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Part 3: Taping / Chatting Over Lunch

As Louis was taking me around the sets, I noticed both a strobe light and Danny's familiar voice in the distance, and we trotted over to where a scene at the Feldman Mansion was being taped. The first part of the sequence involved Merton, Lori, and Tommy chucking stakes at some off-screen bloodsuckers. The stakes flew everywhere, hitting poles, rolling clear across the set, chipping off small parts of the scenery, and posing great risk to the vampires' lower extremeties. Corey Feldman was also on set, leaping into the frame and forcing Tommy and Merton to choose to sacrifice one of their lives or that of Sloane (the lovely Jessica Welch, who'd previously appeared in Cat Woman). Big Wolf episodes aren't generally shot in sequence so as to get the most use out of each lighting setup, and though there was still a fair amount of work to be done on What's The Story, Mourning Corey, this was one of the final scenes in the episode. It was, much to Brandon's delight, the last time he'd ever have to wear the werewolf makeup, and as soon as that bit was finished, several members of the cast and crew gathered around to get a couple of photos with Brandon before he tore the costume off. Peter introduced me to Brandon, Danny, and Aimée, all of whom were extremely nice and gushed about how much they enjoyed bigwolfoncampus.org. That obviously made my day, and while we were chatting, the crew assembled a green screen for the backdrop of a couple of vampires being dusted. Most of you are probably familiar with the concept of a green screen or blue screen. (Green, due its higher luma content, has largely replaced blue screens, especially in the digital realm.) A green screen is used for situations where you want to replace a background with something that's not feasible to replicate in full-size on a set.

We ate lunch in a set from the Telescene cop drama Sirens, a series in which Big Wolf guest stars like Howard Bilerman, Richard Jutras, Alan Fawcett, Chip Chuipka, Neil Kroetsch, Vlasta Vrana, Jane Wheeler, Harvey Berger, and Harry Standjofski also popped up intermittently. Taping was still underway when some of us first hit the craft services tables, feasting on these crunchy bread-cracker-French-whatever-thingies and opening cans of soda while trying to remain as quiet as humanly possible. Eventually, the red "we're rolling" light dimmed, and the remainder of the cast and crew filed in. Danny was amazed and flattered to learn that some of the female members of bigwolfoncampus.org were starting lengthy "Who's hotter -- Brandon or Danny?" discussions. Danny also talked about how he was considering dropping the Danny Grand Prix name and moving onto something that sounded more becoming of a full band. If anyone has any suggestions, drop him a line at the usual e-mail address. I'm fond of Dippin' Sauce as a band name, but I'm fairly confident that won't play in Peoria.

Aimée, whose name I learned I'd been mispronouncing for the past year and a half, was around briefly during lunch. She had to head out to run some errands, but would return that night for some additional work. I snapped a quick photo before she left, and we had a brief chat about e-mails. She mentioned that it's not uncommon to receive between forty and fifty e-mails in the space of a day, but she tries to make sure everyone gets at least one response. Sometimes if Aimée recognizes a name as someone to whom she's replied before, she'll skip over them temporarily. This apparently greatly offended one irrational fan, but Aimée noted that those sorts of nasty messages are few and far between. The long hours of taping don't leave much time to devote to checking e-mail. I didn't ask how long everyone generally spends on set, but the day I visited kicked off with a 9 AM call time and didn't wrap until after shortly after midnight.

Big Wolf also seems to be a very Sloan-friendly set. That particular day, I happened to be wearing a shirt from the Between The Bridges tour, which came as a pleasant surprise to Peter, Danny, and Aimée, all of whom are fellow rabid fans. Sloan isn't particularly well known in the boondocks of South Carolina where I hail from, and though I've probably worn that shirt over fifty times in the past couple of years, Danny's only the second person to say anything to me about the four guys on the T and the Katakana alongside them. Aimée mentioned that she snuck in a marginally-racy Chris Murphy line in one episode that'll hopefully creep by the ever-vigilant Standards and Practices bunch. As a total coincidence, I had with me a rather nice sounding bootleg CD of the Sloan show in Atlanta where I'd bought that shirt, and hopefully whoever made a copy of it for Peter will do the same for Danny and Aimée. Not surprisingly, the three of them have great taste in music in general, and Blur, that dog., Weezer, and the Rentals were a few of the bands we all admitted to enjoying. I'd never run into an established that dog. fan in the few years that have passed since I first heard Retreat From The Sun, and in the space of a couple of hours, I'd met three. Danny revealed that Brandon's preferences are skewed towards a different direction, leaning more towards the O-Town variety. For future reference, don't mock O-Town in Brandon's presence. Seriously.

Recently completed episodes are often screened over lunch, and the catch of the day was N'Sipid. Danny, being the exceptionally nice guy that he is, grabbed a chair for me, and we watched the episode up front. N'Sipid didn't seem to be a favorite of either Danny or Brandon, but considering how much I enjoyed it, this should bode well for the quality of the remainder of the third season. Louis' mug, incidentally, is splashed on a poster for another group in this episode. I've noticed some discussions on the forum lamenting the lack of some of the regular cast from earlier seasons, but you'll be happy to learn that Becky, Dean, and Tim all turn up in N'Sipid.

Danny challenged me to see if I could guess whose dressing rooms were whose, based solely on the stuff taped on each door. The middle one had a piece of paper with 'Aimée Castle' scrawled in crayon, and Danny seemed more likely to me to have a KISS sticker on his door than Brandon. In case you're wondering, Brandon's door has a print-out of an American flag, a message saying 'go away', and, of all things, a llama. This was inspired by an episode which featured quite a bit of livestock, including a llama that showed his affection by spitting on Brandon's face, making the already-unpleasant werewolf makeup considerably less appealing. I could tell another story involving Ceasars, tray tables not set in their upright, locked positions, and being doused with a combination of clamato juice and vodka, but I guess I don't have to transcribe everything I overheard during my stay in Montréal. I'm probably delving into far too much detail as it is.

Brandon's dressing room has strange bits of paper scattered throughout the walls, which he claims is the handiwork of assorted crew members who stroll in with a roll of tape and interesting works of art like a faux cover for 'The Studs' magazine. I guess Brandon's not too bothered by their presence since he hasn't taken them down. A singing, dancing werewolf doll lurks menacingly over the room, perched on a stereo speaker. Since Aimée wasn't there, Danny and I didn't rout around much in her dressing room, though he did pull out a huge photo of him as a kid, posing for a before-and-after shot. Danny's interest in music is evident from a casual glance at his dressing room, which has an array of LPs lining the walls and a monstrous KISS poster displayed front-and-center. An acoustic guitar and a keyboard are always within arm's reach as well. Along with the album covers are quite a few photos taped on one wall, including one of him as werewolf, similar to some conceptual art I'd spotted earlier that afternoon. After signing some autographs for some younger fans, Danny was beckoned to the set for blocking, and off to the Factory we went.

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