Whew! We’re finally back on the air. It feels like it’s been forever to me… How about for you guys? Well, the good news is, I really think we’ve got 5 good episodes to end the year with. The first one was on last night!
I’d also like to apologize for not adding to the blog the last couple of weeks. I was shooting episode 22 and several scenes from other episodes as well. It got crazy hectic towards the end there. Also, it felt like I’d hit the major points that many of you asked about… Hope you can forgive me.
It’s strange right now... We’ve actually finished production of the whole season. We had our wrap party and everything. We’re still cutting and scoring and doing visual effects and sound work on the remaining episodes, but the workload has dropped by 85%. The shooting crew and the actors are all gone. Other than the post production crew and a few accountants adding up the damage, it’s kind of a ghost town… feels weird.
Speaking of the wrap party… That was crazy fun! Because our crew is so huge, and because there was so much press – it was paaaacked! There were several hundred people there. Greg Grunberg’s band played. Greg was on drums, James Denton (DESPERATE HOUSEWIVES) played guitar, and Hugh Laurie (HOUSE) was on keyboards! Tim Kring got on stage with a guitar and jammed. Wendy and Lisa (our composers) took the stage at one point along with Sheila E. on drums and they ROCKED THE HOUSE! Jack Coleman, (HRG himself) got up there and sang his lungs out. Even Noah Gray-Cabey got on stage on keyboards and blew the roof off the place...
NOAH GRAY-CABEY ON KEYBOARDS
But the highlight of the evening was Hayden Panettiere graduating! See, when you’re a school age kid and you work as an actor in TV and films, you still have to go to school. The studio hires a teacher and, literally, between takes, the kids on our show have to do algebra, history and science. Can you imagine, between all the crying, confessing and being covered in blood, Hayden (and also Noah Gray-Cabey) had to do homework!?!? Well, since Hayden’s been acting since a couple of months after she left the womb, I have to assume she’s spent most of her school days in a motor home on a set. I don’t know this for sure. Maybe somewhere along the line she attended a regular school, but not this year.
I remember, towards the end of shooting Hayden running up to me, excited, yelling, “I just graduated high school!” Her teacher was talking to Allan Arkush and I about how it was a little sad she wouldn’t get to really graduate and (I think) Hayden’s Mom and teacher came up with the idea that, at the wrap party we’d put her in a cap and gown and make her walk a few steps to “Pomp and Circumstance.” And that’s exactly what happened. Art department whipped up a diploma and Tim Kring (as our HEROES principal) presented it to her. It was very sweet. Immediately afterwards Hayden got on the mike and blasted out a version of Pat Benatar’s “Hit Me With Your Best Shot.” They say Hayden had learned the song, like, ten minutes before… But let me say, she fully kicked ass!
THE WRAP PARTY CROWD
TIM KRING ROCKING THE HOUSE ON GUITAR
HAYDEN GETTING DIPLOMA FROM PRINCIPAL KRING
HAYDEN – PROUD GRADUATE OF HEROES HIGH
WENDY, LISA AND SHEILA E.
All right, enough about the wrap party, on to episode 19!
Tonight’s episode was directed by Adam Kane. Adam, ostensibly, is a first time director. But he’s been a cinematographer for a long time and, most importantly, he was the cinematographer of the pilot of HEROES. I wasn’t around for the pilot, but Tim Kring and Dennis Hammer felt his contributions were so important, and because they knew he had ambitions to direct, back at the pilot stage they offered him an episode of the show, if and when it went to series.
Frankly, I was dubious about this. HEROES is not an easy show to direct. You have to juggle and balance numerous different storylines, tones, lots of cast, as well as frequent action and visual effects scenes. It’s easier to falter than to succeed. My opinion was, that no matter how wonderful a cinematographer you are, directing is another matter and that HEROES was no place for a first time director. Well, Dennis and Tim politely listened to my opinion and then informed me that the promise had already been made and that that was that.
Of course, once Adam began working, all my doubts were shattered. He’s a real “natural” as a director. Extremely focused, with a strong plan, accommodating to our numerous wishes and instructions, pleasant and fast on his feet. I think tonight’s episode is terrifically made with good performances and many many exciting camera angles.
Adam also had to deal with a bit of last minute budget cut compromises, and he dealt with these gracefully. Dealing with the budget on HEROES is a bit like playing a fish on a hook. We’re always letting out line and then reeling it back in. We look at the needs of the script, where we are in the season, whether it’s a sweeps show or a bookend show or not. Sometimes we’re just looking at whether we’ve recently been good or bad and whether we have to make up for it. Unfortunately for Adam and episode 19, we’d just come off a spending spree and needed to cut back. Like a suburban couple, looking over the credit card debt from last month’s drunken weekend in Vegas, we realized there’d be no eating out this month, and that the 60’ flat screen would have to wait.
Several significant cuts were made, literally a day before shooting. First, we had a really great location for, what we called, “the bowels of Prima-Tech”, HRG’s company. It was a place where they’d built and tested jets with a lot of cool rooms for cells and corridors. We brought those scenes back to the existing cell that we’d built on stage for Sylar, and to the halls and corridors that surrounded our sets. Also, originally, HRG, Matt and Ted were going to have their dialogue scene (“wait a second, your middle management”) on the run, while stealing a car. We moved that back to the diner set we owned. There were also more beats of action in the Sylar/Peter fight, including that Sylar was pushed out a window by Suresh and fell several stories to the pavement.
At the end of the day I think most of these compromises have no negative impact on the show. Adam and the art department dealt with all the changes quite well. The only one that continues to perturb me is how Sylar is taken out. The world’s most fearsome villain, immediately after taking care of Peter, who has about 14 powers, gets knocked out by a chalkboard?!? Oh well.
ADAM KANE – IN THE HEROES HIGH YEARBOOK ADAM IS THE HANDS DOWN WINNER FOR “CUTEST MALE DIRECTOR”
One thing that always gets confusing on HEROES, is when there’s one scene that ends an episode and begins the next. Because we have two directors, two cinematographers, two assistant directors and sometimes two completely different crews this can get confusing. This episode was REALLY confusing. Episode 18, if you remember, ended with Peter entering Suresh’s room to discover Suresh on the ceiling and Sylar behind him. Sylar TK’s him (i.e. “telekinetically throws” him) against the wall starts to cut open his skull and we end. This episode overlaps all that again and then continues on into the fight. We’re always running experiments on how to most efficiently shoot these kinds of scenes. On this one we ran the experiment of having Kevin Bray, last episodes’ director, and Adam standing side by side on the same set, each simultaneously shooting the pieces they needed. Long story short, we won’t run that experiment again. Both guys were great and got along, but they had different ideas about how to stage and shoot the scene and what angles were needed in each episode. Nobody was wrong, but it resulted in double work rather than half work.
As you can tell this is a complex scene. Sendhil was in a harness, hoisted up onto the ceiling. Sylar is thrown back, Peter is pinned to the wall feet off the ground. A special kudos to the VFX crew for the sequence where shards of glass are levitated and then thrown at Peter. The digital glass looked amazing. There were many discussions about this, because this is the kind of sequence that can be unclear. The moment where a big shard of digital glass slams into an invisible guy, who then becomes un-invisible revealing Peter, is a moment that troubled me. Making sure that this moment is both visually exciting and that the story is being clearly told is complicated.
I also continue to be excited about Malcolm McDowell in our show. He is one of the nicest guys ever. He is extremely pleasant and happy to be here. His work is awesome, and very subtle. And he tells great stories. There’s a lot of guys around who tell a lot of stories. But mostly they’re about “When I worked on ‘The A-Team’…’” or hilarity behind the scenes of “Simon and Simon.” Malcolm McDowell’s got stories about Peter O’Toole, Oliver Reed and Helen Mirren. Way more entertaining! It was also fun to see that Linderman has a power to heal, and Claire’s grandma, Angela seems to have been involved since before this generation of Heroes… Hmmm, what DO the writers have in mind???
OK that’s it for now. My typing fingers are cramping up. Next week Episode 20 which, in my own behind-the-scenes-but-still-a-fanboy way, I think is one of the most mind blowing episodes of TV EVER! There, I said it…
See you then…
MILO STAYS IN CHARACTER WHILE READING HIS BLACKBERRY ON SET
JAMES, MASI AND I IN “THE FUTURE”
MISSY PEREGRYM – JUST BACK FROM CATHOLIC GIRL’S SCHOOL AND READY TO GO TO WARDROBE!
MILO AND HAYDEN CONTEMPLATE HEROICOSITY
MALCOLM MCDOWELL, GREG MORRIS (OUR FOCUS PULLER) AND VALERIE NORMAN (OUR SCRIPT SUPERVISOR) – ALL THREE OF THESE PEOPLE ARE BRITISH – COINCIDENCE… OR DESTINY?!?