My main motivation for attending New York Comic Con was Person of Interest. There were a lot of other motivating factors, too, but that was definitely the one that clinched it for me. Around Christmas time I bought the first two seasons and couldn’t stop watching the show. I plowed through both of them, again and again, until I’d absorbed the show and had a good handle on what was happening. It was and is good television. There’s no doubt about it. If you haven’t watched it, then you should read one of my first articles on Nerdophiles about the show. It is worth sitting down and watching.
Anyway, going to New York City meant I would be in the heart of where Person of Interest exists. It is a show filmed and set in the city. They film on location so I hoped, in going to NYC, I’d be able to track them down and see some of the magic happen. What I was not expecting was to have one of the greatest days of my life, and the highlight of my New York Comic Con trip, happen all thanks to the cast and crew of Person of Interest.
First, though, I want to do a quick rundown of the Person of Interest panel at NYCC before I get into my on-location experience. The panel started with a “sizzle reel” as well as a clip from one of the future episodes that has, at this point, already aired. We got a chance to see the amazing sequence where Amy Acker’s character, Root, pulled some fancy footwork as she worked to distract Samaritan’s “interface.”
Over all, the panel focused on talking about where the show has come from and where it is going. A lot of the questions centered on their new identities and the new terms of the show. Greg Plageman talked a lot about the new hideout and the new conditions Team Machine had to operate within. They also talked a bit about the superhero aspect and the fact that our team now have secret identities. The show changed and continues to pull away from its beginning in order to delve deeper into the world of artificial intelligence. Jim Caviezel (John Reese) also mentioned that he was happy for the chance to get to work with Kevin Chapman (Lionel Fusco) more because they get to have a “great old time.”
Also worth mentioning is the fact that Root’s roles change from week to week and that is by design. She is the one character who got to break the mold of a set secret identity this season which made her more fluid than the rest.
Other highlights included discussion of the Root and Shaw relationship (they acknowledged it existed), the introduction of The Brotherhood and the troubles they will bring, and the return of a lot of old baddies. Greg mentioned that there is going to be a conflict between Elias and The Brotherhood at some point, so while we’ve got the battle of the machines we’ve also got people battling each other. There are multiple layers to the story this season.
I got the chance to ask a question for the first time ever at a panel. I asked about crossovers. NBC is working on a Chicago Fire/SVU crossover, so I thought it would be cool to hear what show the cast might like to crossover with. Even after I got a good “ooooooh” from the crowd, only Amy Acker replied seriously, but it was a winner. If Amy could choose a show, she’d want a crossover with Orphan Black. I couldn’t agree more! Then Greg Plageman jokingly said Veep, and Jim Caviezel gave his ten cents and said Gilligan’s Island.
The panel ended with the cast staying to do an impromptu signing which was no doubt appreciated since there wasn’t one on the schedule.
Outside of the panel, I decided to take a shot at finding a shooting location to watch Person of Interest in action. After a bit of work (shout out to Wendell Browne who helped me out) I managed to find a location, and thanks to a series of happy accidents, ended up standing face to face with Andrew Saxe, the production manager. He offered up his knowledge of production and gave me over an hour of content.
In my opinion, I’d hit the goldmine of production knowledge and, of course, my mind went completely blank. Thanks to one of my friends pushing on the conversation, I finally came up with some questions and we had a fun discussion about the production aspects of Person of Interest. I asked him how much useable material they’d get out of an all day shoot and he said they would get maybe six minutes of useable shots. That Friday they were going to shoot from six in the morning until ten that night, and for all of it they would only get six minutes of footage. It blew my mind. We asked about what the hardest and easiest parts about filming in New York City were, and while answering the question Tim, the assistant location manager, joined the conversation.
Andrew said filming in NYC was difficult because there are always so many projects happening at once. A lot of things film consistently in NYC, and while one show may only take one day in a neighborhood, odds are there will be another show coming in the next day. It takes its toll on certain areas. NYC is just busy when it comes to production, and while it is wonderful that the city is accommodating, it can be difficult at times to squeeze into the areas necessary for a shot.
The easiest thing, he said, is finding locations that fit the setting of a show. NYC is dynamic insomuch that it isn’t terribly difficult to find a portion of the city to fit specific settings. If they need a warehouse, they can find a warehouse. If they need exterior shots of the city, there are a variety of areas to choose from. One of the other production people told us that another show he worked on took some of the older buildings and used them for a period specific set and spread dirt all over the road. NYC offers a huge variety of shooting locations and there is almost something for everyone.
Tim, when prompted, gave his five cents and humorously responded that there is nothing easy about filming in NYC. Upon further thought, he explained that exteriors are probably the easiest thing.
Another issue with filming in New York is the people. Andrew explained that people will walk right through a shot, even if there is an attempt to redirect them. There’s no way to control the foot traffic because everyone walks in NYC and it can be challenging to preserve an on-location set when there are pedestrians and tourists wandering through all the time. We witnessed an example of that while watching filming at an alley shooting location when a double decker tour bus pulled up right in the shot and everyone at the top of it began shooting pictures and yelling questions about what was being filmed. Needless to say, that shot was ruined.
However, even with all of the challenges, Andrew and Tim both seemed to agree that filming in NYC is great.
After we were done talking I was invited to the evening shoot, an offer which I took up without hesitating. That evening I showed up and got the chance to talk with more of the production crew, as well as watch the filming of a car crash scene and what came afterward. It was an amazing experience, and every single member of the Person of Interest cast and crew were extremely kind to fans since I wasn’t the only one there. Amy Acker actually took time away from shooting to talk with a group of fans who approached her between shots.
And at the end of the shoot I approached Kevin Chapman, asked him for a picture, and he actually hung out and took pictures with me and one of my friends. All in all, it was a fantastic experience and I don’t think I’ll ever meet a kinder cast and crew. Person of Interest stole my heart all over again during NYCC and I will continue to be a fan of the show. It is some of the smartest writing on television today and I recommend it one hundred percent.