All Rise will venture into brand new territory when the show airs its first season finale and their first ever ‘digitally produced’ episode on Monday May 4th. Due to COVID-19 suspending in-person production the case and crew were able to come together to put an episode together completely through online video chat.
CBS Local’s Matt Weiss spoke to series star Simone Missick to discuss the show’s season finale and the challenges of filming an episode over video chat.
MW: Hi Simone, how are you holding up with everything?
SM: I cannot complain!
MW: That’s good, happy to hear it. We’re all doing a little bit of a different interview today on zoom and this week‘s episode of All Rise is a little bit different as well being the show’s first virtual episode. Can you talk about what went through your mind when they told you we’re going to be doing a virtual episode?
SM: When they first read us their idea of the script. All of us were super excited. We immediately thought, one the concept sounds very important, timely. They were able to capture what each character’s personality is and what that would go through during a time of pandemic, so we were all excited. It wasn’t until we started doing tech scouts and location scouts and hair and makeup meetings where they I‘m looking at you like are you going to be able to do this. Then I was like, ‘oh this is way more difficult than I thought.’ [Laughs]
It wasn’t until we started shooting and I would be exhausted after like five hours of work. I said, ‘oh it’s because I’m doing 13 jobs, including acting.’ It was definitely challenging. It was a lot of hard work. There were a lot of moments where we had to figure out the technology of it. A scene that was supposed to start at 10 AM wouldn’t start until 11 because we couldn’t get an actress camera or microphone to connect or the signal was weak.
Through all of it we just kept laughing. We just kept being appreciative of the fact that we were working. There are so many people who are out of work right now especially as actors. So, for us to get the fortune to be able to do a theater season finale and to do it in this way which is historical. It was a blessing, it wasn’t lost on us.
MW: Also, very relatable for the average nine to five office worker as well. I think we’ve all experienced an issue with video chatting. A lot of people on mute accidentally…
SM: Yeah, we definitely have a moment in the episode, and it came for real life. Ruthie Ann Miles, she plays Sherry. She kept accidentally forgetting to un-mute herself and so we would be doing all this whole scene everything is perfect everyone’s signal is right then we would do is look over and see her mouth going with no sound.
Everybody is like Ruthie; you have you have to unmute yourself. They eventually wrote it into the episode and used that take where she’s like talking about that fact. I’m sure that like you said so many people are doing video meetings from home. Our family has a video call every day at 4 o’clock to pray together and to catch up and make sure everybody’s doing well and they have what they need. I think we’re all becoming video chat experts.
MW: Was that difficult bonding with the actors and playing off of each other doing it through the screen when you’re used to being right next to someone?
SM: It’s so interesting because we’ve been working together for a year now. There was something very comforting about having this family that we have on the other side of the screen. There were times when we’re doing the full court scenes and it’s all of the series regulars who’s been there since the beginning pilot. It felt like we were in the room together even though we were speaking through a camera because acting is all about listening. And yeah, a lot of it is about being able to touch one another and to feel the energy of the other person. We have just really gotten so strong over this time and close as a cast and as a family.
It felt comforting in the middle of what we’re all going through to be able to have something that did feel normal. We’ve got some really amazing guest actors this episode, a gentleman named Moe McRae, who actually played my husband, or I played his wife on another show. So, it was nice to know somebody across the room you know the screen that I know personally, and his wife plays his girlfriend on the show. Which is great. Then I have my husband on the show and obviously I know that dude. As strange is the aspect of the screen is it still felt like we were right there with one another.
MW: You talked about earlier having to do makeup and lighting and all that stuff. Was your husband your kind of defacto lighting and camera guy?
SM: No, he was definitely my set mover of furniture. Whenever I needed something brought from some other part of the house he would definitely step in and help but for the most part we were all doing it on our own. He had to shoot one day and I was definitely there to help him make sure that the setup was right because I’ve gotten so used to it.
For the most part, no it was me and obviously the 30 or 50 other people who were sitting in the virtual video village saying, ‘hey you know your lightning to do this and you need this computer screen closer for sound’. We definitely had about a third of our crew that would still working. Just not on set. Just on the virtual set. That was nice because we weren’t completely alone in it.
MW: So after all that work what can you actually tell us about this week’s episode? When everyone’s mics were unmuted and when everyone was connected and had their lighting, what are we actually going to be seeing?
SM: [Laughs] You’re going to see these characters not tumbling through the technology of how does this work, how do I figure this out as much as you see them just trying to manage doing their jobs in light of the pandemic. I think that that’s really cool. I mean there have been a couple different shows that have made use of this technology. It’s been poking fun at the technology and seeing skits about it. This is really how are these people managing this crisis. How are they able to still seek justice in Los Angeles during a time of pandemic when so many people are vulnerable.
When the rights of people who have trials still have to be met and yet at the same time, we have to keep people safe. Our show, we walk a fine line between humor and drama. You will definitely see that in this episode. People dealing with crisis can sometimes be funny. We definitely walk that fine line. Then at the end it’s hopeful, it makes you feel good. Which is another aim that our show has. We want you to take this ride with us and get on this rollercoaster or Lolacoaster as we’d like to affectionately call it. At the end of the day feel like that there is hope because there is.
MW: Most of the time it’s a thin line between comedy and tragedy balancing those two. What does it mean to you to be able to provide people with that comedy and that distraction from what’s really going on in the world right now for the time that they sit down to watch All Rise?
SM: I, like most people, spend a lot of time watching shows. Bingeing shows. Catching up on reality TV that I would never have the time to watch. When I watch these things it’s inevitable that I look and I go, ‘oh that’s BC that’s before corona.’ You’re watching people in restaurants and hugging each other and drinking and going to the movies and you’re like that was before Corona. Like, ‘Oh my goodness.’
There’s a feeling of, it’s a gift, it’s a blessing to be able to give people something where they can still take that journey and be distracted and be entertained. For it to feel close to what they’re going through right now. For it to feel present and in the moment. For it to not feel like a faraway moment that they took for granted five weeks ago versus where it is today. How they can live in the moment and still be thankful and recognize that there are some good things that are coming out of this tragedy. It just feels great to give people something timely.
Also being able to say goodbye to our audience for this season. This is our season finale. It wasn’t what we planned but it’s great to be able to give them a proper farewell until season two. Hopefully!
MW: Well that’s all I have for you today Simone. Thank you so much. It’s been a pleasure talking to you I‘m really looking forward to the episode Monday night.
SM: Thank you, Matt. It was great talking to you!
Tune in for the season one finale of All Rise on Monday, May 4th at 9:00 PM ET/PT, only on CBS and streaming on CBS All Access. Check your local listings for more information.