Fall TV Survey: 14 Showrunners Reveal Pilot Shoot Secrets

6:00 AM 9/21/2016

by Bryn Elise Sandberg, Kate Stanhope, and Lesley Goldberg

Mike Schur, Jason Katims, Shawn Ryan and others talk about the craziest thing that happened while shooting their series' pilot.

ABC/Kevin Foley

Ahead of the fall television season's debut, The Hollywood Reporter surveyed a number of this year's top showrunners about their new series, making content in 2016 and the state of broadcast TV.

Below, Mike Schur, Jason Katims, Shawn Ryan and other small screen vets reveal the craziest thing that happened during their pilot shoot.

  • Jason Katims

    'Pure Genuis' (CBS)

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    "It's all a blur."

  • Liz Friedman

    'Conviction' (ABC)

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    "We were in Toronto for a while and went to shoot a few days in New York and then we came back. We had two things left to do, both exterior scenes. There had been no snow on the ground in Toronto the entire time, and then it dumps snow the night before our exterior shots. We show up at the used car lot and they're scraping the cars off. After that, we had to go shoot in the woods, and the first half of the woods scene that we already shot was without snow on the ground. We needed a steam truck to melt the snow, and then had to blow mulch all over it to make it disappear."

  • Josh Berman

    'Notorious' (ABC)

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    "We left Daniel Sujata's wardrobe in Beverly Hills when we needed him in Downtown L.A. during rush hour."

  • Scott Silveri

    'Speechless' (ABC)

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    "Making Minnie [Driver] and John [Ross Bowie] shoot a shower scene at 4 a.m. outside in a mausoleum. That's where we shot the exteriors for the third act — our big fair — and because of boarding, the only time we could do it was that night. You're shooting with kids, so you have all these things to juggle. The only place we could find a big field where we needed to be was a mausoleum and the only place we could shoot that was outdoors in the middle of the night. Minnie, god bless her, we were shooting her up on the Ferris Wheel and I said, 'You're such a sport; thanks for being so game and keeping your energy up. I don't know how you do it.' She said, 'It could be a lot worse: it's late at night, I could be wet.' And I said, 'Have you not looked at the call sheet?! That's what we're doing next!'"

  • David Guggenheim

    'Designated Survivor' (ABC)

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    "Our director, Paul McGuigan, had a baby in the middle of our pilot shoot. He left on a Friday night, raced home from Toronto and was there for the birth and a couple weekends with the baby and came back to finish the pilot. It was incredible."

  • Corinne Brinkerhoff

    'No Tomorrow' (The CW)

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    "We had a quick scene where Josh gets hit in the face with a strawberry milkshake, but our schedule was so tight that we had to get it in one take with a skeleton crew. We had no doubles on wardrobe, no backup — one chance only. [Co-writer] Tory threw the milkshake with such shockingly powerful accuracy, it knocked Josh's hat off his head. It was a triumph."

  • Shawn Ryan

    'Timeless' (NBC)

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    "We lifted the control car for our Hindenburg a hundred feet in the air and had our cast acting their butts off while dangling ten stories off the ground."

  • Jeremy Slater

    'The Exorcist' (Fox)

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    "Sadly, we had a very safe, very normal pilot shoot, so I don't have any bad-ass Haunted Soundstage stories. We did shoot for several days in the favelas of Mexico City, though, where I got the chance to fire air cannons filled with hundreds of giant rubber locusts at poor Ben Daniels. If you ever get the chance to blast someone with locusts, I highly recommend the experience."

  • Rock Reuben and Bruce Helford

    'Kevin Can Wait' (CBS)

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    "Our lead actress, Erinn Hayes, got food poisoning and performed immediately after receiving several IVs. We kept a bucket nearby as we shot each scene.  Note: we did not need the bucket."

  • Mark Goffman

    'Bull' (CBS)

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    "Michael Weatherly wrapped NCIS and started shooting this entirely new characters not 24 hours later. We also got to shoot in the World Trade Center in New York."

  • Peter Lenkov

    'MacGyver' (CBS)

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    "Watching promos before we shot a single frame."

  • Chris Harris

    'The Great Indoors' (CBS)

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    "Two of our seven cast members getting injured by a bear."

  • Mike Schur

    'The Good Place' (NBC)

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    "That nothing crazy happened."