By Robert Suski
It’s tough living in a relatively small city and tougher trying to describe it to someone who has never been there. When, for in- stances someone mentions New York, everyone has some type of idea; whether it be the Manhattan Skyline, the Empire State Building, or the Statue of Liberty. A city like New York has that power that its own name can instantly bring up recognition within people who may not have been there. Scranton doesn’t necessarily have that power. When trying to describe Scranton to an outsider, those of us that live here at times do mention one thing that people will recognize and associate with Scranton, The Office. Though filmed primarily in California, The Office is packed with enough references and on location shots that people who may have never been to Northeast Pennsylvania will have at the least an idea about Scranton. Soon however it won’t only be The Office that people will associate with Scranton, as Hollywood has come back a second time and I myself had the privilege of helping in the production.
Back in late October, a small but professional production company could be seen filming around Downtown Scranton from the courthouse on Washington, to a small diner in Southside. The production known as “Hillers” consisted of a diverse staff. The executive producer and assistant director along with the talent were from Los Angelas area, the director of photography is from all the way across the pond in England, but what is also amazing is that a good chunk of the production staff were from the area. Students from Marywood and The University of Scranton were also invited to be a part of the production, either as extras or help out as pro- duction assistants. I myself was a production assistant, helping out with lighting, setting up the sets, unloading equipment, basically doing jobs that needed do- ing. For the week that I did work I got to do some amazing, and not so amazing things to help out with the production. I probably learned more in that week than most students will in a semester in video production classes here at Marywood.
With the memories I look back at fondly of the things I did and the people I met, I admit there are memories that I don’t look to as fondly while working on production. The one thing about being a production assistant is that the production will need you to do jobs that aren’t so glamorous or engaging. A few times times I can recall thinking to myself “I got up early for this?” but they were jobs that needed to get done regardless of if you wanted or didn’t want to do them whether it be driving across town for supplies, picking up people or having to house sit the crew home while waiting for people. The only thing I truly don’t miss about being on set were the sleepless nights. Crew call for the production was usually around 6 AM, which meant waking up at 5 AM for me, leaving my house around 5:30 and showing up wherever we were filming that day. Then once I stayed as long as I could, leaving the production to either go to class, go to one of my shifts at the station or go home and get some form of sleep and do it all over again. Needless to say I don’t miss getting lost in Downtown Scranton looking for a restaraunt in an area I had never been in or being accidentally an hour early for filming.
Overall though I truly did enjoy helping out with the production of Hillers. Though I had to get up early at times, I got to eat when I normally would have slept past breakfast and though I wasn’t the best production assistant ever, I did manage to learn a great deal and meet some interesting people who I normally wouldn’t have met just going to class or going around town and when Hillers is finally completed, I’ll be able to watch and say “See that set? I helped set up the lighting.” Or “I helped set up that set in that diner scene.” which not many people will be able to say they’ve done and the people of Scranton, when trying to talk about their city, will be able to add in Hillers along with The Office to get people to recognize what they are talking about.