a disaster do you think an episode of 100% improv would be?” Haha, it would have to air on cable
— Andrew Bikichky (@AndrewBikichky) January 12, 2013
Here’s an interesting link Andrew has shared with us. Castle set coordinator Claire Kaufman interview.
Behind the scenes pictures: