The second part of the day for the 2012 Syfy Digital Press Tour, after visiting the set of Defiance and a quick lunch, we traveled across town to the Cinespace studios to visit the set of Warehouse 13, and meet up with the cast and our friend from last year’s tour, Eddie McClintock (Agent Pete Lattimer).
This was such an interesting experience since it was a place I was intensely familiar with, if only from watching every episode. I didn’t know what to expect in particular, but I was expecting more green-screen setups with smallish sets. Much to my surprise, this was not the case.
We arrived in the lobby, and were offered hot coffee/tea/cider and cookies as soon as we walked in the door. I grabbed a hot cider and a cookie – I did not realize that chocolate cookies with bacon are some sort of thing in Canada…love both, but jury is still out on the combination! But as soon as I got mine, we were split into two groups to visit their latest set build in Studio B, led by show runner Jack Kenny and joined by production designer Franco de Cotiis. The new set is for an upcoming episode that it set in a facility located under the Niagara Power Station. We didn’t get much more detail than that, but it was clear that someone had been living there some time in the past – and the corpse on the bed seems to indicate they died quite a while ago…Franco said it took them about 5 days to build – which is amazing given the amount of detail that went into it! I realized having a hot drink on a set was probably a bad idea (especially since I wanted to take pictures too) so I chugged it, and probably burned my tongue
We then went back to the lobby for the second group to visit Studio B, while we waited outside the doors of Studio A – adorned with the Warehouse 13 logo – gee, I wonder what’s behind that door?
Once the other group returned, it was time to see the main set on Studio A…the doors opened, and Jack led us in…the first thing we see, standing all by itself, was Marie Antoinette’s Guillotine! Kind of surprised that it was out there – perhaps it sees use this season?We then turned the corner, and there was the outside of Artie’s office! The balcony that overlooks the Warehouse was there, complete with (non-functional) periscope, and for looks, a backdrop of the Warehouse (for filming, the warehouse would be composited in, the backdrop wouldn’t cut it in HD). And then we entered into Artie’s office, which looks NOTHING like a set – like several of the sets of Defiance, it is a complete room, completely adorned with all sorts of odd items. The workstation desk with monitors all lit up, the pneumatic message tube system, an old adding machine, etc. are all real. There was even the circular staircase up to a loft area (which Jack says Artie would usually have a hammock to sleep in), with a chess table with an in-progress game, bookshelves, etc. It was quite amazing to see. And at the back, a doorway that leads to the umbilicus that leads to the bed and breakfast – which is a real, actual corridor which leads to the B&B set! I expected to turn the corner and find a wall, but it was real! And Jack warned us not to touch the explosive bolts…
Likewise, the Bed & Breakfast set had the feeling of a real room, except looking out the windows you saw the studio walls…From there we went to the actual Warehouse shelves set…this was most surprising of all. I expected a short run of shelves, to be backed by a green screen of something like that. But there were at least 4 rows of shelves, and they went pretty far down – it was a REAL warehouse! And on the shelves were the artifacts! And although Jack warned us not to touch any of the artifacts (they needed to make sure things were in their proper places), they did provide us with purple gloves, just in case…
Many of the artifacts, according to Jack, are actually items from the houses of the crew – it was practically a way of cleaning out their houses! There was an old iMac, desk toys, etc. But there were a number of “real” artifacts, and for fun they wanted us to tweet pics of screen-used artifacts…right off the bat I found the metronome used to keep Jinks alive this season, as well as Babe Ruth’s bat, Charles II’s croquet balls, Myka’s sunglasses, and even the astrolabe!Many items had small tags with descriptions on them – what it was, what it does, the agent who obtained it, and “handling instructions” – the astrolabe simply said, “DO NOT USE”. Some had the LCD panel signs you see on the show – “Leon Panetta’s Projector” was one (and I think a joke about the current U.S. Secretary of Defense).
At one point I turned a corner, and saw someone from behind swinging around a croquet mallet – and all I could think of was that we weren’t supposed to touch anything! But as I got closer he turned around, and it was Eddie McClintock fooling around! He and I talked briefly before we were shooed in to the Q&A area for the cast.The current cast came out and sat with Syfy’s Mark Stern and Jack Kenny. Allison Scagliotti, Saul Rubinek, Eddie McClintock, Joanne Kelly, and Aaron Ashmore talked and answered a few questions from the press. Just after it started, an iPhone started ringing – Saul said it wasn’t him, yet he was the only one reaching for a phone, and it definitely turned out to be him. He mentioned how Allison helps him with tech, just like on the show!
In a rare revelation, it was mentioned by Jack that Kelly Hu (X2) would appear on the show as a photographer who will manage the B&B in a few episodes. Well, it consisted of Jack turning to Mark Stern and asking, “Can I mention that Kelly Hu will be on the show?” I’m sure that Gary Morgenstern, who manages publicity for the show for Syfy, was very much shaking his head no…
The cast likes this season as each episode counts – there are no “throwaway” episodes any more, and I believe it was Saul or Eddie who said that they don’t want to return to throwaway stories. Jack mentioned that everyone is involved in every story, and the cast talked about being a family – and with they way they smile and joke around, you can see that they really are. Aaron was asked about being the “new guy”, and he spoke about how welcoming the cast and crew were.
Eddie mentioned about how much time he and Joanne spend together, to which Joanne responded, “You’re not supposed to spend that much time together…”
Allison spoke about how much she likes to play characters that she herself would like to hang out with.At the end, I asked whether the cast knew about the penultimate scene regarding Leena, as sometimes they like to get a more natural reaction from the actors. Jack responded that everyone knew, and that he told Genelle (Williams, who played Leena) at the start of the season, “I have to kill you”, because he knew a character had to die this season and stay dead – you can’t keep resurrecting the characters without losing interest. But that doesn’t necessarily mean that she won’t be seen again…
Afterwards we broke up and chatted a bit with the cast – I got pictures with Allison, Saul and Joanne, and chatted a bit about Joanne and her lack of Twitter – she mentioned that she really doesn’t get such things, and even pulled out her iPhone to show me – the screen was quite cracked!
On the way out I saw Eddie again, but rather than grab a picture he was gracious enough to record a message to my family who are huge fans from right in the warehouse itself – and then it was time to head back to the hotel
It was such a wonderful tour this year – although it was fun the past couple years having the private parties and the panels with many of the shows, this year was wonderfully interesting in meeting with the casts and crew and actually seeing the sets. Thanks to everyone at Syfy and NMS who help organizing these, and for continuing to invite me