Jake Wilson Recalls Five Wild & Crazy The Battery's Down Scenes He Can Never Forget Filming
October 20th, 2015
by Jake Wilson
October 20 is a very good day for fans of the cult web series The Battery’s Down, a story of one young actor’s struggle to make it big on Broadway. Creator and star Jake Wilson is getting a ton of his famous friends together for a one-night-only reunion concert at Joe’s Pub featuring songs from the series. Clearly, you don’t want to miss it.
Also on October 20, Hulu airs the long-awaited The Battery’s Down reunion episode. Take a hot minute to watch the trailer below.
To get folks pumped for the concert and reunion episode, Jake Wilson shares with BroadwayBox five fantastic filming stories from the first season of The Battery’s Down.
5. "Like Love"— Ellen's Stardust Realness
Episode 2: The Unsinkable Molly Black
This number was the moment where it finally hit me that we were doing something special with this show. In Episode 1 we truly were winging it, but by the second episode I had a little bit more of an idea about what this series was going to be.
I loved the idea of Jake working at Ellen's Stardust Diner, such an iconic Broadway restaurant and I couldn't believe that they were so game to stay open for a few hours and let us shoot a musical number literally on top of their tables. Gotta give Alysha Umphress props for making that happen.
Dani Spieler choreographed this number and we had some of the best dancers in town. Natalie Weiss riffed the shit out of it, and Michael Kadin Craig did a kickass job filming it. If I could reshoot one number from the entire series, now that we have better camera equipment and I know what I'm doing, it would definitely be this song. The production value was off the charts, and I would die to have it shot in better quality video.
Side note - Stephanie Martignetti almost BIT IT while practicing a lift in between takes and I saw an enormous lawsuit flashing before my eyes.
4. A Musical Number on the Rosie Cruise
Episode 7: "Ro Ro Ro Your Boat"
I mean... I truly can't believe that we pulled "Sea Legs" off. Andrew somehow got us all the hookup, and since we were performers on the boat—we got to go on the Rosie cruise for free. This was a trip for the ages.
Clearly I planned an episode ahead of time, which had a LOT of moving parts and details to be shot, including a massive tap musical number. Connor Gallagher choreographed but was unable to join us on the ship, so we all practiced in Manhattan before we set sail and then I (the worst tapper of all time) had to set the number on the boat. Connor also recorded all of the tap sounds at the recording studio in NYC, which is why they sound so clean.
If you watch the number you may be thinking, ‘Wow—how did they clear the ship like that?’ Well there were two ways. #1 Make your friends wake up at 7AM when on vacation before anyone makes their way to the pool, or #2 Make your friends stay on the ship when it docks in Provincetown and literally everyone leaves the boat to go on an excursion except for your 7 tap-dancing BFFs.
3. Allison F*cking Janney!
Episode 11: Bad Bad News
Somehow, we convinced the legendary Allison Janney (who was in 9 TO 5 at the time) to play a role in our little web series. She played Caroline Carroll, the snarky theatre critic from The Anchorage Herald and had a scene outside of The Marquis Theatre with Tyler Maynard (who played my nemesis Pepé Marriott).
First of all, I don't know who we were kidding thinking that 48th street could pass as Alaska. Also, looking back—I am insane to have only used Allison in this one scene when she was so game to play with a 23-year-old that she had never met before. I also wish I would have had her do the scene without sunglasses but OH WELL. Her improv was brilliant, as the scenes back then were more situation setups and not scripted. Connor Gallagher was behind the camera literally LOLing.
2. Legally Blonde Soundless Stage Door Scene
Episode 6: Intermission
I was very ambitious when I promised (before even launching one episode), to have new 22-minute episodes on the 1st of every month. What was I thinking? That meant I had to not only write and edit the episodes while shooting the next episode, but we also had to get brand new songs written, recorded, mixed and edited as well. It was bold.
There was one month where I got super behind and wasn't able to do a new episode, so we shot a few new scenes and put things together as a recap episode called "Intermission," mid-way through the season.
There is a scene that takes place at the Legally Blonde Stage Door with Dani Spieler and Cortney Wolfson (who were both drunk during shooting, as we shot at like midnight, well after the curtain had gone down. I had gathered a ton of extras to be there 'asking for autographs' and let's just say it was a lot to pull together. When I got home to edit the scene, I realized that the microphone wasn't turned on and there was ZERO sound for that entire shoot. In classic TBD fashion, Dani and I did our makeshift "ADR" voiceover session on our apartment stoop the next day and if you go back and watch that scene, the audio is pure garbage. We literally loop the two of us shouting the same "Dani! DANI!" many times and it is still an inside joke to this day.
1. "You're In Vegas" Makeshift Musical Number
Episode 4: Viva Las Jake-as
Andrew Keenan-Bolger had a last minute layoff from the Spelling Bee tour and was like, "um.. do you wanna come to Vegas?" So obviously I went. The week was a blur filled with gambling, free drinks and clowns at Circus Circus.
We decided to write the Vegas trip into the plot of TBD, making Jake book Debbie Gibson's fictional show that was opening up at Caesar's Palace. Because the trip was so last minute, we were in Vegas before we had time to ask anyone to write a song. Because of this, we had the genius idea to just shoot ourselves in Vegas-y locations (in front of slot machines and fountains) saying lyrics that we thought could've potentially made it into the non-existent song. We literally would just say things like "money," "gambling," "the strip," "casino."
The raw footage is SO RICH. It also didn't help that we were trying to write an episode on the spot while very drunk and operating on zero sleep. I distinctly remember us trying to nail a double pirouette while throwing money at the same time at the base of the moving walkways at Circus Circus. We fell out of every single one.
Once Weiner & Zachary wrote the song "You're In Vegas," we ended up shooting all the lyrics in NYC locations that could pass as Vegas. You know... like the courtyard at New World Plaza, by the bathrooms at Vynl and in front my friends closet.
The Battery’s Down Reunion Episode is now on Hulu.