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Published on Nov 27, 2012
The longest and most complicated Steadicam shot so far on The West Wing was four minutes long and took place at the Ambassador Hotel in Los Angeles. The operator was Dave Commides [Chameides]. Del Ruth recalls, "It started out on the dance floor, went into the lobby, through the top-floor kitchen area, down two flights of stairs into the bowels of the kitchen and through the cavernous kitchen, where food was being prepared for a banquet. We worked our way through that area, went down another flight of stairs to where the laundry facilities are, then proceeded into the catacombs, all the way through the base of the hotel and out into the parking lot, where we ended up in a motorcade. The shot involved more than 500 extras and nearly all of the major cast members, and it was all done in one seamless Steadicam shot.
"Each take required one magazine of film, and the actors had to pass off dialogue from one person to another. It required quite a bit of orchestration. It was about a five-page scene and took us half the night [to shoot]. Dave was walking backward at full speed for the entire shot; on take 13, he almost collapsed!" - Thomas Del Ruth