01/24/2012 09:36 am ET Updated Dec 06, 2017

Southland Style

If you're a fan of the show, you've probably heard the term used on Twitter and Facebook. It's our crew's mantra, but it goes beyond words -- It's our unique way of working together. We get compelling results because EVERYONE in our crew follows the unwritten rules. It's Southland Style!

What does it mean? Way too many things to express in a single blog. But I'll try to bring you into the fold gently. Be careful though, because once you start using the term, it's hard to stop...

Example: While filming a scene involving precious dialogue, a helicopter flies overhead (it happens all the time shooting in Los Angeles). On other shows I've worked on, the director calls, "Cut!" The crew waits until the chopper clears and then starts filming again when it's quiet. Boring and uninspired, right? All the energy, momentum and spontaneity get sucked out of the scene and up into the smog-filled LA skyline.

On Southland, when a helicopter joins our scene we don't skip a beat. The actors talk louder because that's what cops do in real life. Our brilliant camera operator (his name is Cam!) has creative license to pan to the helicopter with the super light Red Camera and BAM, another authentic element adds to an already rich script. It's another perfect example of Southland Style!


The rhythmic helicopter thump, thump, thump joins all the other real-life Los Angeles sounds like:

Ben's footsteps slamming into the pavement as he chases a suspect. Lydia's labored breathing. Tires screeching. Dogs barking. And if you listen close, you can hear the wireless mic rubbing against Cooper's bulletproof vest as he draws his Smith and Wesson 9mm.

These sounds are embraced and highlighted because they are our musical score. We don't typically use music. We don't manipulate our audience into what we think it should feel. We tell the truth. That's Southland Style... and I love it!

A couple days ago my five and a half-year-old son was constructing his RV Lego set when I heard him getting frustrated. I asked him what was wrong, and he explained that a crucial Lego piece was missing. He told me he couldn't finish the RV because of the lost piece.

I said, " Come on, Cash. Just find a similar piece from those extra Legos over there. Don't get frustrated... just go with it, Southland Style."

He grabbed one of the extra pieces and finished the RV. Sure, it was a different color than the original, but it brought a unique charm to the completed RV, and he was thrilled! Lesson learned; and another believer in Southland Style was born!

Tune in Tuesday night at 10 p.m. (ET/PT) on TNT for the January 24th episode "Underwater."