Did you watch the first season of 9-1-1: Lone Star? Were you mesmerized by the scenes that showed off Austin and the team? We have Andrew Strahorn to thank for his hard work as director of photography.
There are a lot of moving parts when it comes to making a television show come to life on our screens. And while we already appreciate the work that the actors, producers, and directors bring to the table, there are even more behind-the-scenes crew members bringing shows like 9-1-1 to life, including the director of photography. And that’s exactly the role that Andrew Strahorn has on 9-1-1: Lone Star.
As the director of photography on 9-1-1: Lone Star, Strahorn is tasked with capturing not only the actors and actresses on set, but also the city of Austin (and its surrounding areas). It is his job to help showcase the action and drama in a way that pulls us into the story.
And I don’t know about you, but I think he did this spectacularly. In fact, Fox is getting ready to air season one from the very beginning starting on May 4, which means you can relive all of the action and magic of the show — or, if you haven’t watched it yet, you can dive in for the very first time.
We had the opportunity to speak to Strahorn about his work on the series, and how he was able to capture some of the epic moments that made the first season of 9-1-1: Lone Star so impressive.
One thing Strahorn explained when we first started talking about what drew him to this project was how we see first responders and medical professionals as heroes. And it was important to him that the show and his work pay homage to first responders out there who are actually on the front lines risking their lives.
According to Strahorn, he wanted to “do a show and portray in a hopefully heroic manner that these people are larger than life.” Doing this kind of work, where he had to deal with fire and rescue situations was something that he saw as both a “challenge and a feather in his cap.” However, once he got on set, he also got to speak to actual first responders who worked with the show as liaisons.
These first responders who helped consult on 9-1-1: Lone Star shared their own experiences with everyone, and as Strahorn explains, “It was just interesting hearing their stories and hearing what they do on a daily basis. Yeah, this would happen and this really did happen and whatnot, and I was just like, wow, you know, it’s a bit of authenticity that once I got into it, it was like okay, yeah, you have to do justice to this because this does really happen. Although we’re creating drama around these scenarios and events, it’s that this really did take place.”
Knowing that these events and situations actually do happen in real life also meant that, for Strahorn, it was about not just “doing justice to first responders, but also the authenticity to show it, not in a glamorous way, but in a heroic way that does justice to the truth as well.”
Considering the kinds of situations that the characters on 9-1-1: Lone Star faced each week, and the desire to be authentic with regards to the first responders who actually inspire the show, it only made sense that we asked if there were any challenges that Strahorn faced in capturing it all. As director of photography, it was about portraying the “energy of the characters.”
“The cameras are always moving as if you’re the sixth member of the team,” Strahorn explained. “You’re always moving with the characters; you’re always in and amongst them and whatnot.”
For Strahorn, he said that it is “always interesting giving those fluid movements, but also hiding all our tricks and lights.” This was especially true of the pilot where the story begins. According to him, “That was interesting because that was just under a quarter of a mile squared that we had to light at night and get the camera inside the fire truck, and now we want to be outside, and now they get out now we just hang with them 190 degrees. So it was lighting a huge footprint that was, at night with fire. So that was an interesting challenge, particularly being as big of a scale.”
Of course, it is not just the premiere episode that had challenging scenes, as we can easily turn to episode three where the team has to rescue a woman from a car hanging upside down between two buildings. This is another scene that Strahorn spoke to us about. According to him, it was “interesting to try to light around these 90-foot cranes that were for FX and for stunts, and trying to get my lights in there, but also allowing us to just be fluid was the key to moving wherever the actors go and where the stunt guys go, and try to maintain our look that we designed for the show.”
Moving away from the challenges of filming 9-1-1: Lone Star, we also wanted to know if there was perhaps a favorite moment for Strahorn on the set. And once again we looked to the pilot episode, which really offered a lot of action right off the bat.
According to Strahorn, “I really liked the pilot because we kind of went out so big, so quickly. It was a scenario where we were going to blow up a factory in the first scene, and then we are in New York, and then we are in Austin. It was kind of all these new environments that we got to establish so that was really fun. Aside from that, I really like the tornado episode and particularly the alley because we shot in so many different locations. We shot in the backlot at Fox, we shot on location downtown. So what we achieved in that sequence, the comedy and drama, in that amount of time, I thought we did a really good job, and I was really pleased with it and I just liked the feel of it all.”
And now that we know 9-1-1: Lone Star will be back for a second season, we can’t wait to see what the team is able to bring to our screens in season two — especially after everything they did in season 1 one.
In fact, we learned about the renewal right before we spoke to Strahorn, so of course we brought that up as well. He seemed as excited and happy as we are, even mentioning how there is “so much more of Austin to photograph, and particularly the iconic places we know of that didn’t hit the screen in season one.”
With so many details required to bring 9-1-1: Lone Star to life, we can’t wait to see what the entire team has in store for us heading into season two. And while we may not know when that will happen, we are excited to learn more about these characters and of course Austin itself.
If you haven’t watched season one of 9-1-1: Lone Star yet, Fox is starting over from the beginning, so now is the perfect time to immerse yourself in this world of first responders in Texas. And, of course, you can also stream the series in its entirety on Hulu as well.