I worked on this American Ninja Warrior spot that was on Saturday Night Live last week. SNL always shoots their mini-movies on the Friday that is the day before the show is going to air, so basically the whole production is on a crazy short deadline. You’re also working around the cast’s schedule and availability, which often means they are coming and going from rehearsals at some odd hour. I’ve read (in Bossypants) and heard (on Wait, Wait Don’t Tell Me, Fresh Air, Here’s the Thing — basically if it’s on NPR, it’s where I get my information) about how grueling the schedule is for the cast, but it really drove it home when we wrapped at 4:30 am last Friday, at which point, it said on the call sheet, the cast was scheduled to go back to rehearsal.
As you can imagine, between the technocrane, the three other cameras, and the fact that Bobby Moynihan had to jump into a pool at regular intervals (either so they could film him doing it over and over again, or in order to stay wet), the scenes on the very realistic-looking American Ninja Warrior set were no picnic to mic. Because we couldn’t wire him and I couldn’t get anywhere close with the boom, the sound guy I was working with planted a couple of mics underneath the red landing pads/obstacles/whatever those things are along the edge of the pool. On one take, when one pad was landed upon particularly hard, we heard it crack and break — a great sound effect that will never get used (and one which made me feel bad for Moynihan, but I heard that he wrote the skit, so at least he knew what he was getting into). The mics did not stay dry, but I think they all survived the day, which is always an important goal.
The problem with stuff like this is that you’re always looking for one or two moments that were hilarious when you were watching them happen but for some reason (probably time constraints) didn’t make the cut. Still, the piece did turn out to be pretty funny. And there’s some rare, immediate gratification we don’t often get, knowing that the thing I just worked on will be on television the very next night.
Also, Drake looks pretty good in a bald cap. Who knew?