Thursday, April 14, 2016

Jay Rabins: A Conversation

Jay Rabins was the "second second assistant director" for Legend's entire 12 episode series run, and he currently works as an investment advisor in the Phoenix area.

NS: How did you get hired for the show?

JR: I had worked with the Unit Production Manager (Larry Rapaport – currently UPM and Producer of The Detour) for 3 years on The Young Riders as Asst. Production Office Coordinator and as a 2nd 2nd AD. He got me into the DGA union, and when Legend started crewing up in Tucson, I was on the road stage managing a Broadway show. Larry called and asked me to be the 2nd 2nd AD on Legend. So, I took it.

NS: What exactly were your responsibilities as assistant director?

JR: As 2nd 2nd AD you’re basically responsible for running basecamp – the area everyone checks in in the morning, where all the trailers are parked; then getting the cast into make-up and wardrobe, then out to the set as fast as possible. You also keep track of every cast and crew members’ hours, breaks, and write the production report at the end of the day so all union members are paid according to their individual agreements. Also wrangled the extras, worked with the wranglers (This was a western, after all), and cajoled Teamsters to driving as needed. Made sure the set was quiet when rolling, etc.

NS: Who were your favorite cast and crew members to work with?

JR: Rick and Mike were both great guys, but as Rick was also producer, he was pretty busy as both star and above-the-line crew. I knew John deLancie from my theatre days at South Coast Rep in Costa Mesa so we hung out a lot. Mark Adair Rios was also really nice and had the cutest young wife. This was 20 years ago, so it’s hard to remember everyone, but almost always the teamsters were good guys, as were the wranglers. Monty ?, the stunt coordinator was a great guy. Tana James was a stand in and sweet as can be. I still think about her. In hindsight almost all the below-the-line crew were nice. Tod Swindel, the 2nd AD was and still is a good friend.

NS: What were some of the most rewarding and also most challenging aspects of shooting the show?

JR: Long days for a challenge, sometimes 16 hours plus. Best parts – being outside in the beautiful Arizona desert at both sunrise and sundown, and making a ton of money as a union member.

NS: Did you work on the hot air balloon scenes and what went into filming those?

JR: Yeah. They were a pain in the ass. Most of the time the balloon was just hoisted into the air by a crane. When it had to move, we either towed behind a truck like a big kite or had pro balloon guys come to set to fly it untethered. Always a pain, always something went wrong. Hated balloon shoot days.

NS: Do you have any other memorable or funny stories from your time on set?

JR: Lots of stuff too prurient to share. But, I do remember the studio rented Rick a black mustang and he would drive like a maniac from his trailer to the set sometimes. Horses stepping on actors. Monty falling from the balloon by accident and breaking something, but showing up the next day ready to work. Wrap parties were always crazy fun. Like I said, it was a long time ago. My memory has faded. Mostly just enjoyed being able to work in an industry that I loved. Hated leaving it to become a financial advisor (but most of my clients are in the entertainment industry), so I still get to be on the fringe of show business.


  1. That's interesting, I wondered how they did the all the balloon shots. Yet another set where they worked all hours. And great to think of RDA careering across the desert in a Mustang!

  2. Good interview. Always nice to hear behind the scenes info and like Al, I especially liked the details about the balloon shots. No surprise that there were fewer action shots in the balloon as the show went on given how much of a hassle they were. Hard to believe RDA was still so immature at that point in his life (45 years old) that he was driving like a lunatic through the desert in his Mustang.

    Also interesting that Jay Rabins' career has taken him from a very technical job like an assistant director on a TV show to a financial advisor. Sounds like a jack of all trades.