Tonight's episode was written by: Heather Regnier
WARNING – SPOILERS ARE CONTAINED WITHIN, IF YOU DON'T WANT A SPOILER TO CRAWL UP YOUR BACK AND BITE YOU ONE THE NECK DO NOT READ THE FOLLOWING BLOG
Link to TNT.COM for more "FALLING SKIES" news... TNT FALLING SKIES
Also link to more "FALLING SKIES" good-stuff at K-SITE TV "FALLING SKIES
Just got home and here's the post:
As I mentioned in a blog last year – we had a plan in Season 1 to show or imply how the harnesses got onto our kids. We even built a set and were ready to shoot it. It was a scene in episode 5 of last year – the one where Hal’s character enters the hospital with a harness on his back to free Ben. There was a scene planned where Hal would follow a trail of blood and come into a creepy room filled with medical tables, straps and a creepy machine that looked like it was going to stitch the harnesses onto the kids back.
Well, fate intervened and, although we scheduled it two or three times – that scene never got shot.
Probably, as usually happens, what seems tragic at the time turns out to be all for the best - because this years YOUNG BLOODS episode shows a much longer, much creepier sequence that far outdoes what we had planned in Season 1. From the writer’s room there were a couple central themes to explore in the episode. The first was, what if there were a bunch of feral kids who were living and surviving on their own, without adult supervision and in fact not trusting adults.
The second idea was that Weaver’s daughter Jeane was discovered with the surviving kids, was introduced it was more important to focus on her character than the other kids.
I loved this storyline because it shows a deeper side of Weaver. His intensity and loyalty to the 2nd Mass is clear. But as a father he left much to be desired. He deeply regrets his failings with his family, but - and I love this about the writing of this episode - he still can't overcome his flaws. And even though he and his daughter, probably need each other more than anything in this crazy post-invasion world, he still pushes her away in the end. The tragedy of this, to me, feels real and profound.
When Will Patton learned that his daughter was entering our story, he was very interested in who would play her. Will is a meticulous actor who not just plans every aspect of his character, but also really lives it. He came to us and wanted to know if he could come to the auditions. Of course I was thrilled. It’s always better if, in an audition, you can see the chemistry first-hand between actors. We did the normal preliminary auditions without Will. (I probably, typically, see 20 or 30 actors for each role.) Will came to the callback auditions after we’d narrowed it down to four young ladies. All of them were very good and any one of them would have been a legit contender for the role. But when Will Patton read with Laci Mailey, there was a certain magic and we all knew it right away. She is a great person and she fit in with our group right away!
Before I move on - I must tip my hat to our casting directors: Coreen Mayrs and Heike Brandstatter. They are, without a doubt, the premiere casting directors in Vancouver. I worked with them on SMALLVILLE and they just have an incredible knack for discovering unknown you actors who eventually become big stars. The best example of this is, I remember is between season 3 and 4 of SMALLVILLE… We were on hiatus between seasons but it was known that Lois Lane would be coming onto the show the following season. I got a call from Heike and she said, “We have a young woman we’d like you to meet. I think you should cast her for Lois.” They sent me an audition tape and the actress’s resume. She was great – but, at that time, we didn’t have a scene or a script or really any idea of how Lois was going to work on the show. I said, “We don’t have a script yet, but when I come back next season we can read her.” Heike said, “She’ll be gone by then. She’s too special.” I was very dubious. “She’s obviously great,” I said, but she’s unknown. She has NO credits.’ Heike just reiterated, “She’ll be gone.” And that was that. Anyway, that actor was Evangeline Lilly And just as she said when we came back for season 4, Evangeline had already been cast in the pilot of LOST and the rest is history. But we suffered no loss, because they went right out again and discovered an even better more perfect Lois Lane Erica Durance And the rest is history once again. But the story points out their skill. When I was on the show MELROSE PLACE, they had discovered 3 of our 5 regular cast. But no one knows it. Coreen and Heike are like the secret weapon farm team scouts of future Film and TV stars!
Miguel Sapochnik was the director of the episode. I had never worked with him before. Miguel is relatively new to episodic TV, but he had directed the very eerie movie “REPO MEN” as well as the very creepy and disturbing “HOUSE” episode entitled “AFTER HOURS.” I already knew from the writers what the storyline would be, and I thought maybe he’d be the right guy to oversee our creepy and disturbing harness factory sequence. I called my old pal Greg Yataines, who had been using Miguel regularly on HOUSE. Greg gave Miguel the highest praise and vouched for him most unequivocally. And since I trust Greg, and know he’s an even tougher taskmaster than I am – after that we hired Miguel without hesitation.
It was a good choice. What impressed me most about Miguel is how he took command. Directing TV episodes is a weird job. You come in to the middle of an ongoing project, and are expected to take over a cast and crew who are already working together. To fit one's style, and temperament into this ongoing venture, not to mention to navigate the sometimes complex politics of a TV show - can be quite tricky. I find with many directors, who have only ever done TV, that they can be too acquiescent and passive. Well Miguel took authority and responsibility of this episode as being his right away. To me that was a great thing!
The harness factory, as you can probably imagine was an ordeal to design, schedule and shoot. The writers had written a very long elaborate sequence, which involved numerous skitters moving unharnessed kids through an abandoned factory, attaching the kids to a creepy conveyer belt with travelled them into an open pool filled with writhing skitters. The kids were dunked into the water where the harnesses literally fought each other over them, and then they would swim onto their backs and attach to them.
There were three sequences, which were intercut; one was the kids being harnessed. The other was Tom’s unit moving through the factory blasting skitters and eventually freeing the kids. The other story involved Maggie’s group freeing the unharnessed kids and guiding them away from a platoon of skitters and to freedom. I think in the original version, Maggie and crew even attached C4 to the factory and blew it to hell once Tom and his gang were safe.
We went well down the road of prepping and designing this. But it was just off-the-charts expensive. The episode was scheduling out at 10 or 11 days (as opposed to the 8-day shoot we are budgeted for) and was hundreds of thousands of dollars over budget.
After a day or two we abandoned this and came up with a simpler alternative. The kids were going to just appear out of nowhere, sliding down a slide and into a huge cauldron filled with swimming harnesses. From there, a skitter would reach in and pull them out and lay them on a gurney. The army of skitters was reduced to four. The Tom’s-group story and the Maggie’s group story were still intact.
But as we went to budget the giant cauldron, which was going to have to be manufactured, it was a huge cost and the budget was still astronomical.
So we moved to plan “C” – which was what we have now. The harnesses would be housed in a huge tank and would come down a series of troughs and there they would crawl onto the kids who were strapped to gurneys. The skitter army was reduced to two and the Tom’s group story and Maggie’s group story was still intact.
But, a day before shooting we were still a hundred thousand dollars over-budget and we were still at a 9 day schedule. It frequently happens that we get into crunch time like this on episodes and have to make big cuts and compromises at the eleventh hour. In this case, I remember, it was the day before Thanksgiving and everyone was under the additional pressure of trying to get home to see their families. There was some heated debate about whether we just eat the costs and be over budget - knowing we’d have to make up the difference on a future episode or whether we’d find a way to make a cut.
Remi made the final broad-stroke decision – we’d cut a day out of the episode's shooting schedule, come hell or high water and get this one on budget. To do that we decided to cut the bulk of Tom and Maggie’s story of moving through the factory and just concentrate on what happened inside the harness room. The army of skitters was now reduced to one. Line Producer, Grace Gilroy and I also came up with the idea that we would mount a small splinter unit with a minimum crew outside the factory and that I would direct key shots and small scenes of Tom and gang approaching the factory, and Maggie rescuing the kids – so that Miguel and the main unit could concentrate on the elaborate harness factory sequence. By doing this we effectively were able to shoot an additional half-a-day's work but with minimal expense.
Again, I have to commend Miguel. These types of last minute budget crunch decisions get very intense. Decisions and ideas fly fast and furious with big changes that affect not only the story but also the what and how of shooting rippling through everything. Miguel kept up with all of this and drove many decisions. Again, in my experience, many episodic directors can get lost in moments like these. They’ve been planning something in their head and they are reluctant to change. He handled all of the pressure and changes well and contributed many great solutions.
These moments are never fun – but frequently, when the episode is all said and done no one would ever suspect compromises have been made. I think this is the case with this one. It looks great and plays eerily. I think all of the key tension and story points are there.
OK that’s it… next week a character appears from the past.
And a HUGE new story point begins.
So, make sure to tune in this Sunday, and until then…
Will and Laci film their first scene together
Wider angle of the same scene
Maggie's one badass chick!
Bros on a bus
Noah tries to sneak up on Connor
One I forgot from the first ep.... Us shooting Noah trapped in his pod
Three cooler and handsomer fellows you shall never meet (D.P. Nate Goodman, Remi, and myself (in the genuine fake Beaver hat)
Nate discusses a scene with Moon
Los Amigos quatro
|Laci and Hector Bucio as "Diego"|