tara dublin

"Grimm" is filmed in lovely Portland, Oregon, and environs!/NBC

By Tara Dublin

The Portland arts scene got another great boost last month when the locally-filmed NBC-TV series, “Grimm,” was picked up for a full season by the network. This came as no surprise to me, because I’ve been working on the show as a background extra since the fourth episode, and I knew we had a “Monster Hit”…

…on our hands from the moment I saw the pilot. Actually, I knew the show was special from my first day on the set, and it’s a feeling that’s only increased the more I work there.

“Grimm,” if you haven’t caught it, is not just any police procedural. It poses the question, “What if the Grimm Brothers weren’t telling mere fairy tales, but were really the first police profilers?”

The fairy tales we’ve heard via Mother Goose are watered-down versions of the darker, scarier original Grimm Tales. “Grimm” tells the story of Nick Burkhardt (David Giuntoli), whose  dying aunt (Kate Burton) revealed to him that’s he one of the last of the Grimms, the only humans who can see the creatures who live among humans for what they really are. Nick’s mission is to find and stop the evil creatures from having their way with humanity.

He’s aided in his quest by the only person who knows about his true self, a Blutbad (in modern layman’s term, a wolfman) named Monroe (Silas Weir Mitchell). Monroe is emerging as a fan favorite already, providing much-needed comic relief as he literally helps Nick sniff out the bad guys.

I’m one of a group of regular extras now who fill out the precinct scenes when Nick and his partner, Hank Griffin (Russell Hornsby) confer over cases at their desks. My desk is right across from Russell’s, thanks to a fellow extra, Paul Jordan, who hooked me up with that placement my third time on the set. Paul suggested the move to the desk across from his because he found me funny, and we do a lot of sitting around and entertaining ourselves while waiting for the next scene to begin. Thanks to Paul, I’m often in the shot when Russell and David are filmed at their desks. Just call me Detective Dublin.

Detective Tara Dublin takes a break from a busy day on set.

Detective Dublin is about to tell you all about her latest experience on the set.

On this particular Monday, we are beginning Episode 112, entitled “Last Grimm Standing.” The call time for me and my fellow precinct detectives, as well as uniformed officer/actors, is 7:18 am. When you arrive at the Crew Parking lot (the main shooting stages are located among the factories and warehouses in the Northwest Industrial area), white courtesy vans await to shuttle you to the set. By now I know the way, and it isn’t far, so I walk quickly through the cold morning fog, past the Craft Services tent and the trailers, to the Extras Holding area. When I arrive, many of my friends are already there, decked out in their detective clothes. We all bring our clothes from home, at least three different changes’ worth, so that the lovely folks in Wardrobe can decide how they want us to look that day.

Quite often, we shoot three different days’ worth of scenes in the precinct, and need to change accordingly (just like in real life!). The police officers are issued exact replicas of Portland Police uniforms; the last name written on their name tags belong to producers (“Pavlonnis,” “Oster”) or other members of the crew. There is plenty of humor on this set, something I discovered on Day One, and it’s just one of many reasons why I’m delighted to keep coming back to work.Another reason is WORK…something I’ve been sorely lacking in the recent past, when I used to be a Person of Interest in Portland.

Instead of the jobs rolling in, I’ve been desperately seeking opportunities for over two and half years. This is just one of many opportunities to come my way since then, and I feel very lucky to be here and to be making these fantastic personal and professional connections. Besides, the coffee is strong , the people are nice, and there’s food aplenty. Why wouldn’t anyone be happy to be here?

We are checked in at Extras Holding by Sally, one of the extras’ coordinators, and Jesse, one of the head production assistants, or PA’s. The PA’s keep things humming on the set. They’re constantly on their headsets, checking in with what’s happening on the set and exactly when it’s happening. They tell us when and where to go, and Jesse helps direct the background action for the scenes. Once we’re checked in, we walk over to the Props truck, helmed by the good-natured Stefan. Today he issues me a standard detective badge on a chain to wear around my neck, a briefcase, and a notebook. I am responsible for these props all day and must turn them in when we wrap.

After Props, it’s over to the Wardrobe truck, where we stand in line and talk about our Thanksgivings. The camaraderie here is real: we are all becoming a tight-knit team as the same core group of people is asked back again and again. There’s a special feeling on the set today, however, thanks to the news of the full-season pickup. Now we all know we’ll be working together at least through April, and, we hope, far beyond that. We are all happy, chatty, and energized.


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