Behind the Scenes at Summer Bay

In 2004 I was fortunate enough to stay in the real life Summer Bay for a month, in a beach house just down the road from the Surf Club. I arrived on Friday 13th August 2004, 45 minutes before the Olympic cliffhanger aired. Unfortunately for me it marked a 2-week break for 'Home and Away' both on screen and off screen. In the meantime I spent some of the 2 weeks visiting the locations for the 'On Location' section.

Monday 30th August 2004

Fast-forward a couple of weeks and 'Home and Away' is back in production filming Interiors (studio scenes) for block 769 and Exteriors (location scenes) for block 770

Every week of 5 episodes is known as a block - and these blocks have been numbered every single week since the very beginning of the show. The easiest way to work out the block number is to take the Friday's episode number and divide it by five.

At the Channel Seven Studios in Epping there are haircuts for the whole cast, due to the continuity problems of having a 2-week break between filming scenes for the same episode.

All of the location scenes that go with the studio scenes that they are filming this week were filmed 2 weeks ago before the break. Generally the cast film the interior scenes for one block - then the following week they film the location scenes for the same block whilst filming the studio scenes for the block after that.

For example the blocks they are filming this few weeks are as follows:
  9th - 13th Aug 2004 30th - 3rd Sept 2004 6th - 10th Sept 2004
Interior Scenes 768 (Eps 3836 - 3840) 769 (Eps 3841 - 3845) 770 (Eps 3846 - 3850)
Exterior Scenes 769 (Eps 3841 - 3845) 770 (Eps 3846 - 3850) 771 (Eps 3851 - 3855)

Rehearsals for the coming week are also held in a building a few streets away from the Seven Studios in the neighbouring suburb of Eastwood.

Tuesday 31st August 2004

The team commence their location filming for Block 770 at the Diner in Collaroy and later in the afternoon at the Boat Wharf in McCarrs Creek Reserve. The actors filming in these locations today are Lynne McGranger (Irene, who had a 5:30 call time), Laurie Foell (Josie), Kate Ritchie (Sally), Cornelia Frances (Morag), Ben Unwin (Jesse), Kip Gamblin (Scott) plus 6 extras for the Diner scenes.

Meanwhile back in Studio E at Channel Seven they are filming a selection of the interiors for Block 769. Today the sets that are up are the Hospital and the School so all scenes for the week in those sets are filmed in the one day. This includes all of Kane's hospital scenes surrounding his first chemo session and the following episodes when Dani spots him, and all of Viv's scenes surrounding her reunion with Alf. After lunch they start on the weeks school scenes with Kirsty sitting her first HSC exams - for this they only need a reduced version of the Summer Bay High set.

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Every single person on the production receives a weekly schedule telling them not only what time they have to arrive, go into makeup and be on set, but also a breakdown of every scene being filmed.

Here is an example of one for a few of the scenes to be filmed today:

Click to see larger size

Wednesday 1st September 2004

The crew return to Palm Beach today to film more location scenes for block 770. I find out from the local 'man in the know' the place where they are filming their first scene of the day - a tiny beach on the other side of Pittwater with Laurie, Ben and Kip. This is for episode #3849. I am having my lunch at the Seaplane Wharf when they arrive back by boat for their lunch. This is the first time I have seen the H&A crew and cast.

They have lunch and play a few ball games, I am offered a profiterole but I politely refuse as I can't stand them. Laurie and Kip head to the studio.

In the studios the sets have been changed overnight and they have already filmed all the scenes at Sally & Flynn's house and the majority of the scenes inside the Diner for the block of episodes.

As well as filming scenes in the diner, Isabel Lucas, Tobi Atkins and Indi Evans (Tasha, Henry and Matilda) have each received an hour of drama coaching. Isabel and Indi are now finished at the studios and are on their way to Palm Beach.

Back at Palm Beach, Tammin Sursok (Dani) and Christie Hayes (Kirsty) have arrived to film their first scene (and in Christie's case only scene) of the day. They are driven around the corner to the car park near the Surf Club and they film a scene for episode #3846 at a bench where Kirsty is looking in her bag for her calculator - Dani drops Kane in it by mentioning that she saw him at the hospital. Whilst waiting in between takes Tammin sits in the warmth of her boyfriend's Mini and laughs at my mates dancing with umbrellas 'Singin in the Rain' style nearby.

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Once their scene is over Tammin is off to the studio to join Kip, Christie is off home, and Isabel, Indi and Clarissa House (Beth) arrive to film a scene on the beach. By this time I am chatting away to this weeks Technical Director, Mick, at the Directors unit. This is basically a small cart jam packed with equipment.

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On the left sits Mick and he monitors the visual quality on a large High Definition monitor situated at the end of a long sun guard. He controls the focus of the cameras via two small control units in front of him.

Next to him sits the Sound Guy, obviously he is monitoring the quality of the sound that comes from large fishpole microphones (sometimes incorrectly labelled as booms) or wireless lapel mics that the actors wear hidden under their clothing. Today they're on the fishpole. Surrounding him are a number of Polaroid pictures from various scenes they have done in the past, including one of an impressive dolly track that the grip department had to construct in the bush.

Finally sitting underneath his coat watching another monitor is the director Mark and his assistant. He calls the shots and looks over the whole scene picking out things that would have to be changed i.e. the extras not walking when they're supposed to be. He is linked via walkie-talkie to the crew on the beach. Down there the 3rd Assistant Director (lovingly labelled as a 'ferret on speed' by my mate due to her having to rush around everywhere) is responsible for all the people on set making sure they are in the correct positions.

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Isabel, Indiana and Clarissa finish their scene where Matty has been complaining about the Kim situation and are finished for the day.

Meanwhile back at the studios Laurie has filmed her one interior scene in the Diner where she is seen for all of 3 seconds (this is the scene in episode #3843 where Josie comes downstairs after her meeting with Morag). Tammin and Kip are filming scenes with Maggie Kirkpatrick (Viv) in the City Hospital set.

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Joel McIlroy (Flynn) arrives at Palm Beach from the studios along with Mark Furze (Dalby) who is filming his only scene for the day. He is quickly whisked into the makeup van, as he has to appear as though he's been beaten up. Flynn's VW camper van is also making a reappearance in this scene as he drives to the beach to find Dalby. Joel and Mark film the scene as the sun sets behind them over Pittwater and that marks the end of the day of filming at Palmie.

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At the studio Tammin, Kip and Maggie film their final scene of the day at 7:30pm.

Thursday 2nd September 2004

Today is quite a different day for the location unit, they are not filming at Palm Beach nor any of the other normal locations. They are at a grand mansion in Warrawee with Lynne McGranger and Andrew McFarlane (Ian Osbourne) to film Irene's first meeting with Osbourne in episode #3849. The crew have got to be extra careful and have to put booties on before entering the house so they don't damage the floor. All the crew vehicles have unloaded at the house and then gone around the block to park in the car park of a nearby church. It is another early start, as the actors have to be on set by 5:30am.

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n the studios Sally and Flynn's house and the hospital set are out and the main corridors of Summer Bay High and Alf's apartment are in. All of the scenes involving Robbie, Tasha, Dalby, Wazza, the Police and the cannabis plot are filmed. Then in the early evening Laurie, Cornelia, Ray Meagher (Alf), Tammin and Kip film their scenes in Alf's apartment. For the final scene of the day at 7pm Lynne returns from Warrawee to join Cornelia in the apartment set. This short scene immediately follow Laurie's scene for #3843 that she filmed yesterday in the Diner.

Friday 3rd September 2004

All location filming for block 770 is finished so it's time to rehearse the interior scenes of 770 for the following week in the Audience Holding area of Studio A. Over the course of the day 49 scenes will be rehearsed with 18 different actors.

In the meantime back in Studio E, the Beach House and the Surf Club Gym have been brought in to conclude the filming for block 769. All of the scenes concerning Kirsty, Kane, Robbie, Tasha, Kim and the weed are filmed as well as scenes with Hayley, Jesse, Josie, Kim and Mattie in the gym.

At 6:30pm it's a wrap and everyone's free to go home for the weekend.