The tales of Steven Soderbergh‘s efficiency are legion, but you might make the mistake in thinking he takes an industrial view of filmmaking. Instead, his approach is a product of his years in the game, a process to get the best results without any wasted time or resources, and a method that keeps things interesting for the ensemble of actors he works. But never has this been as pronounced as in the making of “The Knick,” Soderbergh’s superb Cinemax series, which has seen him direct, edit, produce, and act as his own cinematographer across two full seasons.
“Actors love working with this guy, because they’re not sitting around all day waiting for the set to be lit,” second cameraman Patrick O’Brien told Vulture. “It keeps the actors on the boil, nobody leaves, and…you can power through the whole scene and it’s done,” the director added.
And with the second season coming to a close tomorrow night with a powerhouse finale (seriously, don’t miss it), we’re exclusively rolling out Soderbergh’s collection of “useless” statistics. However, they act as a testament to his talent. It’s worth emphasizing again that he shot 20 hours of television, not to mention that he did it at a tremendous pace, averaging one episode per week (not bad considering it’s a period drama, and even more impressive when the industry average is twice that time per episode). And so, looking through the numbers it’s amazing to see that there was not one day where the time on set exceeded 12 hours (this includes a lunch break), and that the shortest shooting day was 6 hours (including a lunch break).
Useless or not, I think I need to seriously re-evaluate my time management skills. Check out the tally of facts and figures below.
Total Set ups: 1889 (25.52 daily average) – (Season One: 2081; 28.5 daily average)
Total Scenes shot: 468 (Season One: 557)
Total Pages shot: 495 5/8 (Season One: 539 4/8)
Total amount of time spent editing: 235 hours, 26 minutes, 10 seconds (Season One: 465 hours, 30 minutes, 50 seconds)
Most Set-ups shot in one day: 63 – A New Knick Record (Season One record was 60)
(Day 71 in 11 hours 50 minutes – includes lunch break – Int. Surgical Theater -Thackery performs surgery — Season One record was Int. Surgical Theater – Christiansen’s Previa surgery)
Number of Days more than 40 Set-ups were shot: 8 (Season One: 12)
Total number of two-camera Set-Ups: 247
Total number of Set-Ups shot with one camera only: 1642 or 86.9% of the season.
Least number of Set-ups shot in one day: 4
(Day 47- Ext. Knick – wrapped early due to bad weather – 4 hours, 12 minutes after call)
Number of Set-Ups shot on a 18mm lens: 557
Number of Set-Ups shot on a 25mm lens: 470 (Season One: 0)
Number of Set-Ups shot on a 35mm lens: 244
Percentage of Total Set-Ups shot on 18 and 25mm lenses: 55.8%
Number of Set-Ups with Visual Effects: 176 (as shot)
Number of RED Camera bodies used: 2 (Season One: 6)
Number of times the word “Douse” appears in the script: 2 – one sexual; one refers to oysters and cocktail sauce (Season One: 8 – 4 sexual)
Number of times the word “Heroin” appears in the script: 27
Number of time “Cocaine” appears in the script: 36 (Season One: 56 – a 35.7% decline in Cocaine use from Season One to Season 2)
Number of Surgical Procedures performed: 18
Most Number of Pages shot in a day: 11 (Season One: 11 4/8 in 13.8 hours)
(Day 56 – Int. Henry’s Hotel Suite – in 11 hours 42 minutes – including lunch break – runner up for second longest shoot day.)
Least Number of Pages shot in a day: 2 7/8
(Day 19 – Algernon & Opal attend Carr’s speech. Cornelia searches Speight’s abandoned house)
Longest Day: Day 71 -11 hours, 50 minutes (includes lunch break)
(8a call – 7:50p wrap -Thackery performs surgery – also most set-ups shot in one day: 63 see above)
Shortest Day: 6 hours, 40 minutes – 7:30a – 2:10p – (includes lunch break)
(Day 16 – Ext. New Knick construction site -10 setups 4 6/8 pages and 2 scenes – runner up for coldest shoot day: 4 degrees at call)
Number of Shooting Days: 75 (74 +1 second unit day – Boat Unit)
Number of Shooting Days 12 hours or longer: 0
Earliest Wrap time: 2:10p (Day 16 – Int. Barrow’s Office – Thack’s Office – Knick Hallway – 7 hour 10 minute day)
Latest Wrap time: 4:54 am – 9 hours, 54 minutes including lunch break – 25 setups. (Day 74 Last day of shooting – Night shoot 7p Call – Int. New Knick Construction Site)
Most Episodes shot in one day: 6 – Day 30 (Season One: 7)
Coldest Ext. Day Shoot: Ext. Woman’s Prison – Cleary and Harriet leave the prison – Location: Ft. Wadsworth, Staten Island – Wind Chill at call: 0 degrees.
Most Creative Use of Location: Ft. Wadsworth, Staten Island for Nicaragua circa 1890. (Runner up: Yonkers for doubling San Francisco)
Only Scene where the entire Principal cast worked together: Episode 7 Scene 44 Int. Ball Room. (First place winner for most cast members included in one single shot – Runner up for longest uninterrupted shot – Establishing the Ball – 3 minutes)
Longest single uninterrupted shot: Episode 9 – Cornelia confronts her father – 3 minutes, 56 seconds (10 takes filmed; take 10 used in the show)
Shortest shots used: Episode 10 – surgery scenes – two shots at five frames each
Number of Breakfast Burritos consumed by Cast, Crew and Background: 1496 (Okay, that I made up but in fact would only be an average of 19.9 burritos per day so probably in the ballpark)
…and now that’s a wrap