Infographic: Anatomy Of A West Wing Walk-And-Talk

A ballroom, a kitchen, two stairwells, a parking lot, 500 extras, five script pages and 29 takes. At 02:58 the Steadicam shot in season one episode Five Votes Down is the most elaborate in the show's seven year history.

Illustration: Olly Gibbs

The West Wing Five Votes Down Sequence

Thomas Schlamme (Director/Executive Producer): During the pilot, we were shooting at the Biltmore Hotel and I noticed there was this beautiful ballroom. You could come out, go down these stairs and go into this kitchen, then there was another hallway down to where you could park a car. I walked it with Aaron and said, 'God, wouldn't it be amazing if you wrote a scene where all of that happened?'

Rob Lowe: People had to fight their way up to be on camera and then fade into the background so other people could talk, then fight their way up again. We finished at three thirty in the morning and went through two Steadicam operators on that shot!

Richard Schiff: We lost our lavalier microphones but our sound guy goes, "Don't worry guys, I've done documentaries: I can boom it!" When we got to the staircase he literally went airborne; luckily two guys behind him anticipated it and caught him, otherwise he'd be dead. He would've gone rolling down two flights of stairs for the sake of booming this scene.

Schlamme: We didn't have enough extras so the people in the ballroom had to run around the block and head to where the car was and be screaming for the President as he gets into the limo. We lost a few of them by take nine.