‘The Waltons’: Director Explains the ‘Snag’ in the Filming Schedule of ‘The Conflict’ Episode

by Keeli Parkey

For her most recent video about the making of “The Waltons,” actress Judy Norton reached out to the director of the two-part episode titled, “The Conflict.”

That director, Ralph Senensky, provided Norton with many behind-the-scenes details about the episode. These details included his memories of the actress on the set, as well as the filming schedule for “The Conflict.”

Senensky shared his responses to Norton’s queries in writing. So in this video about “The Waltons,” the Mary Ellen Walton actress reads his responses for viewers. For Senensky, “The Conflict” was the fourth episode of the popular family drama that he directed. He described the episode to Norton as a “two-hour epic.”

The filming of this “epic” had drama of its own thanks to a pending strike in Hollywood. Because of that looming work stoppage, the filming schedule of “The Conflict” episode of “The Waltons” was changed.

“He says, ”The Conflict’ being a two-hour show based on the usual assigning of six and a half days filming per episode, should have had at least 13 days for the shooting schedule,'” Judy Norton read. “‘But, Hollywood was facing the possibility of an industry strike. I forget whether it was writers or actors.'”

When Senensky and the cast were scheduled to begin filming this episode there were only 12 days to go before the strike was supposed to happen. The plan was to film on location at Frazier Park for six days. Then, the following week, film five days on the set.

‘The Waltons’ Director Shares Details About Filming ‘Snag’

As if the looming Hollywood strike wasn’t enough pressure, another issue made filming “The Conflict” episode of “The Waltons” even more challenging, according to Senensky.

“‘But, one more snag hit the fan,'” Judy Norton read from Senensky’s response. “‘The production ahead of me was running behind. It also had to be finished before the possible strike.'”

This delay cut the time the director had to film this episode of “The Waltons” to 11 and a half days. This, according to Norton, was challenging.

“Which was a monumental task, especially when you’re talking about locations,” she said of filming the two-part episode in that time frame. “With all the equipment that has to move, all the actors that have to move when you’re working in locations that are not pre-lit – like when we worked on the soundstage, lights were rigged all over those sets already. So, they didn’t have to come in and start from scratch. When we went out to locations, they had to haul all that equipment in, set everything up, so it just took longer. …”

Judy Norton said Ralph Senensky managed to get the episode filmed on time. And she praised him for it.

“It was quite remarkable that he was able to pull this off in such a tight timeframe,” she explained.

You can watch the June 14, 2021, installment of “Behind the Scenes of ‘The Waltons’” with Judy Norton below. Her comments about the filming schedule for “The Conflict” begin less than one minute into the video. She has posted many videos about the making of the show on her YouTube channel.