The Official Xena Magazine
Issue #2, December 1999
Behind The Scenes
Xena: Warrior Princess
Them Bones Them Bones
Somewhere in the episode Them Bones, Them Bones, Xena (Lucy Lawless) and Amarice (Jennifer Sky) ride through the forest, engaged in serious discussion. The scene is brief -- a few seconds' worth of two warriors heading their horses casually along a dirt track -- yet this one shot lakes over an hour to film.
Having just relocated from shooting a scene with actor Renee O'Connor (Gabrielle) on another part of the 100-acre outdoor set, the production crew are now setting up for the next shot. As the lighting cables are laid while the actors block their movements, the sound mixer tells the crew they must move the cameras and start further back -- the sound of running water from modem-day stormwa ter pipes is too loud for the crew to record any use- able dialogue for the scene.
First Assistant Director Anna Gundeson is working continuously, moving between camera, lighting, sound and props people, not to mention actors, wranglers and their horses, as she keeps things moving along. "We've got an hour to do three shots -- we're only here until two." A little while later, when things seem more in place, she adds, "Okay, the camera needs a rehearsal."
Wranglers have ridden horses in for the scene. As they rehearse, Lawless rides Tilly (the 'real' name of Xena's horse Argo) out of shot, making a 'beep, beep, beep' noise like a truck's warning siren as she turns Tilly around and heads back to the starting mark. Playing a 'main' character like Argo, Tilly has her own stunt double, Barbara -- specifically trained for scenes where Argo must rear or perform other difficult moves.
During this, O'Connor arrives and talks animals while waiting for her scene to come up. "I'm getting a lot better with horses than I was... I used to be terrified of them." She then goes on to discuss the donkey rescued by Gabrielle in the episode A Solstice Carol. "He was a very intelligent donkey In rehearsal, I kept missing my mark, and the donkey kept getting his every time. I felt like such a fool until I got it!"
Waiting for her turn to rehearse Amarice's walk down the muddy track, Jennifer Sky suddenly bursts into song: "Swampy trails.., to you...
In Them Bones, Them Bones, Amarice is given a revelation that changes the character's perspective and attitude dramatically. "It gives me something else to play," Sky says, clearly enjoying the experience, "you see a bit more of her vulnerability She can't do this thing that Gabrielle's doing... so she tells Gabrielle the whole deal and is very vulnerable, and you don't see Amarice vulnerable very much. It's a good little twist."
Amance is a useful and welcome addition according to other cast members, and Sky points out that this episode is no exception... even though for a while, Amarice is sceptical of Xena and Gabrielle's experiences. "Xena and Gabrielle are going into these other worlds of superstition.., and all these other kinds of things are happening in this episode. Amarice doesn't believe it at all, then she is completely taken aback -- it's forced into her face that she has to believe it." Then, Sky adds, "she helps out."
Belief, says Sky is the basic theme of the episode. There is an evil character -- Alti (Claire Stansfield) -- and visions of mystics and soul stealing, but Them Bones, Them Bones is mostly to do with the ability to believe. Says Sky, "It deals with superstition and believing in something. The underlying thing is to believe in something even though you can't see it. It's not always able to be seen".
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