JANUARY 11, 2008

by Tara McSherry, Office Production Assistant

I never really knew what it was like to work in the office of a television production until I started working on MONK. Sure, I have been interested in film and television for a while, but I never fully understood what it meant to "work on a production." Coming from Boston, most of what I knew about the television production world was learned from the photos tacked up at Cheers.

I spend my week in the MONK production office right alongside the production coordinator, Ann Kasier and the assistant production coordinator, Shane Birdsill. The office duties are split between me and the other production assistant Nancy Lopez.

I like to look at my job as a large entity that is divided into many different sub parts. Each sub-part is important and unique, and everyone has to work together as a team.

Each department is in constant communication with each other. Pre-Production meetings help to keep the dialogue going and insure that each department is working efficiently. For example, the property department has to be in contact with the set decorating department, so that certain props can function within each set. Every little thing contributes to the show.

It's not just the people that make production possible, but also the office equipment. For example, I have a new found appreciation for the copy machine, or "Lola" as we call it. I never thought I'd be so attached to such an enormous piece of machinery. Sometimes, I find myself begging and pleading with it to work, hoping that if I persist, the copier will comply and paper will flow from all ends.

Once crying over the copier is done, one of our main jobs is to distribute the many script revisions. A script starts out as a writer's draft, evolves into a producer's draft, and eventually becomes a shooting script. If there are any name changes, or names or images that have to be cleared, they will appear in the shooting script.

A shooting script can also go through revisions, generally noted by different colors of paper. Each color represents the stage of revision. For example, a script starts out on white paper, and then if there are revisions they will be printed on blue, pink, yellow and then green paper. Then, Nancy and I have to make sure that everyone in the production is aware of the changes. We once had a script go through as many as nine revisions before it was finished! That's a wicked lot of paper! When you work in a production office, you realize that paper is like air, because without it, production would cease to exist.

Our job doesn't stop at revisions either. We are also responsible for distributing memos, shooting schedules, cast lists, call sheets, production reports, crew lists, and sides for the scene that are going to be shot the next day. The life of an office production assistant never ceases to be boring or paperless.

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