Sunday, July 17, 2011

HOUR 6 - "SANCTUARY: PART ONE"

(note: Here's a link to TNT's official website for FALLING SKIES):

IF YOU HAVEN'T SEEN THE EPISODE -  THERE ARE SPOILERS CONTAINED HEREIN!YOU HAVE BEEN WARNED!!!!
FALLING SKIES – WEEK 5 – “SANCTUARY: PART 1"

Hey - for all you going to the San Diego Comic-Con, FALLING SKIES will be there with a panel.  Sadly, I won't be there as I'm working on a project out of town right now.

The following is a rundown of TNT’s Falling Skies activities at Comic-Con:

Falling Skies Panel: Friday, July 22, 3:15-4:15 p.m. in Room 6BCF – Series stars Noah Wyle, Moon Bloodgood, Will Patton, Drew Roy, Colin Cunningham and Sarah Sanguin Carter will join executive producers Justin Falvey and Darryl Frank and co-executive producer and writer Mark Verheiden for a Q&A panel session to be moderated by TV Guide Magazine editor-in-chief Debra Birnbaum. The panel discussion will include never-before-seen clips from upcoming episodes.

Falling Skies Autograph Session: Friday, July 22, 5-6 p.m. at the Dark Horse Comics booth – All six Falling Skies cast members and co-executive pro
ducer and writer Mark Verheiden will be on-hand to sign autographs following the panel session.





The story so far



Tonight’s episode is interesting because it was always conceived my Graham Yost, Mark Verheiden and the writers as a two-part story.  The first aired last night.  The second comes next week.  Sergio Gazzen, the director directed both parts.
It was one of the first episodes that the writer’s conceived of – and I heard the basic story at my very first meeting with the writers.  But the story got pushed back in the series, because a lot of other things had to be established first.

It examines a very interesting idea – what would you do if – in a situation like the one the second Mass. faces where your children were in constant danger – someone came along and said that they could keep your children safe if you just turned them over to them.
This is, obviously, something hard to conceive of doing.  And when Noah Wyle, who is a father, got the script – he wanted to really address this issue and worked with the writers to build up that story, and the discussion until it felt to him that he, as a father, was at the point where he felt he could give his kids up.

Of course, the idea was that the skitter attack, which almost kills Jimmy was the selling point (by the way, did you like the moment where the skitter picked up the globe of the earth and crushed it?  I did.  It was in the very first outline for the script and it just seemed… cool.)

Of course, the story Terry Clayton of the 7th Mass tells doesn’t unveil as he says. The ending on the page is chilling to me.  On a "How could anyone do that level?"  Well - more will be revealed next week.

Two things I loved in the script, that just seemed smart to me – (1) is how we reprise Eli the kid from the beginning of the episode.  And (2) How Pope re-appears at the end in a very unexpected way.  I think most of us thought he was gone from the story when he rode off that motorcycle a few weeks ago - it's fun to have him back.

I discussed at length with the director that the audience had to recognize Eli.  I made sure we open with a big close-up of him – and we decided to put him in a strong red coat to catch the eye (we don’t use red a lot in the series and I thought it would make him stand out.
The second to last scene were the creepy skitter girl, Meagan, takes Eli away was eerie on the page and I think Sergio, the director, did an excellent job of presenting it.

One of the keys was casting Megan.  This was a new concept for us that the skitters can communicate through harnessed kids.  Rick had done it a little, but now this was with authority and command.  Needless to say, we auditioned a lot of young girls for this part and worked hard, experimenting with what speech inflections and cadence and tone of voice worked.  The skitters seem pretty unemotional, and after some trial and error it seemed that Megan should be played casually, not-robotic, but still basically with and even cadence and a calm tone of voice. It seemed appropriate for a little annoyance and authority to come out when Clayton second-guesses her.

But beyond all the mechanics we had to have a girl who naturally had an ethereal, other-worldly quality to her.  That came when Niamh Wilson walked in.  She’s a young lady, I think thirteen-years-old, from Toronto who has a little acting experience.  But for me, starting with her cool Gaelic name – she just embodied this part.
Anyway – if you liked tonight’s episode stay tuned because I think next week’s conclusion is one of our very best.


Tonight’s director:

For last night’s  “SANCTUARY: PART 1” and next week’s “SANCTUARY: PART 2” we brought in Sergio Mimica-Gezzan as director.

Sergio had directed two episodes of HEROES for me (although one, only half-completed during the writer’s strike, never aired.)  Besides being a great director, there is an especially interesting aspect to him, as regards FALLING SKIES – because for many years he was Steven Spielberg’s first assistant director.

If you don’t know what a first A.D. does, they are the director’s right hand man (or woman)- they take the written script and break it down, organize it, schedule and plan how to shoot it and in general help actualize the director’s vision. 

He was the assistant director on eight Spielberg movies beginning with Schindler's List, including Saving Private Ryan, Jurassic Park and many others.





Here is his resume: 











Steven Spielberg gave Sergio his first break as a director on the TV series TAKEN.  But between then and now, he had never worked for his old boss. 






Now, when working with him before, during HEROES, if found that  Sergio is a very intense and focused guy – and he stays extremely on point on his script.  I, on the other hand, am a goofy and always cracking joke.  For me, Sergio always represented a special challenge – because not only could I never get him to laugh… I could never get him to do anything besides think about and talk about whatever episode he was prepping or shooting.
But finally, on this series, I got him to open up a bit about his experiences on all of those movies and I gained a little insight into Mr. Spielberg’s thought process and approach to film making.
According to Sergio, when Steven Spielberg was about to do “Schindler’s List,” he made the decision to hire an all-European crew.  He interviewed Sergio (I think in Croatia or Czechoslovakia) and hired him because he had done a European movie involving Nazi concentration camps in World War II.  Cinematographer Janusz Kaminski was hired in this same process, and both went on to be long-time collaborators with Mr. Spielberg after that.

This gave Sergio a unique opportunity.  He worked side-by-side with Mr. Spielberg for many years and got to learn from him first hand.
One of the key instructions Mr. Spielberg gave me upon being hired was “No TV close-ups.” 

This was a bit new to me because, first of all, I like big close-ups (If you know my previous shows SMALLVILLE and HEROES – both were known for their big low-angle close-ups, which filled the frame from just above the actor’s eyebrows to just below the frame.)  In fact, before this show my mantra, which I impressed upon other directors, was “See the faces.  See the spaces.”  I always preferred a mix of big cinematic wide-shots with big fill-the-frame close-ups.  (Both those series were also notable for being shot almost exclusively in very low-angles!)  My other mantra has always been “Move the camera!”  Now as a producer/director I’ve had to accept that some directors can follow my instructions better than others – its just part of the game… But I digress.

I was excited to try a new approach on this series and have tries to implement both long takes, and looser shots and less traditional, more documentary-style coverage.  But with Sergio I tried to get a sense of why Mr. Spielberg feels this way.
He said that, Mr. Spielberg believes that believes that the audiences need to become partners in the filmmaking process.  That he wants them to have to choose and decide where they want to be look and what they want to look at.

This, of course, goes against all television convention.  Most shows out there use the occasional wide r medium shot and then a relentless series of close-ups to control and direct the script and make you look only wherever the creators choose.  Frankly, to direct this way is quite dull.

I’ll tell you, though, it is very tough to do it the other way.  When you’re doing long takes and shots with multiple people in the frame at the same time – it means everything has to be working in the shot all at the same time.  Every actor has to ‘on” as do all of the technicians behind the scenes.

Ben and Rick:

We had an interesting problem with both Daniyah Ysrayl and Connor Jessup who, respectively, play, the strange de-harnessed, Rick and Tom’s middle son.

Normally, when it comes time to cast an actor we producer/directors bring them in and they read the scenes from the script we’re about to make. But both of these actors appeared in very early episodes, but only in a harnessed, zombie-like state.  Because the writer’s had outlined the season for us early on, we knew that, eventually, they would both be playing important roles with lots of dialogue and acting required.

So, knowing this, I asked the writer’s in L.A. to mock up a scene – one that would have varied emotion in it.  The writer’s wrote a very interesting scene between Anne and Ben, where he displayed conflicting emotions about being back and missing his skitter family.  It’s interesting in retrospect because this exact scene never ended up in any script, but certain “Rick” lines and certain “Ben” lines did end up scattered throughout the season in various places.Any way – by this episode, both of them are doing a lot more and, I think both are doing well.  Both are really nice kids, by the way – with very nice parents.


And Now - Part 3 of "How to Make A Skitter" (narrated by skitter-maker Todd Masters)

video



SERGIO GEZZAN and COLLIN CUNNINGHAM


NIAMH WILSON PLAYED THE SPOOKY SKITTER GIRL AT THE END OF THE EPISODE


SEYCHELLE GABRIELLE AND CINEMATOGRAPHER CHRIS FALOONA


DREW ROY 


TRES AMIGOS




THE SKITTER-LAD DANIYAH YSRAEL


WOUNDS ARE APPLIED TO MR. WYLE



THE NAME'S POPE - JOHN POPE


GOOD PALS MOON AND SEYCHELLE


THE ACTION IS ABOUT TO BEGIN!

19 comments:

Kurgan Nazzir said...

I really enjoyed this episode and I can't wait for part 2. The funny thing, to me, is that the idea of a Skitter liaison (so to speak) is something I imagined happening since the first episode. If you want honesty, I was imagining myself being in the show and I played exactly what the character of Megan is, though I'm much older. Go figure. :)

Falling Skies Fan Site said...

I really liked this episode and can't wait for next week! It looks really exciting and I think it will really get into more of the plot next week. The show continues to grow and I am glad to see John Pope is back.
Lauren from the Falling Skies fan site http://falling-skies.org

klu9 said...

I'm afraid I found this episode rather weak, and also continuing a weakness from previous episodes.

The big "twist" was obvious as soon as the words were out of the 7th Mass guy's mouth when explaining the escape plan.

And the other (continuing) weakness: isn't Lourdes happy that Hal is joining them on the march to the sanctuary? Doesn't she have a huge crush on him? That was noticed by Hal's girlfriend? Wait, he has a girlfriend, doesn't he? Wasn't she just captured by the skitters? Wasn't, Mike, the guy Hal's happily marching off with, directly responsible for his girlfriend's capture? Why doesn't Hal have a problem with Mike? Why was Hal so gung-ho about rescuing his brother Ben, but has never even mentioned the possibility of doing the same for the girl he loves? In fact, why has he (or anyone else for that matter) never even mentioned her again?

In short, so many seemingly important issues in the characters' development are just dropped like yesterday's news.

If the writers can't maintain any interest in them, why should I?

Anonymous said...

I'm finding myself wanting to know more and more about the Skidders and less about the humans. There are still some things that need to be fleshed out a bit:1) If the Mechs can knock out a kid with some kind of energy weapon why do they use projectile weapons to kill. It's kindda hard to buy that they would ship all that ammo to another star system.

2) So why are the Mechs bi-peds when the Skidders six legged? Take this little factoid and add the affectionate scene last week where the skidder was fawning over the kids under its control and I think that the Skidders may actually be a slave species ... so whose the boss?

Eric said...

This episode may have been the last for my wife. She's getting tired of the focus being on the survival angle and not enough on humans trying to learn about the invaders. I'm sticking with it for now, but if we don't learn something substantial about the Skidders soon I may tune out too.

No, I didn't care for the scene with the globe. Why?
1) As soon as I saw the globe on the floor I knew what was going to happen.
2)I still have faith that there's a lot more to their invasin other than just 'conquest'

This angle the story is taking will be interesting for one more episode, so I hope it doesn't take too much time.

I'd really love to learn something about the Skidders; who are they, exactly why are they here? And, answer that kid's question from the first episode: The Skidders are six (or eight) legged, why are the Mechs bi-peds. I agree that it looks a lot like they're working for somebody else.

That would be something Rod Serling would have done and when it comes to TV like this almost all of it is based on a something he did 50 years ago.

Akire Zyll Flickerclaw said...

Here are my thoughts:

1) I liked the whole "globe crushing", especially in the middle of such an intense scene. I was really worried about Jimmy, and the way that the skitter is so casual (not sure if that's the right word) in picking up the globe and squashing it, even when he is about to kill a young boy...it just added to the effect of it.
It wasn't necessarily that the skitter was crushing Earth specifically, it was just the very action indicated that it wasn't afraid to play with his food before it ate it (as we saw earlier with the skitter ordering the mech to kill the kids in front of Hal, and then purposefully leaving him alive to carry the message in "Prisoner of War".) It was so confident that it had completely crushed Jimmy (and the rest of the humans).
And then Weaver came up behind it and shot it's head off. Weaver, my level of respect for you has gone up significantly.

2) I loved Megan. She had a creepy kind of manner about her that unnerved me. And I liked that Eli picked up on that tone, as opposed to the usual horror film "oh, it's alright, I'll just go with this creepy person into the dark woods where no one can hear me scream". (The fact that he trusted Clayton is different-he knew Clayton previously, or at least had seen him and thought that he could trust him. Plus, he was offered his parents. What little kid can't resist that?)
All in all, Megan's air was great. She portrayed what, in my mind, was a perfect copy of a skitter trying to act like a friendly girl. (because, of course, she wasn't herself. A skitter was controlling her.) And after Eli had been stunned (?) she went immediately to a "normal" skitter-speaking-through-a-child manner, clearly glad to get that acting over with.

3) Yay, Pope's back! More bread (hopefully)! But seriously, I really hoped that we would see more of him, instead of him knocking Dai out and riding a motorcycle into the distance being the last of his character.
Also, I miss Karen. I hope she comes back, though you never know in the middle of an apocalypse.

4) From last week-Skitters with feelings? What? I'm referring, of course, to the skitter who stroked Hal's hair in an almost loving fashion. Creepy, yet sad at the same time. I'm not saying I don't want them to die as much as the next person (give me a gun and I'll help stamp them out), but I want to know more about them. I think that having a harnessed kid/skitter pair like Megan and her skitter (or Ricky and his) to talk to would be a good idea for the 2nd Mass to experiment with.

5) I don't think the skitters are the real ones behind this. The mechs having two legs? It can't just be that they were watching us for a long time. After all, no one knows who (or what) is really up in those motherships...

Becky said...

Now I understand why I find myself rewinding parts of the show to look at different people during a scene. I watched a scene with Tom and Hal a couple times to see their expressions. I'm loving this series so much. Keep up the good work.

P.S. I'm so glad that I had both parts of Sactuary to watch on my dvr after vacation. It would have killed me to go a week in between!

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