WARNING SOME SPOILERS BELOW
Hello blogreaders. Tonight’s episode of HEROES is entitled “Kindred.” It was directed by Paul Edwards, (http://imdb.com/name/nm0250267/) who directed 2 episodes last year, “Seven Minutes To Midnight” and “Five Years Gone” (which many felt was one of our best last year). It was written by JJ Philbin, who is a new writer on the show this year (http://imdb.com/name/nm0679902/). JJ is a great addition to our team. She’s excellent in the writer’s room and was also a strong steady hand on set. HEROES, as you can imagine, is a complex show to drop into – but she has done so seamlessly.
DIRECTOR PAUL EDWARDS
WRITER JJ PHILBIN IN SCRIPT DISCUSSION WITH GREG GRUNBERG
WRITER JJ PHILBIN AND GREG GRUNBERG IN FURTHER SCRIPT DISCUSSION
This episode is a little tricky structurally. It begins to solidify and focus some of the new ideas that were introduced in episodes 1 and 2. Peter, who was discovered alive but without memory in episode 1, begins to fit in and function within the Irish gang and begins to be attracted to Caitlin. His attraction will guide his decisions in the next few episodes. Matt and Suresh begin to realize what they’ve gotten themselves into with the decision to take down the company, and that they may just be in over their heads. Maya and Alejandro’s desperation to get to the USA gets them in trouble – and this situation forces Maya to use her powers intentionally for the first time. Claire and West reveal who they really are to each other and this takes their relationship to a higher level (heh heh). And HRG sees the final painting in Isaac Mendez’s sequence... What he sees will drive him to desperately find paintings #2 thru #7 to try and prevent the events of the paintings from happening - even though the paintings have prophesied inevitably up to now.
I’m sure fans will also be very happy that this episode brings two of last years characters back.
Sylar is rediscovered in paradise – or is he? And what has happened to his powers?
Niki and Micah also return. But what happened to DL? Although shot, he seemed to be fine at the end of the finale. How did he die? And why is Niki turning herself over willingly to the company???
Zach Quinto returned for this episode and he was very happy to be back. He wanted to get back to work and into the stories. Sylar is a great character and a lot of fun to play. And, as you probably can tell by my pix and other sources - we are a pretty happy fun-loving group over here. (If you have any further doubts check out Adrian’s “buckshotwon” videos on YouTube http://youtube.com/user/buckshotwon). Zach was itching to get back into the stories. But we had held off revealing Sylar for a few episodes. We have a lot of new stories to set up, and we wanted people to wonder whether he really had died that night on Kirby plaza.
Of course, the original plan was for Missy Peregrym to reprise her role as Candice. Unfortunately for us, Missy has landed a new job as a series regular on the CW’s REAPER. And REAPER shoots in Vancouver (where Missy is originally from, and I’m very happy for her because I’m sure she’s glad to be back in her hometown.) The writers’ original plan was for Candice and Sylar to have a several episode adventure together - but with Missy’s lack of availability we decided to tie it off in just one. We really tried to work out a way to have Missy do this episode. First we squeezed the story down to where we felt it could be shot in one day. Then we began working with the REAPER production team trying to find a day she could be made available. Missy was great, she was willing to come back at any time – even a weekend to do the episode. But in the end there were reshoots on the new show and they pulled her dates up. (And truthfully our work was never realistically going to be done in one day.) So we reconceived.
Luckily, Candice’s character is one of the easier one’s to recast. JJ explained it all with the dialogue “I used to go by Candice. But ever since I dragged you off of Kirby Plaza, police are kind of looking for my old self. So, I went for a new look. What do you think? Too generic?” Once we could wrap our heads around that idea - the rest fell into place.
Rachel Kimsey came in to read for the newly conceived role and we were all really happy. She brought a comedic sexiness to the part that we all really liked. After seeing her dailies and the first cut of the episode, we discussed whether we could conceive of a way to keep her alive in the stories. But that bus had already left the station. So (similar to what happened with “Charlie” in Paul Edwards other episode “Seven Minutes To Midnight” last year) another great actress will be here for just one episode!
The first scene – where Sylar comes to, and discovers Candice taking care of him - was shot in our parking lot, a huge blue screen surrounding sand and deck chairs. The VFX guys at Stargate had several angles of backgrounds they’d taken in Kauai, but they would have limited us to static shots. Paul Edwards had a shot he really wanted to do where we began on Candice and moved past her arcing around to reveal Sylar and then re-reveal Candice. Stargate had to do some work to “stitch” several backgrounds together. They then added moving clips and birds to bring life to the shots. It made the scene more expensive but worth it.
The transition from the beach to the concrete shed that Sylar is being kept in was also tricky. This shot was sort of a last second thing that Paul thought of on set. It was designed to be a cut, not a dissolve – but he really felt it would look cooler to see the beach fade away in the background. But because of this it was not done on a blue screen. Paul started in very tight on Sylar, and the VFX dudes had to roto the concrete out and the beach in at the beginning of the shot (a frame by frame process.) D.P. Nate Goodman designed a lighting transition into the middle of the shot, he cross-faded hot “sunny” light into cool fluorescent lights on camera. It’s a pretty cool transition, I think!
Also, interestingly, the original structure of the script had the teaser (which is what we call the first sequence of scenes before commercial) ending on revealing Sylar. The first act (the second sequence of scenes) began where we left off and transitioned to the concrete bunker. In the cutting room, Tim Kring put the two scenes together because he felt we went out with more overall impact -- and I think the episode is better for it.
ZACH AND RACHEL RELAX IN THE WARM GLOW OF A BLUE SCREEN
PAUL AND SCRIPT SUPERVISOR VAL NORMAN DISCUSS THE SCENE WITH ZACH AND RACHEL
Meanwhile, over in Claire’s story – West (the is-he-creepy-or-is-he-cool? boy from her school) has spotted her excessive toenail clipping. They reveal their powers to each other, fly around the beach cities of southern California, and make out. Yay!! Claire has a boyfriend!
Nicholas D’Agosto plays West. He is one of the many new characters who have joined our show. This was a very tough part to cast. In the first two episodes he was portrayed as dark and mysterious, but we knew he had to evolve into her boyfriend. We read A LOT of young men for the part. Some were too soft (i.e. too “non-threatening”) some were too dark (i.e. TOO threatening.) Some were too old. Some looked great but couldn’t act well enough. We knew that whoever we cast, they had to hold the screen with Hayden Panettiere, who is a very strong actor. Nicholas was one of the last we saw, and I think we all blew a sigh of relief when he left the audition. He seemed to have it all. http://imdb.com/name/nm0194900/
There’s a little movie called ROCKET SCIENCE that Nicholas is in that I totally recommend. It’s a great, unexpectedly told movie that he has a big part in. It’s very good.
Well, let me say, Nicholas is a great young man. Nice, polite – the kind of guy you’d be happy to have your daughter go out with. He’s very happy to be here, with such an important part on HEROES. (I know, you’ll probably think, “who wouldn’t be” – but you’d be surprised.) He’s especially good at the fast-talking comedic aspects of the character. On set, when Paul Edwards was directing the scene at the high school (where Claire tries to play off what West saw as a pedicure and spilled toenail polish) Paul kept telling them to talk faster – “It’s like Pat and Mike” he said. I don’t think either of these kids had any idea what that reference meant, but they both played the scene very fast, yet with clear enunciation. It’s a scene that makes me laugh. That’s one of the things that I love about our show. It’s got a lot of funny parts. Of course that makes it harder to find directors and writers – because as we all know – dieing is easy. Comedy is hard.
NICK AND HAYDEN FLYIN' HIGH
(MAN, THERE'S A LOT OF BLUE-SCREEN ON THIS EPISODE)
The writer’s have written the Bennet’s story this year in the city of “Costa Verde.” Of course Costa Verde doesn’t really exist, but we’ve imagined it as being similar to Palace Verdes, which is a beach town just south of Los Angeles. We, in production, were very happy when we heard that one of our storylines was actually going to be set in L.A., where we film the show. Of course, inevitably, this became harder than it sounded at first. The beach cities near L.A. are actually hard to get to, expensive to film in and restrictive to film production (meaning, most of them won’t let trucks drive in until 8 AM and you have to be gone by 10PM - a minimum HEROES shooting day is 12 hours, plus pre-calls for makeup - so that wouldn't cut it.) We ended up finding the town of Costa Verde in pieces. We found the high school in Panorama City, which is about as far from the beaches as you can imagine. But it’s a brand new school, with very graphic and colorful architecture. We wanted to go as far away from the stark structures of the Odessa Texas School as possible. The exterior of the Bennet house we found in a community near Magic Mountain – which is even further from the beaches. But Tim Kring wanted to find a planned community where all of the houses looked alike, to emphasize the anonymity of the family’s circumstances. The interior is built on stage in Hollywood... But of course, to sell beachy California we also have to go to the actual beaches. So, in classic form, in this one episode and one storyline we had to spread the Bennet storyline over four locations all very distant from each other…. Ah, the HEROES way!
In Hiro’s story, Hiro finally convinces Takezo Kensei to "man-up" and be the hero he is supposed to. First of all, when we were filming feudal Japan in Ventura California, last August, it was about 105 degrees. Very hard to be heroic under those conditions. Especially in Samurai armor.
Even though there were several scenes with a lot of page count in the Japan scenes - I felt that the work was relatively easy for us - just people talking in a day exterior. There were no stunts, visual effects or other complex scenes. I challenged Paul Edwards to try to do all the scenes in one day, which would by him time to do more elaborate work in other areas. He took the challenge and succeeded. I think we did four scenes and eight pages that day, which is still a record amount of work for us.
The one scene that wasn’t done at that time, was when Hiro and Kensei blink in and face off against the 90 hungry Ronin. On this scene, we all made some compromises in pre-production, which we all agreed to. Originally what was written was that the Ronin came running down the hill and the first clash of battle happened on screen. We gave that up and agreed that we were going to just cut away with the Ronin running down the hill the moment before the battle. We agreed the Ronin’s castle would be CGI, but we were going to build elaborate gates and the lower part of the stairs.
I’m not sure how the rest of the producers feel, but for me I feel like this is one scene which, because it was confusing conceptually, and because it was inherently expensive, and because it's inherent-expensiveness meant it kept getting dragged on and on in prep with many meetings where nothing really got decided – the scene became kind of an orphan. I feel like I (and we) kind of took our eye off the ball on this one. It wasn’t until we got into the cutting room that I said, “Hey I thought we were going to build a huge set of blue screen stairs so we could have a closer angle of the Ronin running with swords drawn right at us.” But nope, somewhere along the way, we agreed that the Ronin were going to be all digital creations, which meant that they had to be really tiny on screen. The only live action shot is one really quick one of about seven Samurai raising their swords and grunt. To make matters worse, the original concept was that they were the 90 “hungry” Ronin. But the way Hiro pronounced it, made you go “Huh?” And then we all started asking, “Why the hell are they hungry? What’s so scary about that?” Apparently there was some elaborate backstory about the fact that White Beard was starving them in their castle and they became cannibals. But that was never on screen anywhere. So we changed them to “Angry” Ronin – which seemed scarier. We even went back and re-voiced “angry” instead of “hungry” into the description in episode 2. Oh well -- it all goes by fast.
I do think the CGI of the castle is quite good though!
DAVID ANDERS AND MASI OKA PLAY PAPER-ROCK-SCISSORS TO SEE WHO GETS THE FIRST CLOSE-UP
One last thing – Milo Ventimiglia directed some short films and we all went to see the premiere! Milo has always been interested in directing and directed the WB's image campaign for 2 years. The first year he was 1 of 4 directors and the next
year he was 1 of 2. He got a gig during the hiatus to do some shorts called “MALL WORLD” for American Eagle clothiers. You can see them on line at http://www.ae.com/web/77e/mall-world/143/ He did a great job. Check them out! Anyway – during episode 4 he had a first rate premiere at the Cinerama Dome in Los Angeles and many of us came out to support him.
MILO’S PREMIERE – IT WAS A BIG SCREEN EVENT
MILO’S PREMIERE – MILO’S CREDIT
MILO AND DIANNA AGRON WHO PLAYS CLAIRE’S CHEERLEADING NEMESIS – SHE’S IN MILO’S SHORT FILMS TOO!
(WHAT A COINCIDENCE!)
JACK COLEMAN AND LEONARD ROBERTS SUPPORT MILO
JEPH LOEB AND HAYDEN PANETTIERE SUPPORT MILO
JAMES KYSON LEE AND DATE SUPPORT MILO
SENDHIL AND HIS iPHONE SUPPORT MILO
Okay that’s enough for this week. Next week, Claire and West go on a unique date to a scenic L.A. landmark. Sylar hitches a ride. Nathan tries to straighten his life out. And a major new storyline unfolds in post-Katrina New Orleans!
Until then…. MORE PIX:
ADAIR TISHLER AND THE HELIX!
ME AND FUTURE CLAIRE AT COMICON
PAUL EDWARDS LINES UP A SHOT
PAUL AND DP NATE GOODMAN LINE UP A SHOT
BECAUSE YOU DEMANDED IT – MILO WITHOUT HIS SHIRT ON