My friend Mike G sent around a photo a few days ago of himself on the set of the Showtime series Dexter. I’ve never seen the show, as I don’t think think that rooting for a protagonist that happens to be a serial killer would contribute toward making me a happier, more optimistic person, but, as I’ve always fantasized about being able to walk onto the set of a well-known television show, I immediately wrote to Mike, asking for the details. What follows is his response, accompanied by a few of the photos that he snapped while on the set.
In 1993, I was enrolled in the art school at Eastern Michigan University and working for a local home health agency doing direct care for developmentally disabled adults, a job that I kept for a good part of ten years.
While working for the home health agency, I met a part of the Reynolds family, a brother-sister duo who had many siblings through natural and adoptive means. Scott was two years older than me, and Jennifer was the same age. Like me, they were working their way through college by preparing meals, passing out medications, and wiping soiled behinds. Even though we hit it off from the beginning, dealing with difficult/trying situations has a way of solidifying relationships, and, almost twenty years later, we’re still friends. “Forever-friends,” as Jen likes to call us.
Scott was an aspiring actor who was studying dramatic arts and actively participating in shows on campus. As far as I could tell, he was pretty good. He tried to get me on stage as well, but my phobias made sure I wasn’t going to have anything to do with it.
After college, Scott married and moved out to LA to get acting work. Until he could convince someone to put him in front of a camera, he got work as a staff writer on Touched by an Angel. He did that for a few years and then got a big break! An offer came in for him to work on a new military drama called E-Ring (the title referring to outermost ring of the Pentagon.) The show starred Benjamin Bratt and Dennis Hopper. Unfortunately this show struggled and was dropped after its first season.
The demise of that show led Scott to working as a staff writer on the Showtime series Dexter. He gradually moved up the chain until he achieved his current position as producer of the series. A lot of hard work and lots of talent got him where he is today.
Not being a big fan of television, I hadn’t seen any of the Dexter series until I promised him I’d start watching back episodes during the fifth season. It took me all of two weeks to get up to speed. I was an instant fan of the show and quickly organized viewing parties each week.
Scott has invited me repeatedly to visit the set of the show, but my timing was always off and I was never in town while they were actively working. Recently the stars aligned and I finally got on set, inviting my celebrity-blogger friend (Pink is the New Blog) and mega Dexter fan, Trent Vanegas who is also a Michigan native living in LA.
On the day of our studio visit, they were shooting a scene with nudity so the set in use was closed to everyone who wasn’t essential to the shoot. Bummer. That setback didn’t mean that we couldn’t run around like fan-boy geeks sitting on couches, rummaging through desk drawers, and climbing on boats though.
On the sets, the thing that stuck me the most was the amount of detail that set designers put into everything. Each set was simply amazing. From children’s drawings on the refrigerator to award plaques on the walls, nothing is overlooked. Everyday life and personality is referenced everywhere. The other thing that was immediately obvious to both Trent and me was that everything looked a LOT smaller in person than it does on TV. Dexter’s kitchen is tiny when compared to my memory of the show. So is the police station. Even the boat seemed smaller than I expected it to be.
￼After visiting the sets and satisfying our photographic needs, we went off to grab a bite to eat and absorb the awesomeness of what we had just experienced. We also posted obligatory teaser photos on Facebook to brag about it. It’s my plan to visit again, only this time I’ll be sure to bring better camera equipment.
First of all, how cool is it to hear about an EMU grad going off to make it as a successful producer in Hollywood? (I just hope that, as a result of this post, he’s not suddenly beset by folks from the EMU Development Office.)
Oh, and I think I might give Dexter a shot now. Knowing that it’s filmed in the same studio where such classics as The Facts of Life and Silver Spoons were brought to life, intrigues me. (While murder is never good, I’ll admit that the thought of it taking place on the same stage where Edna Garret once dished out heart-felt life lessons to the likes of Molly and Tootie, gives me a perverse thrill… Wouldn’t it be cool if they could somehow do a time traveling cross-over episode, where Dexter came to school as a science teacher, or something? Or, better yet, what if he did away with Blair Warner before she could give the other girls hits of that “marijuana cigarette” that she carried around in her hollowed-out lipstick?) Also, for what it’s worth, I can totally see how, after having written for Touched by an Angle, one might gravitate toward something like Dexter. It makes perfect sense to me, especially given the religious undertones that I’ve been told run through the Showtime series.
If you want to see the rest of the photos that Mike took while on his tour of the set, I believe his Facebook album is open to the public. Or, at least, he told me to direct people there.
update: It doesn’t have anything to do with Dexter, but, for those of you who find yourselves desperately wanting to know more about Mike G, I’d suggest starting with this video of his parents.