Back home in Baltimore after a long, involved shoot.
How long, you ask? How involved?
Well, if you must know, the following figures were compiled by fellow producer Joe Incaprera. They were delivered to the crew after the last shot of season three, outside a warehouse in Algiers amid champagne and cake.
Number of episodes filmed: 10
Number of shooting days: 113 for first unit, plus 10 days of second unit or splinter unit shooting.
Number of feet of film shot (excluding the last day of filming, which had not been compiled: 1,165,570
Number of feet of film shot for Mardi Gras episode: 165,810
Number of total company moves during filming: 280
Number of locations: 370
Number of no-parking signs posts due to location shooting: 7,000
Number of New Orleans restaurants featured: 27
Number of restaurants built as sets: 2
Number of New Orleans bars featured: 40
Number of New Orleans bars built: 1
Number of speaking parts, seasons three: 347
Number of recurring characters, season three: 95
Number of extras: 9,421
Number of New Orleans musicians filmed: 371
Number of travel memos issued by production office: 383
Number of script revisions: 66
Number of total script pages: 597
Number of times a character says “brah” in dialogue: 21
Number of songs performed live: 106
Number of petty cash and credit card receipts: 12,149
Number of marriages within cast and crew: 2
Number of babies born to cast and crew during production: 2
I’ve now gone through this cycle 11 times for HBO. At the beginning, each season seems implausible. In the middle, it just is. At the end, one is simply numb. Even if everything works well, there is a sense of having negotiated a minefield for a half year’s walk. And it all feels a little absurd for someone who used to tell stories in prose, engaging with himself, an editor and maybe a copyeditor. In the military, they like to note that 60 percent of strategy is logistics. Same with filmmaking, I suppose. All credit to Nina Noble and one of the best cast and crews with whom I’ve worked.
Guys, if you didn’t get to the Bridge on Thursday and put a hurt on my credit card, I still owe you a couple. Track me down in the fall, I hope.
- Share on Facebook
- Share on Twitter
I recently read an interview you gave for Entertainment Weekly shortly after Treme was renewed for a shortened 4th season, and something you focused on struck me as particularly interesting given the manner in which I have watched both “The Wire” and “Treme.” I was a huge fan of the book you wrote that inspired “Homicide” tv show, and I’m the only person I knew who actually watched that show. When “The Wire” started, I wasn’t aware of it, as I didn’t have HBO at the time, and only found the show as I was Christmas shopping in early December online (shortly before the second season was released on DVD the following month, I believe). I bought the DVD set simply because you created the show (I’m not trying to kiss anyone’s ass here, that’s simply fact), and once I started watching it, I could sense that there were so many differences between The Wire and every other tv show i’d ever seen, that it was a completely different experience. This was like reading a novel. That’s what it felt like – a book you can’t put down at night but have to so that you can drag your ass out of bed at a reasonable time the next morning and get to work.
In the EW interview, you talked about how, if you’re a story teller, then the end of the narrative is as important as any other part, and it’s not particularly easy to try and go through the process of making a show, telling that story, all the while not knowing, even if you do everything right – stay on budget, shoot efficiently, etc – whether you will be allowed to conclude the story at the proper time. That’s not a perspective I’ve ever thought much about because I’m not a writer, nor have I ever been involved with the creation of a television show. But it makes perfect sense.
Most of the tv shows that come out – especially if they’re scripted shows – are self-contained, and you could start watching them in the middle of the season and figure out quickly who the characters are, what their relationships with each other entail, and where an episode or show seems to be heading. This is simply because most television shows are horse shit, plain and simple. Doctors, lawyers, firefighters, cops, etc, it’s all the same crap that’s been done a thousand times. So here comes Treme, a show about New Orleans culture, about something that has nothing to do with finding the bad guy, solving the medical mystery, or when are the male and female lead characters going to bed down, and the show struggles to find an audience. But when i watch Treme, i get lost in each episode because it’s about a culture, and people, I know nothing about. Sure, I’ve seen the live shots from Bourbon Street for the Final Four, or the stock Mardi Gras footage…but I don’t know anything about most of the elements that make up the narrative of Treme and because of it, i find it far easier to escape into that world. Looking back, that was definitely the case with “The Wire” as well. I’ve seen a million cop shows, but that doesn’t mean i knew how police work actually got done. I knew nothing about drug markets, or addicts when I read The Corner, or watched the mini-series. For me, that’s the why you watch a show.
So with that in mind, I’m hoping that once Treme wraps, you’ll already be working on something else. I’ve silently hoped for years that you’d release another book, and perhaps that’s something you’ll still do, but I hope you wont’ give up on tv any time soon.
Thanks for all the great Treme.!!! PLEASE let us have a season 4 !!!!!
I could say this is a group letter because my 2 cousins in Va.,my 2 good friends in N.O. ,a co-worker all hope there is a season 4. Love your work. Does HBO know what a really great show Treme is ??
PS my brother in law in Ca. loves it too !!
So looking forward to season 3. I always use Treme as an example of how live music should be filmed. None of the over-produced “perfection” you find in a show like Glee. The music in Treme is used in such a seamless way – so real, you feel a part of it. Fingers crossed for seasons beyond 3.
David, you have my wife’s daughter’s, and my sincere thanks for bring us The Wire, and then Treme. We were afraid that 3rd season would never come. It is awfully hard these days to find stories about ‘real’ people that we find ourselves interested in, sometimes caring about — even the ones we normally would not be otherwise even likely to speak to if we passed them on the street much less get to know. Both of those productions stand out as uniquely elevated above the vast majority of what is produced these days. We selfishly hope you will continue to find this form of story telling rewarding enough to continue to look for interesting stories to tell. If you do, we’ll be there.
Ball’s kind of in HBO’s court, isn’t it? But thanks.
[…] 23 at 9 p.m. CST. So what should we expect from this 10 episode go-round? Well, according to David Simon's calculations, 21 instances of "brah," three food and drink establishments that don't actually […]
Dear Mr. Simon;
Only the best storytellers can make one passionately interested in subjects for which they have no frame of reference. You, sir, and your associates, are among the very best. While The Wire was thoughtful and compelling television, for me, Generation Kill and Treme are transcendental. I have added them to my small personal collection of video masterpieces. Thank you.
David, I want to thank you for all your great work. No one else out there does what’s true and real the way you do: The Wire, The Corner, Generation Kill, and now Treme. we’re lighting candles for Season 4. come on, HBO, we need it!
I am a 55 years old and I live in Argentina. I don’t know New Orleans but I love the show. In my country there are a Treme fans group. I love the caracters, the music, the actors. It’s my favorite TV show ever. Thanks, I’m waiting season 3.
I can’t explain how excited I am for Season 3. Being an engineer (read: nerdy, numbers guy) I love reading the season statistics. Can’t wait to see where the storylines take us, and how you fit so many different restaurants, music venues, songs, and performers into 10 episodes. I suppose the season 1 and 2 numbers may have been similar, but I certainly didn’t count.. I did, however, find it necessary to pause the DVR and explain countless times to all in the room that I had “seen them play at DBA” or “met him after a show at Tip’s.” The show is fantastic, and it’s a perfect vehicle for a former Big Easy resident to relive old glories. Thanks for all you do!
Treme reminded me that I have a connection to N.O. that I forgot about. Never lived there but visited plenty as a child while living in both Bogalusa and Lafayette. My late mother had family, both Irish and French, from there, that came to this country through the port of New Orleans. And if there was one place on this earth she adored it was N’awlins. Treme makes me ‘feel’ my heritage.
I wanted to say how grateful I am that you guys gave this Wounded vet a chance to take a stab at acting. It was amazing to just be on set With the likes of a Leo, Zann, and Luckett. I am excited to see my face on tv and have my family and friends see what I was able to accomplish with no acting background other than an 8th grade play. From “The Corner to Treme”, HBO has always seemed to be able to put out gem after gem. You guys do a great job at making everyone feel important involved with your productions, I sure did. Once again, thank you for the opportunity to be apart of a show that puts my city in the eyes of millions.
No, thank you for the great work, Michael.
Hope we get a fourth season and can finish that tale.
I know this has got to be repetitive, but thanks so much for… well, for all of it, really, but especially for Treme’. I don’t know why Treme’ hits me harder than everything else, but there you go. I’ve never even been to New Orleans but you make it feel as much like home to me as any of the many places I have actually called home during my life. And thanks to this blog, now I can actually thank you virtually in person.
When does it air? Also, can you share some cast and crew favorite restaurants and bars? I’m a frequent visitor and always looking for new places…
Fall. We’re waiting on a date. It will follow “Boardwalk Empire” at ten and go up against Sunday Night NFL football like a good Christian sent to spit in the eye of a lion or two.
Ha! That’s pretty good. Thanks to DVRs I don’t know if shows really compete anymore. Don’t recorded shows count toward your numbers? Either way, I will watch the games first. Treme is dessert!
So glad to hear Treme 3 is in the bag. To be sure, I think the series reaches a logical conclusion as it depicts the night the Saints won the Super Bowl? Free Sean Payton!
i’m hoping for 5 seasons, too, for a slightly different reason. i think 2010 as a close is particularly poignant on account of the moment of triumph – saints win (though look to that great moment in spike lee’s “if god is willing’….” when there are a bunch of crazy-happy people celebrating the win, 5 minutes or so of footage on that, and then one person who’s working in the social justice trenches saying something to the effect that “it’s just a game, and it doesn’t change the structural shit that’s wrong here, and the battles that we fight, every day”) – and then 2 months later the chilling reality check of the BP drilling disaster, whose effects are still very much felt to this day, and will continue to be for years into the future. that kind of juxtaposition is what makes new orleans inexorably both beautiful and deadly, and makes _treme_ ring true.
mr simon, i appreciate the work you do because it takes a good hard look at what is really happening in the united states (and the nexus of american/caribbean/latin, urban/rural, magical/realist, deeply colonial realities that is new orleans), has a rigorous analysis, isn’t afraid to dig deep into complexity (both psychological and structural) and is neither too cynical to see beauty and magic where it exists, nor is falsely optimistic.
Thank you, thank you for Season 3 and I pray for season 4 even if there is a yr hiatus.
I have been a fan of Treme & The Wire from the beginning. I am one of the fans that sit and anticipate on Sunday nights for the release and I am really missing my Treme.
Thank you for highlighting NOLA and all the rich traditions and pain to make it real and understandble for us non nawlins people.
Bring on season 3 and many more David Simon-HBO collaborations!
Thank you for this extraordinary show. It’s unique & too wonderful for words..the sights, the SOUNDS, the smells (well, I can imagine). The acting & the music are particularly superb!
I had the good fortune to go to NOLA a couple of years ago, & my experiences, plus your show (sometimes I can’t even distinguish which is which), have left me with a deep love of the place! Can’t wait to go back & can’t wait for new episodes. Congratulations on this work of art & a musical feast all rolled into one!
Hi Mr. Simon,
Thank you for the amazing shows The Wire and Treme. Can’t wait to see Treme’s new season.
Maybe it’s not the right place, but have you/hbo ever think to release The Wire in high definition, even 3:4 if 16:9 is not possible? Also, is there any (little) chance for a new Wire season?
Thank you for The Wire and especially for Treme. Important work and done so very well.
I just wanted to thank you for all your hard work. I tried for YEARS post-Katrina to show the doubters why it was important that New Orleans should survive, why New Orleans matters. I feel I was totally unsuccessful. There are so many haters out there. In “Treme” I think you captured New Orleans, my hometown, perfectly. If America deserts us again, at least there is a record of what once existed, a magical American city.
David, you have always brought your craft to a higher level and I’ll be anxiously awaiting the finished Season 3 to air! Congratulations on another assuredly successful round of filming!
When I say I can’t wait for Season 3, I mean my withdrawal is getting to critical stage. I am so hooked on Treme. Thank you for this wonderful show. I’m a Bostonian and had the opportunity to visit NOLA a year and a half ago. WOW!
371 New Orleans musicians filmed? Awesome! Any chance you can drop a few names? Don’t make us wait until the fall!
I also agree with the above commenter who suggested you get a Twitter account.
Mr. Simon, as one of those extras on 9 different occasions during Season 3, I have to thank you. It is always such a pleasure to work with the Treme cast and crew. If I could work for you guys everyday, I would. (hint). What a pleasure to see my adopted city (for the last 30 years) in such an understanding light – warts and beauty and craziness and our wonderful food and music. You know our soul and you portray it so clearly. Thank you from the bottom of my heart.
Thank you so much for this amazing show and of course The Wire.
Two amazing shows that have really been a pleasure to watch. I bought all the seasons of The Wire and really like Treme to, as I am a big Jazz fan.
Keep up the good work! I am so glad Treme was not cancelled early like two of my other favorite HBO shows, Deadwood and Carnivale.
Glad we are getting a season3!
I can’t wait to see it!
Number of Daily Newspapers in New Orleans: -1
3 days a week. A print cycle driven by advertising. And a promise to update their web site on a 24 hour cycle. Not a good news day for the printed word.
All the lies that politicians tell the public in New Orleans will now be officially told on Monday morning with 2 full days to have them get buried before the next edition prints.
Any bets on how on how the front page top of the fold section in the “more robust newspaper on a reduced schedule of Wednesdays, Fridays and Sundays only.” will covered a week’s worth of headlines in 3 days.
The other shoe drops:
Advance Publications Lays Off 600 People At Times-Picayune, Alabama Papers (Poynter / MediaWire)
Advance Publications announced Tuesday that it will cut about 600 jobs at The Times-Picayune and its papers in Birmingham, Mobile and Huntsville, Ala., when the papers stop printing daily and shift focus to their websites. NOLA.com The Times-Picayune, according to company executives, is shrinking its overall staff — including news, advertising, circulation and other departments — by 32 percent, or 201 employees.
Not sure if Mr. Simon even reads or responds to these comments, but as they say, “A closed mouth doesn’t get fed”. I am just now coming around to your work Mr. Simon and yes, that means I’m one of the late bloomers to The Wire. In fairness to me, though, I was in my mid teens at the time of The Wire, and my parents were too cheap to pay for HBO. Anyway, I’m currently reading “The Corner”, and I absolutely love it. I’m now obsessed with the city of Baltimore, and it’s added fuel to the already burning fire that existed in me to want to become a police officer. I’m on the hunt as we speak for your first book “Homicide…” I just finished The Wire season 1 and, naturally, am now addicted to that. So, great work, Mr. Simon. And go Birds.
PS, I think you should get a Twitter account.
Do you know if they are pairing Treme with the new season of Boardwalk Empire? That would be a killer Sunday night. Look forward to returning to Congo Square.
Still using film? What a waste of resources.
Film just looks better.
a waste of resources?the photography looks great with the Panavision equipment.F**K Digital.what do u do Walter?film yr own home movies with VHS tapes and Mini DV’s?yr a genius.
I agree with your point about film v. digital, but try to refrain from the ad hominem attack. It’s an opinion about the relative merits of film, not evidence of a deficit in character on anyone’s part.
Well, I guess we know now whether you read these comments…
Hi, Mr. Simon,
One question about your works that has nagged me from the back of my head, even as I was in awe of the dedication to honesty:
The Wire pays tribute to Balitmore’s culture, and Treme to New Orleans’, even more so. At the same time, these shows lament the crime, poverty, and tragedy that have stricken the cities, and other American metro areas, due to negligence, incompetence, and extremist capitalism.
I gather that you believe, as many people do, that the unique arts and cultures of these cities and others should be celebrated and preserved. But how can the two ideas coexist? So much of the way of life in New Orleans and in Baltimore has grown out of poverty, of undesirable living conditions, and sometimes of despair.
You can see what higher incomes do: they’ve made a city like New York much safer and pleasurable for families to live in. But it’s in no way the hotbed of creative energy and richness that it was decades ago. Sure, there are a few parts left in Brooklyn and Jersey City, but those are gentrifying as well. I myself am married and half a child on the way, and I wonder about this dynamic every day: I want myself and my family to be exposed to new ideas, new art, and the passion that can only come from being down and out. But it’s very easy to look at all the things I’d have to deal with that come with such a town or neighborhood, and say, “How about that new luxury condo building with the gym on the 1st floor?”
So how do you reconcile these dueling concepts in Treme?