Applause. Laughter. Music.
That’s what you’ll find on set when Kevin Smith (Clerks, Chasing Amy) is directing. At the beginning of November, I had the opportunity to visit the Supergirl set with a group of journalists, when we were invited by Smith to watch a scene being filmed.
Smith brings his unique and fun directing style to the Greg Berlanti’s DCTV universe again this Fall. Last season, he directed The Flash episode, “The Runaway Dinosaur,” and returned to direct next week’s “Killer Frost.” He also recently filmed the Supergirl episode, “Supergirl Lives,” thought it won’t air until January.
Over the last several years, I’ve visited many sets to interview the casts and watch filming, but the experience has never been even close to as lively and festive as the Supergirl was under Smith’s direction. The mood on most sets is serious and quiet … very quiet.
Here, Smith’s demeanor and enthusiasm was felt by everyone working on set. “I can’t say enough amazing things about Kevin Smith. I’ve been a fan for ages. I was really anticipating working with him and so excited about it, and he just exceeded all of my expectations,” said Supergirl’s Melissa Benoist. “He’s so supportive and encouraging. The atmosphere on set– We work crazy long hours, and the energy that he brings is only positive.”
One of the main ways Smith maintains a high level of energy is by recognizing, commending and stirring up a wave of applause for those working. In the short amount of time we were able to observe the filming, Smith led his cast and crew in applause multiple times. “You guys saw how many rounds of applause there were,” Benoist said. “That’s like a daily occurrence, all day, and I don’t know how you keep that up. He’s wonderful.”
Mehcad Brooks, who plays James Olsen, concurred, “He also brings this amazing energy to the set. He’s always applauding, laughing, clapping, yelling out things that are funny. He sort of makes the day go quicker.”
Another unique aspect is that in Video Village (where the director and others watch the scene being shot), music is played between takes. The music, in addition to the applause, has a huge impact on the mood. “He keeps things moving and plays music, he’s always having people applaud for cast and crew members and keeping everyone engaged and part of the process,” Chris Wood (who plays the new character Mon-El) said. “That’s all you can ask for because we’re here very long hours. So when it’s fun it’s even better.”
The light-hearted spirit doesn’t slow down Smith’s process, and his work as an actor has helped his direction, as Ian Gomez (Snapper Carr), told us on set, “He’s very quick, fast-paced. He has a lot of humor, so it’s a good place to work.”
He continued, “I think him being an actor, he kinda knows what’s best for him, what he likes, and so he tries to give that to other actors. His notes are right on point, and succinct, and it’s not like ‘What are you doing?’ It’s like, you know exactly what he means, and he comes up with things at the spur at the moment that really helps the scenes, so it’s been great.”
Everyone from the crew, cast, and writer on set had nothing but enthusiasm for working under Smith’s direction. Brooks summed it up well, “Kevin is an actor’s director. He’s a crew director. He’s a lighting director. He’s a camera director. He’s everything. He’s everybody’s favorite. And he makes you understand that it doesn’t have to take eleventy billion hours to get the right thing, you know? And to make it look really good.”
Visiting the Supergirl set and watching Smith in action was one of the highlights of a week full of set visits in Vancouver. The true measure of success will be seeing the completed episode air in January. And from the tidbits we got, “Supergirl Lives” appears to be a funny and spectacular hour.
Supergirl airs Monday nights on The CW