Wednesday, August 03, 2011

FALLING SKIES - HOUR 8 - "WHAT LIES BENEATH"


(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!!


Well, better late than never – here’s the post for last week’s “What Lies Beneath.”

Sorry it took so long to get up but I have been JAAAAAMMMED and crazy.  I was directing the first episode (after pilot) of ABC’s new series "Once Upon a Time", which is a very big, very elaborate very beautifully designed series.  I was shooting until about 4am on Saturday morning.  Then I flew home to Los Angeles.  I had a writing project due to producers on Monday morning – so I had to blast through that over the weekend.  Then, Monday morning 8am I started prep of my next short-term assignment – a new, very well written TV series called PERCEPTION.  Meanwhile – I’ve also been in Vancouver beginning to hire a new crew and setting directors for season 2 of FALLING SKIES.  Plus – my family hadn’t seen me in a few weeks, so I had to make time for them – as, after all, they ARE the most important thing in my life and the only reason I do all this other silliness is to support and care for their well-being!

All of which is a long-winded excuse for why it took me a couple of extra days to get the blog up -- I couldn’t find the two or three hours needed to write it until today!!!! But I am sorry – Besides my family – the fans who watch the show are, to me, the next most important thing.  Without you guys the shows I work on would have no reason to exist!

Last weeks episode was directed by Anthony Hemingway – Anthony had worked with me on season 3 of HEROES, and had done a great job.  He is a smart, even-tempered guy who is thoughtful and thorough.  He began as an assistant director and first moved up on HBO’s THE WIRE, and has gone on to direct shows like TRUE BLOOD and TREME (Where is the in house Supervising Producer-Director.)  He seemed to me a natural fit for FALLING SKIES.

This episode brings in Blair Brown – who many of you know from FRINGE.  Blair and I had worked together on one of the favorite SMALLVILLE episode’s I directed “LINEAGE” in Season 2.  Blaire is very good friends with John Glover (aka Lionel Luthor). They both do a lot of theatre in NYC and are friends for many years.  Sooo - when the role of Sonya in this episode came up I called John for her phone number.  I called her and imposed upon her to take this part and she was kind enough to accept.  I think she does very nice work as a very disturbed character.

This episode really feature Will Patton – and I haven’t talked enough about him in these pages.  Will’s character – Weaver, believe it or not, was originally going to die at the end of the pilot.  But, once cast, Will made the character so compelling that TNT and Mr. Spielberg wanted to keep him going – and eventually he became Noah Wyle’s main foil and antagonist in the series.  One of the things I love about television is the living, breathing quality it has.  When an actor works in a way that wasn’t originally planned – the stories and the series can adapt to make them fit. 

Will is, to put it mildly, a very intense man.  I don’t know if he would describe himself as a method actor, but he certainly throws himself into his role.  I used to joke to him that it might not be safe to stay in character on and off set for the whole 6 months it took to shoot the show!  But, as far as I can tell, he did. 

I kid, of course.  Will is a man who cares deeply about his performance and about the nuances of the story.  He has a heart of gold and I came to love him.  He was very interested, very early on with knowing where his character was going and what his history was.  Early on, I didn’t know, and neither (other than broad strokes) did the writers.  Eventually, Graham Yost and Mark Verheiden came up with the idea that Weaver had lost his daughter and his family, but they didn’t know the details.

Mark had been heavily involved with all the scripts up to now, but this is the first one he wrote in full.  Mark, in my experience, is very good with creating the emotion around very personally tormenting situations.  And, in this script, he really dug into Weaver’s torment around the loss of his family before the invasion, and the fatal mistake he made in trying to remove his daughter’s harness. 

Will jumped at the opportunity to play these scenes.  He made it clear early on that he didn’t just want to be stuck behind a desk, barking orders – and we’d gotten him out from that role a few times – like when he came into the field and shot a few skitter-traitor-bad guys last week. 

When it came time to play the scene where Weaver, with too much to drink, tells his tragic story – both he and Noah really came to play.  We did a number of takes – Will didn’t know how drunk or how un-drunk to play the scene.  Even though we shot those scenes late into the night on a cold Friday, Anthony and the producers had budgeted time to let Will play and experiment.  We did many takes with varying degrees of drunkenness, anger and remorse – and some with a cold unfocused thousand-yard-stare.  Noah responded with subtle differences to each of these changes.  It was quite exciting to watch these actors play – and I will say, that in the editing room – this scene provided SO many choices and options that it took a very long time and many experimentations to arrive at the version you saw the other night.  I think we played with this scene more and longer than any other scene in the series.

Again, I would like to tip my hat to Mr. Wyle’s craft.  He is, perhaps, the best on-screen “listener” I’ve ever worked with.  As much as we edited and played with Will’s various performances, we played with Noah’s reactions.  Timing where and when to cut to Noah reacting to the story made HUGE emotional differences in the scene.  I almost wish I could teach a class some day using the raw footage from this scene because it would show the many, many ways that a scene can change in broad and subtle ways by choosing performance and reaction moments and choosing when to play a scene on which actor. 

Of course, this episode also re-introduces Karen who was abducted in our third hour.  Jessy Schram is a great fun young woman who is VERY well loved by the rest of the cast.  Everyone was so happy to see her back and the timing worked out that she got to go to the wrap party and have a lot of fun with us!!!! Without spoiling too much - now that she's been re-introduced, her role in the series is not done!?!

We also introduce a new set of characters we call “The Overlords” – many out there have speculated that the skitters were not really the ones in charge – and this episode sets this idea into focus and into motion.  I will go into more detail about this next week…

My plan, God willin’ and the creek don’t rise, is to have next weeks blog out at the usual time – Until then!!!!!


DIRECTOR ANTHONY HEMINGWAY



ANTHONY AND NOAH


SKITTER - IT'S WHAT'S FOR DINNER


EEEW!



ANTHONY STAGES THE SKITTER AUTOPSY 




A VIEW FROM BEHIND THE SCENES


WILL PATTON - COOL AS CAN BE!


OUR DIRECTOR OF PHOTOGRAPHY CHRIS FALOONA


"A" CAMERA OPERATOR MICHAEL SOOS (A MAJOR CONTRIBUTOR TO THE SHOW'S LOOK), MR. WYLE AND "A" CAMERA FIRST ASSISTANT (FOCUS PULLER) RYAN GILLARD



JESSY'S BACK IN TOWN



MS. SHRAM - THE SKITTER'S MOST BEAUTIFUL CAPTIVE



THE HARNESS - SHE GLOWS!!!!



DREW, WILL AND NOAH BETWEEN TAKES


NOAH AND MOON


WILL NOAH AND OUR SCRIPT SUPERVISOR MAGGIE CRAIG REVIEW A TAKE AT THE MONITORS





FROM AN EARLIER EP...  SKITTERKILL!!!

LINKS:






SMALLVILLE – Lineage




Mark Verheiden 

13 comments:

Kurgan Nazzir said...

Don't see a way to edit a comment so I'm re-posting with an added thought at the end, sorry.

I really enjoyed this episode and I made sure to watch it when it came on again Sunday night (I tend to watch each episode twice anyway, once when it airs and later with my folks on the DVR). Blair Brown was excellent in her role, and quite believable. It was nice to see Karen back, I figured she'd reappear I just didn't know how or when; not that I put much thought into it. I liked getting more back story for Weaver, it helped flesh out his character for us. I wonder what the show would have been like without Weaver, who would push Tom's buttons (other than Pope)?

I admit that I got a little teary-eyed at the end when everyone cheered at Pope's revelation. It gave the people renewed hope and I just got caught up in their reaction. I'm sad that this Sunday is the season finale but I look forward to next season.

Also, I wonder why Karen's harness glows, what the meaning of that is. Is it because she's on of the 'communicators' or something else?

Steve said...

Thanks a ton for taking the time to add an entry for the last episode! My 14 and 12 yr old boys and I (too scary for my 8 yr old) are HUGE fans of the show. We've never been this excited for any show. Waiting until 10 PM every Sunday has been tough! You all should be very proud of what you've created. We are dying that we'll have to wait another year for season 2, but in the meantime, we can't wait for the finale.

Thanks also for the insights you give into the making of the episodes. I've always been interested in how TV/movies are made, and everything you write is fascinating.

Our big question is what exactly the harness in the skitter means: are the skitters an enslaved alien race, or did they used to be human? If they were human, how did the ships show up with so many skitters ready to pounce? Hopefully we'll find this out on Sunday.

Again, awesome job, and thanks for the updates!

Kirri said...

"I almost wish I could teach a class some day using the raw footage from this scene because it would show the many, many ways that a scene can change in broad and subtle ways by choosing performance and reaction moments and choosing when to play a scene on which actor."

I would love to see this and have a discussion with you and other viewers about particular scenes so far. Have you considered putting together short webisodes to do just that? Robert Rodriguez does a similar thing with his 10 Minute Film School videos.

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