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Go behind the compelling 'SNL' scenes of Jenna Ortega's hilarious 'Exorcism' sketch

It takes a lot of perspectives to capture a single SNL moment on the first try.

By Matthew Jackson
Jenna Ortega The Exorcist SNL sketch NBC PRESS

Though the show has gotten a lot of mileage out of well-produced pre-tape segments over the years, Saturday Night Live is still mostly, well, live, and that means the production team behind the cameras has to be constantly on their toes. Whether they're putting a set together over the course of a single commercial break, managing dozens of wardrobe changes, or just keeping track of all the perspectives in a given sketch, it's a job that requires constant, detail-oriented focus. 

For proof, look no further than the latest "Behind the Sketch" segment posted to Saturday Night Live's official YouTube channel, featuring one of the standout sketches from Wednesday and Scream VI star Jenna Ortega's hosting debut over the weekend. Titled simply "Exorcism," the sketch stars Ortega as a young girl possessed by a demon, while her worried parents and an overwhelmed priest look on in horror. The adults in the room are all waiting for another priest to arrive who can really kick the exorcism into high gear, but before that can happen, the family's upstairs neighbor Mrs. Shaw (Ego Nwodim) arrives, angry that all that demonic noise is keeping her awake. With years of crossing guard work under her belt and a take-no-prisoners attitude, Mrs. Shaw decides to take on the demon herself, with immediate results. 

Check out Jenna Ortega in SNL's original "Exorcism" sketch below:

When you just watch the four-minute scene play out, you see a single set, six performers, and effects work that includes a levitating bed, some makeup, and a vocal effect to make Ortega sound possessed. It's pretty straightforward, right? Well, as the behind-the-sketch footage shows, even these very direct sketches require skillful and highly coordinated camera maneuvering.

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In the video below, you can see all six camera angles used to get the sketch right, as a half-dozen operators all work in concert to capture each perspective, reframe the scene as needed, and keep all the performers onscreen, while the show's director and editing team switch perspectives to get the live shot shown at the top.

Check out SNL's full "Exorcism" sketch from six different angles below:

It's been almost 50 years since Saturday Night Live premiered on NBC, and while it's certainly been through ups and downs in all that time, it's clear that the technical prowess and craft that goes into every episode has never diminished. It's a very tricky thing to master, which makes each new hour an achievement in and of itself.

Speaking of exorcisms, Universal's Exorcism revival just finished filming and is getting ready to turn heads in theaters on Oct. 13. 

Ortega's full episode of Saturday Night Live is now streaming on Peacock, along with all 48 seasons! New episodes debut Saturday nights at 11:30 p.m. ET on NBC