2 days on the Castle Set
2 Days on the Castle TV Set
Castle Comic Convention Episode
Episode airs: Nov 5, 10pm
A couple weeks ago I had the unique opportunity to set up my comic convention booth on the set of the ABC tv series Castle, starring Nathan Fillian. I am usually pretty busy drawing and getting ready for my next show, but I thought it might be a fun opportunity. I was told the episode revolved around a fictional comic book convention and that they liked the look of my booth enough to have me on the show. So my wife Lauren and I packed up the car and headed to Hollywood. And after two days of filming, I had an amazing story to tell!
As soon as we got to the set, I realized two things. One, I was very lucky to be there. Only three other regular comic exhibitors like myself were chosen to be involved. The rest of the floor consisted of fake booths and lots of Marvel stuff. The other thing I realized was that the placement of my booth was hidden in the back behind the Fangoria tables, and that as a result, we probably wouldn’t get much screen time!
In the end that might have worked out for the best. Since my table set up was in the back of the room, Lauren and I got to relax most of the time and watch a tv show being made. This actually worked out great. Since we were usually just hanging out instead of acting in the shots, we got to talk to almost everyone on the crew! Below is an official pic from ABC; if you look over Nathan’s shoulder to the right, you can see a small zeppelin, and that’s where my booth is!
The first people we talked to were members of the camera crew. The camera operator took the time to show us how the big beast worked. They even let us look through the eye piece so we could see what the shots looked like. Castle is one of the few shows still shot on film, so the camera they use is a vintage Panaflex that isn’t available any longer. The camera operator, Steph, took the time to explain how long a reel of film lasts and the difference between shooting on film vs digital. One bonus was when shooting on film they didn’t have to use nearly as many lights, which was very nice later when the convention set started getting unbearably hot.
The title of the Castle episode we were a part of is entitled “The Final Frontier.” As if being on the set wasn’t cool enough, the director of this episode was none other than Jonathan Frakes. On Friday, which was the first day of shooting, we quickly learned that Jonathan is hilarious, and so is Nathan. You always see actors and directors joking during interviews and things like that, but you never know how they really are in person! I can tell you first hand, they are both awesome guys! Their schtick gave me an idea, which I will get back to later. Here is a pic of some convention goers:
We didn’t get a chance to talk to the background talent as much as we did with the rest of the crew, but some did stop for a moment to take a picture with Lauren and me. We also talked briefly with Nathan and Jonathan near the end of the day. At one point, Lauren made a comment about Wil Wheaton, and both Nathan and Jonathan took out their phones in a valiant attempt to prove who was better friends with Wheaton. I think it ended in a draw. And Jonathan bought one of my messenger bags, which was pretty cool!
So like I said, my table set up was in a really great spot for talking to the crew. Random people would just come up and sit next to me and, just like I do at conventions to fans, I always ask people what they do. So a guy in a suit comes up and sits next to me and I ask him what he does. It turned out that he was Molly Quinn’s (Alexis Castle) manager. I asked him all kinds of questions about what it was like to be a manager and he told me a few cool stories. He was really nice and answered all my dumb questions. Then a few minutes later, Molly came in to do her scene.
There was a small space next to me where her makeup people set up a quick station to touch Molly up. Lauren was walking by and one of the makeup people grabbed Lauren and said, “Hey can you hold this?” I look over and there is Lauren holding a giant makeup kit while Molly and her manager talked shop. More amazing Hollywood stories were overheard! I don’t have a picture of this because Molly was wearing kind of an interesting outfit, so I didn’t want to seem like a nuisance. You’ll have to watch the show on Monday, November 5th to see what I mean.
So far, all of this stuff was on Friday, and we still had Monday to shoot!
Since I had my table set up with t-shirts and comics just like I do at conventions, members of the crew kept coming by and buying things. In the end, I made as much as I do at some small comic conventions! Everyone was super cool and supportive, and it was awesome hearing about all their interesting jobs and how they got into them. One person we met was Shaun from the props department.
Shaun answered every single question we ever could have had about props. We also found out how he got into the business, and what other shows and movies he’s worked on. (That was another question we asked everyone.) At one point, Shaun offered to give us a tour of the Props trailer. We said, SURE!
Here is a picture of John Locke’s knife from Lost:
The props trailer has everything you could think of. As Shaun told us, they had “Everything they could possibly need but nothing they ask for.” Which means they are always asking for random things. He gave us one of the best tours we’ve ever had!
END OF FRIDAY
So Friday we ended up being there from 11:30 am to around 11:30 pm. Lauren and I left late and were completely exhausted by the time we got home. We met a ton of great people on the crew and had some really interesting talks with the extras dressed up as convention goers and the other exhibitors. On the way home, I was thinking about how funny Jonathan Frakes and Nathan Fillion were and got a great idea for a vintage boxing style poster. I had Saturday off, followed by a small book show on Sunday to prepare for, and then the last day of filming was Monday. If I was going to draw something, I would only have about five hours to do it. I decided to try it. Why not? If it turned out horrible, no one would ever have to see it!
Yes, all of those things happened on Friday. Monday was just as crazy but in a different way. One guy came back to tell me he wore one of my shirts out drinking and that everyone was commenting on it. Jonathan Frakes walked by and hollered at Lauren that his daughter promptly stole the messenger bag he bought from us. At least it was getting put to good use. We got to talk to some more crew, including the writer of the episode. It turned out that she used to be a production assistant on the show. We talked to a current production assistant who assured us that it was not a glamorous job. While the writer had been a PA, she wrote a script and handed it to one of the producers. They loved it, and within months she was on set watching her episode being filmed.
THE SET UP
So there I was with my poster in hand. I really wanted Jonathan and Nathan to check it out, but they were both busy, so I knew I would have to get the crew behind me. I brought three copies with me, one for each of them and one for both of them to sign so I could keep it. I started showing everyone in the crew who I talked to on Friday and everyone loved it. Soon crew members were walking over asking to see the poster everyone was talking about. After a few hours, someone brought Jonathan Frakes over to see it. He paused for a minute to take it all in.
(Here’s a picture of him looking at it with Shaun—the Props guy—and the guy who operated the boom mike and bought one of my shirts.)
Jonathan loved it! At first I was skeptical, but I’m always initially skeptical when people say nice things. That’s just me. But he said it was one of the nicest gifts anyone had ever given to him! And I knew he really liked it when he kept bringing people by to see the copy I had throughout the day. I got to meet Andrew Marlow, the creator of Castle, when Jonathan insisted he come to my booth and check it out.
When Nathan finally had a chance to stop by, he seemed surprised also. But he said he loved it and would definitely be hanging it up in his house. I talked to someone later who said that Nathan has a bunch of vintage stuff hanging on his walls and my print would fit perfectly. So if any of you are ever in Nathan’s house, make sure and look for it!
(Nathan signing my copy of the print.)
So that was pretty much how filming went! If you watch the show, look for us—we are behind the Marvel and Fangoria booths. You might be able to see the 19XX booth if you pause it and squint really hard!
Oh, and I was only going to make a couple of those prints for Jonathan and Nathan, but everyone from the cast kept asking if they were for sale so I added it to my web store.
Here it is!