MHS grad has key job on new CBS TV series
Between “lights, camera, action” and going on the air, a television show goes through many steps before viewers ever see it.
For CBS’ “Under the Dome,” which premiered Monday night, the man helping to keep those processes running smoothly is 2006 Marietta High School graduate Daniel Spilatro.
“I coordinate post-production,” said Spilatro, 25, who now lives in Los Angeles. “I’m sort of the contact between the editorial team and all of the other divisions.”
That includes sound and visual effects, soundtrack and even additional dialogue recording (ADR), to replace lines that were changed after a scene was shot or that didn’t come out just right in the original takes. Spilatro also makes sure different clips and cuts of the show get to studio and network officials and whoever else needs them.
“We’ll go through different stages of each episode, and it goes to different people,” he said.
Spilatro said he has long been interested in film and television production, recording videos with his cousins and doing as many video projects as possible in high school. He had a couple entries in the Colony Film Fest while earning a bachelor of arts in film studies from Baldwin-Wallace College in Berea. After graduation and before starting an internship with a post-production company in Chicago, Spilatro worked as a camera assistant on the film “PerfectMatch” written and directed by Marietta native Chad Eddy and filmed locally.
In 2011, he moved to Los Angeles at the encouragement of some friends.
“When I first got out here, I was doing different odd jobs, including shooting and editing some of (‘Clerks’ and ‘Chasing Amy’ director) Kevin Smith’s live blogs,” Spilatro said.
He landed a job as a post-production assistant on CBS’ “A Gifted Man,” which was canceled after one season. Spilatro then worked on a pilot headed by Roland Emmerich, director of “White House Down” and “Independence Day.”
The show didn’t get picked up as a series, but Spilatro said “it was still a great experience, getting to work with Roland Emmerich.”
After that, Spilatro became post-production coordinator on ABC’s conspiracy-themed and recently canceled “Zero Hour.”
Earlier this year, he was hired as the post-production coordinator for “Under the Dome,” based on Stephen King’s best-selling novel about the residents of the town of Chester’s Mill becoming trapped under an impenetrable dome of unknown origin. As a fan of miniseries based on King’s work, including “It” and “The Langoliers,” along with movies like “The Shining” and “Misery,” it wasn’t a hard decision to take the job, he said.
“The opportunity to work on one of those, you have to jump at that,” Spilatro said.
And King isn’t the only big name involved with the show. Director Stephen Spielberg is an executive producer, along with showrunner Neil Baer (“ER,” “Law & Order: Special Victims Unit”).
While the show is being shot in North Carolina, Spilatro and company do post-production work in L.A. He hasn’t crossed paths with King, but he does share office space with writers including Brian K. Vaughn, another executive producer who wrote for ABC’s “Lost.”
Filming on the first episode started in March, and “Under the Dome” debuted Monday night to strong ratings, Spilatro said. The L.A. crew got to watch the premiere episode at a viewing party in a local theater, letting them see their work on a big screen.
“It helps that the show’s actually good, so you can actually enjoy it,” Spilatro laughed.
And while some people may have been turning off the set or paying more attention to previews from next week’s episode, the rolling of the credits marked a milestone for Spilatro.
“Last night was the first time I’ve been in the credits with an actual title,” he said. (His name appeared in a group under post-production on a couple episodes of “Zero Hour”).
Tuning in from Marietta Monday were Spilatro’s parents, Steve and Jane, who both work at Marietta College.
“(We) are both very proud that he’s been able to work his way into the industry in Los Angeles and he’s been getting a lot of experience,” Steve Spilatro said.
They also get to hear some behind-the-scenes details from their son that make them perhaps look at shows a little differently than the average viewer. For example, Steve Spilatro said Daniel told them some of the effects were a lot more involved than originally expected.
“We … really appreciated the special effects that went into that show,” he said.
Thirteen episodes of “Under the Dome” are scheduled to run this summer, and it’s already been revealed that the series will take place over a longer timeframe than the book, so there’s room for additional seasons. Spilatro said he’d like to see it keep going.
“It’s a great time, and I’m proud of what I’m working on,” he said.