Yesterday Degrassi bloggers from all over the universe took a trip to visit the set of Degrassi. I was joined by Alex and Taylor from The Degrassi Experience as well as Erin and Ashley from Degrassi Online. It was a crazy busy day on the set, but not all of the cast was there. It was the last day of filming for Degrassi before on-set production takes a 2-month hiatus, and some cast members (like Cristine and Olivia) had already wrapped up their final scenes earlier in the week.
When we arrived to set we immediately saw them setting up for a major scene that they accidentally told us about…we don’t know exactly which characters are involved but I can’t say anymore because we were sworn to secrecy about anything storyline related, or else we’ll face immediate death.
As we were waiting, the first person we met was Linda Schyuler, as she walked through the entrance to Epitome ready for the workday. It was such an honor to meet the person behind Degrassi’s success over the past 30 years, who spends a majority of her time in the trenches behind the scenes. Eventually Stephen Stohn greeted us and proceeded to give us a tour of the set.
We stumbled across the writers, who allowed us a *brief* look into the writers’ room, which had boards full of plot points and storyline ideas. I’m pretty sure the reason the writers left their room was because they were in search of snacks. Depressed that we hadn’t brought any snacks for them, they snuck back into the writing room. The Stohn took us through the maze of a set, showing various interior sets like the Matlin house, Clare’s house, classrooms, the gym, the caf, etc. As we were walking through there was a lot of set construction going on because Degrassi and The L.A. Complex are filmed in a lot of the same places on set. In one place they were setting up Degrassi’s weight room. In another they’d used part of the T-LAC set for Degrassi and were stripping it down to look like the T-LAC set again. In another they were completely tearing down one of Degrassi’s more popular interior sets for good (R.I.P.). The JT Yorke memorial garden had been temporarily disassembled for top-secret reasons Stephen didn’t want to divulge.
As we got to the main entrance for the obligatory photo on the front steps, Lyle and Jordy literally appeared out of nowhere, like they’d been randomly roaming around the set. Jordy talked about having never seen the L.A. Complex set so she and Lyle went with us:
As we were walking from the main part of the set back to the office area we saw Demetrius Joyette walk by as he went to chat with the production crew setting up near the front steps of the school. We also briefly chatted with Melinda before she ran off to meet Lyle and Jordy in the parking lot. FYI: the only other Degrassians we saw were Daniel Kelly (I saw him creepin in the parking lot) as well as Cory Lee during lunch, and we met Stefan before he headed out to do stuff for the L.A. Complex. There were other cast members confirmed on set (Annie, Dylan, Sarah Fisher just to name a few), but we never saw them because they were off doing things we weren’t allowed to see.
MORE SPOILER STUFF THAT I CAN’T REALLY TELL YOU ABOUT SO I’LL ANNOY YOU BY BEING EXTREMELY VAGUE ABOUT IT
We did get a tour of the place I was most excited to visit at Epitome: the editing room. There were two editing bays being used for Degrassi. We passed by the first one and the guy in there was previewing a scene with two characters (a guy and a girl) having what looked to be a serious conversation. Them interacting might imply trouble for a certain couple that’s currently together. Linda Schyuler and another guy (I suck at remembering names on the first try, please forgive me maaaaan) were in the second editing bay working on episode 1123, aka the 300th episode. We were standing right next to the Stohn when he took this pic that he eventually tweeted:
They showed us a tiny snippet of the Cam/Maya scene on the screen above, and we also got to preview the new opening credits. It’s not really surprising which character gets the logo this season…I’m actually surprised that it took him or her this long to get it. Later in the day we walked across the street to Epitome’s other lot, which contained a bunch of sets for The L.A. Complex. There were extras just hanging around in a waiting area, but we entered a part of the set where they were filming scenes for Degrassi. We stood behind Director Eleanor Lindo, Director of Photography Mitchell Ness, Nancy Markle and so many others and watched the monitor with them as they filmed an emotional scene. The only details I can give is that it involves Tristan, and that episode will air later this fall. Also, it looks like a request I’d hoped for when it came to Degrassi’s newest band “Whisperhug” will happen!
There’s just an insane amount of people to thank: Epitome’s entire Communications/PR team (Stephanie Cohen, Iain Christansen, Krista Legault, Abby Ho) for being our guides through the entire process, Linda and Stephen, the writers (LTDEG, Ramona, Matt, the other Matt, Michael), Quinn and the rest of the crew. They were incredibly welcoming, and everyone was as interested in us bloggers and what we did as we were interested in them. Lyle was really awesome, he hung out with us before and after his scenes and sat with us at lunch. I know that a lot of fans fawn all over the cast because they’re the face of the show, but I hope people get to have a moment like I did during lunch where you become super aware of the fact there’s more to the show than the cast. I was sitting there and realized that 99.9% of the people in the packed lunch room with us were crew members. You walk around the lot and there’s so many groups of people scattered throughout the set, all working on different things that all come together to create Degrassi. It really is a team effort. I would’ve chopped off both my legs (and both arms) to have spent the whole day hanging out in the writers room watching them brainstorm, or sit in an editing suite for hours as they chop up insane amounts of footage, or shadow Stephen Stohn as he left to go do the mixdown for episodes 1117 and 1118 (Sabotage). Getting to see firsthand how meticulous each person’s role at Epitome is gives you a greater appreciation for what they do, regardless of whether any given episode is great or falls short of expectations.