Now that I’m finally allowed I’d thought I’d share some of my visit to the Flashpoint studio with my fellow Flashpoint fans. It’s been a long wait and I’m sorry I had to lie to a few people but I was sworn to secrecy.
Back in November when Sharon Mustos asked me to help her out with the Flashpoint Team One Facebook page by becoming an admin she made the offer that if I was ever in Toronto I would be welcomed for a set visit. My first reaction was awe at the trust Sharon had in me to even make such an offer. My second was concern that this would change the relationship I have with other fans, the friendships I have made on the page mean so much to me and I didn’t want to do anything that would strain those friendships. My third was how cool a set visit would be but the fourth reaction hit hard, me making the trip to Toronto was very unlikely.
On the internet no one can see or hear me tic but I tic all the time and my vocal tics tend to be loud, not something you’d want to hear on a TV set. Of course even before getting to the set I would have to travel to Toronto. The only thing truly predictable about Tourette’s is that it will always be unpredictable but for me it’s pretty predictable that if I’m around a lot of people my tics will get worse, sometimes it’s so bad that the tics will actually cause injury. Me traveling alone is a risk so as much as I wanted to visit the set I was planning to pass it up. If it hadn’t been for Mary Catherine Headley planning her own trip to Toronto, which happened to coincide with my birthday, I never would have gone. I had second, third and even forth thoughts about the trip since as well as I’ve gotten to know MC online we’d never met in person. Turns out she was either the absolute best person I could have gone with or the worst, I still haven’t figured out which but that’s a story all by itself.
It turned out that the only day they were at the studio that week was the day we arrived so after an overnight bus trip, meeting MC at the bus station, making our way to the hostel to drop off luggage, a trip to the bank for cash and a trip to Tim Horton’s for caffeine we went back to the hostel where we were lucky enough to get an early check-in and tried for a nap before we were supposed to meet Sharon and Victoria at the studio at 5. The nap didn’t work out, too excited to sleep, instead I checked in on Facebook and Twitter and messaged my lie that I was having intermittent internet issues to John Arnold to cover my absence. I don’t think John is ever going to let me live that lie down, even after I sent him a “moose that poops” keychain and Maple Leafs t-shirt to apologize (the Maple Leafs tee was really because it was so funny watching on Twitter as Enrico convinced him he should be a Leafs fan when John didn’t have a clue about ice hockey). I also taught MC how to text since Mary Drury kept texting her and MC doesn’t text, good thing we got that lesson out of the way early because there was a lot of texting during our trip. When we finally headed out to find the studio I was very glad I was with MC because I was so busy taking in my surroundings I would have gotten lost on my own.
We were a little early getting to the studio so we hung around outside and decided to mess with Mary Drury since she kept texting us; we sent her texts that we were lost using random locations we remembered from Flashpoint episodes as our area where we thought we were. Little did we realize she was pranking us at the same time.
After enough stalling to not be too early we headed inside to the production office where we met Sharon and Victoria at the door and then Chantelle once we were inside. It was weird to finally meet them after so long of “knowing” Sharon as FPTO and Victoria as Flashpoint Katie. After walking past empty offices with familiar names, Chantelle’s desk, and a room where a meeting was going on with familiar faces visible through the door we arrived in the writer’s room. Sharon excused herself and left us there with Victoria, Chantelle and a wall full of spoilers! I tried not to look at that wall but yeah I got spoiled, can’t wait to see it all play out on screen. Sharon came back and led us back to Bill and Anne Marie’s office where Angelo and Mary Drury were waiting to surprise us. Remember how I said she was pranking us while we were texting? They were hiding further down the street watching us laugh. They were supposed to have got there before us but since we were early they were stuck until we went in. It was a huge surprise, we had made plans to meet Mary later in the week and Angelo had been saying he needed to wait and see what his schedule was like before committing any plans to meet. They’re both jerks for that but it was a great surprise.
The meeting we had passed earlier ended so we got to meet a bunch of producers and writers, to be honest to say my head was spinning from the experience would be putting it mildly so I don’t think I could list everyone we met. Actually I’ll probably miss a lot of the detail of the day there was just so much going on. I remember that Mark Ellis and Anne Marie La Traverse were not there, I embarrassed MC by telling John Calvert about her finding all the oopses in “Shockwave”, and Stephanie Morgenstern quizzed me on my ability to quote every line in the series. The quiz was a little tough, she chose one of the easiest quotes “Making the world safe so that others may eat pie” but I was surrounded by all these people that I look up to as they’re responsible for making my absolute favorite TV show and I was trying not to tic in front of them (I really didn’t want to tic in front of them. I had warned Sharon that I can hold my tics for short periods but if I was having trouble I would have to not be on set while they were filming and I really didn’t want to miss that.)It took a minute but eventually I got my mouth to work. I had brought a box full of my SRU ornaments which I gave to everyone, since Anne Marie wasn’t there one was left on her desk and there was debate whether Mark needed his own or if he and Stephanie could share MC thought he should have his own but share won out. Of all the times I’ve been asked if I sell my ornaments I have to say being asked by Bill Mustos made me laugh, I’m the person who tells fans they can’t sell their own Flashpoint merchandise, and during the long wait for merchandise I had to say it often.
Next we headed downstairs for a stop to look in on where all the props are stored with an explanation from Sharon on what was going to happen with everything once they finished filming, then on to wardrobe where we were told we could look around and take pictures. MC and Mary were taking pictures of a rack full of SRU uniforms but I spotted something much more interesting than shiny new uniforms across the room. A pair of vests that looked like they’d been through an explosion, they looked to be Sam and Spike’s vests from “Shockwave” I guess they could be from something in season 5 but being a fan not quite as obsessed with “Shockwave” as MC but close I’d like to think they were. We both took lots of pictures.
After wardrobe we finally headed to the actual set. Mary and Angelo telling us about their visit last year when it was the hospital from “Slow Burn” built on set. We saw the interior of the command truck which didn’t look even remotely truck like. We walked around the back of set for that day to get to where they were actually filming and that is where this story stops being told chronologically accurate. It was so much awesome all at once that I don’t think I could put everything in order if I tried. A lot of things kind of blur together.
Having checked Twitter earlier I recognized part of the set from one of Ted Stokes’ behind the scenes photos and I got to meet Ted, and I gave him one of my ornaments. We got to watch a few takes, we could really only see a little bit through a door but we could see everything on screen. There was a funny moment between takes when Hugh was swearing about something, looked up and realized I was right in front of him. It was like he had a sudden personality change, his demeanor change to totally nice guy and said “sorry, didn’t see you there.” Unfortunately during two takes my wonderful, loud vocal tic thought it was time to show its ugly head. I managed to hold back until it was safe to make noise again both times it was just barely and the tic came out weird but still pretty loud. After one of them Sharon gave me a look (concerned look) and that may be why she decided it was time to move us along to visiting the SRU “barn.” There was a lot of talking and things being explained but honestly I can’t remember a lot of it. I had a quick chance to meet Olunike before she had to rush back. We took pictures sitting in the actors chairs, MC beat me to Sergio’s so I got David’s, the pictures all came out dark since we couldn’t use a flash. We wandered around, we all took pictures sitting at Winnie’s desk, we tried to help Mary figure out how to use her camera. Tried being the operative word, she has the same camera as me but I couldn’t get the settings right. Sergio came over to say hello and we all took pictures with him, I bet he’d join our Angelo Fan Club.
Next we headed down to the locker room. I have to say something that has always bugged me is that in “Never Let You Down” they show Jules’ name being removed from her locker room and replaced with a sign that said “women” which bugged me because the other locker room sign said “guys” which worked with “Jules” but not with “Women.” Turns out they had changed the sign to “Men” we just never saw it because the outside of the locker room isn’t seen all that often. I was bad inside the locker room, in a moment of impulsiveness I pushed Angelo into the gun cage and closed the door behind him, and then the bell rang. Not being able to open the door without making noise Angelo was stuck until the bell rang again. If you’re going to lock your friend in a cage it’s probably good that there’s something interesting to look at in there, it’s also probably a good thing that all those guns were fake. We did get some great pictures of Angelo in the cage.
We went back up and had some time with Hugh, Enrico, David and Sergio. We each took pictures with them. I ducked because someone said I could be Jules but I’m taller, Mary wanted a butt shot, MC and Angelo just stood there. Mary didn’t get her butt shot. I got the chance to thank Sergio for tweeting my blog post for Tourette’s Awareness Month, it may not have been a big deal to him but most projects aimed at Tourette’s awareness never reach anyone who isn’t already well aware of what Tourette’s is so knowing that my blog was seen by so many Flashpoint fans really means the world to me.
We went outside where there was a taco truck that day and the smokers in the group all took a smoking break. Way too many smokers in this group although being allergic to the tobacco plant I’d say being around one smoker is too many. After standing around for what seemed like too long, I’m not one to stand still, we walked around all the different trailers before going back inside. We stopped back on the set they were filming at and I got to see Amy Jo but I didn’t get to meet her since she was busy at the time, before heading back to the production office to wrap up our visit. We talked some more, really if I could remember everything I still wouldn’t be able to write it all down, before saying our goodbyes to Victoria and Chantelle and heading outside. Angelo headed off and Sharon offered to drive the rest of us back so we’d have more time to talk. On the way out she told us the secret of her parking spot at the studio but not the full secret because she left out the “who” part. It was the perfect start to my awesome week in Flashpoint City.
Thank you to everyone at FLASHPOINT who made it such an amazing experience for me
A.N. Mary Catherine would like me to note that the reason I felt she was either the best or worst person I could have traveled with was because she is completely oblivious to my tics. On a crowded street she looks like a deaf person as everyone else turns to look for the source of that loud noise she has no reaction. It was great to have no worries ticking around her but at the same time I wonder; if I had had a bad day and my tics started to hurt me would she have noticed before I really hurt myself?