Law and Order: SVU Set Visit

UAP students with Mariska

Law and Order: SVU Set Visit

By

UAP Alumni Maynor Alas & Audasia Glenn

            15 years, 15 seasons and over 300 episodes, Law & Order: SVU is one of the longest running television shows in history. With an all-star cast including Ice-T,Kelli Giddish and Mariska Hargitay, SVU has been shaping cultural views on the justice system for the entirety of its run. Add to that the amazing writing by Warren Leight (one of our repeat offenders for The 24 Hour Plays on Broadway) and we were sold on visiting the set of the show with a group of New Design High School students; fellow alumni who are big fans of the show; Lisa Harbert who made this possible along with Ted Harbert, Chairman of NBC Broadcasting (UAP board directors); and our weekly assignment desk editor Anna Strout. Our tour was led by the fabulous Jennie Wong who took us through all the inner workings of the show. The amount of time and effort it takes to complete an episode is mind-boggling. It takes 7 days to prep an episode and another 8 to shoot it. That’s 15 days for 1 hour of television with countless people working on it.

We started our tour walking through several standing sets. A hospital hallway led into a conference room and a living room, a courtroom, some offices, a precinct and a holding cell. It was hard seeing how they could make these sets look so real on television but Iguess that’s the power of set design, art direction, camera angles and editing. Along with the tour we were given sides-a small segment of the script with details about the cast,the setting and the order of the scenes (scenes of an episode are shot out of order for convenience sake). As writers, we were chomping at the bit to take any opportunity to read and learn from other writers’ work. While walking through the sets we passed by the dressing rooms where we were greeted casino online by several of the actors on the way to rehearsal. First, Kelli Giddish walks by and before we can recover from seeing her, Mariska Hargitay, Nia Vardalos and Raul Esparza pass us casually like they don’t know they’re the most awesome people in the building. They were all very nice, down to earth people and Mariska even stopped to take a picture with us before she was whisked away.

After walking through the sets, soaking up all the information that was thrown at us, and meeting all the beautiful people, we stopped in the wardrobe department. It was quite the experience roaming through the aisles and aisles of designer clothes, organized and labeled by size like some weird high-end fashion boutique where they sell veils, jeans and prom dresses. Our tour ended in a Q&A session with Juliet Polcsa, the head of the wardrobe department. We got to pick her brain and learn all types of information about her job. She showed us the continuity book, a binder packed with picture upon picture of actors in different outfits at different angles. She uses this book to keep track of what and how an actor wears an outfit. Any accessories they wore, how they had their hair, etc. Obviously, all the pictures of Mariska looked like they belonged on a magazine spread. What we took away from Juliet was that wardrobe is hugely important because when a character enters a scene, before they utter a single word, their clothing is already telling a story about who they are. It was a very zen experience and it definitely opened our eyes to just how crucial fashion is, not only on TV but in our day-to-day lives in defining who we are. We closed out our day by watching a scene being filmed from the monitor room which made us feel like the professionals we’re all striving to become. We can’t say much about the scene (so as not to be a spoiler alert) but it involved characters in a setting speaking words. As lifelong fans of the show (having seen all 300 episodes several times over) and then being on the set and seeing how much work goes into entertaining us- makes us appreciate this one of a kind show that much more and crave for a 16th season and beyond.