‘The Office’: Why There Was No Sound in This Pivotal Scene Between Jim Halpert and Pam Beesly
As a mock-documentary series, The Office showcased the relationships between the employees of a fictional paper company. One of the most treasured relationships was that of Jim Halpert (John Krasinski) and Pam Beesly (Jenna Fischer).
Often, the scenes between Jim and Pam sparked much debate between showrunners and writers. Most of the time, their scenes were filmed straightforwardly with the audience being privy to their dialogue and reactions. But there’s one moment between Jim and Pam where showrunners decided to leave the audience in the dark and shoot the scene without sound.
There was a lot of debate surrounding certain scenes on ‘The Office’
When it came to shooting big moments on The Office, such as Jim and Pam’s first kiss or Michael and Holly’s engagement, showrunners felt the pressure. The audience cared deeply for these characters, so the important moments had to be perfect.
Greg Daniels spoke with Office actor Brian Baumgartner on his podcast, An Oral History of The Office, about filming these moments.
“When Jim says he likes Pam in the parking lot, the writing staff kind of went nuts,” Daniels said. He also discussed the debate between director Ken Kwapis and the writers, who had different ideas regarding how their kiss in the office should be shot.
Kwapis wanted to shoot the scene straightforwardly and capture the entire moment, but the writers wanted the shot to stay true to the show’s mockumentary style and catch the kiss as it ended. Ultimately, Kwapis won that debate, giving audiences what they had been waiting for since day one — Jim and Pam together.
Jim Halpert’s proposal to Pam Beesly sparked another debate about sound
Once again, showrunners, writers, and even the actors were torn about how to best capture Jim’s proposal to Pam.
Having waited so long for that moment, some people thought the audience should hear what Jim was saying as he asked Pam to marry him. On the other hand, some people thought so much of their relationship was laid out for the audience to see. So why not let them have this beautiful, subtle moment to themselves?
The proposal was filmed both ways, and the security guard for the building in which The Office was edited decided which shot was best. He chose the second version — the one with sound — because, as editor Claire Scanlon recalled, “[he] could hear it.”
Two of Jim and Pam’s biggest moments — their first kiss and their engagement — featured sound. But there was another big moment for the couple to experience. And in that moment, showrunners decided no sound was best.
When Jim and Pam find out they’re having a baby, it’s silent
Editor Dave Rogers felt viewers needed to hear the scene where Jim and Pam find out they’re going to have a baby. “You have to have sound — I don’t think you really know what happens if there’s no [sound],” Rogers told Baumgartner.
On the other hand, producer Paul Feig didn’t think the scene needed sound at all. After much debate, the two opted to put a tiny clue in the episode to make fans think Pam could be pregnant.
When Pam first arrived at the hospital for an ankle injury, a nurse asked Pam whether she had any metal plates or there was a chance she could be pregnant. Later, when Jim went into the exam room with Pam, viewers weren’t able to hear what was being said. Though the scene was silent, it became clear from their reactions that they were going to have a baby.
Finally, showrunners were able to capture a meaningful scene and convey emotion, but without sound.