Judy Norton said her days on The Waltons were very regimented. But for the most part, the role part sounded like any 9-5 job. The only difference being millions of fans would see her work. While only maybe Todd in accounting will read your memo.
The Waltons cast day began early — the women would usually have to go in first because it took longer to do their hair and make-up. Then it was to rehearsal with the director and a few other key people to prepare to film, she said in her YouTube video.
The actors would be sent off as lighting and camera people set up the scene. Then they’d be called back for another rehearsal, but this time it was recorded. The reason was to make sure the camera and lighting looked good. They’d film the scene in the “master” first, a wide shot where all of the actors are visible. But after that, they’d redo the scene over and over, getting close-ups or particular shots of the actors.
And getting these “coverage” shots was the difficult part of filming. It required so much extra movement of equipment and parts of the set to accommodate everything and everyone. Then it would have to be painstakingly put back together, with meticulous detail.
The cast had a fairly normal schedule, as well. If they had an 8:30 a.m. call time, for instance, they could expect to be heading home by 5:30 p.m. Modern-day shows and movies will often have 12-16 hour days.
The Waltons shot at a fast clip as well. Norton said they’d normally get through 8 pages a day. And it took about 13 days to film an episode. Big budget movies may spend an entire day on a single page or two, she said.
Norton: Filming ‘The Waltons’ Was Challenging
Judy Norton said filming The Waltons wasn’t as easy as it sounded, however. Mostly because of the size of the cast. Eleven main cast members, not including guest stars, could be a nightmare to wrangle. Especially since many of them were children.
“It was always challenging to shoot The Waltons,” Judy Norton said. “Because there were eleven regular cast members.”
The show also would need so many camera setups. For instance, she said in one of her YouTube videos that each shot had a subtext that would need to be worked in for the audience’s benefit. She recalled one episode where the men passed around a jug of moonshine. But while they’re getting drunk on illegal hooch, Olivia and Grandma are cutting sharp looks at the men and one another. Those shark looks make the scene and add drama, but they require a lot of extra work to do well, she said.