An inside look at daytime soaps from CD grad Eric Martsolf

 

By, Heather Warner

As I arrive at Burbank Studios, Eric Martsolf says, “I appreciate you coming out here to sunny L.A. I had a heck of a year, a heck of a year. And this is my workplace.

He’s talking about Burbank Studios, which is the home to two huge sound stages, where nearly 5 decades worth of storylines for Days of Our Lives have played out. Standing in front of one of the sound stages, I asked Eric, “So what goes on here?” He said, “Daytime shenanigans. People sleeping with people, people stealing babies, all that good stuff. This one is one of the stages and I think we’ve compressed about 15 or 16 sets into this one area. So it’s compacted.

A walk through what feels like a warehouse, are tiny sets, that with the help of a camera lens, take the shape of huge mansions on air. The Brady Pub, the hospital, and outside areas are all surprisingly smallscale, but with great detail to make them look authentic.

Taking a look around the club, I noticed garland, christmas tree ornaments, and a tree. It’s Christmas time on the set right now. They work four months ahead of time, shooting 7 to 8 episodes a week here. “It’s literally 102 degrees on the set, so we’re all in scarves and coats and it’s ridiculous,” says Eric.

Speaking of those scarves and coats, I asked Eric about the wardrobe that lined the hallway. “Well, I don’t have many clothes. I think I have six shirts and two pairs of jeans. It’s the women. Women have thousands of garments, they don’t like to wear the same thing twice,” laughs Eric.

After picking up their wardrobe, it’s time for make-up, and then onto the set. The actors and actors work under pressure, at a rapid pace, turning out two to three episodes per day. Eric says, “That translates to about 200-250 pages of dialogue. So the job, the gig, is maintaining the words. We don`t have teleprompters, we don`t have anybody feeding our lines.”

It`s impressive to see. The characters wait in the wings for their call to the set, and then with their scripts dropped to their side, they knock it out of the park. Most of the time, they only get one take.

Eric says it’s a crazy life, but he wouldn’t want it any other way. “Each week is different. I get my schedule on wednesday for the following week so I could be doing one episode or nine episodes. It just depends on what kind of trouble your character is getting in. But typically, I have an early call time, come in here, usually get out at dinner time. I drive myself back home, and nine times out of ten, I have dinner with my family, and help my little dudes with their homework, have some quality time with my wife and wake back up and do it all over again.”