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On The Last Ship With Jana Kondelova

For many things in life, success depends on the ability to assimilate and “fall into line” with the status quo. It’s very often the uniformity of the parts that makes the whole operate smoothly. A glaring exception to this is in the Arts. Creative pursuits make gains by bringing something new and fresh, a different perspective that cause others to take notice. It’s this quality that Jana Kondelova is often described as possessing. Yes, she has all of the attributes that make her a valued member of a production staff but it’s her constant pursuit of innovation and creativity, as well as promoting this in others, that has led to her respect in the film and television community. As part of the creative production staff behind TNT’s hit television show The Last Ship, Jana assisted in what would lead to a host of awards for the program including: Best Action/Thriller Television Series and Best Limited Run Television Series (Academy of Science Fiction, Fantasy and Horror Films USA), nominations for “Golden Reel” Awards-Best Sound Editing-Short Form Sound Effects and Foley in Television, and others. With Michael Bay (Transformers, The Purge, Armageddon, a Nightmare on Elm Street, Pearl Harbor...), executive producer, creator, and writer Steven Kane and professionals like Jana working on this show as it enters its fourth year of production, The Last Ship looks to be staying around for quite a while…ironically for a show about the end of the world as we know it.

The immense success of The Last Ship is likely a product of the believability of the storyline. In contrast to superheroes and metaphysical beings, the show (based on William Brinkley’s novel) depicts a frighteningly realistic premise. The naval destroyer Nathan James is a ship commanded by CO CDR Tom Chandler (played by SAG award winner Eric Dane of X-Men: The Last Stand, Grey’s Anatomy) who works with scientist Dr. Rachel Scott (Rhona Mitra of Underworld: Rise of the Lycans) searching the arctic to find a cure for a devastating pandemic that is killing off most of the world’s population. There are others searching for the cure as well and they will stop at nothing to obtain it. The setting of the show on these massive ocean-traversing ships is not only soundstage magic but actual ships. Numerous exteriors make use of the SoCal proximity to San Pedro (The Port of Los Angeles) and Naval Base San Diego. Ensuring that the 150 crew members as well as cast members were at these locations and were well cared for fell onto Jana’s shoulders as well along with others. She relates, “Even though it’s still in California, we had our hands full of work with transporting crew and cast over to San Diego or San Pedro. I think California is a great place for shooting this show. Moving from location to location is not easy but it’s part of this business and even though it’s tough, we love it. Every place, every location has its own charm. Naval Base San Diego was beautiful and adventurous. It’s an amazing experience to shoot on a real navy ship. We filmed some episodes aboard a real destroyer. Filming on a real flight deck of a ship in San Diego has a powerful feel to it.”

Her work has Kondelova doing much more than ensuring that everyone is where they need to be. Jana finds herself immersed in the fabric of “behind the scenes” on the show as she interfaces with grips, lighting technicians, and camera assistants. Long before this part of the process she has been perusing scripts and serving as the liaison between the production team and producers/ directors to guarantee the communication on all fronts is clear and concise. Contracts are made on an almost daily basis and Jana being someone with a deep understanding of all departments and the production schedule (aka Jana) is necessary so that the process avoids delays and proceeds forward smoothly. For an action/drama/sci-fi program such as this, the process can be quite time consuming. Kondelova explains, “In most cases I have to create contracts almost every day. This depends on if the cast member is a day player or weekly. If we have day players, in most cases I have to create the contract for every single cast member who will be on camera the following day. If we have a weekly cast, I can create the contract just once. There might be a lot of different factors that can affect creating a contract. Sometimes the shooting days can change and we have to adjust every single detail including changing the contracts. Also, for example we were working with a lot of stunt people on this show. Sometimes we’d have twenty on-camera stunts in a single day. As you can imagine, sometimes I’d spend days just writing the contracts for our cast members. The pendulum swings the other way when someone like Peter Weller (Oscar nominated actor/director known for his work on RoboCop, Sons of Anarchy, Star Trek, and Dexter) comes aboard to direct a few episodes. He’s very interesting; smart and funny, always with a great story to tell. Our cast was happy to work with him because he was a great mentor to them and the crew loved his humor.”

It’s expected that a professional who works behind the scenes in the production world is not in search of attention, that their compensation is doing excellent work. Add to this the fact that working with other talented and lauded professional vets Jana and her respect in the industry. For a young girl who began working in Slovakia while dreaming of Hollywood, Kondelova has already achieved the goals she once held. These days, she confirms that working alongside the best in the industry has inspired new goals for her. She has already proven her skills once and she’s ready to do it again.

Written by Kelly King
On The Last Ship With Jana Kondelova Reviewed by JaamZIN on 8:50:00 AM Rating: 5
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