Monday, October 27, 2008

BEEMAN'S BLOG - SEASON 3, EPISODE 7

ERIS QUOD SUM

Tonight’s episode was written by Jesse Alexander and was directed by Jeannot Szwarc. Jesse is one of our co-executive producers, a frequent writer of episodes and is an instrumental part of the ongoing development of the show. Jesse Alexander

Jeannot is a cast-and-crew-favorite director who is now directing his fourth HEROES and has an impressive resume of TV and films that goes way back in time. Jeannot Szwarc

This episode also marks the return of Kristen Bell to the show. If you’ve been following this blog you’ll remember that we had to wait for several months for her to become free. This meant that we couldn’t complete filming of episode 2 for quite awhile. We knew that she’d become available to us for a nice run of episodes beginning with episode seven, and Jesse and the other writers developed her re-introduction of her character with this knowledge.

I’m slammed with work right now so this will be a picture heavy blog. Onward..




DIRECTOR, JEANNOT SZWARC AND WRITER JESSE ALEXANDER


WRITER JESSE ALEXANDER AND DIRECTOR OF PHOTOGRAPHY CHARLIE LIEBERMAN


DIRECTOR JEANNOT LAYS OUT A SHOT FOR ME - I AM DUBIOUS


KRISTEN AND HAYDEN


THE STUNT COORDINATOR AND STUNT DOUBLES LAY OUT HOW HAYDEN SHOULD BE THROWN BY KRISTEN


THE “THROW”


ADRIAN PASDAR - DON'T HATE HIM BECAUSE HE'S COOL!


BREA GRANT DISPLAYS PROPER SUPER SPEED POSTURE


SCRIPT SUPERVISOR VALERIE NORMAN AND ZACH QUINTO (UNBEKNOWNST TO THEM - A 2ND ASSISTANT DIRECTOR TASTE TESTS ZACH)


THE BEHIND-THE SCENES "SCRUM" THAT PASSES FOR OUR NORMAL WORK DAY


ADRIAN AND SENDHIL "DOES THIS MAKE ANY SENSE TO YOU?!"


DANIA RAMIREZ BETWEEN TAKES


SENDHIL - IT'S SAD BEING A FREAKY BUG MAN


JEANNOT AND I FROM THE WEST HOLLYWOOD PRODUCTION OF “WAITING FOR JEANNOT”


ALI LARTER "PUT ME IN COACH"


JESSALYN, JACK AND ADRIAN BETWEEN TAKES


ALI AND ADRIAN BETWEEN TAKES ON SET


FILMING A SCENE AT "PINEHURST"


HRG SAVES THE DAY


SENDHIL AND MILO "THIS MIGHT STING A LITTLE"

Monday, October 20, 2008

BEEMAN’S BLOG – SEASON 3, EPISODE 6

DYING OF THE LIGHT
WARNING GALE LEVEL SPOILERS CONTAINED WITHIN

Tonight’s episode was scripted by Chuck Kim and Chris Zatta. It was directed by Dan Attias.

This is Dan Attias’ second episode of HEROES. Last year he directed Episode 7 “Out of Time.” Dan is a real veteran of television as you can see from his imdb link:
Dan Attias

He is one of those directors who is hard to book because he is sought after by every other show. And that’s no accident. He is a talented person who knows where to put the camera and, most importantly, always concentrates first and foremost on the emotions of a scene and on performance by the actors.

Chris Zatta, as of this season, is a staff writer and Chuck Kim is the executive story editor. Chuck has written 2 previous HEROES episodes - Season 1's Episode 19 titled ".07%" and also (co-written with Aron Eli Coleite) Season 2's unaired episode 13 entitled "True Identities." Chris has written 1 previous episode - Season 1's "Parasite" and was the subject of an earlier blog interview entitled “CHRIS ZATTA LIVING THE DREAM”

Chris came up from being an assistant on the show and Chuck was an editor/writer for DC Comics working on various titles including Batman and Superman. They are not a team per se’, but Tim Kring and the other writer’s who run the writer’s room decided to team them up for this one.

I am very proud of tonight’s episode. It looks great. It has sad moments. Funny moments. Action. Tension. And all that HEROES does well… You may completely disagree with me about all that, and that’s fine, but this one I feel we can hold our head up about.

It’s funny, because I remember, personally being pretty happy when I read the first draft of the script. But when Dan Attias came in, he really went after the script on a lot of levels. On day one he had a ton of logic and motivation questions. I can’t even remember what they were now (this episode prepped way back in June), but I do remember that this impressed me. Not every director gives a lot of script notes or asks the tough questions. It is a phenomenon in TV that, as a traveling director, you get the hand you’re dealt, script-wise, and you have to play it as best you can. It is more common in features and pilots for the director to give extensive notes, but Dan treated this one more like a pilot director would and I remember that, as the group addressed his many issues, the script got better.

One of the fun aspects of this season is that we are introducing new “villains” as we go. Trust me, this isn't not going to become a freak-of-the-week phenomenon (as my old show SMALLVILLE used to sometimes be criticized for) but it is nice to bring new characters in and explore them for just one episode without worrying about how they’ll be threaded into the series for weeks on end.

On this episode we got lucky. We read a number of people for ERIC DOYLE - the puppet master. This was a well written part, but, as you can imagine, it was very open to interpretation. In the auditions we saw many different physical types of actors who approached the material with many different delivery’s and physicality’s. We tried not to give them too many pre-conceived ideas. When David H. Lawrence came in, he read once and was great, and then we gave him some re-direction. The two notes I remember being given to him were (a) to realize that he really does love Meredith first and foremost. He truly believes he will and can win her over... And (b) to bring into his performance a certain infantilism. Doyle is a child who needs love, in an almost-maternal way, and who gets very angry when he doesn’t get it. David ran with these notes on his second reading - and we knew we had our man. credits

I’d been to the location and talked through the scenes extensively with Dan Attias – but I wasn’t there when we shot the bulk of the work at the puppet theater. It was a good sign to me that when I saw the shooting crew a couple of days after filming these scenes, many of them came up to me to remark on how good David Lawrence was. In the end, I think David really captures the screen and captivates you. He was also a great guy to work with. He was very happy and excited to be on the show. (Apparently once he even got klonked on the head super hard by Hayden who was getting quite into character. He took the hit and fell down as he was supposed to without complaint. Hayden, of course, was very apologetic.)

I’m also happy with the scenes in Africa with Hiro and Ando and Usutu. These scenes are fun and make good use of the space-time continuum. They were complex to lay out though, as you can probably imagine. We had to find natural rocks in the environment that suited the blocking and then Tim Sale had to paint images we knew we could achieve. I’m speaking, specifically, about whenever Usutu hits Hiro on the head. Getting the actors to match a pre-existing Tim Sale painting can be a challenge. But, luckily, Masi has a mind that is quite good for this. One of my favorite moments is when Masi goes back in time a minute only to get hit on the head with a shovel for the second time. We then cut to a shot of Ando from a scene we’ve scene just a few moments before. Hiro blinks out and, not two seconds later, he walks back in. This is a simple green screen effect, but it fits into the story very well – and I think the joke is capped off by James Kyson Lee’s reaction-shot to Masi walking in after Ando saw him disappear not-two-seconds before. I told James the other day that he, in my opinion, is like a highlighter pen to the joke. The joke happens. We cut to James. And the joke is highlighted. In the editing room, James is our go-to-guy for comedic reaction shots.

But enough about that, and on to what you really come here for – BEHIND THE SCENES PICTURES – WOO-HOO!!!!!


MASI OKA AND DIRECTOR DAN ATTIAS


WRITERS CHRIS ZATTA AND CHUCK KIM


MASI AND ME


AN ACTOR PREPARES PART ONE (REHEARSING THE SHOVEL-WHACK W/ MASI OKA AND NTARE MWINE)


AN ACTOR PREPARES PART 2 (ZACH REHEARSES AN OMITTED SCENE - WHAT THE HECK??!?)


WRITER JEPH LOEB SUPERVISES ON SET


ACTORS AND DIRECTOR DISCUSSING A SCENE


HEY KIDS LET’S PUT ON A (PUPPET) SHOW!


LADIES AND GENTLEMEN – MALCOLM MCDOWELL


THE HEROES MUTUAL APPRECIATION SOCIETY


TWO COOL CATS AT COMIC-CON

Monday, October 13, 2008

BEEMAN’S BLOG - SEASON 3 - EPISODE 5

ANGELS & MONSTERS
NOTICE: A SPOILER WARNING HAS BEEN ISSUED FOR THIS BLOG

Tonight’s episode was written by Adam Armus and Kay Foster and was directed by Anthony Hemingway.

Anthony is a first-time HEROES director. He came to us recommended by NBC. I watched an excellent BATTLESTAR GALACTICA episode he directed (which is a favorite of many in our writing staff.) He was an assistant director on THE WIRE which is the show he moved up to director on… he directed several episodes of that as well as ER and CSI: NY. Immediately after finishing his HEROES episode, Anthony got a gig directing a movie for George Lucas. He is currently in Pre-Production on the Lucasfilm movie RED TAILS. I think he did an excellent job here. He was a big fan of the show and had seen all the episodes. Whenever someone is new on the show, I get a little nervous, and maybe spend a little too much energy going over and over the numerous cinematic styles and techniques we use. I make lots of suggestions and am kind of opinionated. Different people deal with this in different ways. Anthony was very mellow with me and kept listening and nodding and saying, “Got it. No problem.” He tried to assure me he had it under control – and after watching him shoot for a couple of days I was confident that he did. He did what we do well – mixing up big close-ups with wide-wide graphic shots, moving the camera effectively and – most importantly – accurately locking into the emotions of the characters.

In some ways this was a big THE WIRE reunion – Jamie Hector had already been on the show for several weeks and now Andre Royo also came aboard as Stephen Canfield - The Vortex Man.

As always, everything springs from the script. The script is the soil that the actors, the director and the production team plant their ideas in. In this case I think Adam and Kay wrote a complex and rich script with a lot of scope and emotion.

Subjectivity part one: It’s always the case – but especially true on HEROES that ideas are very subjective. First something is written in the script (in this case I’m referencing the idea that a character creates a black-hole-like vortex that matter is sucked into.) At a script level, this idea serves a very pragmatic goal. Noah Bennet has stated that he plans to discover Sylar’s weakness and kill him. But how do you kill an invulnerable super-killer? The matter-sucking vortex becomes a simple answer.

But now, all of us have to visualize this event and figure out how to design the visual effect and shoot the scenes in such a way that support the effect. A day into the prep our whole team sat down and had a long meeting about what this vortex would look like. The writer’s started with their concept and then the director and the rest of us jumped in with our own opinions – expanding, enhancing and sometimes being in conflict with each other. At the end of that meeting – based on talking it out aloud – we all were in general agreement about what this vortex would be. The art department and the visual effects team would sketch up some drawings.

A couple of days later we met again and the drawings were laid out. A frequent response upon viewing these was: “What is this!?” “This isn’t what we talked about?!” A funny thing in this business is that, in discussing any abstract idea – whether it be a black-hole-vortex or a living-dead reptilian monster – each person has a different picture in their head. These various mental-picture-images can all agree with one verbal description and still be wildly different from each other.

After viewing and discussing the concept art, we all finally agreed upon an one art drawing of what vortex we liked best. But even then we were not finished. see, the final version would live as a moving live action element, not as a single frame upon a piece of paper. So, the next step was to get examples from other movies where things like this had been done. I suggested referencing the third HARRY POTTER movie when the death eaters sucked away at Harry Potter’s soul. Adam and Kay suggested a movie from the 80’s called: THE ARRIVAL – where a very similar event occurred. I think it was Jeph Loeb who brought up JUMANJI – when, at the end, the whole Jumanji world was sucked back into the book. I personally thought this was the best reference. In JUMANJI everything was dissipated into tiny particles of matter and then sucked down as if down a whirlpool. But then financial reality came to bear. A JUMAJI-like technique would require numerous 3-D objects to be created so that they could be digitally destroyed. The limited amount of time in postproduction was also a factor. Also, the director’s initial shot list included 30 to 40 cuts of this event. This also caused a general hue and cry and we finally agreed that we would stick to a 2-D vortex and that we would limit the total number of shots where the vortex was seen to about 25.

For the key sequence, to support the idea that the vortex would be in danger of sucking 3 of our main cast members into oblivion - we agreed the actors would all be hung on rigs and wind machines would be blown and the camera would be shaken and hopefully that would all work out.

In post, though, we were disappointed with the first few rounds of the vortex effect. It just wasn’t enough. We added digital objects flowing thorough the foreground of all the actors close-ups - even when there wasn’t a black hole visible. We even added the idea of the floorboards being ripped up digitally. When all was said and done I think we have about 65 visual effects.

And, even after I must confess that I'm not sure we got the best effect imaginable for this event. Just the best one we could afford in the time we had. That is the nature of TV, and even though HEROES is big TV - time and money are still our masters. Having said that, though, the story is of the Vortex is well told and what is happening is clear. That, in and of itself, is huge! So it's all good.

Subjectivity pt 2: The cocoons – I won’t go into as much detail as I did on the last piece – but this was an equally subjective concept. The writers informed us that Suresh was going to capture and entomb a number of people in cocoons on the walls and ceilings of his loft. Again numerous questions practical and conceptual immediately came up... What do these cocoons look like? Are they clear and luminous? Fibrous and thick? Viscous and bloody? Slimy? Dry? How do they function? (Both within the story and practically.) Can we hang our actors in them safely? How long will it take to rig the actors into them? What about stunt men/women? What about mannequins? How to rig them safely? How many are there? How do we photograph them? How can we see the actors in them and still feel like they’re trapped? How long will it take to make them once they are designed? How much will they cost? These questions went on and on while the clock of production deadline ticked louder and louder. In the end - all this is well and good - but the biggest question on everyone’s minds was never asked or answered – How and from where does Suresh make the goo that makes up the cocoon material???

Another note - It was fun for me to see Jack Coleman and Zach Quinto working together as partners. There is a short scene where they’re driving in the car talking and arguing over the radio. This scene was out of the episode for a while, because the early cuts were long time-wise – but in the end Tim Kring really wanted it in. He felt strongly that these little character moments add as much as any big action or special effects. So we found the time by trimming other things - little scenes within the episode.

The last thing I would like to comment on is the scene where Hiro kills Ando in the bar. I really liked this scene in the script. I like Hiro and Ando. And this really comes out of nowhere in a great way. What always blows me away about HEROES is that this kind of a scene - that would usually end any other show – It’s a big “What the f#@*?!?!?!" That would be a great “TO BE CONTINUED” moment on any show! But Nooooo…. Not here. Here it’s just the end of act 4. We still had to introduce 2 new villains, kill half our cast and paralyze Cristine Rose. Now that’s a real what-the f#@*?!?!?!

And now onto the pictures....


DIRECTOR ANTHONY HEMINGWAY (A MYSTERIOUS BABY FLOATS NEARBYE)


WRITER ADAM ARMUS WITH SENDHIL RAMAMURTHY AND DANIA RAMIREZ


JACK COLEMAN AND ANDRE ROYO GOING ROUND LIFE'S MERRY-GO-ROUND


"CLOSER... HAYDEN CLOSER...CLOSER...CLOSE ENOUGH."


"OKAY WHOSE GONNA CLEAN THIS UP?"


A MERRY GROUP


ALI BLOODY ALI - PART 2


CRISTINE ROSE - THE QUEEN IN HER CASTLE


D.P. CHARLIE LIEBERMAN REFLECTS ME BACK TO ME


DANIA AND SENDHIL GO OVER THE SCRIPT



HAYDEN & JACK ON SET


MALCOLM MCDOWELL AND BREA GRANT RELAX ON THE SET OF A 60'S TALKSHOW


MALCOLM MCDOWELL AND WRITER KAY FOSTER


SENDHIL DOWN IN THE DUMPS IN NYC'S CENTRAL PARK


SENDHIL MANFULLY HAULS A DUMMY AROUND



SPOOKY SYLAR




ZACH QUINTO RIGGED TO FLY


SEXY COMPANY MAN ZACH QUINTO


ZACH REFLECTS ME BACK TO ME


ZACH ADMIRES COMPANY MAN HE'S BECOME


FROM EPISODE 4 - ZACH AS CHEF - "ALL HAIL HIM"


FROM EPISODE 4 - ME 'N WHITE-EYED ZACH


FROM EPISODE 4 - WRITER ARON ELI COLEITE AND ALI LARTER