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The Big Bang Theory – live filming in LA !

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As some of you may know Kate and I have based ourselves in Las Vegas because we love the consistently fine weather and low taxes. Living in the desert however is a far cry from our pacific island life in New Zealand and we do miss being near the ocean. This is one of the reasons we drive 5 hours to Los Angeles every 1-2 months, to feel the sand between our toes on Hermosa and Manhattan beaches, and to stroll along the promenade while watching beach volleyball, surfers and families at play.

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A little over a month ago we decided that we were due a trip to LA and considered what we might like to do this time, besides going to the beach and Vegegrill 🙂 Our travel budget does not allow us the luxury of spending hundreds of dollars on tours and theme parks. I’ve been to Disneyland twice before anyway – as a child and young adult.
I loved the experience, particularly as a 10 year old, but I have no particular desire to go back unless I wanted to give children of my own the same thrill.

So, what could we do in LA that would be a exciting, new experience but cheap, or better still, free ?!!

The answer : go to the live taping of my favorite US comedy, “The Big Bang Theory”!

The Big Bang Theory, or as my cute 4 year old nephew likes to call it, Bing Bang 🙂 is filmed at Warner Bros. Studios in Burbank, alongside many other popular shows like “Ellen”, and “Two and a Half Men”. I loved the idea of seeing professional actors and film crew at work, and no doubt witness a few bloopers.

Kate went online and found that free tickets to TBBT are available through Audiences Unlimited Inc. The tickets become available 30 days before each live show is filmed and because this show is popular, you need to be organized. We were were waiting online at 0800 when the tickets became available for our show on 3/31/15. You need to be able to print off your tickets as Audiences Unlimited does not email them to you. They were having problems with their website on the morning we tried so we rang them and they were very nice and sent us our tickets in the post.

The live filming started at 6pm so we got to the Warner Bros.’ visitor carpark/staging area 2 hours beforehand as suggested, because having a ticket does not ensure you’ll get a seat at the show. It is great that there is free audience parking at the studio. Security is tight as you would imagine. You need to show your ticket and formal ID. We were escorted across the road onto the studio lot and passed through security where our handbags were searched. Then we walked to the Stage 25 building – there we went through another security check and audience members handed in their cell phones for security staff to look after during filming. So sorry, no photos of the show 🙁
There are large brass plaques on the walls of each filming stage building. I was unable to have a good look at it because loitering is actively discouraged but a brief glimpse informed me that Stage 25 was where the classic film “Casablanca” was shot. Wow! – I found myself trying to image one of my favorite actresses Ingrid Bergman, and Humphrey Bogart making movie history.

The audience sits in an wide area about 10 rows deep that looks over the sitcoms 3 main sets: Sheldon and Leonard’s apartment, the foyer/stairwell, and Penny’s apartment. As is typical at live shows where the audience’s laughter is recorded, there was a comedian there to keep us enthusiastic between takes. We were also given a slice of pizza and a bottle of water midway through the evening shoot. It’s a good idea to go to the toilet before you enter the studio lot. Once you’re in the filming area you can still go to the bathroom between takes but you have to be escorted there and back by the staff.

Watching the live filming of the show was AMAZING! There are so many people involved on the set including sound and camera crew, directors, make-up artists and hair stylists touching up the actors between takes, continuity people and in our episode a special effects expert. Continuity was interesting and came into play as the characters walked down the stairwell from one floor to the next. Numbers on apartment doors and the draping of the “out of order” tape on the elevator was changed to reflect the different floors of the apartment building. Each scene was taped 2-3 times and it was delightful to watch the friendly banter amongst cast mates between takes. They looked liked they were enjoying their work and at one stage Johnny Galecki and Kaley Cuoco chatted to the audience for a few minutes.

It was an incredible evening and I enjoyed it so much I might even do it again 🙂

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