9-1-1: Lone Star returned to Fox for its second season with some new stars in 2021 and chose to incorporate the COVID-19 pandemic into the storytelling. Despite the pandemic complications on the show and behind the scenes, the crises that call on the heroes of the 126 are even bigger and bolder than what Lone Star delivered in Season 1. Cinematographer Andy Strahorn spoke with CinemaBlend about Season 2 of 9-1-1: Lone Star, and he shared how the show approached production under COVID, some advantages to the changes, and the challenges of shooting on location.
Andy Strahorn worked on another Fox series prior to the premiere of Lone Star as the highly-anticipated 9-1-1 spinoff, but Lone Star definitely differs from Lethal Weapon in a lot of ways. The cinematographer shared what it was like to prepare for 9-1-1: Lone Star Season 2 when so many changes were going to be in store with the pandemic, with the long hiatus giving him "time to think and develop ideas." Strahorn dug into what it meant to do things differently for his job with new protocols in place, saying:
A lot of shows have faced the challenges of adapting to new protocols for the sake of pandemic safety, but most are not as elaborately action-packed as 9-1-1: Lone Star, and Lone Star even pulled off a massive wildfire for the crossover with 9-1-1 early in Season 2. From a cinematography perspective, Andy Strahorn explained that Lone Star involves "a lot of editorial cuts," with that crossover coming in "1100 cuts in 43 minutes," shot over a 10-day period.
Doing so under the circumstances of a pandemic presented challenges that wouldn't have been factors in Season 1, but Andy Strahorn explained that there were ultimately some good things and advantages that came out of the new and more precise protocols for production:
While a time crunch and adjustments to what is possible in the second season vs. the first season required changes to the approach of cinematography and production on 9-1-1: Lone Star, the focus and precision required to pull it off turned out to be a good thing. By this point in the second season, fans can certainly attest to the fact that Lone Star is as sharp as ever. The Lone Star team doesn't seem to have missed a step in taking advantage of the upsides of the new protocols.
Of course, Lone Star has always faced a particular challenge that has nothing to do with the pandemic. While the show may be set in Austin, Texas, 9-1-1: Lone Star films in California, and Lone Star can't simply shoot all of its scenes indoors to hide the geography differences between the Southwest and the West Coast of the United States. Andy Strahorn shared the biggest challenges to shooting on location while recreating Texas as Season 2 production continues:
Between the geographic and climate differences that could make it obvious that 9-1-1: Lone Star doesn't actually film in the Lone Star state, there are methods of hiding what is distinctly California in a show that couldn't be much more Texas. The outdoor filming allows for everything from a massive wildfire to a volcano... as long as the production team can keep the palm trees out of sight. That said, Andy Strahorn shared his perspective as Lone Star cinematographer on why it doesn't always matter if Mother Nature can't be defeated to get the perfect shot:
Television production moves at a fast pace, and always requires a certain suspension of disbelief for the fun of going along for the ride. 9-1-1: Lone Star does deliver plenty of character work to go with the scenes that have been set for all the action. And honestly, who is going to complain if there is a difference in the cloud cover if a woman is trapped between scorpions and lava, or two characters from two shows are trying to survive a helicopter crash, or any of the other heart-pounding plot twists that have already happened in Season 2? Andy Strahorn cited an example of the challenges of shooting on location:
For as much as fans have proven willing to suspend disbelief when it comes to the lava and the crossbow bolts and the aged dynamite used to deliberately explode a mineshaft, 9-1-1: Lone Star makes it pretty easy to go along for the ride from a visual perspective. According to Andy Strahorn, part of the success of recreating natural lighting and avoiding the synthetic sense has to do with tricks of the trade:
9-1-1: Lone Star constantly finds new ways to deliver crises in the heart of the Lone Star state, even if the show is creating those emergency scenes on location in California. Fortunately, Season 2 isn't anywhere near finished. New episodes of 9-1-1: Lone Star air on Mondays at 9 p.m. ET on Fox, following new episodes of 9-1-1 at 8 p.m. ET. The action undoubtedly isn't going to get any less dangerous any time soon, but whatever happens should be epic to watch unfold.
Resident of One Chicago, Bachelor Nation, and Cleveland. Has opinions about crossovers, Star Wars, and superheroes. Will not time travel.
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