Behind the scenes on the set of Episode 1 of Totally Unprepared
Interview with Sarah Imber Safdar, line producer, for the video series Totally Unprepared.
Liz Rood: Sarah, thanks for talking with me about what it was like behind the scenes on the Totally Unprepared set. Tell us what your role was in production.
Sarah: I’m the person that scheduled locations, corralled the troops to the right place at the right time, and then ordered lunch, and made sure everything kept going throughout the day.
Liz: What was the most challenging aspect of the shoot? Was it the talent?
Sarah: Well, even though Vencie’s a famous football player, he was easy going and super nice, so I can’t say he was the most challenging. And even though it was Sue’s first EVER video shoot, she is a natural on camera, so she wasn’t the most challenging. I’d say the most challenging thing was done by QuakeHold, our partner who donated The Big Shaker to us for the shoots.
Liz: Why is that?
Sarah: The Big Shaker is the world’s largest mobile earthquake simulator, capable of simulating an 8.0 magnitude quake. It’s a giant trailer outfitted to look like a typical living room, mounted on a number of shocks that are attached to a controller, kind of like a low-rider suspension system on steroids. When the Big Shaker is operated, it rocks and rolls, and it will move several feet with the motion of the shake. It gives a realistic sense of not only how things will shake around inside a building during an 8.0 earthquake, but it gives you sense of how much the earthquake will move the ground and buildings themselves.
In order to operate the Big Shaker safely, the operator needs to set the trailer up on a flat surface with lots of open space around it. If the surface isn’t level, the trailer could flip during the simulation, or move wildly from where it was stationed. Vencie’s home is in downtown San Diego where the streets are narrow, with lots of traffic, and are also quite hilly. There was no good location to put the The Big Shaker there where they could operate it without worrying about safety issues. Instead the Big Shaker team set up on the campus of San Diego State University, scoping the campus for the flattest parking lot, which if you know hilly SDSU is quite a hard search. Even still, despite being in an empty parking lot, parked at spot with the least gradient, but still not quite flat, the Big Shaker moved about four feet with Vencie and Sue inside.
Liz: Wow, that gives you a real sense of how far big things can move in a real 8.0 earthquake.
Sarah: You could see real fear in people’s eyes when they were in the shaker; it’s worth a second look at the show to watch for it.
Liz: Was Vencie frightened?
Sarah: Vencie didn’t SAY he was frightened…but watch for yourself. He really wants us all to get prepared for earthquakes, and he clearly knows what an aftershock is.