By Molly Mayock, Series Producer February 17, 2012

The Trick You Don't Learn in Film School

Behind the Scenes of Wild Justice: Operation Imposter

When the Wardens serve a search warrant or arrest warrant, the primary components are officer safety, speed and the element of surprise. They don’t want the suspect to have time to reach for a weapon, escape or destroy evidence.

As a producer, my primary concerns when we’re following Wardens in these situations are CREW SAFETY (don’t forget to wear your Kevlar ballistic vests!), SPEED (don’t lose the Warden you’re following) and STORY (don’t miss the shot)!

When the Wardens have to jump over fences to get to the suspect quickly, it’s extremely challenging for the crew to climb those fences fast and get a usable (let alone good) camera shot at the same time and then run to catch up with the Warden.  Those shots usually end up all herky-jerky and pointing down at the ground. We never want to miss a single shot of action.

We’ve learned something that film schools never teach in TV Production 101—check if the gate is unlocked so you don’t have to climb any fences!  That happened in our Warden Impersonator story this season. A (real) Warden jumped over two fences.   While we were jumping over the two fences to catch up with him, we nearly missed the shot of a woman trying to get away. It turns out the gate was unlocked and we could have run in with cameras rolling smoothly and kept up with all of the action without all the unnecessary, herky-jerky climbing.

A few weeks later... we faced a similar scenario, but this time the gate was padlocked. As the Wardens jumped over fences to catch a suspect, we got smart and followed the one guy carrying bolt cutters. In less time than it would have taken to climb a fence with cameras and gear, we were in. They got their “bad guy,” we got our shots. And everyone went home safe.

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