Behind the scenes of "Site Unseen: An Emma Fielding Mystery"

One of the things that was important to me when I wrote the Emma Fielding mysteries was that I be as true as possible in describing the work of archaeologists. So many books and films (not just mysteries) use archaeology as an excuse to incorporate an exotic setting, obsessive characters, or a link with the fantastic: I bet you can name three movies right now where archaeologists “unleashed forces best left undisturbed.” Some notable exceptions to this include work by fellow archaeologists-turned-novelists Aaron Elkins and Elizabeth Peters.

 It's the crew talking about the shot of the units, but it looks like pretty much every dig ever!

It's the crew talking about the shot of the units, but it looks like pretty much every dig ever!

I think it’s the same in filmmaking, where the popular perception is shaped by notions of glamour and fame, but from what I saw when I visited the set of “Site Unseen,” there were many more similarities to archaeology than I expected. I saw this in the minute attention to detail, the inventories of props and equipment, the planning that includes every shot the director wants plus contingency plans in case of bad weather, the individual tool kits of each crewmember, the discussions about the script, and a thousand other things (including feeding and moving a huge number of people).

 Victoria Harbor.  British Columbia is one of my favorite places on earth!

Victoria Harbor.  British Columbia is one of my favorite places on earth!

Each scene took a tremendous amount of time to shoot, but it was fascinating and I loved every minute of being on the set. Frankly, if I’d stayed any longer, I would have wanted to start shadowing the crew, to learn their jobs. Here are a few shots from my trip out to the set in Victoria, B.C.

 The fact the movie didn't really hit me until I saw the Maine state flag and the U.S. flag over this Island municipal building!  I knew something was up, then.

The fact the movie didn't really hit me until I saw the Maine state flag and the U.S. flag over this Island municipal building!  I knew something was up, then.

 Both days, I got copies of the sides and watched filming from video village.

Both days, I got copies of the sides and watched filming from video village.

 The set from a distance.  They knew they had it right when people started talking about the dig taking place on the beach!

The set from a distance.  They knew they had it right when people started talking about the dig taking place on the beach!

 Working on the lighting for Emma and her crew.

Working on the lighting for Emma and her crew.

 Hello, transit, old friend!  The site tents were also great hiding places for cameras and crew.

Hello, transit, old friend!  The site tents were also great hiding places for cameras and crew.

 On set with Courtney Thorne-Smith.

On set with Courtney Thorne-Smith.

 It was a pleasure to watch Doug Barr, the director, at work.

It was a pleasure to watch Doug Barr, the director, at work.

 Warming up with tea at the Empress Hotel after the set visit. The cakes didn't last long.

Warming up with tea at the Empress Hotel after the set visit. The cakes didn't last long.