Director Jon Ameil and actor Michael Landes discuss the benefits of bonding before shooting
The new television comedy series The Wedding Bells debuts March 9 at 9 P.M. on FOX with a sneak peak March 7. When new shows get organized, long before they hit the airwaves, the cast and crew usually get together for some bonding time. This gives everyone the opportunity to get acquainted with the people who will become their family for the run of the show. Sometimes shows last for many years, and sometimes they are off the air in less than a month. But the bonding time before they even shoot the first scene is important for everyone.
For the cast of The Wedding Bells they left their studio environment in Manhattan Beach and set up shop at The Women's Club in El Segundo. For a week they used El Segundo as their safe haven - the place where they formed their relationships and became a new family. El Segundo is a quiet and quaint little town adjacent to the city of Manhattan Beach, California, where the show is produced.
Actor Michael Landes joked, "They said Jim Burrows took the cast of Friends to Las Vegas or something [before they shot the] pilot, but we went to the El Segundo Women's Club from December 27 all through New Year's and on New Year's Day." Sure, he would have loved to have gone to Las Vegas, but had to settle for El Segundo, which, he later said, was a nice experience. "We literally did spend six or seven hours a day as a group, rehearsing, not even with text - improvising. We didn't use the script yet. That did get us up and running. I've done a lot of pilots and saw a couple of movies. You never get this, ever. It was like a mini-play process." He says the quality time they spent together at The Women's Club will translate to the screen as it made them a cohesive team.
Jon Ameil, who directed the first episode, said the Women's Club was exactly what he was looking for in order to get a nice bonding environment for the group. It was more comfortable than a room at the studio, and, he says, it really provided a relaxing atmosphere in which the cast could get acquainted.
"Here's the thing," says Ameil. "I have very specific stipulations about rehearsal space. It has to be rough. The floor has to be wood. Don't ask me why. Wood floors give you energy like a gym. Carpets make you kind of sink down and want to talk quietly. It goes back to my background in theater." He continues, "There's a sort of camaraderie in that sort of austerity that really just brings everybody together."
Amiel says about the initial bonding time the cast spends together, "This is probably the part of the process I love more than anything else." He says getting the cast together and really creating a family out of people who may or may not have met each other is the biggest part of creating a new - and hopefully successful - show.
The Wedding Bells debuts March 9 at 9 P.M. on FOX with a sneak peak on March 7.