Behind the Scenes with Leigh Wiley
Behind The Scenes With …. brings to SoGoPro Street Team special interview series with amazing guest stars who are involved with film, theater or television. Every two weeks the series hosts interesting personalities to share their outlook on industry and life. In today’s episode we are happy to catch up with Leigh Wiley who was briefly introduced in one of KT’s vlogs, interviewed by Karen, but since her role at the production office expanded we’re here to learn what’s new!
Kasia: Welcome back, Leigh! Nice to see you joining the SoGoPro community again! Please, tell us what happened since you joined forces with Karen and KT in the vlog? Apparently, you have a new, early shift? What’s that all about?
Leigh: Hello everyone! Thanks for taking an interest! I’m excited to get to talk to you guys about life on the Hill. I do have a new shift this season. I was used to being the late shift seasons 4 through 8, so being the super early shift this year is a big change. When I was the late shift I would come in to work 2 hours after the shooting crew and stay until we were done filming which is normally 11 or 12 hours in the office. This season I come in half an hour before the shooting crew and I get to go home when Kelly says so. Honestly, he’s really good to all of us in the office. I’ve been in some production offices where your normal day is 14 hours long! Now that is exhausting! I also don’t have to work on Saturdays any more. Andrea, who is now our Office PA, has my old shift and has to deal with taking the film to the airport on the weekends to be shipped off to our Post Production facility. I used to HATE doing that!
Annie: Great to hear that Andrea has joined forces with y’all, nice team you have there! Such a huge important part, getting the film where it needs to go!
Leigh: We do have a great team! I was so happy Andrea could join us. She’s adorable and everyone loves Karen and Kel. I’m very lucky to work with such wonderful people. KT I think Leigh is after a RAISE
Kasia: But, first things first …. So, how did you start your adventure in television/movie production?
Leigh: I studied film production in school at UNCW, and while I was in college I worked at EUE (what does EUE stand for? –That’s one of the questions I had to answer as a tour guide and I don’t know if I ever gave a correct answer. I want to say it stands for Elliot Unger Elliot, but I might need to Google that!) Screen Gems Studios (where OTH films). I was a tour guide on the weekends for about 2 years. I also interned on One Tree Hill during season 2 in the Art Department on Wednesdays and the AD Department on Fridays. That’s really how I met the office staff. Kathy Rayle was my internship coordinator, and she was always so sweet and encouraging when I would come into the office. I really enjoyed my time in the art department and I’ll just say that I didn’t like Set PA-ing as much. As graduation was approaching I started to freak out about what I would do with my degree and how to get into the business. Luckily, a friend of mine that worked reception at the studio moved to NY and I took over for her.So, I kind of just stumbled into that job. I worked there for a year and I managed to stay in touch with the OTH office staff, and AGAIN I just got lucky. Kathy Rayle went on maternity leave so everyone shifted up a spot (except Kelly, he’s already at the top) and a position opened up for a PA. At that point I was already considering leaving the studio and Kelly approached me about working with OTH, so that’s how it all started. I know this isn’t the best message to put out there, but when Kelly hired me he had no idea I had studied film in school! He told me it was because I was always so nice and helpful on the phone! Ah, well….So much for my college education!
Annie: So in addition to helping to generate lots of different kinds of paperwork and field all sorts of phone calls I hear you spend or used to spend at least a couple of hours each day coordinating lunches for the off-set crew, what does that involve and who are the off set crew?
Leigh: Oh, Lunches. It’s a never-ending struggle! Poor Karen used to have to deal with it, and I’m pretty sure it was her least favorite part of the job! I used to have to pick all of the lunches up (UGH!) so I consider coordinating it to be far better than having to lug it all back to the office! (Sorry, Andrea) Free food is one of the perks, I mean, we’re really fortunate to get our meals paid for, but it is definitely a process…. Where do I start? The catering truck feeds the set crew and the off-set crew while the show is being filmed on the sound stages at the studio, but when the set crew is on location the off-set crew have to order to-go lunches from a restaurant in Wilmington. The off-set crew consists of the production office (Kelly, Karen, Andrea and myself), Accounting, our Transportation Coordinator, the Producer’s Assistant, the director that isn’t currently filming but is prepping for the next episode and the AD that preps with the director. Occasionally other people will order like our producers from L.A. if they’re in town or Mark Schwahn (the creator of the show). And it can take hours to get everyone’s orders! I try to pick a menu by 10:30 in the morning–I normally forget and have to depend on an alarm I set on my cell phone! Picking a restaurant is the hardest part! We’ve eaten at the same restaurants for years and years now and we’re all sick of to-go food. On my birthday I made the office order from an Indian place that we’ve never ordered from. Karen took one bite, made a yacking noise and promptly made a pb and j. Andrea didn’t even open her to-go container. Kelly completely refused to order anything, and I inherited everyone’s leftover food. (Happy birthday to meeeeee!!) So, you can never please the masses but we’ve learned to just pick a place and if people hate it then they can fend for themselves. We stock sandwich supplies in our break room for this exact problem! Anyway, I try to have lunches ready for pickup between noon and 1:00pm. Andrea picks everything up and when she gets back to the office Karen, Andrea and I will pass everything out. If we’re lucky the food containers will be individually labeled but we’re not always so lucky! It’s pretty boring to actually describe it. I’m sure all of you out there have ordered to-go food at some point in your life. Take that process and multiply it by 15. You get the idea.
Kasia: True, I used to have Pizza Day every last Thursday and we ordered pizza for around 100 people and when something wasn’t labeled or not labeled properly it was a pain in…
Annie: I suppose we do ask this question in a lot of interviews, but I am guessing you will miss cast and crew when OTH really does finally wrap, have you got one or two really outstanding memories of your time there you could share with us?
Leigh: One or two!?! I have a thousand amazing memories with my film family! We happened to be prepping for Season 5 when I turned 24 so Kelly rented us a limo and we drove from Wilmington down to Myrtle Beach, SC with a mixture of One Tree Hill peeps and my best friends.
We ran out of alcohol before we even hit the state line! And then we played drunken laser tag (not easy!) and we had to hit up Fat Tuesdays so Karen could get an alcoholic slushie. Our locations girl, Kristin, made me wear a sign all night that said “Kiss Me, It’s My Birthday.” That was so embarrassing, but at least I got a kiss….or 25 on my birthday. It was a great time even though I might not remember all of it. And let’s see…. I’ve been lucky to meet several bands over the years; Jack’s Mannequin, Angels and Airwaves, and Noisettes are just a few of them. My favorite band of all time is Something Corporate and as some of you may know the lead singer of SoCo, Andrew McMahon, eventually formed Jack’s Mannequin. I think that’s the closest I’ve come to completely geeking out over meeting a celebrity. He’s so talented! I couldn’t even speak to him. The OTH girls tease me that I got flustered when I met Angels and Airwaves too (another of my favorite bands). Like I said, there are so many memories to choose from. I took a trip to Las Vegas and later to New York with Karen and Kristin and our Costume Supervisor, Robin. It wasn’t official One Tree Hill business, but if I hadn’t been working on the show I wouldn’t have made such phenomenal friends and travel buddies. So, I’m really thankful to be doing what I’m doing.
Annie: That’s something we kind of share with you then, if we didn’t have SGP we wouldn’t have made all our awesome new friends!
Kasia: Karen said she’s more of a gypsy when it comes to her career – instead of making plans she follows what the future brings. What about you? Got anything planned once the series ends for good?
Leigh: Oh, I’m a total gypsy! Like I said, I tried to follow a path and go to school for film, and I tried so hard to break into the business, but in the end I was just in the right place at the right time. I have a necklace with a charm on it that says “When I let go of what I am I become what I might be.” I think that’s my approach to life. I definitely believe in hard work, and I try to make decent life decisions, but sometimes I think life is going to happen no matter how prepared you are. To some degree you have to just sit back and let it happen. As far as post-OTH life goes, I have no plans at the moment. Maybe I’ll stumble into something else. Maybe I’ll go back to school. Maybe I’ll move to Japan! I don’t really know. And I’m not really that worried about it.
Annie: Where do you hope to see yourself (in an ideal world) in a few years time, have you fallen in love with the industry ?
Leigh: I wouldn’t say I’ve fallen in love with the industry. It’s definitely a love/hate relationship. The hours are long, and you have to be willing to make it your life. It’s hard to have a social life. It’s nearly impossible to date. My pets hate me! You can’t make travel plans because your filming schedule can change at a moment’s notice. My parents never see me. Hell, I don’t even call them for weeks at a time. But somehow, even after all of that, I still really enjoy it. I think it’s because my work day is always filled with laughs and its never the same from day to day. Who knows. Maybe I’m just a work-a-holic.
Annie: So KT is to his bike as Karen is to her gambling… as Leigh is to her… care to share, food maybe?
Leigh: Is Karen really that into gambling!? I’d say she’s more into internet shopping or Chelsea Handler. I do love food! Especially free food and hot dogs. I tried to be a vegetarian once but I broke down over hot dogs at craft service on set. And those soy veggie dog things are gross! I don’t care what people say! What else do I love? Gardening and video games but only the really geeky ones like Final Fantasy. I’m also really into my cat, Momo. Too bad he doesn’t love me back. And I’m kind of obsessed with anything Japanese, but I guess the top of my list would be Momo. He’s a pain in the ass, and he has permanently scarred my nose from an accidental scratch (whatever, he did it on purpose), but I still adore him.
Kasia: SoGoPro community has a strong interest in music and movies. If you had to choose three dvd titles and five songs to watch/listen to on a long haul flight, what would make it onto your list?
Leigh: I’m the worst film major you’ll ever encounter, and I come by it honestly. I can never name my favorite films and it’s miraculous if I know who the director is. I’m not very good with celebrities either. I just don’t really care about movies unless they have some element of fantasy or are about super heroes. I love a good super hero movie! So I’m guessing I would watch the Harry Potter films or How To Train Your Dragon or a good Spider-Man or X-Men film. But not that new X-Men film. That one blows. Honestly, if I was on a long flight, I’d probably read before I did anything else. My 5 songs would be “Konstantine” by Something Corporate, “My Heart” by Paramore, “Gravity” by Sara Bareilles, “Passion” by Utada Hikaru (it’s Japanese!), and “Here With Me” by Dido.
Kasia: Some really great music choices! Don’t know all the songs but will definitely give it a try (bit unsure on the Japanese song, though)…LOVE Dido
Annie: A little birdie tells me that Wizards, Dragons, and Harry Potter are all right up your Diagon Alley (excuse the pun), which of the Harry Potter books is your favourite?
Leigh: Yes they are! I loved your pun, by the way. I giggled. I don’t know if I can pick a favorite. It used to be the 4th book, “The Goblet of Fire” because it’s so exciting the whole way through and that’s when the books really start to take a turn. The end of that book blew me away when I read it the first time. Yes, I have read them more times than I can count. I was part of a Harry Potter Book Club recently (you can laugh at me, it’s ok.) and the meeting I had to lead was on the last book, “The Deathly Hallows.” I really analyzed it and thought about the themes of that particular book and the whole series. The movie just doesn’t do it justice. Something that really gets to me is the fact that there are plenty of people out there who will just watch the movies and never read the books. Do yourself a favor and read them. I just bitched to my dad about this. He’s one of those people. Shame on him!
Annie: I am a huge HP fan, and I hear you tried unsuccessfully to get Karen to share the ‘’Potter love’’ to no avail? What actually makes the books for you?
Leigh: Shame on her too! The series is such an adventure! And I don’t just mean in the fantasy sense. It’s an emotional adventure too. I appreciate books and films that make you genuinely care for the characters. I’ve cried buckets and I’ve laughed out loud. I’ve been terrified for Harry and his friends. I fully believe that Lord Voldemort is the most badass villian in all of history. I’m not really sure how to sum up all of that emotion. I’m not that good with words, but I can say that I’ve thought deeply enough about the series that I honestly believe that reading those books has changed my life.
Kasia: Have you followed the SoGoPro book club entries, tell us if you have any recommendations, apart from Mr Potter?
Leigh: Hmmm…. let me check my goodreads page….. Oh, I love “The Inheritance Cycle” by Christopher Paolini. Dragons! SQUEAL!
Kasia: SoGoPro has supporters from all over the globe, so we’re curious, have you ever been somewhere very far from home?
Leigh: Last year I took a trip to Belize with my boyfriend. The whole trip was such an eye-opener. I didn’t know the world was so beautiful! The best day of my life was spent snorkeling in the Caribbean. I got burned to a crisp, was stung by a jellyfish and cut my leg on some coral and it was still the most unbelievable, breath-taking experience. For me, that day was what living is all about.
We’d like to thank Leigh for taking time to participate in our interview series and share details of your work and life with SoGoPro community! Have fun filming the 9th season of the show and we keep our fingers crossed for the raise