May 9, 2018

Watch: BTS of How a SNL Sketch Goes From Concept to Air in 36 Hours

A Kanye West Tweetstorm and the debut feature from John Krasinski inspired the 'Saturday Night Live' team to act fast.

While it's no secret that the writing and production teams of Saturday Night Live work around the clock to be as topically relevant and humorous as possible, what actually goes into that quick turnaround is often shrouded in secrecy. This is even truer for the show's "non-live" segments, which aren't bound to being set in Studio 8H at Rockefeller Plaza.

Under intense pressure and time constraints, the behind-the-camera staff has to identify, pitch, refine, location scout, shoot, and edit the piece, often within a span of five days. How do they pull it off? This video below reveals the extremely impressive workflow on one such example. 

Written by Sudi Green and Fran Gillespie, last week's A Kanye Place sketch had to be put together quickly. After all, the tweets that it references from one Mr. Kanye West were put out less than a week ago. On Tuesday night (known as "writer's night"), the two women came up with the concept—A Quiet Place but in the real world where people just can't stop themselves from vocalizing their outrage over the insane stuff Kanye West is tweeting about—and pitched it to that week's host, Donald Glover, who was onboard.

A table read on Wednesday helped refine the concept—it went from being a sketch meant to be performed live in studio to one that would be filmed in advance to emulate the look and feel of the film it was parodying—and production was set to begin on a soundstage Thursday afternoon (the possibility of shooting in an actual cornfield was nixed). Shooting began on Friday morning with the visual effects team also on set (as can be imagined, there's not a lengthy post-production process) and professional ASL translators (actually used for the production of A Quiet Place) were brought in to coach the actors. On late Saturday evening, the sketch aired.

The feedback was positive, even from Mr. Kanye West himself who, of course, took to Twitter to make that clear. Was there any time for the SNL creative team to rest on their laurels? Nope, as there was still work to be done: Amy Schumer hosts this upcoming Saturday night. 

What did you think of the sketch? Any quick turnaround production stories that you've experienced? Let us known down in the comments.     

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2 Comments

Thanks for posting this wonderful post.
Nicole

May 10, 2018 at 5:01AM, Edited May 10, 5:01AM

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Cool to see their creative process for such a quick concept to airing schedule.
Any chance we could get a some BTS and interviews for "This is America" music video production?

May 11, 2018 at 10:44AM

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Dan Hoene
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