How One Of Pam And Jim's Pivotal Scenes In The Office Became A Logistical Hassle

The "will-they-won't-they?" narrative between Jim Halpert (John Krasinski) and Pam Beesly (Jenna Fischer) dominated the first several seasons of the hit NBC series "The Office." It took two seasons for a single kiss, and another full season before the two would even go on a formal date. But a heartfelt episode in between that time gave fans just enough to quench their thirst for the potential of the two finally getting together.

"The Office" wasn't shy at pushing the envelope. The show paved the way for the rise of mockumentary-style television. It also asked actors to pull double duty as writers, many of whom had no prior sitcom experience. From the writer's room to the director's chair, series creator Greg Daniels trusted everyone working on the show.

Case in point, in season three, an important episode featuring a pivotal scene between Jim and Pam was entrusted to an inexperienced director. The payoff was huge, but the production also created a logistical nightmare on the set.

The actors were having a real conversation

At the end of season two, "The Office" finally gave viewers what they were asking for. Jim confessed his romantic feelings to Pam, only to be rebuked. In season three, the writers played the long game, sending Jim off to another Dunder Mifflin branch in Stamford, CT. The show put all sorts of obstacles in front of the duo, including a new love interest for Jim. They also kept Jim and Pam apart on screen until the eighth episode of the season.

But in the fifth episode, "The Initiation," the pair was brought back together ... kind of. Jim calls the Scranton office after hours to leave Kevin (Brian Baumgartner) a message about fantasy football, but Pam was still there and picked up the phone. After an emotional, "Oh my God," from Pam when she realizes it's Jim on the line, the pair slips right back into a lengthy natural conversation that made them such a great duo.

The brief scene at the end of the episode reginted the long-running relationship narrative. In the "Office Ladies" podcast, Jenna Fischer and Angela Kinsey (Angela Martin) talked about the emotional phone call between Jim and Pam and how episode director Randall Einhorn pulled it off. Fischer said:

"This was really rare. We only did this a couple of times on our set. But here's what happened: Randall [Einhorn] told me that he requested that we be able to hear one another, but not just that, he wanted to shoot both sides of the conversation at the same time."

Einhorn had previously served as the show's director of photographer, but this was his first time directing an episode. Whether it was his inexperience or desire for authenticity, Einhorn's style of shooting the scene led to some tricky logistics for the production team.

'This scene wrecked me'

Because "The Office" wasn't shot in a traditional studio, Einhorn's request created a logistical nightmare. The Scranton office was shot in one building and the Stamford office was shot in another with a big parking lot in between the two. Fischer explained on the podcast:

"[Producer] Kent Zbornak told me that NBC Universal I.T. came out, and they first they had to hook up the phone lines from these two buildings so that John and I could talk to one another. He said that they put Video Village — which is where the video feed goes, it's a little tent with video monitors, and each camera goes into a different monitor so that the director can sit and see what the cameras are seeing — they had to build that in the middle of the two stages in a parking lot."

To record the audio for the scene, they used separate boom mics for Jim and Pam and also recorded the phone conversation between the two characters. The result is a tender moment between two friends who had not yet reconciled their love for each other.

Despite the headaches to record the scene in a naturalistic way, Fischer admits it was worth it. "It made all the difference for John and I to be able to hear one another and to be able to really talk," Fischer says of the scene.

The heartfelt moment between the pair is also a favorite for Kinsey. "This scene wrecked me," Kinsey admitted to Fischer. "It's so beautiful, your conversation is so organic and earnest, it gave me all the feels."

The scene was the first that Fischer and John Krasinski had performed together in months, and Einhorn's decision to shoot the actors separately added to the scene's authenticity. It's one of many brilliant moments from a show that took great pains to make it appear as if nothing brilliant was ever happening.