Monday, November 24, 2008

BEEMAN’S BLOG - SEASON 3 - EPISODE 10

“THE ECLIPSE - PART 1”

Tonight’s episode was co-written by Aron Eli Coleite and Joe Pokaski, and was directed by your humble servant – me!

One of my duties as executive producer is to sometimes drop in quite suddenly to episodes that I wasn’t planning to direct. Originally Sergio Mimica-Gezzan (who directed the third episode of this season) was going to do this one. But he dropped out just a couple of weeks before, and I had to drop in.

Directorally I am happy with this episode. I feel it has drive and urgency. I’m happy with the performances and with the way it looks. I think Wendy and Lisa did awesome work with the music and Stargate did great with the visual effects. I also want to tip my hat to my editor Lois Blumenthal. She has been an assistant editor on HEROES since the beginning but we recently moved her up to editor. This is her first credit as a full editor and I think she did a great job. One of the things that is so important as a director is that when your editor puts the film together for the first time it at least adequately expresses what you had in mind. If you’re lucky you get pleasantly surprised. Well Lois did a great job and right from the first cut, posting this episode was an easy experience.

In the end, as always, you fans will decide what you think of the episode.

Joe and Aron aren’t usually a writing team but they co-wrote this week’s and next week’s episodes which are called THE ECLIPSE – PART I and THE ECLIPSE – PART II. They were so excited about these scripts and told me “It’s the first part of our first ever two parter.” I cynically replied. “Isn’t it part forty-four and foty-five of one ongoing episode?”

One of the most challenging aspects of this episode was, obviously, that half of the episode took place in an eclipse. The series has done eclipses twice before - in the Pilot, and briefly in the first episode of Season 2. But this episode carries the look much more extensively. Nate Goodman the director of photographer and I discussed how to achieve this. Ideally the look would be evenly lit and flat, i.e. no bright highlights, it would be dim with a blue-ish cast. Creating this look for interiors was one thing. Nate discussed how he would do it, with a large number of big lights surrounding the set, gelled with a heavy blue gel and creating a constant amount of hard light. The exteriors would have another approach. In the ideal, we would soften all the light and avoid all backlight. Nate wanted to put up big silks over the actors in every exterior environment (these are, essentially, 20x20 foot or 40x40 foot sheets that soften all the light coming through them) but the ability to hang these devices on our schedule became impractical. Ultimately we had to, sometimes, live with the light we had. Nate gets very excited about all this kind of stuff – but the more he described how he would achieve it the more I kind of glazed over. It was enormously technical. And, while I have a pretty good technical understanding of how most things work – I have my limits. I trust Nate completely and I knew his enthusiasm was a good indicator that all would turn out well. Sometimes as a director it’s best to just let something go and tell the person in charge of it “I trust you!”

There were also many discussions about how to slowly ramp up the eclipse throughout the episode. This was of particular interest not only to Nate but also to Eric Grenaudier and Mark Spatny from our visual effects house Stargate. Of course, we all had to get past the un-reality of the event. In real life there would never be a full eclipse visible from all these places on Earth at the same time. Eclipses also never last for this kind of duration. (Hey – I’m dubious about the whole premise that the eclipse would take our Heroes powers away at all. I don’t think the Pilot’s eclipse gave powers… But others disagreed and that ship had sailed.) But, after our first meeting and a brief round of arguments (that sounded a bit like the floor of the stock market) we all agreed that while Stargate would show numerous steps as the eclipse progresses – from a lighting standpoint there would just be “none,” “a little” and “full on.” Ultimately I believe in simplicity and clarity whenever possible.

But I still wasn’t really sure how it would all come together. And we weren’t able to really see the final look until the last stage of the process – which is the color timing. Color timing happens just a few days before we air the episode on Monday nights. Color timing is a process where we run the show through an electronic process that adjusts the colors, the lightness and darkness, and all manner of subtle things within the final look of the episode. It is a little known but critical part of the show. In this case, I went to color timing on the Thursday before the Monday when we went on the air. The timer had already worked through the picture and gotten it to a fine-tuned level, but we went through the eclipse scenes bit by bit, adjusting the amount of blue, darkening a lot of things, sometimes brightening the faces, and also flattening out the highlights in the shots. Only after all of that did I finally feel confident that the show had a compelling look. I was relieved.

I had fun designing shots for this one. My plan was to begin with slowly moving graceful shots. To try to create a steady sense of movement with the camera. Then, in act one to increase the pace of the motion. I started using faster stedicam shots, like the one with Angela and Claire in the Primatech hallways, and Peter and Nathan outside of Primatech. Then, as the eclipse began drawing nearer, I wanted to create the visual sense of bodies in orbit, and orbit around bodies - like the sun and the moon. I began using a circling pattern in my shot design and in the design of the blocking with actors. This is most evident in the scene between HRG and Claire in the safe house. The camera circles them over and over, orbiting them Immediately afterwards is a scene of Tracy on the phone which is intercut with Arthur on the phone. In thise scene I had the camera orbit around Tracy in a counter-clockwise pattern and around Arthur in a clockwise pattern. Intercut, there is a sense of antagonistic motion between the two halfs. This kind of stuff is fun to design, and while on the one hand it's very intellectual, I think it creates an subtle emotional component to the viewing experience.

One of the other challenges of this episode was creating the environment of Haiti. There aren’t that many places to shoot jungles in Los Angeles. The best and most frequently used is the place we ended up in, is the Los Angeles Arboretum in Pasadena. This place is famous, but I had personally never shot there. It was used in FANTASY ISLAND and GILIGAN’S ISLAND and now it has been further immortalized in HEROES. What the arboretum is is a lot of tropical plants in about a half acre of land around a lake. There are big pathways all through it and plaques on all of the plants. It looks impressively jungly but not huge, and if you step back you see a lot of stuff that shouldn’t be there – like park benches. Also, the rules are strict there and the crew and cast weren’t allowed to walk on or through the plants. So, ironically we had to bring in a lot of palm trees and ferns for anything that we interacted with.

The trick to making the jungle look good was to go on very long lenses and use lots of foreground. At first I went on wider lenses and used the crane and my other usual techniques… This was on the scene where The Haitian is leading The Petrelli boys through the jungle which ends with them running off after they are shot at. I’m the least happy with this sequence of all my jungle scenes. After that I went to long lenses foreground and either hand held or shaky camera (imitation hand held) from the dolly.

My favorite scene is the one where Peter and Nathan get in a fight, which culminates in the appearance of Jimmy Jean-Louis. The scene was very well written and had a natural escalation in the conflict between the brothers. It got to some core issues that I think haven’t been said as bluntly before. Milo and Adrian got pumped up for this one and came at it with strength. I think, in general, I was pushing for them to get angrier and grittier and yell more – to really let loose. But I’m always impressed by how much power Adrian can have when he goes soft. One of my favorite line readings of the scene is when, after being challenged by his brother, Nathan says “I’m a US Senator, you’re a nurse.” If I remember right, this line was scripted to be yelled, but Adrian went very soft and intense and I think the line is more cutting and powerful that way.

But, one story I must tell you, is that, for some reason, Milo and Adrian decided to pump themselves up for this scene by taking turns slapping each other on the back of the neck as hard as they could. I’m not sure how this brilliant idea got started, but I remember looking over and watching these two goofballs just smacking each other with all their might. There would be a loud CRACK! That echoed in the fake jungle and then, whoever had just been slapped started jumping around yelling, “Ow ow wow! Sonofab*&ch!” “Ah…” I thought to myself, “Ah, The Stanislavski method at work.” If you don’t believe me check out the pictures below. One is of the back of Adrian’s neck with welts in the exact shape of Milo’s fingers on it.

In the scene in Matt and Suresh’s apartment, when Hiro and Ando come to the door, there is a funny moment when the four cast members huddle around the comic book, which is a drawing of the exact moment they’re in. I always encourage the cast members to try to mimic the positions that Tim Sale has drawn for then as closely as possible. But, in this case Tim had drawn Matt’s hand in an incredibly awkward position to imitate. It cracked me up watching Greg Grunberg squish his hand around to try to get it to match. If you freeze your TiVo at the right moment you can see Greg Grunberg holding his hand in the dorkiest position ever. Try it!

I was also happy with the scene in the cornfield with Hiro, Ando and Matt, the one where Hiro throws corn at Matt to try to motivate him. I don’t think I fully appreciated this scene on the page. But when the actors started to act it out – it was just so funny. Masi was so committed and he just kept hurling corn at Greg. The line “The corn will keep coming!” makes me laugh even though it’s in Japanese. And Greg ad-libbed a funny one too when he turned to James and said, “How do you say ‘Stop it’ in Japanese?” My main contribution to the scene comes from the fact that I have a ten-year-old-boy at home. Because of this I had knowledge to encourage Masi to make a “Swoosh” sound every time he threw a cob.

Speaking of the corn. The art department had to screw thousands of corn stalks onto wooden 2x4’s and create the cornfield outside of the house – which is a standing set on a ranch owned by Disney. Greensmen had to move it around to camera every shot. Whenever you see a really wide shot, then all the distant cornfields have been added digitally and the characters are in front of a blue-screen.

Ah, our little show… Now, at last, the pictures…


SENDHIL AND I DOING COMMENTARY FOR THE ON-LINE VERSION OF THE SHOW. HEY! YOU CAN WATCH IT RIGHT NOW IF YOU WANT ON NBC.COM


WRITERS ARON ELI COLEITE AND JOE POKASKI DISCUSS SAFE DRIVING TECHNIQUES (D.P. NATE GOODMAN HUDDLES IN LOWER LEFT CORNER)


ADRIAN AND MILO CONTEMPLATE THE JUNGLE


ADRIAN AND MILO – HANGIN’ IN THE JUNGLE


ADRIAN’S NECK AFTER BEING SLAPPED REPEATEDLY BY MILO


LITTLE GAL WITH A BIG FIREARM


A NEW FOLK SINGING GROUP - ANDO, MATT AND DAPHNE!


MASI AND BREA - AWW


HAYDEN HAD HER BIRTHDAY ON THIS EPISODE - THIS WAS HER CAKE!


HAYDEN CLARIFIES TO THE CREW THAT IT IS HER BIRTHDAY AND THAT THE CAKE IS ALL FOR HER


HOW ACTORS PREPARE FOR THEIR BIG SCENES PT. 1


HOW ACTORS PREPARE FOR THEIR BIG SCENES PT. 2


ZACH AND I - IN WHICH ZACH PONDERS A DIRECTION I JUST GAVE HIM


MASI SMASH!


WRITER JOE POKASKI AND ZACH QUINTO HUDDLE AROUND SCRIPT SUPERVISOR VAL NORMAN LOOKING FOR GUIDANCE. VAL - WHO IS SHE? WHAT DOES SHE DO??? SOMEDAY WE'LL BLOG ABOUT HER


GUEST STARS SETH GREEN AND BRECKIN MEYER


MASI CONTEMPLATES FATE, NATURE AND THEIR RELATION TO COMICS


ZACH'S SECRET ARM


JACK AND HAYDEN EMBODY THE SERIOUSNESS AND STYLE OF TV STARDOM


KB ZQ AND I


JIMMY JEAN-LOUIS SNEAKIN AROUND IN THE JUNGLE


SENDHIL CONTEMPLATES LIFE AND MORTALITY AND WHAT THE HECK IS THAT GROSS CUT OPEN BODY DOING IN FRONT OF HIM?


SENDHIL GETTING FINAL SLIME AND GOO TOUCHES BEFORE SHOOTING IN HIS COCOON


ZACH STRAPPING ON HIS POP-OFF ARM


GLEN HETRICK OUR SPECIAL EFFECTS MAKEUP ARTIST JUST BEFORE THREE HOURS OF MAKEUP


GLEN AND I GO OVER THE SCENES REQUIREMENTS


GLEN TAKING IN THE SIGHTS OF THE STUDIO BACKLOT

Monday, November 17, 2008

BEEMAN’S BLOG - SEASON 3 - EPISODE 9

“IT’S COMING"

WARNING: GOVERNMENT ADVISORY – SPOILERS AHEAD – PLEASE PROTECT YOUR FAMILY FROM SPOILERS

Tonight’s episode was written by Tim Kring and was directed by Greg Yaitanes. This is Greg’s second episode of HEROES – his first was Season Two’s most awesome “CAUTIONARY TALES.”

Greg is the subject of this blog’s interview. He is an excellent director – perhaps one of the the best all-around directors I’ve ever had a chance to work with. The industry obviously agrees with this as he was also the winner of the Outstanding Directing for a Drama Series Emmy this year for an episode of HOUSE.

I find Greg to be characterized by great intelligence as well as a hard work ethic. He plans a lot. He is also easy to work with, because he approaches everything in a very causal way – no matter how complex. He also prepares more diligently and shoots as fast as any director I’ve met. Here's his credits: GREG YAITANES.

GREG BEEMAN: First of all, Greg, let me congratulate you for your Emmy win this year. What was that experience like for you – specifically when you have to go up in front of thousands of people live and millions of people watching on TV and give an acceptance speech?

GREG YAITANES: It was truly an out of body experience. I was up against, mostly, pilots. So I had no expectation of winning. I just wanted to enjoy the experience. When I won it was amazing. It’s a neat thing to have accomplished at this point in my 38 years of life.

GB: I had a similar experience a few years ago. I won the Director’s Guild Award, which isn’t televised. But still you walk on stage and there are lights in your eyes and thousands of dim faces watching you silently. For me, time slowed, and I had no idea what I was saying…

GY: It’s funny because we’re going to be talking about an episode in which a dream sequence is a big part of it. When my name was called everything seemed to go into the language of dreams. My name was called. Then suddenly I was in the aisle. Then suddenly I was on stage. I didn’t have anything prepared, which was fine because nothing in my brain was working to remember a prepared speech. But, luckily, when they called my name and I looked over at my wife smiling and clapping, two things came into my mind. The first was that, during the whole of the shoot on HOUSE, I had my cell phone velcroed to the front of the monitor. Because my wife was pregnant and due at any time. That whole shoot happened with me wondering when I would get the call. And also, when my name was called as a nominee there was a thunderous applause, and I realized that I had worked with many many people in the room -- so many talented people. And those two ideas gave me something to focus on when I gave my speech. Afterwards my wife said I made sense, so I was glad.

GB: What was it that made you want to become a director?

GY: I’m from a small town just outside of Boston. It was so small that it didn’t have cable until I was about fourteen. And with cable came public access and that’s where I first became interested in film. I wasn’t that athletic. I wasn’t especially great in school. I loved movies though, and I became the guy with the handheld camera taping the football games.

Originally I was going to get into psychology, but I also had a strong interest in film. I came to California and, in my mind, I was going to let what happened out here determine which path I’d take. Gradually film became what won out.

I went to film school at USC. I had excelled there, but I never got the opportunity to make one of the official films there. I wasn’t selected by the faculty to direct or even to pitch to make a film. It was odd. So, as it was getting time to leave school, I went outside of the school to make a film. A professor there, Rick Edelstein, who is still my mentor, arranged a class for me where I could get school credit for a film I made outside of school. I got Panavision to donate some cameras, I got Universal to donate an editing room. I scraped together $18,000, begged, borrowed and stole - and made the movie.

This was at the tail end of when short films would still help you get considered for features – around 1992 to 1993. It was a time of transition. But, still, it got me the chance to do a movie – a one million dollar film called HARD JUSTICE. I was about 24 when it was made, and it’s just awful. But they cut a great trailer from it. I spent a good year putting together the elements and going after what I wanted. I had ended up editing across the hall from John Woo, who was making his first American movie HARD TARGET. I got to know him, and admire him, and became familiar with all his work. And whatever else can be said about it, I am very proud to say, with certainty, that my movie was the first American-made John Woo knock-off.

After that I ended up doing re-enactments for AMERICA’S MOST WANTED which led to episodes of Jerry Bruckheimer’s first television series SOLDIER OF FORTUNE, which led to DOUBLE-TAP which was a Joel Silver/Richard Donner production. I got that one after a meeting where I had to wait 7 hours in the lobby to meet Richard Donner.

GB: So… The consistent thread I see in all of this is – persistence.

GY: Yes. Persistence. I’ve got to say that if I have any edge, that is what gives me the edge. Others would give up and I just didn’t. I saw so many others give up when things got a little hard. But my dad instilled in me a great work ethic. I was doing every odd job from the time I was a kid.

In fact, one of my favorite stories, from my Dad, is about Joe DiMaggio. Late in his career, the Yankees were up by 10 games late in the season and they were up by 5 runs in the 7th inning. And, still, Joe Dimaggio was diving for every fly ball, and running out every ground ball and sliding into third. And some rookie asked him, “Joe why are you killing yourself. We’re way ahead.” And Dimaggio looked into the stands and said “Because someone out there is watching me play for the first time.” And that’s what I’ve learned. No matter what your reputation or how good you’ve done in the past it’s always about doing your best. With the gypsy nature of TV – you have to keep delivering. No matter how you’ve done elsewhere, on every job you are working with people for the first time, and they will be having a first impression of you. So you always have to do your best. Every time.

GB: So, let’s talk about HEROES in general before we talk about the episode, specifically. What is you’re experience of HEROES, from a directorial standpoint.

GY: It’s the hardest job I’ve ever had in TV. HEROES requires all the skills I’ve learned on every other project combined. It has all the genre work from the features and syndicated TV I’ve done. It requires extreme knowledge of visual effects. Of stunts and action. It pulls you in every direction at once. Also, working with actors is so important on this show. You’ve always said to me, beyond “See the spaces, see the faces..” "Performance is what matters most." I think the thing I like best about HEROES is the collaboration with the actors, which is both accepted and appreciated.

To give an example, there is no other show I work on which I storyboard as much as a necessary tool for communication. There is no other show that is as stylistically complicated. There is no other show that is as logistically complicated. Also it requires you to keep your patience, because the ground is always shifting. The schedule is always changing and you have to just go with it. Jim Chory, the producer, has this office with all these white boards that list all the different units, and locations, and episodes and actor requirements, and there’s all these lines and diagrams connecting them. I joke with him that it looks like A BEAUTIFUL MIND, just keeping the schedule straight.

As a director you want to help, not stand in the way. And I get to do things here that I would never get to do on any other show.

GB: Directorial design is so important on this show. And so hard for me to get director’s to achieve. For so long I tried to figure out how to describe to directors how to shoot the show and design the scenes and the shots. I’d say, “these scenes are like graphic novels with extreme close angles and extreme low angles and extreme high angles. And these scenes are like BOURNE IDENTITY handheld and messy and cut quickly. And these scenes are like John Hughes movies from the 80’s…” And on and on. Finally I realized that there’s no way to say “how” to direct this show. It’s very intuitive... But the shows that work best are the one’s with a strong sense of directorial design. That’s what you are so good at.

GY: Thank you.

GB: So let’s talk about tonight’s episode.

GY: Well the cool thing is – the episode that I did last year (CAUTIONARY TALES) was one cohesive story. This one is five completely different storylines which hadn’t intersected up to now in the season. We, Charlie Lieberman (the Director of Photography) and I tried to give each one a distinct look. Peter’s story had a lot of gravity, constant pressure - so handheld. Hiro’s story when he was ten was bright with a lot of center-punched frames and wider lenses. Elle and Sylar’s story was extremely dark. And so on. I was always energized by the fact that I was shooting five different shows at once and that every day was something new.

GB: I’d like to talk about two sequences in particular which are among the most difficult we’ve had either technically or conceptually. The first is the scene where Claire jumps out the window past Peter, which was enormously complex in it’s execution. Could you talk about that?

GY: Well, you and I had spoken early on, and you had mentioned the idea of doing something like that all in one shot…

GB: Right. I referenced BLADE II the one directed by Guillermo del Toro. There’s a shot early on where Blade chases a guy down a hall, leaps out a window, lands several stories below, knocks a guy off a motorcycle and rides off - which is done all in one shot. But that had a lot more visual effects help than the way you did it.

GY: Really? Because I don’t remember the BLADE reference. I remember talking about CHILDREN OF MEN, which had all these complicated action scenes that were all done in one shot.

The idea, though, of the shot was staying with Peter’s point of view. Using him as the pick point of the scene. You and I have very similar sensibilities about how we do things. And I have to give you props for inspiration for that moment and for suggesting doing it the way we did it. On HEROES, as the director I am always encouraged to come up with things from a strong point of view.

There were hours of meetings about how to accomplish this and many designs and discussions all about - how do we have a real stunt person fall past the real actor and to feel the impact below and to show that moment but not to stay on it too long and to not have it look fake. We wanted to make it more tactile and less effecty. In fact, the stuntwoman fell on a cable and was descended in such a way that we didn’t even need a pad, she was just stopped inches above the pavement. On the day we shot it, we actually did that big stunt very quickly, which is a testament to how well we had prepared for it.

GB: There were a few visual effects elements that were added in post production… Some falling glass sahrds and a shadow of Claire that streak past Peter just before Claire enters frame, and we added a lens flare at a critical moment when he looks up just as the stunt woman enters frame because she was moving a bit slow and looked a bit fake – but just for a few frames. It was all just to enhance the amazing shot – not in any way to save it.

GY: Well, thanks for that.

GB: Talk about the experience as a director, when you have big ideas like this, and you have to defend them and protect them all through the process until they’re finally in the can.

GY: Well you talked to me about this. Everything you predicted would happen happened. You described the big scenes in HEROES as being like a pie, and that sometimes a little slice at a time they get taken away a meeting at a time. So that at every turn the compromise doesn’t feel like you’ve lost that much. But finally, when you look down – most of the pie is gone and you’ve just got a small slice left.

But here I have to give Jim Chory credit. He will understand what’s important and will pick battles for you and shuffle the money around to make it happen. He helped a lot in making that particular scene happen.

GB: So let’s talk about the dream sequence. Truthfully, for me, on the page, that was a very troubling sequence – because it had enormous potential for confusion. It had all the same characters in the same spaces in and out of the dream in the same wardrobe and then two Daphne’s. Back in prep, if I had had to bet – I would have bet that it would be much more likely that sequence would not work than that it would work. I fully believe the success of this sequence – which I now think is one of the most dynamic things we’ve ever done – is fully to your credit. It is so well designed and executed and especially edited, that not only is it cool and eerie – but more importantly, it’s very clear what is happening. I give you credit for all of that, in lesser hands the audience would have NO idea what was going on.

GY: The inspiration of the scene was to really try to use the language of dreams. To create a film language that dreams happen in, that people can relate to. Moving through space without the connection of “a” to “b.” In my dreams it’s always like that. i.e First I was here and then I was at my house, but it wasn’t my house, and then I turned around and my mother was there and then she changed… I wanted to play with space and suddenly be there and then suddenly be over there.

We used Kubrick’s 2001: A SPACE ODYSSEY as a reference. Kubrick knew how to make things dream-like. And he also was able to make scary things happen in very bright spaces. It’s very effective and haunting and you’re not hiding anything.

Charlie Lieberman came up with a lighting plan that enhanced this. We used very wide lenses for the dream and he used very hot backlight and sidelight and came up with a way to halo that light.

GB: Well, in my book, it’s incredibly effective. That’s all the time we have. Thank you for your time Greg. And we look forward to seeing your next episode, which will be #14 – the first episode of the next volume, which will begin after Christmas.

GY: Thanks.

NOW THE PICTURES:


GREG YAITANES - HAVING A GREAT IDEA


A BIG BUDGET SHOW DESERVES PROPER EQUIPMENT - WE SPARE NO EXPENSE FOR MR. YAITANES


KRISTEN BELL - IT'S TRAUMATIC BEING AN ACTOR


KRISTEN IN THE MIDDLE OF A TAKE


GREG Y AND FIRST A.D. ROBERT SCOTT CROSSING OFF STORYBOARDS AS THEY SHOOT THEM


GREG AT THE MONITOR WHILE ZACH DOES A HANDSTAND IN THE B.G.


ZACH QUINTO PREPARES FOR HIS NEXT SCENE


THE VILLAINS


GREG DISCUSSES THE SCENE WITH THE CAST


CRISTINE ROSE – YOU CAN’T KEEP HER DOWN!


NTARE MWINE AS USUTU - HE MAY BE DECAPITATED - BUT HE STILL STALKS THE HALLS


GREG GRUNBERG - PUT ME IN COACH


ZACH AND KRISTEN – PSYCHOS TOGETHER!


GREG YAITANES AND ALLAN ARKUSH - TWO OF OUR FINEST!!!

AND FINALLY THE STORYBOARDS FOR THE ABOVE-DISCUSSED SEQUENCE WHERE CLAIRE JUMPS OUT THE WINDOW PAST PETER


Monday, November 10, 2008

BEEMAN’S BLOG - SEASON 3 - EPISODE 8

“VILLAINS”

Tonight’s episode was written by Rob Fresco and was directed by Allan Arkush.

Rob Fresco used to work on a TV show called PROVIDENCE which is where he met Tim Kring. When Tim created CROSSING JORDAN he brought Rob there where he worked for 2 years. And this year he comes to HEROES. (By coincidence, I also worked on PROVIDENCE, back in the days when I was a visiting director. I directed only two episodes of that series - one was written by Mr. Kring, and one by Mr. Fresco. And thus are the threads of the universe connected.)

This is Rob Fresco’s first script for us and I think (in my own humble opinion as always) long-time fans will really enjoy the way this episode goes back in time to cross some “t’s” and dot some “i’s” in the HEROES universe.

One idea that was in the script from the beginning, that I think Rob came up with, is that the main title, instead of saying HEROES would say VILLIANS… I thought that was enormously cool, but truthfully, I thought this was going to get more resistance from NBC than it did. But it didn’t. It sailed right through.

And of course, this was supposed to be the episode where we explored the villains that we introduced in the season opener. Frankly this changed a little bit as the script went through studio notes. The first draft really featured the villains – and our main characters were the side stories. This shifted as the drafts went on to the version that we now see.

Interestingly, there was a whole storyline that was dropped from the episode. There was a story that featured the character of Knox and his relationship with Matt Parkman. The story took place in L.A. and told how Knox was part of a gang and was trying to get out of that life. Matt was a cop who had busted Knox once and was trying to help him stay on the straight and narrow. As things progressed Knox realized he had the power of incredible strength whenever people around him were afraid. This caused him to turn away from Matt’s good guidance. It was a good story. But it was 9 minutes long. And, in the editing room, when Allan tried to fit it in – all the other stories became compromised. So the decision was made to just drop that one story altogether. It’ll be a great DVD extra someday.

A fun thing to tell you about is the scene on the bridge where we transition from Jessalyn Gilsig and Eric Roberts on the overpass bridge with Claire. I think it’s great how this episode connects the stories in with scenes from the pilot. The original script indicated that the camera craned up and over a hill to reveal the train wreck below. But Allan wanted to make a more direct connection. So they found an overpass and put a big 40 foot green screen on the other side. The shot had to line up with the wide shot, from the pilot, of the train crash very carefully – that footage was already shot and could not be changed. As Jessalyn and Eric Roberts walk over the bridge they walk in front of the green screen. But the key to the shot was the “hookup” point – the point at which the new footage can be hooked up to the old. There is a pole holding a sign that is the edge of the matte line. Humorously, this sign originally said “Metro” train – but because we were dealing with an Amtrak crash and not a local Metro line, we had to change the sign in post. We chose of course one of our old stand by’s the Burnt Toast CafĂ©.

As you know, from time to time I like to interview different members of the crew – to give you, the loyal viewers some insight into the many facets of HEROES specifically, and the film business in general.

Today I’m interviewing Lori Madrigal who is the head of our makeup department. She is a veteran makeup artist with an impressive resume. She is extremely well loved by the cast and the producers alike, and we are lucky to have her on this show. Here's her iMdb: Lori Madrigal

GREG BEEMAN: Lori where did you grow up?

LORI MADRIGAL: Right here in Whittier California.

GB: And how did you get into doing makeup for film and television?

LM: It’s something I always wanted to do ever since I was sixteen. But I waited awhile to get started. I was in radio advertising for years, selling airtime, which I liked – but I always knew that I really wanted to do makeup. So one day I decided to do it. I put myself through esthetician school and makeup school. And then, the doors opened up and I’ve never looked back. I’ve been working steadily for twenty years.

GB: Where did you go to school?

LM: The esthetician school was in Seal Beach and I also went to Cinema Secrets to study film makeup. Maurice Stein trained me.

GB: So once you made the decision to do it everything came together?

LM: Yes. I always feel that if something’s meant to be, if it’s really your heart's desire, then nothing can stop you. It’s not like it was all easy from the beginning. I definitely pounded the pavement. I cleaned houses between jobs and some of my first jobs were photo shoots for “E” Entertainment where I got $30 a day. But after awhile I pushed and convinced people that I knew what I was doing and I got started.

GB: What was you first big break?

LM: On a miniseries - NORTH AND SOUTH.

GB: And we started working together because of an Exec at Warner Brothers named Lisa Lewis…

LM: I love Lisa. She’s cool.

GB: Well she loved you. She knew you from “E-RING” and she recommended you for the AQUAMAN pilot I did. I brought you over here and the rest is history.

LM: Yep.

GB: Now, as a producer, the head of the makeup department is critical – not just because you need your actors to look great, but because the hair and makeup trailer is where the actors all start their day and where they spend most of their day. The actors have to have a great relationship with you or they are miserable and if they’re miserable – the set doesn’t run right.

LM: Exactly. And that’s why my trailer is the way it is. Why I have music and coffee and food and fun photos everywhere. I want it to be a place where the actors want to start their day and hang out between shots all day. We have a lot of fun, and also, that way I know where they are at all times.

GB: You definitely create a very happy environment. So can you talk about the two aspects of the job, the creative and also the interpersonal aspect of your job?

LM: I always say there are two parts to the job of makeup artist. Part one is “makeup” and part two is “therapist.” You never know what kind of mood the actors are going to be in when they get their in the morning, but you have to make sure that, no matter what – you’re in a better mood than them.

GB: The actors not only all like you, but they all trust you...

LM: They have to trust you. You can’t lie to them or BS them. You have to please them and what they want, but at the same time you have to please the producers and the studio and you have to please yourself. It’s great, it’s really a rush, when you get to achieve all that.

GB: After all these years do you still find it glamorous that you get to hang out with all these big stars all day?

LM: You know, I never really found it glamorous. I think from the beginning my attitude was that we are all just people working together to do a job. Maybe that’s why I do end up getting along with them, because I feel that we’re all just people.

GB: So let’s talk about the artistic part. What is it that gives you the biggest thrill about doing makeup?

LM: Color. I love it when someone sits in your chair for the first time and you open a drawer with a thousand colors in it, and you pull out the right one on the first try. I’m good with color and it’s really fun to just trust yourself with it. Color is where a lot of people go wrong because they don’t really understand what colors are right for them.

It’s really fun to take a person and change them. To take a person who is attractive and with just a little bit of work to make them beautiful. You actually need very little makeup to achieve that, as long as you know what your doing and it’s carefully applied.

GB: What about the other side? We also mess people up a lot on this show.

LM: I know. And I love that! Mostly I let Wendi do that on this show, because she loves it and I’m so busy with the girls. But it’s so fun to do blood and scars and cuts and bruises. Like today we had this guy who was a dead body – and so, I pushed Wendi aside and said “I’m doing this one” – he was all cut up and bruised up and it was so fun.

The rewarding part of my job is when the actor comes out of the trailer and everyone says “That’s awesome.”

GB: What about the hours. Our crew normally comes in at 6 or 7 a.m. to start work. But you have to come in a couple of hours earlier than that every day to get the cast made-up, is that right?

LM: Yep. I came in at 5 a.m. today and 4 a.m. yesterday.

GB: And, for us, a 12 hour day is the norm. Does that mean you're putting in a 14 or 15 hour workday every day?

LM: Most of the time, yes.

GB: Did you know that was what you were signing up for when you got into this business?

LM: No. I thought it would be way more glamerous. No one ever told me you'd have to be applying makeup in a swamp, or that you'd be peeing in a big box. Because on location there's no "boys" and "girls" room - there's just a plastic outhouse and everyone has to go in it.

GB: So what do those hours do to your personal life?

LM: What are you talking about? I have no life. But that's what the job is. You know what though? I love my job, so it's worth it. The crazy hours is just part of it. This whole business is like a carnival that packs up and moves on to the next town every day. If I didn't love my work it wouldn't work - but I do, so it's all good!

GB: Thanks Lori. You’re awesome. Thank you.

LM: No problem. You know I love you Beeman!

THE PIX OF IT ALL:


ALLAN ARKUSH AND CRISTINE ROSE


ROB FRESCO “THE WRITER”


THIS WEEK’S INTERVIEWEE - LORI MADRIGAL, THE HIGH PREISTESSES OF MAKEUP (on the right) AND WENDI ALLISON, KEY MAKE-UP - LET THE RECORD SHOW... THEY ARE THE BEST!!! (ALSO - CREDIT IS DUE TO WENDI – SHE GIVES ME MANY OF THE PHOTOS THAT I USE HERE ON THE BLOG )


MALCOLM MCDOWELL, CRISTINE ROSE AND ROBERT FORSTER
(KICK BACK KIDS AND WATCH HOW THE OLD SCHOOL GETS IT DONE!)



ALLAN AND D.P. NATE GOODMAN LINE UP A SHOT


THE COOL KIDS


KRISTEN BRINGS HER FAVORITE BOOK TO SET (AND MAKES US SIT DOWN SO SHE CAN READ IT TO ALL OF US ALL THE TIME!)


KRISTEN AND ZACH (AS ZACH MENTALLY PREPARES FOR ANOTHER "READING" BY KRISTEN)


JESSALYN GILSIG – ONE HOT FLAMETHROWIN’ MAMA


MILO AND ADRIAN - JUST HANGIN’


HAPPINESS IS A WARM GUN


DON’T MESS WITH THE QUEEN