Filed in: Awards, Contender Portfolios, Featured
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Cinematography Excellence in Will & Grace: “Family, Trip”

August 26, 2019 | By

The esteemed NBC series Will & Grace continues to elevate the bar through multiple camera cinematography within a sitcom. Two-time award-winning Emmy cinematographer Gary Baum, ASC remains to set a precedence for his craft in the series. Baum took home the 2018 Emmy award in the category of ‘Outstanding Cinematography for a Multi-Camera Series’ for the episode entitled “A Gay Olde Christmas.” This year, once again the cinematographer is nominated for his excellence in the episode “Family, Trip.”

WILL & GRACE -- "Family Trip" Episode 207 -- Pictured: (l-r) Sean Hayes as Jack McFarland, Eric McCormack as Will Truman -- (Photo by: Chris Haston/NBC/NBCU Photo Bank)

WILL & GRACE — “Family Trip” Episode 207 — Pictured: (l-r) Sean Hayes as Jack McFarland, Eric McCormack as Will Truman — (Photo by: Chris Haston/NBC/NBCU Photo Bank)

The story of the “Family, Trip” episode is that Will (Eric McCormack), Jack (Sean Hayes), and Karen (Megan Mullally) drank some hallucinogenic chocolate milk, while Grace (Debra Messing) is dealing with her sister. “That was a very interesting episode for Will & Grace. We had an exterior location at night which are always fun to do. For that exterior location, there was no dialogue, just a lot of different shots setting up the interior of the cabaret.”

WILL & GRACE -- "Family Trip" Episode 207 -- Pictured: (l-r) Mary McCormack as Janet Adler, Debra Messing as Grace Adler -- (Photo by: Chris Haston/NBC/NBCU Photo Bank)

WILL & GRACE — “Family Trip” Episode 207 — Pictured: (l-r) Mary McCormack as Janet Adler, Debra Messing as Grace Adler — (Photo by: Chris Haston/NBC/NBCU Photo Bank)

“We used mostly practical lights from the store fronts and just a very little fill from the exterior. It was more of a naturalistic feel. The cabaret set is where Megan’s character Karen sings “The Man That Got Away,” the Judy Garland signature piece. The interior of the cabaret with her singing was very different for us. It was very moody, a style in a noir sense,” said Baum.

Shooting Karen’s music video did present a few obstacles. The cinematographer clarified, “The most challenging was Karen’s music video because we had to use a 360-degree circular track around her. We shot that in a 360 mode and used one of our own cameras on a dolly. We did the dolly shot about 2-3 times. We did one full take which was almost four minutes and NBC uploaded that entire music video on the internet.”

WILL & GRACE -- "Family Trip" Episode 207 -- Pictured: (l-r) Megan Mullally as Karen Walker -- (Photo by: Chris Haston/NBC/NBCU Photo Bank)

WILL & GRACE — “Family Trip” Episode 207 — Pictured: (l-r) Megan Mullally as Karen Walker — (Photo by: Chris Haston/NBC/NBCU Photo Bank)

One of the hallucinations Will and Jack experienced from the chocolate milk were butterflies floating around. Obviously, these butterflies were visual effects, but the cameras needed to project where they might appear. Baum illuminated, “There were some visual effects with butterflies. We had to anticipate where the butterflies were going to be. We had to set our lens sizes and our marks on the stage so we can relay that information to visual effects. It’s more about measurement capability for them to work, so we had to work within that parameter.”

Cinematographer Gary Baum

Cinematographer Gary Baum

The editing and the cinematography relayed synergy and chemistry uniformly due to the amount of footage shot and the music performance. “There’s always more footage than could possibly use in a 22-minute program. We edited in a piece of her singing a performance style, it was very interesting for us to do that. Because of the music, it’ll have to work blended together in a different harmony. It was such well-done marriage of both. We all look forward to the special episodes,” proclaimed the previous Emmy winner.

Cinematographer Gary Baum has been with the Will & Grace family from the very beginning since 1998. The “Family, Trip” episode marks the 2nd Emmy nomination for his role on Will & Grace. Other Emmy nominations include such series as Superior Donuts, Mike & Molly, The Millers, 2 Broke Girls, and Gary Unmarried. Baum is a winner of 2 Primetime Emmy awards and holds a total of 8 nominations.

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