Well, we’re finally back on the air.
HEROES went off with episode 11 on December 4th. We kept shooting through December 20th and actually got 15 episodes in the can. December 21st thru January 3rd was our winter hiatus. Everyone on the cast and crew disbanded for a couple of weeks – some on vacations to warm weather like Hawaii and Cabo, some back East to see family and some just stayed here in LA. Let me tell you, we were all really exhausted.
I actually prepped episode 16 before the break and came straight back to work shooting it. I guess I’ll talk more about 16 when it airs, but lemme tell you… It wasn’t that well prepped. Everyone was so tired that we don’t exactly remember that last week. Also, I spent three of my seven days of prep directing scenes from other episodes. We’d gone so long on episode 13 and 14 that both directors had to leave to start their next jobs before we’d finished – and I had to mop up.
But – more on that later…
Twelve is where we restart our story. I think we left the audience with a pretty satisfying cliffhanger in December… Peter dreams he is the bomb that will destroy Manhattan. Eden is dead. Sylar has been captured. The Haitian is protecting Claire who knows her father has mind wiped her family and now she has to pretend she’s been mind wiped too. Niki has turned herself in to the police for the murder of Linderman’s men in episode 1. Hiro has lost his powers and has met Isaac who paints a future (or is it the past???) in which Hiro battles a dinosaur with a sword!
So, what’s next?…
A pretty exciting second half I think!
A lot of us are nervous that we now go head-to-head with “24”…. We knew our last run of episodes had to be great! Personally, I feel confident.
In part 2 of our season - which will go for 6 episodes - the noose tightens and the characters are drawn inevitably more together and towards the bomb blast, which they will either stop - or which will destroy Manhattan. 3 major new characters will be introduced and some that we have come to love may be killed!
Episode 12 was directed by Paul Shapiro. Paul also directed episode 5 (Frankly, I can never remember the titles of the episodes… I have to think about them in numerical sequence, because, from my point of view, what number they air in dictates many decisions we make.) Paul did another great job. It’s funny, he’s gotten both of the Hiro-Nathan scenes we have had. Which are always hilarious. Masi brings out comedy in Adrian. In fact, the whole “billan-villlian” thing in this episode was ad-libbed by those two. On set Jeph Loeb and I were dubious and thought the boys were going too broad with the comedy – we made sure a straighter alternative was shot. But Tim Kring loved this version, and, in fact it was the piece that they showed when Masi went on Jay Leno.
PAUL SHAPIRO AND PRODUCTION DESIGNER RUTH AMMON AT THE OIL DERRICK
HAYDEN AND THOMAS AT THE OIL DERRICK (IT WAS FREEZING OUT THERE!!!)
The main thing I remember about episode 12 is that it took FOREVER to get done filming. It had lots of small scenes in specific locations which couldn’t be scheduled with other work. There were also numerous conflicts with actor schedules between other episodes that were shooting at the same time. Also, we had to get several of our cast to New York for the Macy’s Parade, Regis and Kelly and the Carson Daley show, etc. There was also a situation where many scenes in this episode also appear partially in other episodes. The bomb sequence that concluded episode 11 recurs here but re-visualized and with new elements – including the dialogue with Nathan and the introduction of Christopher Eccleston – but Chris Eccleston, who’s from England, had issues with getting a work visa in time which delayed shooting his shots… The final scene where Peter walks away from the hospital on the NYC Street also plays in episode 13 – not enough work for two nights, but too much for one…. There are two scenes of Claire and the Haitian at the oil derrick in this episode and one in episode 13 - which is a distant location – we had to shoot all three in one day, in the eight hours of available November daylight (i.e. that’s FAST!!!)... The museum scene with Hiro and Ando was shot at the L.A. Natural History Museum – which was only available from 6 PM to 6 AM... The crew shot until dawn and then many (including the director) had to go directly up to the PrimaTech paper company to film scenes from this episode and episode 11. There was one brief scene of Hiro and Ando running out of the museum in day NYC which didn’t schedule with anything. We started filming the padded cell with Ali Larter – but there were problems with the set that caused us to have to stop and re-work it. Hayden Panettiere got sick, etc. etc. – All of this resulted in the episode shooting many partial days and having many “hold” days -- we were actually finished with most of episode 14 before we had12 completely finished.
To make matters worse, from a post-production point of view, we wanted to lock picture, score and mix episode 12 before we broke for vacation. We knew that episodes 16 and 17 would have very tight post schedules – so if we could get ahead it would greatly benefit us down the road. Tim Kring and the writers got us the scripts in plenty of time, but we couldn’t get it done.
The late shooting and the complex visual effects (Peter exploding, Ted’s nuclear hands, invisibility - as well as many other subtle VFX, made this impossible. We were able to lock picture before the break, but that was all.
Ah well, The best laid plans of mice and men…
There were a lot of cool things done in post, though. I love the way editor, Scott Boyd, treated Peter’s dream with many little flashes. And we went bold with the color of the show again – as we had in the very early episodes. Separating NYC as blue, Texas as gold, and draining color and adding grain to Nevada.
FUN ONES FROM EP. NINE – MILO WITH 4 LEGS
Last thing to talk about is what an exciting time it’s been as HEROES has been nominated for several awards – the writers guild award for best series, the American Society of Cinematograpgers award for Adam Kane, D.P. of the pilot, The Art Director’s Guild award for Ruth Ammon for episode 10 (“Six Months Earlier”), The Golden Globe for best drama and for Masi Oka as best supporting actor (which we lost) and The People’s Choice award for best new drama (Which we won!!!)
It’s an amazing feeling to be recognized for your work like this. We’re all so proud of the show, but to have others acknowledge the show as well is especially gratifying. But more amazing than any awards show is the personal effect the show is having on people. Dennis Hammer and Tim Kring recounted a story from NAPTA (The National Association of Professional Teaching Assistants) in Las Vegas where a school teacher from, I believe, Indiana, told them about her class of special needs students who have adopted HEROES as their own and used it as a tool for why it’s good to be special. It’s so touching.
See you next week…
P.S. Check out the number on the buisness card HRG hands to Suresh....Have you tried calling it yet?