The One That Goes Behind the Scenes
(aka Friends: Access All Areas)

Transcribed by: Ane Jegstad

Available on the Best of Friends Volume 3 and 4 DVDs.

Transcriber's Note: Here is a list of all the people who are a part of the documentary and their job title (some titles have changed from season 6 when this documentary was made):

Jennifer Aniston
Courteney Cox Arquette
Lisa Kudrow
Matt LeBlanc
Matthew Perry
David Schwimmer

David Crane – Executive Producer
Marta Kauffman – Executive Producer
Kevin Bright – Executive Producer
Greg Malins – Executive Producer
Adam Chase – Executive Producer

Seth Kurland – Co-Executive Producer

Shana Goldberg- Meehan – Supervising Producer
Scott Silveri – Supervising Producer
Todd Stevens – Supervising Producer
Andrew Reich – Supervising Producer
Ted Cohen – Supervising Producer

Jamie O’Connor – Associate Producer
Wendy Knoller – Co– Producer

Ben Weiss – Assistant Director

Greg Grande – Set Decorator
John Shaffner – Art Director

Marjorie Coster-Praytor – Property Master
Kim Bolanowski – Property Person

Greg Bruza – Set Dresser
Kai Blomberg – Set Dresser
Quent Schierenberg – Set Dresser

Mike Smith – Construction Coordinator
Glen Johnson – Grip Boss
Dan Kelley – Construction Foreman

Tim Noble – Grip
Reid Haessig – Gaffer

Mike Crabtree – Foley Artist
Casey Crabtree – Foley Artist

Merelyn Davis – Music Editor
Kathy Oldham – Sound Re-Recording Mixer
Charlie McDaniel – Sound Re-Recording Mixer

Erin Gough – NBC Prime Time Series Manager
Trent Jones – Current Programming Senior Vice President Warner Bros. Television.

Note: Some small talk and minor comments have been excluded to not confuse. However, as a whole, this is a very accurate transcription.

[Narrator] It’s the beginning of a new season for the hit television show Friends. In a little more than 2 weeks, the first episode will be filmed in front of a live audience. Over the next 9 months 23 more will come together in rapid fashion. A TV show is like a freight train: Once it leaves the station it gathers an unstoppable and relentless momentum. First onboard for Friends are the writers.

Adam Chase: In the first episode, maybe the first line you’re playing catch up, but the second one, I just gotta get it off my chest… ”not to me!”… I think you’re definitely there.

Quent Schierenberg: (they’re dressing Rachel’s hotel room in Vegas) This is The Rachel’s hotel room. Remember in the cliffhanger last season how her and Ross got kind of drunk in here

Kai Blomberg: Kind of? They were blasted!

(clip of Ross & Rachel, completely wasted)

Adam Chase: The end of last season was sort of a double cliffhanger.

(clip of Chandler & Monica in the wedding chapel)

Adam Chase: Monica & Chandler plan to get married. Just before they walk into the chapel and are able to go through with it, Ross & Rachel drunkenly stumble out of the chapel, having just gotten married. We A, don’t know what Monica & Chandler are gonna do, and B, we have no idea what the hell Ross & Rachel were thinking and what they’re gonna do to get out of it, or if they even want to get out of it.

[Narrator]. Adam Chase is an Executive Producer, and one of the head– writers on Friends. He’s written the first 2 drafts of the premiere episode, and now the way it works is the script gets thrown to the table where the entire writing staff gives input and make suggestions.

Marta Kauffman: It’s not about that. What it’s about. He really just does not want another divorce. And I really think that confuses things.

Greg Malins: We can fix it by, in that scene, that he says, “we’ll get an annulment”, he goes “well this is still a failed marriage”, she goes “but it’s like it never happened”, she sells it and he goes “ok”. He kind of reluctantly gets onboard, then you’ll at least understand it when he does it, it’s just not odd.

(cut to stage floor)

John Shaffner: This episode, the first episode of the season. We’ve got the wedding chapel, Rachel’s hotel room, the coffee shop at Caesar’s with the buffet line. We have an airplane, we have Monica & Rachel’s apartment…

[Narrator] John Shaffner, the art director, runs down the list of sets in the season premiere for Supervising Producer Todd Stevens. But it’s all guess work, because the script is still a work in progress…

Glen Johnson: This is stage 9 gentlemen.

[Narrator] The season ending cliffhanger poses a unique challenge for the grips and construction crew. The final episode featured several scenes shot on a large Caesar’s Palace set. This required tearing down one of Friends’ permanent sets, the coffee house.

Glen Johnson: When they came out, it was like we wanted out now, so we came out in kind of a hap hazard way, and now it all has to be pieced back together.

Mike Smith: It’ll be alright when we find all the parts.

Glen Johnson: They’re all here. Scattered about, but they are here. And if they’re not, we’ll make new.

Mike Smith: I built it for the pilot originally, and that was 6 years ago. It hasn’t been touched since then, except it gets more screws and nails in it. And this time it came out like it shouldn’t have. Once it’s back up there they’ll never even know it was gone.

Glen Johnson: I’m the grip boss. The gentlemen that are helping me put the set back together are grips. And with help of the prop makers and carpenters, we’ll find all the pieces and get this thing put back together.

Crew guy: We don’t have the script yet, so we don’t even know what’s actually all in now…

Greg Grande: And as they sit up there and write it, it becomes a situation where they’re figuring out “you know this isn’t working right, lets change this”. And we are already preceding on doing the coffee shop and the airplane. And then all of a sudden it changes. Y’know you always have to be prepared for the change, cause it’s all about making a funny script.

(Cut to writing room)

Shana Goldberg– Meehan: “Bye Rachel bye, see you. I didn’t do it, I didn’t do it. I didn’t do it”.

David Crane: I think that’s less funny. I think it’s funnier…Not the way you did it! I think it’s funnier when it’s got a kind of build up. I’m sorry. No the acting I loved, it was vivid! It was like “wow, where did Shana go”, but…

[Narrator] As Friends heads into another season , there’s a lot riding on just how funny they can make it. It’s always one of the top 10 rated shows on television. And NBC still relies upon Friends to kick off it’s crucial Thursday night block of “Must See TV” program.

(Cut to NBC’s prime time manager)

Erin Gough: As far as our Thursday night goes, it sets off our Thursday night. And without it we would have a very difficult time keeping the numbers as high as they are.

(Cut to Chandler & Monica’s apartment set)

Trent Jones: It becomes an identity, you know when people drive by the Warner Bros. lot and they see the Friends cast photo on that wall. For the studio it is….we are the studio that produces Friends…and the financial rewards are… should be obvious.

[Narrator] Friends averages over 24 million viewers every week. This makes it one of the crown jewels for Warner Bros. Studios. They produce the show and sell it to NBC.

(cut to writing room)

Marta Kauffman: I think that’s all you need. I think Phoebe ...After Phoebe’s joke, she can walk out and they can all walk out after her.

[Narrator] At either end of the writers table sit Marta Kauffman and David Crane. They created Friends, and together with their partner Kevin Bright, they oversee one of television’s most successful production companies. Besides Friends “Bright Kauffman Crane” has to other shows in prime time: Jesse and Veronica’s Closet.

(Cut to Central Perk set)

David Crane: We met in College, so we’ve been writing for over 20 years together.

Marta Kauffman: And we did musicals in New York, we wrote musicals.

David Crane: In our late 20s we went “we’re not making ANY money”. And so….

Marta Kauffman: And a baby at this point.

David Crane: We just started coming up with ideas for shows and trying to sell them. One of the first ones we sold was Dream On.

[Narrator] Dream On’s success on cable opened the door to the networks. NBC put Friends on the air in 1994, and “Bright Kauffman Crane “ was off and running.

(Cut to stage floor)

Kai Blomberg, Quent Sherenberg and Gregg Bruza make up the set dressing department for Friends. Their first order of business is to dress one of the 3 main sets on Friends: Monica & Rachel’s apartment. This means putting back every piece of furniture, decorative art, books, and the countless other items that turn a soundstage into a TV home.

Set Dressers: This is Marjorie, our prop master. Or we like to call her prop diva.

(Cut to the prop room)

Marjorie Coster– Praytor: First day back… Coming into the prop room, to see what it looks like.. After last season closed…. Yeah that’s pretty much what I remembered. Props are what I do. Props are anything an actor touches. Anything that they need to touch and handle….is something that props handles… In other kinds of shows there would be guns…It would be, y’know…

Kim Bolanowski: A clipboard, a brief case, in this case a cup of coffee. The food they’re eating, the magazines they’re reading. Anything the actor touches, she has to find and make it just perfect for that character and for the scene.

(cut to clip from The One With The Dollhouse when Phoebe sees the doll house for the first time)

Marjorie Coster– Praytor: One episode Monica had a dollhouse given to her by her great aunt, it was a Victorian beautiful doll house and Phoebe wanted to play with it, but Phoebe wanted to bring all sorts of absurd things into it, and Monica refused.

(cut to The One With The Dollhouse when Phoebe is showing Monica the stuff she wants to have in the house)

Marjorie Coster– Praytor: So Phoebe decided to make her own doll house out of shoe boxes.

(cut to The One With The Dollhouse when Phoebe is showing her doll house to Ross & Rachel )

Marjorie Coster– Praytor: So that was a real fun one. Of course we had to make 6.

Kim Bolanowski: In like 3 days.

Marjorie Coster– Praytor: We had the liquorice room..

(cut to another clip from The One With The Dollhouse)

Marjorie Coster– Praytor: We had to make 6 because of course they had to burn.

(cut to yet another clip from The One With The Dollhouse. Phoebe’s doll house is on fire and Ross is trying stop it )

Marjorie Coster– Praytor: It was like the “piece de resistance” of this department at one time.

(Cut to stage)

[Narrator] All the pieces of Friends signature set, Central Perk, have been found and work continues on reassembling the world’s most famous make– believe coffee house.

(“I’ll Be There For You” is played in (at a very high speed) the background as they show the crew putting Central Perk back together. )

Dan Kelley: Looks great! Good job, Matty, Tommy, Ruben, Danny, Larry, Johnny. You guys do a nice job. Adult model building, 101. Let’s go to lunch!

[Narrator] Once Central Perk is back up, Greg, Kai and Quent begin to choreograph the redressing of the set.

Quent Scherenberg : To redress these sets, we have all these continuity photos to help us along the road. We have like in this flexi counter, we’ve got all these coffee and tea products, and you name it, that we change every 3rd, 4th episode to make it realistic, because we can’t have a stagnant coffee shop where everything stays the same.

(Boys continue to dress set. Some small talk)

John Shaffner: We still have TMS here.

Crew Worker: What the hell’s TMS

John Shaffner: Too Much Scenery

[Narrator] A new draft of episode one has come down from the writer’s room. Some scenes have been written out and replaced with new ones. This triggers a hasty conference held on a prop, a Caesar’s Palace blackjack table.

John Shaffner: So we can leave the wedding chapel as it is.

Crew Worker: Can we work on the light now? It’s not gonna move?

Todd Stevens: They can, but it’s a gamble.

(Cut to lighting of stage)

Reid Haessig: I’m the gaffer, and I work in concert with the director of photography, to get the look of the show.

Crew Worker: As you can see in the apartment here, we have a weeks rig to get everything prepped and ready for the actors and everyone to come in.

Tim Noble: I’m raising the flags out of the lights so we can start fresh, and see where all of our lights are going. And then when we gets our lights in place we’ll bring back our flags and unify the set.

Crew Worker: Flags are the black things here that cut other lights out of other lights so we don’t have 3 lights pointing in one direction.

Tim Noble: And we don’t want any light leaking into the camera lenses cause you’ll have what we call flares and that’s good if it’s like an action movie and you want the flares, but in this TV show stuff we don’t like them so we keep the light out of the camera lens.

[Narrator] Each part of the set is uniformly lit. Once the cameras are rolling there is no time to stop and light for each and every shot.

Tim Noble: A teaser is just a larger flag , maybe 8 feet long. I’m putting on my safety belt so this thing will catch me.

[Narrator] Tim is heading for the Ozone. A gaffer’s term for the upper regions of a sound stage.

Tim Noble: We try to avoid climbing out on the Ozone as much as possible.

[Narrator] It’s 4 storeys above the stage floor, a place where you leave the fantasy world of television behind.

Tim Noble: You have to be really concerned when you’re working up high. It’s no joke up here, you really got to take it seriously. This thing works like a seat belt. It’ll let me go as far as it will let me if I pull slowly, but if I give it a tug (pulls fast), it locks up. It’s important to take your time and do a good job. Everything that we do up here can hurt somebody down there. If one thing we tie off wrong, falls and lands on somebody then that’s bad you know.

(cut to writing room)

Adam Chase: What if eliminated Joey & Chandler’s?

Todd Stevens: If you eliminate Joey & Chandler’s it really wouldn’t matter cause I’m gonna pull out the 2 walls
and then reset the back wall and just redress it so you can do both.

(cut to stage)

Todd Stevens: There is still so much of the show to go after this.

Crew Worker: How many scenes are in here?

Todd Stevens: One elevator walk to the table. One giant scene.

John Shaffner: The difficulty is that when they originally left, walked out of last season everyone went on their vacation thinking “we’ll come back and have to finish up all the stuff at Caesar’s Palace, we won’t be back in New York, we’ll leave the sets up”. So we left everything up. As they sit around the table and thinking about it. We only have a bit of a story.

Todd Stevens: Get us back home, get us back home…

John Shaffner: There just isn’t enough material. They’re done.

Crew Worker: After tonight, we basically… The crew runs out of stuf to do.

[Narrator] While the writers work the script and the art department tries to stay one step a head, the boys from set dressing put a few more props in place and unwind with their favorite past time. (Playing Nintendo 64)

(Cut to production meeting)

Ben Weiss: Here we go guys. Shhhhh.

Marta Kauffman: Welcome back!

[Narrator] It’s the first production meeting of the season.

Ben Weiss: So here we go. We have Kevin directing this week.

Everyone: Yay!

Kevin Bright: Ok, some people needed a little more vacation, alright.

[Narrator] As an Executive Producer of Friends, the last thing Kevin Bright seems to need is more responsibility, but he will personally direct at least 10 episodes this coming season.

Kevin Bright: They enjoyment I get out of you know, spending a week on that set with that cast is really what makes it worth with everything else going on.

Ben Weiss: Ok, we’re in the wedding chapel. It’s continuos from the last episode.

[Narrator] The production meeting is the first time all the departments have gathered to prepare for episode one.

Ben Weiss: We’re on 6.

[Narrator] With show night only 4 days away, they flip through the pages of the latest script, discussing everything from wardrobe, to props, to make– up.

Ben Weiss: We’re on 10. Ross & Rachel come over to the table. They no longer have ink on their faces.

Kevin Bright: They no longer have ink on their faces, except should you see a whole letter,? Cause he says “you have writing on your head”, so you should there be an S that’s not covered up, that can be Ross. The idea is that they have washed it so much that it’s faded and now the make– up does work. So when he does do the make– up it should cover it up.

(cut to stage)

Kevin Bright: It depend on how I wanna play it….

[Narrator] The production meeting finished Kevin Bright takes a quick tour of the set to make sure everything is in place for the next day’s rehearsal.

Kevin Bright: (talking about Phoebe’s cab) It should come from around this corner, and just basically pull up right here. It just makes it feel really…

Matthew Perry: (enters) This is the first you’ve ever worked in 5 years. I’ve never seen you down here on the stage ever before. This is great. Matthew Perry!

Kevin Bright: Nice to meet you Matty!

Matthew Perry: How are you?

Kevin Bright: Great! I almost didn’t recognize you.

Matthew Perry: Who is this guy??

Kevin Bright: [Narrator] After his summer hiatus, cast member Matthew Perry gets reacquainted with his Executive Producer.

Matthew Perry: (to camera man) Stay on me man, I’m the actor.

Kevin Bright: Let him walk out.

(cut to writing room)

Adam Chase: Lets make that cut. After Chandler’s “Oh my God, is everybody getting married!?”

[Narrator] The writers room is the usual hub of activity as they continue to tighten the script.

(cut to stage)

[Narrator] And back on the stage, everything is running smoothly. Rehearsal begins as Kevin, cast and crew pick up the story from the previous season’s cliffhanger.

Kevin Bright: So everybody here saw the last episode last season right? Just want to make sure… Here we go, and ACTION!

Ross: Hello Mrs Ross.

Rachel: Well hello Mr Rachel.

Chandler: Oh my God!

(Joey and Phoebe come running in)

Chandler: Oh my God!! Is everybody getting married?

Monica: I don’t know. We were next!

Kevin Bright: The first couple of days of rehearsal…. it’s really about the excitement of here’s a new script …. sort of has that atmosphere like a bunch of kids in the playground puddling together and creating their own game. What if we do this? What if we do this? Where should we start?

Monica: We could go back!

Chandler: Yes!

Monica: Well last night we let the dice decide. Maybe we should let it up and leave it up to faith again….I love you! Courteney: No, let me say that again!. Monica: Last night we let the dice decide. Maybe we should leave it up to faith again.. I love you!

[Narrator] The writers watch, scripts in hand, hanging on every line of dialogue. If a joke isn’t funny, they’re looking at a long night of rewriting.

(Cut to writing room)

Adam Chase: There are 12 of us, because the way life works is, you’re not always on. Today, I might not be at my funniest, for whatever reason. We know that there are like a 150 people waiting for the new version of this [the script]. It has to be at the stage at 8.30 in the morning.

(Cut to Central Perk set)

Marta Kauffman: Everybody thinks they can do it, and I’m sure there are many people who can. I think A, it’s not as easy as it looks, otherwise we wouldn’t be there till 5, 6 or 7 in the morning with 14 incredibly smart people.

(Cut to writing room)

Greg Malins: It’s not hard to be funny. It’s hard to be funny in a way that will translate to the show, and that you can air…on television.

Adam Chase: You don’t have time to worry about not being funny, you just have to be.

(Cut to stage floor)

Monica: Everything’s great! So everything stays the same. Now you go and unpack. You’re clothes have been here for 3 days, and it’s driving me crazy! And I’m gonna sit down here, until I’ve lowered the volume of my voice!

[Narrator] Television is a writer’s medium. They get paid very handsomely to be smart and funny. The hours are long, and the schedule insane, which explains why Marta Kauffman & David Crane keep their staff filled with quick– witted twenty– somethings.

(Cut to Central Perk set)

Marta Kauffman: Once you hit 40, you can’t do it anymore. Who’s got this energy to go on 3 hours of sleep? You just can’t do it. And also, I think, the networks and the studios they want the new fresh ideas. They’re looking for the young people coming in out of College.

David Crane: Some shows are out early. I mean it just depends on the nature or the beast. But if it’s a show like Friends, where you are here until 4 and 5 and 6, once you’re pretty deep into the season and it’s gotten harder…yeah, that’s tougher!

(Cut to stage)

Joey: Is that writing on your for head?

Ross: Oh right. Thanks. (puts on make– up to cover it up)!

Chandler: So you got married and became a woman, all in one night?

Kevin Bright: The compact thing gets in the way now.

David Crane: Especially now…. Something else is so much more interesting, and suddenly we take a step out.

Adam Chase: We talked about that last night, we talked about that last night. We can’t just abandon the fact that they have magic marker on their face.

[Narrator] A continuity problem has come up. The first episode picks up from last year, with Ross & Rachel waking up in their Las Vegas hotel bed with writing on their faces. The debate is over whether or not the writing should still be visible when they come down for breakfast.

David Crane: The question is. Do they not have writing on their face?

Marta Kauffman: They washed it off when they woke up in the morning.

David Crane: But we already said…

Kevin Bright: I know, but how did they cover it up?

Adam Chase: Because…

Marta Kauffman: Even when you write something on yourself…the next day it’s less.

David Crane: That’s what I was saying. If in this scene, it’s there, but it’s fainter. And the next time we see them, it’s a day later in the coffee house, and it’s gone by then.

Marta Kauffman: I would have it to be very faint in the morning, and you don’t see it here.

Ross: This is so amazing. I really thought I would have to talk you into this more.

Rachel: See, now I’m scared cause it seems like you may not be kidding.

[Narrator] Rehearsal is an important time for script supervisor Jolie Barnett.

Jolie Barnett: We go through all the dialogue and just see what we need to do. We were long today, so they will probably go in and trim.

(cut to writing room)

Adam Chase: Since yesterday, the script grew a lot. We were like 9 minutes long today.

[Narrator] It’s midnight, and after a long rewrite session, head– writers Adam Chase and Greg Malins take a few more minutes to proof reed yet another pass on the script.

Adam Chase: Tonight was less about solving story problems than it was about finding like 7 pages to cut, which is really hard on a script that works.

(cut to stage floor)

Crew Worker: Today would be the first day of camera blocking, for the 1999– 2000 season.

[Narrator] It’s the first day cameras are on the set. Sitcoms are shot using multiple cameras on every scene. Friends uses 4, and sometimes 5, to film all the action.

Kevin Bright: Camera blocking is the process of any given part of the scene, where are the cameras and what are they photographing. (to camera man) They’re gonna be standing here, holding hands, the elevator door is gonna open up, and you wanna see between them, the priest that is gonna be standing there.

[Narrator] In order to keep the camera dollies from crashing into each other, the camera assistant places numbered tape marks on the stage floor, which tell them where they need to be in every scene. Stand– ins are used to mark where the actors will be.

Marta Kauffman:
(Talking about the elevator scene) I think it’s funnier from here.

Kevin Bright: Me too! I like that it just happens, that it’s all in one shot.

Marta Kauffman: I also think they need to let go hands. When they see the priest, when they look at each other

Kevin Bright: Ok, I got you! So that’s it! We’ll clean it up tomorrow, I think we’re in an ok shape.

(Cut to Warner Bros. lot.)

[Narrator] Show day is finally here. 4 hours before filming begins, 500 fans line up for 300 seats to watch the premiere episode of Friends come together.

Girls: We’ve come all they way from Kentucky to see this.

Girl: My favorite character is Chandler.

Guy: I just wanna go see Rachel.

(Cut to stage)

Audiences Unlimited Person: (on a walkie talkie) Christine for Miriam. Please send me 8 more ticket holders with the 6th production right away.

Jim Bentley: You guys play the most important part! The live studio audience! They have to hear you all over the world!!

(Cut to)

Todd Stevens: The night of filming of this show is not just a filming. It’s almost like club Friends.

(Cut to)

Kevin Bright: It’s really hard to describe. There is certainly a pinch of Beatle Mania in it.

(Cut to)

Todd Stevens: The audience raises to their feet, they’ve been waiting for an hour, and there is definitely excitement and energy at like a concert.

(Cut to stage floor. The cast is being introduced)

Jennifer Aniston : (to Marta Kauffman) This is intense!

Marta Kauffman: (to Scott Silveri): Wow, alright, I’m excited now! It’s a show, it’s exciting, people are screaming.

[Narrator] If everything goes smoothly it will take about 5 hours to film 22 min of actual show time. The cameras are rolled into position and the first scene gets underway.

Crew Worker: Scene Apple, take 1, 4 cameras, marker

[Narrator] Each scene is shot a number of times, with a surprising amount of rewriting going on between takes.

Kevin Bright: I can’t believe Ross & Rachel got married.

Matthew Perry: I can’t either!

Kevin Bright: And action!

Monica: I can’t believe Ross & Rachel got married.

Joey: I know! I didn’t even know they were dating again.

Chandler: I don’t think they’re as much dating as they are drunk.

David Crane: I don’t think they’re as much dating as they’re unbelievably drunk, or VERY, VERY drunk. Something fun and emphatic there.

Adam Chase: I don’t they’re as much dating as they are completely filled with alcohol.

The first take of the wedding chapel scene fell a little flat on David Crane’s ears. While the cameras reset they quickly try and come up with something funnier. Finally, they go to Matthew Perry.

David Crane: You know what, why don’t we ask him, because it’s so like Matthew.

Matthew Perry: I don’t think they’re as much dating as they’re acting out a scene from Barfly.

Adam Chase: I don’t they’re as much dating as they are completely filled with alcohol.

Matthew Perry: I don’t think they’re as much dating as they’re 2 bottles of Vodka walking around in human form.

Adam Chase: (Laughs) Yes!

[Narrator] 7 minutes later they’re ready for the take 2.

Kevin Bright: Action!

Monica: I can’t believe Ross & Rachel got married.

Joey: I know! I didn’t even know they were dating again!

Chandler: I don’t think they’re as much dating as they’re 2 bottles of Vodka walking around in human form.

(Cut to)

Matthew Perry: The changing as we go is a really good testament to just how smart the Executive Producers are. I’ve done a lot of shows in the past where there’s the kind of tyrannical, don’t touch the words, and it’s just not the way to do a show. If a joke doesn’t work you just see this whole group of smart people get in this huddle and they come out and they tell you a joke.

(Cut to)

Marta Kauffman: The audience is gonna tell us what’s working and what’s not working. Things that crack us up, they just sometimes don’t get, sometimes they get the set up and then you don’t even need the joke.

Camera Man: I’m gonna jump back in after they roll the dice, and then I go back into the 2.

Kevin Bright: After they’ve rolled the dice, take a beat, and then go back in.

(Cut to)

Kevin Bright: The key in half– hour comedy while there are a lot of things the director wants to bring to it, there is a very short window of time to get everything done. So speed is a necessity. Speed and a very good pair of shoes.

(Cut to stage floor)

Chandler: Let’s get married I guess..

Marta Kauffman: On your “let’s just get married I guess”, can it be even more forced enthusiasm?

Matthew Perry: Oh, you don’t think it’s funny to play that kind of bummed?

Marta Kauffman: Let’s just get married I guess.

David Crane: It didn’t feel funny.

Matthew Perry: Let’s get married, I guess.

Monica: I can’t believe I actually rolled an 8.

Chandler: That was so unlikely. Well, let’s get married, I guess!

Ben Weiss: Moving on guys, we’re in the cab!

[Narrator] The call to move on is the battle cry to prepare for the next scene. As the cameras make their way across the stage, the writers continue to pitch new jokes.

David Crane: Anything else on 10?

Adam Chase: One little pitch on 9?

David Crane: Yes

Adam Chase: It’s a buffet, it’s in trouble.

David Crane: It’s kinda funny.

Marta Kauffman: I don’t get it.

David Crane: Oh it’s in trouble, in like I’m gonna go eat it all.

Greg Malins: What about: Here’s where I win all money back.

David Crane: (laughs) I like that! Great! After “it’s a buffet”, Joey says “here’s where I win all my money back!”

Marta Kauffman: Kevin, there are lots of changes coming. (to the cast) You guys ready?

Joey: Where is the waitress? I’m starving.

Chandler: It’s a buffet man.

Joey: Oh, here’s where I win all my money back!

[Narrator] The completion of this scene triggers a frenetic bound of activity. The set dressers and grips tear out the Caesar’s Palace buffet to make room for the next scene.

Jim Bentley : (to the audience) You guys gotta get more excitied!!

[Narrator] A set change can take as long as 20 minutes, but with warm– up comedian Jim Bentley to entertain them, the audience has no time, to be bored.

Jim Bentley: There is no question about it. There is nothing like a Friends audience. They’re just complete maniacs when it comes to Friends.
[Narrator] A sitcom is as close to live theatre as television gets. The actor’s play to the audience and their feedback is crucial.

Matthew Perry: We play off the audience all the time.

Matt Le Blanc: Very important. It’s kinda like a test, to see if the material works, if the jokes work, if the story tracks, if the audience is with….if we’re given them enough exposition along with jokes.

Matthew Perry: We’ve done 120 of these things, but our energy just elevates every time there’s an audience. I still get nervous before shows. I think it’s just generally like putting up a one act play every week.

Monica: This is insane!

Phoebe: What’s the big deal? It’s not like it’s a real marriage.

Chandler: What?

Phoebe: No, when you get married in Vegas, you’re only married in Vegas.

Monica: What are you talking about? If you get married in Vegas you’re married everywhere.

Phoebe: Really?

Monica: Yeah.

Oh my God! Ah well!

Adam Chase: Is it clear at the end, that she’s talking about herself?

Marta Kauffman:
The “Oh my God” has to be bigger.

Adam Chase: The “Oh my God” has to be bigger, ok.

David Crane: Well, they laughed cause they got it.

David Schwimmer. They laughed so hard on “Oh my God”

Marta Kauffman: But they didn’t laugh at “Ah well”

David Schwimmer. What if after “Oh my God”, laugh laugh laugh, “I have to make some phone calls”?

Jennifer Aniston: We’re just not very bright, and smart people will get it.

Marta & David run a very democratic show. There’s a question as to whether or not the implications of a joke from Phoebe are understood. So what do they do? They put it to a vote.

Lisa Kudrow: If you wanna be sure, you ask them.

David Crane: We can ask them.

Lisa Kudrow: Ask the audience.

Ben Weiss: Who did not get it .

Jim Bentley: Who did not get the fact, that Phoebe was married in Vegas.

David Crane: From that joke.

Marta Kauffman: When she says “Oh my God”.

David Crane:
That sometime in the past she was married in Las Vegas.

Jim Bentley: You guys got it? Yes!

Marta Kauffman: You all got it?

David Crane: They got it. Great. Beautiful.

Rachel: Ross, the bottom line here, we can not stay married.

Ross: See, I don’t know if that’s true.

Rachel: But it is.

Ross: Ok, what we have here, is a difference of opinions. And when that happens in a marriage.

Rachel: Stop saying the word marriage! Ross, if you don’t get this annulment I will.

David Crane: Writer people! Is there anything funnier than “stop saying the word marriage”?

Andrew Reich: Got it.

Greg Malins: We’re in a drunken mistake.

Adam Chase: That funny, huh?

David Crane: We’re talking about the line instead “stop saying the word marriage”, which actually isn’t funny.

Greg Malins: This is a crazy drunken mistake.

David Crane: This is the world’s worst hangover. This is the world’s worst hangover!

Adam Chase: Yeah, that’s great.

Ben Weiss: Here we go, and rolling!

Ross: And when that happens in a marriage.

Rachel: Ross, common this is not a marriage, this is the world’s worst hangover!

(cut to David Crane & Seth Kurland)

Seth Kurland: It’s like Mozart, it just comes to you.

David Crane: (laughs) It’s just like Mozart!!

Seth Kurland:
Somebody else had the area. It was someone else’s area actually.

David Crane: Exactly. Someone, I don’t remember who, had pitched something in the area of drunkenness, and out of that somebody comes up with the right way to spin it. When you find it and you put it in, and they love it., the audience goes crazy and you get applause on a joke, it’s not a bad feeling, it’s a very good feeling.

Crew Worker: That’s a wrap!

[Narrator] After 52 takes of 14 scenes and 7 rewrites, the more than 5 miles of exposed film is rushed to the lab where it will be developed over night. The 122nd episode of Friends is officially in the can!

Crew Worker: Ok guys, we have 23 more episodes to shoot. What are you waiting for?

[Narrator] The next key step in the making of Friends takes place in Steve Prime’s editing room.

(Cut to editing room)

Steven Prime: We run about 30 000 feet of film, for all 4 cameras, which is about 12 hours of footage, for one half hour show. We then sync it up, so that all 4 cameras will be played back on my machine, simultaneously, and starting on Monday morning, I start cutting the show together. The hard part of editing is where you have problems, and that’s, those are the ones where you do the most work. (Works on the scene with Rachel’s hangover joke) There are of course many different ways that I can bring her up. I could easily change it to this shot which I shied away from cause she exited frame. The impactful way is to be close, television is a close– up medium, so I could go right from there, then punch in for a close up, so this is an other option. Very fine way of cutting it. I opted to just play it all in close– up. Sometimes the audience’s response is too big. If I went with the actual laugh. So that laugh is still going through her next line and into his next reaction, and that’s 5– 6 seconds, and in TV– land that’s an eternity. Sometimes we have to put in a laughter that is shorter. Sometimes we do it to get it over with quicker.

(Cut to screening room with Marta Kauffman & Kevin Bright)

[Narrator] After 3 days of editing, Kevin Bright & Marta Kauffman screen the first rough cut.

Marta Kauffman: I don’t love that joke. I feel like it’s cheap. (Talking about Ross’ “the boxes are right next to each other” joke). Is it funnier to go to that wider shoot sooner? (Talking about Chandler carrying Monica over the threshold)

Kevin Bright: I thought it was funnier as a reveal, but we’ll try it.

Marta Kauffman: Do we have one where she screams, and when she sees Joey, she stays freaked. Look, she seems to calm down after she screams, and then she calms, or get out of it faster or something. (Talking about Phoebe & Joey in the backseat of the cab)

(Cut to editing room)

[Narrator] Kevin now joins Steve to work on the changes. When he’s not on the stage floor directing an episode, Kevin can always be found in the editing room where he sees every show through this painstaking phase of post production.

Kevin Bright: Ok, let’s try this. Cutting off of this shot in the same place you did, let’s try him again, and then try coming back to this scream, and then end over here, with him turning around. (Talks about the cab scene again)

Stephen Prime: Ok.

[Narrator] Here is how the scene was finally edited (shows scene). After making the changes, the big challenge is getting the show down to exact length, 22 minutes.

Kevin Bright: This show was 3 minutes and 40 seconds out, that’s a lot.

Stephen Prime: Absolutely. Ok, deep cut.

Kevin Bright: Steve and I, in surgeon– like manner, cut out of the show. But it gets to a certain point that you’re only left with the stuff that you really love so how do you keep it all in. It’s taken us a while.

(Cut to Chandler trying to jimmy the lock in Monica’s door)

[Narrator] After editing, the show gets passed on to a number of technical experts, where every frame of film and every second of audio is carefully examined and polished.

(Cut to Foley room)

[Narrator] Here the husband and wife team of Mike & Casey Crabtree add sound effects in a process known as foley.

Casey Crabtree: We’re foley artists, and foley was, originated in the 1920s by a man named Jack Foley, awesome guy. These are my shoes. Everybody has their favorite shoe collection. These are heels that make a very, very, very, very sharp sound and I use them as hooker heels. And I even have Spice Girls shoes, they’re hard to walk in. I’m going to do a scene on Friends now, with Phoebe. She’s running. She’s going to go from a cement surface to a carpet surface. You mirror what’s on that screen. You get in character, you are that person. Ok, pretty good sync. I felt comfortable with that. (Shows finished scene with effects).

(Cut to prop boxes)

[Narrator] The essential tools of a foley artist? Props. Every conceivable object to make sounds.

(Cut to foley room)

Casey Crabtree: Ok Tom, take 2.

Mike Crabtree: If we don’t like it, we’ll do it again and again and again, until we like it. It’s our final call. (Throws rice)

Casey Crabtree: Ok Tom, we’re gonna do it one more time. (Throws rice again) You have to have real good sync. (And again) Worked for me, let’s listen to the sound.

Mike Crabtree: Foley is really messy. (Refers to the rice on the floor)

Casey Crabtree: Yes it is.

(Cut to Warner Bros. building)

Merelyn Davis: (to someone in the outer office) Missy! Jamie!

Jamie O’Conner & Wendy Knoller: Merelyn! Hi honey.

[Narrator] Music editer Marylin Davis has come to meet associate producer Jamie O’Conner & Co– Producer Wendy Knoller.

(Cut to Merelyn Davis)
Merelyn Davis: I do music editorial for televison shows, specific niche sitcoms.

(Cut to office)

[Narrator]They screen the show and determine where music is necessary.

Wendy Knoller: I think just a normal transition is fine, I don’t think we have to do anything…

Jamie O’Connor: Trail over?

Wendy Knoller: Yeah

(Cut to Merelyn Davis)

(Merelyn Davis) Each show is not scored. A bulk of music is given to the editors by the composer (Michael Skloff) every year. About 4 or 5 new batches a year, and those are, in the parlance of the industry, tracked.

Jamie O’Connor: Just the main title and we’re done

Merelyn Davis: Okey Dokey. We’re done.

Jamie O’Connor: Not to bad. It’s not to much stuff in there.

(Cut to street, zooming in on building)

[Narrator] The next day in a storefront studio, a few miles from the Warner Bros. lot, (cut to small music studio) Merelyn goes over several versions of composer Michael Skloff’s music for the opening of scene 1.

Merelyn Davis: Boy, that’s a great cue. Can you shorten it a little to get the piano.

Sound Engineer: Yeah.

Merelyn Davis: I’d like the piano to happen while she stills sleeps.

Sound Engineer: I can take that half of that second phrase.

Merelyn Davis: Whatever

(cut to Merelyn Davis)

Here we make sure that the music fits. Both the mood, the situation and fits physically. Which is really what music editing is. I mean, editing is cutting to make fit.

(Cut to Merelyn Davis at mixer table)

[Narrator] Merelyn Davis: It is really amazing how long it takes us to do a show, with 20 cues, 3 seconds each.

Merelyn Davis: Oh, that’s great.

Sound Engineer: That’s already cut down.

Merelyn Davis: Alright. Well, that is acting up. Yes!

(Cut to)

Merelyn Davis In sitcoms it’s, I mean like, boom– boom– boom– boom– boom, every week and everybody is doing their job and it all comes together at the mix.

(Cut to Mixer room)

[Narrator] At the mix, all the different sound elements: Dialogue, laughs, effects, foley and music are combined by engineers Charlie McDaniel & Kathy Oldham. Their job is to set the proper level for each track and filter out unwanted noise and hiss.

Charlie McDaniels: Ok. There’s one I missed. It’s a frequency that comes in on this edit, so it could have been a different shot. Let’s get some filters in here and try to knock some of this stuff out. Kathy and I usually play– guess that frequency and she’s usually right. Which elevator ding do you wanna use? (To Knoller & O’Conner in the back) We have 2 here. Choice one. (plays ding) That one. (Plays another ding, lighter).

Wendy Knoller: I actually think 2 is better. I think 1 sounds like a hospital.

Charlie McDaniel: We have 4 hours or 5 hours to complete a half hour sitcom. So we’re kinda known as the triage of mixing in half hour sitcom.

(Plays the Friends intro music)

Jamie O’Connor: I don’t get to do my full 45 second dance.

Wendy Knoller: We’re doing 35 now you guys, from now on.

Jamie O’Connor: I’m really bummed.

(Cut to Warner Bros. lot)

Group of fans: (sing) I’ll be there for you when the rain starts to fall.

Girls: It’s hilarious. We love all the characters. They’re all just perfect. And there is always like 3 or 4 dialogues going on at the same time, so it keeps you interested.

Group of fans: (sing) I’ll be there for you when the rain starts to fall.

Guy: It’s got a great wit. When you have so many shows on TV now that are just so full of junk and are just stupid and come and go. Friends has stayed over the past 5 years, and it’s been a great show.

Girls: (sing) I’ll be there for you.

Group of fans: It reminds of us who we are.

Girls: (sing) Cause you’re there for me too.

(Cut to a montage of different backstage stuff set to the Friends theme)

(Cut to)

Wendy Knoller: I laugh every day. My life is gonna be longer, because of Friends.

(Cut to)

Greg Malins: I feel insanely lucky. It’s a staff that loves all these characters .

(Cut to)

Adam Chase: When I was home sick from school, I watched The Odd Couple. When my kids and grand kids are home sick from school, they’re gonna watch Friends. That is the coolest thing in the world to me.

(Cut to)

David Crane: It is one of the most fun jobs I think you can get paid for.

(Cut to)

Kevin Bright: It’s a rare situation where you go to work on a daily basis and actually look forward to seeing each and every person that works on your show.

(Cut to)

Marta Kauffman: To get something that is so creatively satisfying and such a wonderful relationship with a group of actors. All that came together and the stars were all aligned and everything worked out right, and I don’t think it gets better than this experience has been.

(Cut to David Crane, Marta Kauffman and Kevin Bright hugging at the end of the taping)

The End