Sunday, August 19, 2012

SEASON 2 - FNALE EPISODE "A MORE PERFECT UNION"

Written by: Remi Aubuchon

Directed by: Greg Beeman

WARNING:  SPOILERS ARE CONTAINED WITHIN.  IF HEARING SPOILERS MAKES YOU WANT TO RUN OUT OF YOUR HOUSE AND SCREAM "WHY LORD WHY!!!?!?!?!?" INTO THE SKIES (FALLING OR NOT) THEN DO NOT READ THIS BLOG!!!!

Whew!  The finale has aired.  Ten short episodes which spooled out in just a few short weeks...  And yet it was months and months of my life, often very intense, tension-filled, exciting and often sleep-depived months.

As a matter of fact - this week I begin shooting the next season of FALLING SKIES - with an equally daunting mind-blowing task in front of me....  But I digress.

It was great that Remi Aubuchon wrote this script (along with Thompson and Weddle.)  He had been doing amazing work behind the scenes and had re-written large parts of many episodes.  So it was fitting that the finale was his.  He was around for all of prep and all of the shoot and that was a lot of fun.

It was a beast to bring in though.  

I've done my fair share of Season Openers and Season Finales over the years.  And they differ significantly.  Usually with season openers, you get the script nice and early and have plenty of time to prep it.  The downside is that openers are heavily scrutinized from the writing of the first outline, shooting and right through post.  The scrutiny and second guessing can make openers painful.  Finales happen much faster and are not as scrutinized because you are already in the machine of getting a show out week after week doesn't leave time for that.  But usually the scripts come in late and there's not enough time to react and so the budget crisis happens bigger and faster.  

Anyway - this one was like that.  Painful.  And I was TIRED.  And so was the whole crew.  And we'd been doing hard nights in the cold Canadian winter for a long time.  For me, personally, this one was definitely like stumbling through the finish line, exhausted.

What was exciting creatively was the culmination of a few exciting storylines that had been developing all season.  Red-Eye and the skitter rebels appear and make their plans known.  Ben returns, matured and stronger.  Anne is pregnant. And we got another tasty taste of Jessy Schram as the evil Karen.

Before I begin in earnest, though, I must acknowledge another fallen comrade...  Peter Shinkoda, who has been on FALLING SKIES since the pilot as Dai.  Peter is a great guy, and when word of his demise in the script came out, the cast and crew took it very hard.  He is a fun person, a hard worker, and we will all really miss him a lot.

As a director, the most exciting and challenging scene to design was the skitter battle, where a swarm of rebel skitters pour into the room and fight the skitters loyal to the invading overlords.  The battle between red-eye and the overlord and read eye's death are also a part of that.  In the early concept meetings, when we had only an outline - the crew asked me - what's that going to be like.  I smirked, as I do, and said "Did you ever see Peter Jackson's KING KONG, when Kong battled the T-Rex in the swinging vines.  It's gonna be like that!"  I was joking, because that, of course is ridiculously out of our budget range.  But it got me thinking, and I started to imagine a battle that was done in very few shots, very chaotic, and that the Overlord/Red-Eye fight would be done with both a lot of character and camera movement, but mostly in one shot.  

As I conceived of this sequence, I tried to imagine it in as few shots as possible.  I also referenced, for the crew, BRAVEHEART -- when Mel Gibson's character comes out of his tent in the middle of an ongoing battle.  That's how I saw Tom coming into the fight.

Some of this was pragmatic - because I knew we didn't have the money for unlimited VFX shots, and so skipping over the entrance of the skitters into the room was important.  Also VFX shots are bid out on a shot-by-shot basis - so one very long shot, even if it's super complex is cheaper than a series of many shots.

We were filming in February in Canada in the middle of a gigantic metal grain silo.  It was freezing outside, but the metal silo was unheated  and it was actually colder inside than out.  We were in that place for two hard nights filming until 4 or 5 in the morning.  It was SO brutal, and I was SO tired... as was everyone else too!

But, because the script had come in very late, and because of the huge budget battles we had approaching production - I hadn't had time to storyboard the sequence as we normally would.  Everyone knew more-or-less what I wanted to do, but no one knew for sure.  And as we finally got to the action-packed part of the scene, I started describing it, and Curt Miller, our visual effects supervisor came up to me and said - "How is ZOIC going to know what you want, if we have no storyboards, and all we are going to film is a pass with the camera waving around across empty walls and then panning to Noah.  How will they know where to put all the skitters?"  

I was blank-faced and said, "What do you suggest?"

He said, "Well maybe we need to get the crew to act it out and film that as a reference."

Something about that idea, at three in the morning in a G*dd#mn, cold-ass silo cheered me up...  Because I could already imagine how ridiculous it would look - and ridiculous things make me happy.  So we grabbed every P.A. (production assistant), and assistant director and any willing crew member and I started running around an assigning them roles.  "You're a rebel skitter, you come from here..."  "You you're a loyal skitter you come from here.  You two run together leap in the air and clash in mid-air."  Then I ran to the next guy and the next guy giving them all assignments.  To make it better everyone was wearing dorky-looking safety vests and hardhats.  I chose to play the overlord.  Curt played red-eye and Noah Wyle continued to play Tom.

Everyone got super into it and, just as I hoped, when the whole thing came together, it was super ridiculous.  PA's were  leaping around and flailing there arms like claws, and falling on the ground dead and so on.  I remember, Remi was very amused and delighted by the whole thing, as were all the cast on the sidelines.

After we  filmed it and ZOIC said it was actually very helpful, if not vital that we did that.  There are some rouge videos out there of the "Battle of the P.A.'s" as I ended up calling it.  God I hope one of them makes it to YouTube someday.

There is another moment in the episode that I am very proud of...  Right towards the end, when Drew Roy, as Hal, wakes up and goes to the mirror.... And an eye bug, much like the one in Tom early in the season appears and crawls into his ear.  I love this short scene and am very proud of it.

As I've been saying, the prep was very short and incomplete - and we were all tired and running on fumes...  I had a strong impression of what I wanted to do in this scene, but  must confess that it was just an impression and I hadn't really discussed much with anyone.  I had the room, I had Drew and I knew the eye-bug was CGI...  I didn't discuss much else.

As we got into the scene (I think it was the third scene we'd shot that day, and there would be two more after we finished it)  I started directing Drew on how I though he should sit up and walk and act - and suddenly he, and cinematographer Nate Goodman started asking a lot of questions.  I then realized I hadn't ever discussed my plans much.

I blurted out - I want this scene eerie.  Like a Stanley Kubrick scene in THE SHINING or 2001: A SPACE ODDESY. I want it methodical and slow.  But I had, out of habit, been setting up the scene in our usual hand-held style.  Nate said - "If that's what you want - why don't we just go for it?  Let's put the camera on the dolly, and make the composition very centered and symmetrical and then push in with the dolly very slowly.  Nate lit it in a very Kubrick-like way, and then, also, put a very greenish lightbulb in the mirror that Hal looked into, so that when the light came on he would look green and creepy.

We scrambled to throw all of this together and as it came together in the director's monitor I got very excited.  And, even though I directed Drew very specfically as to how to sit up and how slowly to walk...  His performance in close-up in the mirror was unexpected and surprising and great!  Suddenly sweet Drew turned into "Evil Hal" and it was awesome!  The take in the show is take one.  I did one more take - but Drew nailed it on take one.

And to top it off ZOIC's eye/ear bug was amazing.  Again the first draft of their visual effect was close to perfect...  So it was all quite exciting to me!!!

Okay - see you next year.

I'll probably do a question and answer session like I did last year...  I'll think about that and post the opportunity in the next week or so...

Until then...  Well, you know - pictures!!!!!!


ME (TWO SKITTER-MEN LURK IN THE DISTANCE

REMI AUBUCHON

NOAH AND MOON BEHIND - NOAH MENTALLY IS SINGING PAUL ANKA'S  "HAVING MY BABY" 

TNT CONTEST WINNER SHANNON RAHE- SHE WAS SWEET AND EXCITED TO BE THERE - SO WE THREW HER IN A 2ND MASS. UNIFORM AND WORKED HER  HARD!
ME - COMPOSING A SHOT 

BEHIND THE SKITTER SCENES

BEEMAN - ME - WORKING A SKITTER!

A FOGGY NIGHT

THE VERY VERY VERY LAST DAY OF SHOOTING - MOON LOOKS GREAT - I AM FRICKIN' EXHAUSTED

NATE GOODMAN - OUR CINEMATOGRAPHER

MOON - BALANCES AMONGST THE ALIEN WIRES (SHE IS A DANCER SO SHE WAS THE ONLY CAST MEMBER WHO COULD BALANCE ON THE WOBBLE BOARDS WE MADE THEM STAND ON)

DREW AND SARAH 

MS. CARTER - ALL TIED UP
DREW ROY CONTEMPLATES THE ALL

I HAVE NO IDEA WHAT I'M DOING TO POOR CONNOR JESSUP, PULLING SOME EAR WAX OUT OF HIS EAR PROBABLY

LATE AT NIGHT - LIKE REAL LATE AT NIGHT - OH, AND HAVE I MENTIONED, IT'S COLD AS SHIZNAZZ IN CANADA


TODD MASTERS - HE DESIGNED AND BUILT THE SKITTERS
PETER SHINKODA - WE LOVE HIM AND SHALL MISS HIM



29 comments:

dawnmarie0301 said...

Loved it loved it loved it!! Can't wait to see how Evil Hal gets by in S3 - wonder who will notice something "off" first (of course no one noticed Tom's bug but still...that evil wicked smile...sure seems like someone else is operating the controls). The cliffhanger is brutal but the finale was so excellent - and I really hope some of those Battle of the PA's make it into the DVD. Please. Just the description sounds hysterical, the visual has got to be very...hysterical as well ;-P

Hope you post a Q&A again - I've got lots & lots of questions!

Mr. BroBrahBlah said...

Proto-Skitters (for lack of a better name), coming to emancipate the harnessed ones? Everything in the story so far ties in to this.

Anonymous said...

Loved the finale!! Frustrated by the cliffhanger. Who was that guy with the helmet that opens automatically and weird smirk on his face???
Sorry to lose Peter. Loved his character.

Anonymous said...

Now that I have seen the season finale, I now know who is who

Humans = Terrans

Skitters & Bugs = Zerg

New Arrivals = Protoss

Overlords (Fish Heads) = Xel'naga

In other words, the characters in your show match up almost perfectly with the characters in Starcraft 2! Is this a coincidence???

Mr. BroBrahBlah said...

Hi Greg! A couple of things -
I wonder if Tom would have ever allowed Dr. Glass to accompany him on that suicide mission if he had known she was pregnant. Looking ahead several months, wouldn't Tom be inclined to not have her get back on the road too soon – best for her to remain in a safe, quiet environment for awhile at least?

And then the other thing is that maybe the shock treatment he got from Karen has somehow catalyzed Capt. Weaver's blood (since he got bitten by the Kemlock) into an anti-venom that is able to gradually reverse the harness process on all the infected kids? Yeah! One...minor side effect though...is the tendency for... most of the treated...kids...to start actin' like Capt. Weaver!
PS – Weaver has earned a promotion.

Nancy Santic Hunt said...

I am so very sad for it to be the end of the season. I wait with great anticipation for the next season. It will be a long wait, but one worth waiting for. I keep saying over and over that I wish TNT would make this a regular series and not just a summer series. Falling Skies all year round. Now THAT would be amazing. More amazing than the show already is. I am curious to see how Anne's pregnancy is going to play out. I look forward to seeing Ben as he possibly leads along side his father.

My theory is that Ben already knows who this new alien is. That red eye sent him back to stay with the second mass to oversee the possible allience which will be needed for all parties involved. After all, the weapon was not meant for the humans.

Now that, that specific Overlord is dead, There will be chaos and a chance for the rebel skitters and the second mass allied with this new "alien" to beging to really take a foothold on taking back the earth, although starting with the east coast of north america may seem like a small step, it will be a giant one as word of the alliance spreads across the planet.

Hmmmmm...... Guess I'll have to wait like everyone else to see if I am at least partially right.

P.S. It would have been nice to see Maggie shoot Karen right in the rear end as she was scaling/ hopping up the wall.

Steve said...

My 15 year old son gets really mad every time a major character dies. :) The cynical part of me says people die off to save money for the production. Is there anything to that? Or does that happen to show anyone (except for maybe Tom) is fair game?

Steve said...
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Darian said...

It’s so cool to see what went into a phenomenal season finale! There were several surprises that literally had my husband and I glued to the television (even though we should’ve been on our way out the door for work). Thankfully, our Hopper lets us start a recording in one room and finish it in another, so that night we rushed home to enjoy the ending. I’m thrilled to see how Evil Hal plays out, and I’m expecting Maggie will find out how dark Hal can get. My husband and I aren’t the only ones who love this show, all of my co-workers at Dish are just as thrilled and we’re rooting for a spectacular third season. Great work all!

Eddy said...

IMO: The last episode was RUSHED and as a result any suspense and drama was flushed away in the process. I think with only 10 episodes this was possibly unavoidable-but you could have made it a tad better.

There were many useless and redundant scenes in this episode. The script was no better.

The characters have lost their way; I don't have strong connection with them anymore.

Ohh and the ending, I just tried to feel scared or emotionally effected but for some reason the episode's architecture and development was flawed and dull thereby making the finale equally artificial.

The series has lost its way, I miss the sense of drama that season 1 and some of season 2 had. Alas, it was lost.

I still have hope for this series so I haven't given up yet. I expect season 3 to clean up the mess that was left behind and bring back what we had with some novelty.

Patg said...

I love this kind of series, but it is bogging down into the usual war game scenerios for boys. The women are just sad--all under some male control or breeding.
Pg

Crystal Myers said...

You all do a great job, thank you all for roughing it and freezing to death for our enjoyment! :D it is appreciated! Enjoy your break. Looking forward to next season!

Nancy Santic Hunt said...

Eddy,

You don't know me from a hole in the wall but I must disagree with you. Yes, maybe the season end would have been better played out as a two hour episode like the season premier. That being said, I have watched this episode more than three times already and each and every scene, from Dan Weaver's interaction with his daughter, to Tom's interaction with Manchester and Dan Weaver each showing a slightly different aspect of Tom's personallity. ALL were necessary for the human aspect of all of the characters. We all like the drama and fight scenes but these human moments are what brings us a better understanding of the interaction of the characters and the dynamics of the entire cast.

Nancy Santic Hunt said...

Hi Patg,

Like Eddy, you don't know me. Your comment regarding the role of the women seems a bit misled. Have we been watching the same show? Maggie, Karen, Anne, the list could go on. All exhibit strength, determination and a continuing urge to stand their ground and fight right along side of thir leading male counterparts or run ahead and clear the way. How is the human race to survive without procreation? I don't personally agree that Anne's pregnancy will hinder her abilities one bit. As far as being under male control, are we all as humans not capable of falling victim to our heart's yearnings? Not just the women, but the men as well. In this instance I would be to differ and say that it is the men at times such as HAL and Tom who have fallen under the influences of their leading ladies. Just my point of view.

Eddy said...

Hello Nancy,
Thank You for your response, it always nice to hear other people's comments and voices. I have a question for you, how does the finale's first 40 min advance the plot of the series. Many of the scenes don't add any new information; they just belabor what we have seen before. The whole deal with Charleston was so short-lived, it would have been more effective if we get a better picture of that life which in turn would effectively juxtapose their previous lifestyle.

The alien fight has been unreal lately.

I think this website, most clearly, reflects my perspective on the finale:
http://io9.com/5936414/okayfalling-skies-has-officially-lost-its-way

BTW, I only watched it once--I may watch it again, but I doubt whether my POV wil change.

The way they designed the sky-falling new alien is totally different from the fish-heads. This alien has a more human look, and possible a smile(this made me like him a bit--and see the good in him). Ergo, he may an "ally."

Regardless, the way they set up most of the scenes and the ending...I just didn't like it. To make it short--there was NO SUSPENSE.

The only suspense that I felt was when they showed us short scenes between the characters, notably the one with the captain and his daughter. It made me wonder who will die?(Someone should die; its a finale)

Overall, the execution of this episode was relatively bad at least I found it flawed.

Regards,
Eddy

Tamara Tipton said...

Don't you hate it when people criticize your work? I know I do and my work requires very little creative energy. So, let me say up front, I am sorry. Truth is I loved Falling Skies when it first started. I still love the idea...I love the CGI, I love the cast, I love the story. You have so much going for you on this show. But I have to say, it is losing more ground than it is gaining. And it has so much potential. Can I give you an example? Tom Mason & Pope. Tom=good. Pope=bad. But no one is that simple. Pope is actually one of my faves, he gets the best one liners. But I really want to know more of his back story. So often in the last few episodes I felt that his whole reason for being was only to move the story along to the next stage. Need someone to uncover Karen's deception? Send Pope away in a huff, but have him return in a few weeks with the dramatic news and then fade quietly into the background and take up his usual role in the beserkers. need to expose Maggie's past? Have Pope poke at her and force her to face Hal. But don't explain how Pope knows any of it, why Maggie would share this with a man she hates. That would have been really interesting story, I think. And then there's Tom, who is really too good to be a real person. He never gets pissed, unless it's at Pope, and even that doesn't last long. The woman you love comes along on a suicide mission and puts your unborn child at risk and you don't get at least a little steamed? I am not buying what he is selling. No wonder Pope hates him, I am starting to hate him. He has no depth, and he really did in the beginning.

I am so frustrated, I want to love this show!! Please, please take some constructive criticism and spend more time on your characters. Once again, sorry for picking apart all the hard work. It's all out of love and a desire to see falling Skies become a long running series that keeps us all on the edge of our seats!

Anonymous said...

I appreciate so much that you write this blog about what goes on behind the scenes, how hard people work to make the product, reasons for the decisions that are made. I can't wait for the next season, and hope you continue to write your blog and have a question/answer like you did last season.

People love to hate on this show, but there are even more who love to love it. I'm one of those. I've been so impressed with the understated nature of the show. There's drama but it's not hitting you over the head. I think the story, acting, production have all been first class; and I've been raving about the show to my friends.

So thumbs up. Keep up the excellent work, and the excellent blog. I really enjoy hearing about the nitty gritty details - even the makeup tent blowing away. AWAY away. :)

Mr. BroBrahBlah said...

I've checked out several reviews and assessments, including the one in Eddy's post above.

As long as Falling Skies doesn't turn out to be a vehicle to promote or groom Noah Wyle (or any other cast member) for a career in politics, or some similar nonsense that would betray the trust of its viewers, I will continue to watch it, in spite of its glaring inconsistencies and the occasional feeling that some things are being rushed or condensed.

For me, the story and theme are potentially that compelling and relevant. But yeah, Season 3 will really need to tighten up and hit some home runs. To quote from Ms. Tipton's post, “You have so much going for you on this show.”

Anonymous said...

I cannot help but think that Dr.Glass is impregnated with an alien. Early in the season it touch on the topic of procreation. We will see how that pans out. Tom at the surface has yet to show any effects of the implantation of an eye bug. Yet Hal after a kiss from Karen has an immediate sinister appearance.

The new alien that presents itself are likely to be another enemy. Only one presented himself while many landed with him. Almost similar to a spiders hatching from eggs in a tree. They are probably encircling the 2nd Mass and season three will kickoff with a battle against the new species.

Richard in CA said...

You guys need to have a character that was an actor in New York or LA show up with an ironic story arc involving Pope or maybe play it straight where he ends up faking being under the control of one of the alien species.

Richard in CA said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Richard in CA said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Darian said...

@Anonymous 8:25 AM
What a great mind you have! I thought it was peculiar that Karen was able to sense that Anne was pregnant. The only reason I can think of why Karen would sense this is because Anne is carrying an alien/human hybrid. There is one thing I can’t shake…did you notice that the eye bug never made it to Tom’s ear, but it was quick to jump from Hal’s eye to his ear? It sort of makes me wonder if the evil from that bug went a different way, whereas the evil from Hal’s bug obviously went to his head.

Oz said...

I hate you for ending it the way you did...
I yelled at the TV

"NOOOO YOU CAN'T LEAVE ME LIKE THIS...."

than cried a bit, than yelled some more at the tv than went back to sobbing.

Mate, Love the show,

Miche Borgets said...

I honestly must say that I have enjoyed the show, but I hope that it improves in intrigue over the next season. I would love to see a shadow character in the background that only their effects are seen on the front screen. This is a world where anything can happen, liberators can become oppressors-utopia a disutopia. There are so many ways that plots can be driven some to dead ends others to continual existence. I hope that the paths you choose continue to grow. Remember that the children freed from harnesses are not safe from anyone except by those that love them.

sohbet said...

y the negative attitude towards Anne, Tom and their baby. For one, I feel this is their ultimate revenge against the aliens, to continue the human race. 2, It adds a new dynamic to the show. 3, These people know that life is short and they have t

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ADEM TEKİN said...

I loved the Finale Greg. I am a huge fan of your work, especially Heroes and Smallville, mostly Smallville though. Anyway, I am loving Falling Skies and it's my favorite show on TV right now, well, was until Sunday. So, thanks for sharing, I know it takes a lot of free time, so, thanks man!!!vaillant kombi servisi

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