'Power' episode 2: Actress Lela Loren explains how scenes were shot
Every week, Power‘s Lela Loren, who plays the feisty, determined Angela Valdez, is bringing EW behind the scenes of every episode. Take it away, Lela…
Let’s just dive in, shall we? “It’s Never Over,” written by Gary Lennon, casts a wide and brutal net exploring the limits of loyalties, finding your footing amid heartbreak, trust, and children. It culminates in Tommy’s (Joseph Sikora) failure to kill his best friend Ghost (Omari Hardwick). But what I want to talk about is how exactly the episode’s director, Sanford Bookstaver, shot that tour de force coke binge and beating scene with Joe Sikora. Rather than being a voyeur, we are sucked right into Tommy’s headspace and actions with a horrifying immediacy.
Well, it’s a good thing that Joe works out, because Sandy (or Sandman or Bookstavie — yes we hand out nicknames like candy) has informed me that Joe had to “wear” the camera, a special rig called the “Doggie cam.” It’s basically a harness that the actor is strapped into with a metal frame that the camera, a 4K mini Arriflex, is mounted onto so wherever the actor moves, the camera moves, too. These new 4K cameras are incredibly heavy. Naturi or I would have promptly fallen over. AND the sequence took approximately nine hours to shoot. That requires stamina that very few have.
Sandy created that wonderful sense of Tommy’s mental turmoil by setting the camera’s focus at a specific distance, so whenever he moved, his image would either sharpen or blur. To bring us into the action, Sandy wanted Joe to snort “cocaine” directly off the camera lens — in our world, cocaine is powdered B12. Aren’t we healthy! To do that, Sandy had to mount a piece of Lexan, clear acrylic, to the matte box and have Joe snort the powder off that. As Joe would pull his head back, a grip would pull the glass away from the camera so you wouldn’t see it. Joe did that probably close to 50 times. Don’t try that at home, kids. Even in my wild days as a fifth-grader snorting pixie sticks, I wouldn’t have dared. Don’t try that either.
The same idea was applied to Tommy beating one of his own. Joe Sikora basically beat the frame around the camera (we don’t want to damage the equipment), and then that was intercut with his bloodied cohort, actor Kevin Mason. I salute both Sandy and Joe for their ingenuity and commitment; they made some mighty good sausage. (If you didn’t read last week’s blog, you won’t get the reference.)
Now for some fun facts. The first time Tasha set foot into Angela’s apartment was the first time Naturi (who plays Tasha) did as well. We don’t tend to go into our characters respective spaces; it feels somehow taboo. I’ve never been to Tommy’s apartment, and if we hadn’t done some press in Tasha and Ghost’s penthouse, I wouldn’t have gone there either, even though it’s right next door to mine. The same goes for Saxe (Shane Johnson)’s office. Wait, does Saxe even have an office or does he just haunt the halls?