Fall/Winter 2016-17

Chris Della Penna

Maintaining Order in the Court on People v. O.J.


The moment 1st AD Chris Della Penna stepped on set for The People v. O.J. Simpson: American Crime Story, he knew he was in for a unique experience. "It was not in any way structured like your normal prep," Della Penna explains. "I watched hours of footage. I didn't need to really ask why and how much background, or what do you want to see, because I could see it in the footage and I would match that."

Della Penna worked closely with his 2nd AD, Katie Botkin, to tackle a production that sometimes required upwards of 400 background changes a day for the courtroom sequences. "It took hours," he says. "I'm changing over 200 people three or four times; it was crazy. But Katie was the heartbeat of the show. She was absolutely fabulous, and everything was always ready."

In his 32-year career, Della Penna has never been one to shy away from challenging productions. "As a 1st, you've got to instill in these people that you're going to keep them safe," he affirms. "As fast as things go, we never rush a stunt, and we make sure everybody is aware of what's going to happen. That's the most important thing I can say I tried to accomplish in my career. As much as time is running out, you got to just do it right."

(Photo: Tricia Noble)

At Work With

Short profiles of Guild members in all categories sharing their experiences at work.

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