WARNING SPOILERS ARE CONTAINED WITHIN!!!
Tonight’s episode was written by Aron Eli Coleite and directed by Dan Attias.
I know that many fans will be happy that this one brings many of last year's characters together again. This episode also concludes Peter’s story in Ireland and has Hiro leaving feudal Japan to return to the present (For good? Well at least until he needs to travel to the future!??)
And in the final scene - a big surprise - as we reveal who Adam Monroe is at the end of the episode… Okay, so how many of you saw that coming? Of course I’ve known for months and have become pretty blasé about it. Behind the scenes we all freely discuss the actor who plays Adam in both his incarnations. In fact he’s been playing both roles way back since episode 1 when he was naught but a shadowy figure on the Deveaux rooftop. But once we got finished with cutting the episode we started showing it to people who had never read the plot point. Lots of crew who work in the later stages of post production (i.e. sound mixers, color timers, etc.) had never read this scene and seemed to be completely caught by surprise when they saw Adam walk out in the last scene. Just a bit more than a week ago, we had a music spotting with Wendy Melvoin and Lisa Coleman, our composers. This is the part in the process where we run the locked picture for the composers and music editors. It’s where we talk about where we want music in the show and what emotional quality we want the music to have. Wendy and Lisa, purposefully, never read the scripts. They’re, like, the worlds biggest fans of the show, and sometimes it’s hard to actually spot the music with them because they’re, like, “Shhhh, we’re watching this part!” Anyway, when Adam walked out at the end they both went, “No way!...No F*^$%?! Way!!!” Tim Kring and I looked at each other, shrugged and went “Hmm, I guess that part worked.” It’s funny, I swear, because we’ve been dealing with it for so long that I actually completely forgot it was supposed to be a surprise.
There were several fun projects for us on this one. Of course, sending Peter to the future was one of them. On a purely intellectual level this is fun, because early in prep we had a lot of discussions about WHICH future was this? It’s not the future from 5 years after the bomb blew up. It’s the future 1 year from now when the virus is released. Right away that started lots of spirited debates amongst the crew – So does the five-year-in-the-future-after-the-bomb still exist on an alternate timeline? Or did it fade away? If Peter has to go back to the future to save Caitlin at some point, how will he know which future to go to? That’s something I love about this show. You can be in the middle of, say, a props meeting and suddenly a metaphysical debate breaks out. Personally, whenever in doubt, I refer to BACK TO THE FUTURE 2 where Doc Brown (complete with chalkboard) clearly lays out how alternate timelines work.
For the opening sequence, where Caitlin and Peter are walking through a deserted NYC, we went to downtown Los Angeles on a Sunday morning. You’d be surprised how many pedestrians there are in downtown L.A. on a Sunday at 8 a.m. Our assistant directors were (politely) herding dozens of people out of every shot, just as we rolled. The visual effects guys matted in some key New York buildings, and I think that it looks pretty good. One thing I’m happy about is that the second shot of the scene – the one where they walk down the street – is all allowed to be played out in one long continuous take. The director did other shots that covered the dialogue between Peter and Caitlin in closer angles, as they walked. But in the editing room, Tim Kring and Dennis Hammer felt that the one long take was more elegant and dramatic - and I agree.
The CDC warehouse was filmed in a big deserted warehouse in Long Beach California. We made use of its infrastructure without too many changes. Even the big gates and fences where the people are being herded out pre-existed.
One interesting fact – Isaacc Mendez’s painting of Peter at the window of the future-morgue, which is one of the first images in the show, was painted by Tim Sale AFTER we shot the Peter scene. (It’s better all-around if Tim paints the paintings afterwards, because he can perfectly match the images we shoot. If he paints a painting ahead of time, we have to struggle to re-create them in production, (and sometimes issues like perspective make it really difficult to do this.) But the scene in which we see the painting in Russia, with HRG, was shot BEFORE. In fact it was seen in last weeks episode. What we did to make this possible is we painted a canvas with green-screen-green paint, and the visual effects guys tracked in Tim’s painting over the green canvas. That’s the kind of visual effect most people would never guess. Pretty cool, huh?
In Japan we got to blow up White Beards camp. Gary D’Amico is our special effects guy. His job is to rig any mechanical effects that we do, this ranges from flying rigs, to burning down houses, to shattering through doors – to blowing stuff up. And special effects guys all LOVE to blow stuff up. Now, I don’t know why, but I’ve ended up working on a lot of TV shows that have done a lot of special effects. Gary is the best I’ve worked with. Most special effects work takes a long time to rig and make safe. You can end up waiting around for, literally, hours on set waiting to do a big gag. And if it doesn’t go right the first time, that means you have to wait all over again for take two. Well, Gary’s stuff seems to always work right the first time. In fact, we originally planned to supplement the explosion with visual effects, but when we saw it in dailies, it seemed big enough just as it was.
The night that we did the explosion, we’re all standing out in this freezing cold field, having a lot of safety meetings. Gary explains that where we’re standing (about 100 yards from the blast) is probably safe, but that some pieces of wooden shrapnel could MAYBE get that far, so everyone should keep their eyes open. So, after that, most of the crew backs off to about 200 yards. We wait, and wait, and wait and wait… And now it’s finally time for the explosion. We roll the four cameras and finally… BOOM!!! I’ve been around a lot of movie explosions, but this one’s pretty big. A nice concussion. Then I hear “LOOK OUT!” I look back and behind me a huge spike of wood comes flying out of the sky. Several crew guys scatter, and DOINK it sticks perfectly into the ground, about 225 yards from the blast. Then, a second later, we hear a huge sparking sound, like ZSHHIZZITT! There’s a massive flash of green light, and then all the lights of all the houses that are seen in the distance, behind us, go blink! And turn off. We blew out a massive transformer and, supposedly, 7,000 houses lost power that night.
Just a little TV show.
GARY D’AMICO – HE BLOW’D IT UP REAL GOOD
One scene in this episode, which I think is particularly beautiful, is the scene under the cherry blossoms, where Hiro kisses Yaeko goodbye. This is one where we chased the light perfectly. See, we in the west love backlight and think it’s beautiful. You may not know this about yourself, but I bet you anything that you prefer backlight to frontlight. Even the Kodak box says, “Position the subject so that it is between you and the sun." I blame the Dutch Masters for this. It’s guys like Vermeer who made backlight so popular, and that predisposition sticks with us today.
So anyway, we set up the little grove of cherry trees so they faced west. We rehearsed the scene with Masi and Eriko and talked it out. And then we stalled and waited around until about 4 PM. At that time the backlight was perfect. Problem is it would only stay perfect until 5 or 5:30. This meant we had about an hour and a half to actually shoot the whole scene. It was okay though; Nate Goodman, the Director of Photography and the director had a plan. The first shot was a wide shot from the crane. Two effects men on two 20 foot hydraulic lifts threw cherry blossoms in front of two giant fans. The camera swooped in and around, and got, essentially the beginning and the end of the scene. This is called a “master” and it’s a good idea to do the widest shots first, they’re the most forgiving technically and it lets the actors get warmed up with their performances, so their ready for their close ups later. Then, still on the crane, the second shot was on a longer lens with a slow push in from the point where Masi steps forward saying “That’s not the way the story ended.” It moved around into a 50/50 (where the actors face each other so that you see 50% of one and 50% of the other) for the kiss. The original plan was to have Hiro blink out again, but on set the actors discussed how she had already seen him blink in and out several times. The decision was made, that, as the camera came in to really close profiles, Hiro would lean his forehead against hers and say “Sayonara.” Then, mathematically, four close ups where owed. One for each of the positions the two actors where in. Nate shot all of these shots in, basically, the same direction. Keeping the waning backlight behind them. By the time we got to Eriko’s last CU it was getting a little dark and he had to supplement the light a bit. Luckily, by now, the camera was on long lenses. Erkio was also encouraged to be very emotional in this scene. She really got to that sad place in, what I feel, is a very effective way. But, unlike Ali Larter and Hayden who seem to be able to cry pretty easily, crying like this was very upsetting to Eriko, and she ended every take quite distressed. Anyway, the entire effect of the scene, with the beautiful light and the strong emotions, I feel, works quite well. I hope you agree.
There’s one more thing I wanted to talk about, mostly because Nate Goodman was so excited about it. It’s about the scene where Matt is taken into Maury’s nightmare – the one set in his childhood home. The concept with the production design of the set was to create a real 70’s style apartment. The wallpaper is real garish with paisley wallpaper in one room, and loud green wallpaper in the other. So, cuing off this, Nate decided to light the set like a 70’s episode of NIGHT GALLERY. It’s a very retro technique that resulted in a very cool look. Nate used all hard light from above the set with lots of cucalorus’s. This means the lights were aimed directly onto the set from above, versus being bounced into some kind of a soft source. Cucalorus’s are just pieces of wood or metal painted black with patterns cut in them. This creates hard patches of light and shadow all over the set. I think it works real well. There's sometimes 3 or 4 shadows of the sctors on the wall at a time - real 70's TV style! I like it. There is something about that scene that looks different, but you can’t quite put your finger on it.
I also wanted to say that I think Stephen Tobolowsky is particularly good in this episode
Okay, that’s it for now. Next week there’s an episode, which I directed, entitled FOUR MONTHS AGO. It will answer many questions about this season that I know you fans have been eagerly awaiting.
ON TO THE PICTURES!!!!.....
HAYDEN ON A NIGHT SHOOT
STEPHEN TOBOLOWSKY HANGING WITH THE CREW
GREG GRUNBERG AND ADAIR TISHLER REHEARSING A VERY SERIOUS SCENE
ME - ON SET IN ADAM’S WAREHOUSE ("THERE’S LATTE FOAM IN THIS COFFEE CUP LID – I KNOW IT!")
DIRECTOR AND WRITER IN MIDDLE OF THE COLLABORATIVE PROCESS
LEONARD ROBERTS SNEAKS UP ON SEDHIL - AND BACK INTO SEASON 2!
ALI AND LEONARD ON SET
JACK, MILO AND KRISTEN – I KNOW THEY’RE NOT IN THIS EPISODE, BUT I HAD THE PIX AND I KNOW YOU LIKE THEM!