Sunday, August 24, 2014

FALLING SKIES: SEASON 4, EPISODE 10 "DRAWING STRAWS"




Written by: Josh Pate
Directed by: Adam Kane


Adam Kane came back to direct tonight's episode.  He's a great guy and I'm very grateful that he's consistently returned to do episode's for us.

He always does great work and cares about the details and the big picture.  

Four years of one show is a journey...  There's an experience of digging in and an aspect of enduring...  And through it all friendships and very close work relationships are formed.  With Adam...  And all of the other directors, especially those who have returned over the years to do multiple episodes.  I owe them my gratitude.

Most shows don't come as easily or traditionally to me.  My agent, at the time, called up and said "They'd like you to meet on the new Untitled Steven Spielberg Alien Invasion series. He gave me some more parameters about it and I said "sure."

So I went to Amblin, sat in a dark room by myself and watched a version of the pilot episode.  Shortly after I met Justin Falvin and Darryl Frank and Lindsey Springer who all work for Mr. Spielberg and were producing the series and at the end of that 1 hour meeting I more or less had the job.

I first met Noah Wyle on the phone - I introduced myself and told him I was going to be aboard, we had a great conversation about why he had done the pilot in the first place and what mattered to him.  I was very impressed by his intelligence and articulateness.  A week or so later we met face to face at a diner and formalized the work relationship that had yet to begin. 

(It's funny, my first ever experience working as an on-set producer/director was on a show called NASH BRIDGES, written by Carlton Cuse and starring Don Johnson.  It was a trial by fire - but am overall great experience and I emerged from it a significantly better director, particularly in terms of working with actors and getting the best possible performance out of them.  Don Johnson really trained me in the art of how to work with a star and how to build that all-important relationship.  And, with FALLING SKIES I brought what I had learned into my relationship with Noah Wyle.)

I called Moon on the phone next.  She had been out of the country and so it took a few days for her to return.  I liked her right away, just by her voice and her laugh.  She was (and is) simply put... cool.  We got to be very good friends the first season in Toronto.

I eventually called everyone, except for Will Patton.  I didn't meet him until just a few days before shooting in Toronto.

There are a lot of complex aspects to being the overseeing director on a series.  I discuss many of them in this blog all the time - and they are the critical, but sometimes mundane nuts and bolts of figuring out how to make each episode week to week.  But one that I maybe neglect to mention enough, is the relationship I have with the cast - it is ongoing and must be a relationship built on trust an honesty.  If it isn't, if I am ever deceptive or manipulative - even if it means I get my way in that moment - at some point in the future that dishonesty will come back to bite me.

Noah is a gentleman and a dilligent artist.  He cares very deeply about his craft and has studied it very hard.  He cares deeply about this show and has many opinions.  He's very involved in the series, but the very nature of where I am in the information chain, means that I know some things that are coming down the road in future scripts and so on before he does.  So I am a conduit of that information to him and visa versa.   I take it upon myself to inform him (and the rest of the cast) of what's coming up, and also to listen to his (and their) questions and concerns And I take it upon myself to resolve those concerns, as quickly as possible, by myself if I'm capable or with whoever else I need - sometimes the head writer, sometimes Grace Gilroy our line producer, etc. 

FALLING SKIES is a great show to work on in that it can be huge - some of the battle sequences I've directed on this show are as big as anything I've seen on TV.  But it also has many heartfelt moments of bonding - father to son, husband to wife, soldier to soldier.  So that's been great.

It's been great to have a cast who really care and work hard to elevate the material every week.

Oh yeah, Adam Kane was forced/cajoled into being Secret Santa in the Falling Skies Production office.  Hilarity ensued and he was a most good sport about it.

In front of the camera and behind the scenes we are a close knit group.

Moon had a birthday party for her one year old daughter and everybody showed up to a curling party.  I don't know if you've ever been curling - it looks kind of dopey (to us 'Mericans) at the winter olympics.  But it is tricky and definitely harder than it looks.  A ton of us piled onto the ice and threw/slid these big heavy objects reffered to as "rocks."

Director of photography Barry Donlevey and I teamed up against Sarah Carter and her boyfriend.  Now Barry is Canadian and I thought he'd do pretty good.  But, Sarah Carter single handedly kicked everyone's ass.  She kept acting innocent and naive, like "Wow I have no idea how I got the rock perfectly in the center and knocked your rock out of play at the same time..." Like she was all innocent and it was pure beginner's luck.  Later I remembered that she grew up in the frozen land of Winnipeg and pressed her.  Maybe she was guilty, or maybe she just didn't care at that point...  But she finally confessed that she had been on a curling team in high school...  A frigging curling team...  A total ringer that girl was!!!  Thank god we were only playing for nachos not Canadian Dollars!

Beeman



 - ALIEN MEET ALIEN -

 CONNOR AND SARAH AND DREW - THE LOVE TRIANGLE UNMASKED


 DOUG JONES RESTS IN HIS TRAILER (AS BEST HE CAN UNDER ALL THAT LATEX)

 - THE BROTHERS MASON -


 MOON AND DOUG JONES


 - THE GREEN ROOM -

 NOAH REXES BETWEEN TAKES


 ON A SCOUT - LAYING OUT THE FIELD SCENES


 ADAM KANE AND ROB GRAY


ME - TEXTING IN THE COLD



PRODUCER GRACE GILROY MANS HER DESK




ADAM KANE PLAY SECRET SANTA AT THE OFFICE XMAS PARTY












19 comments:

Otto Carius said...

“ I Am Become Death; The Destroyer Of Worlds.”


I wonder did Josh Pate and the rest of the writers room just say “ah screw it—we don’t even need to try at this point during season at all?” Or was it more like this “you know story telling is a collection of building blocks—and today we plan on building on Star Wars and Everything ELSE THAT HAS COME BEFORE US?” Was that the sort of logic employed by Eick and yourself to make everyone feel good about this craptastically overwrought episode?

First off does anyone in this writing room actually watch this series and remember anything that happened last season? Because listening to Hal play the cuckold lover is a little hard to take since in season 3 he spent a good portion of it in the arms of Karen. Did Maggie throw it in Hal’s face that everyone has free will and so and so forth when he was under Karen’s control? So why then didn’t Maggie say it to Hal—hey you know I’ve got the spikes and I need to figure out how to control them… so cut me some slack right now. I did it for you with Karen! But I guess expecting that sort of continuity between seasons is just absurd right?

Secondly, does anyone in this writing room actually know why UAV’s are designed the way they are designed? If so then why are you doing the stuff you are doing? If not—I suggest calling up an Aerospace Engineer and picking his/her brain for ideas. Just a wild thought on my part about getting something that seems realistic. First off UAV’s wouldn’t have life support, crew compartment, or any of that stuff. Why? Not necessary and not vital to the craft’s mission. Also, I’m a R/C Model aircraft pilot—here the thing—if I could miniaturize myself to fit in the fuselage of my favorite Ju 87 or B-25J bomber I wouldn’t be able to fly it because I pulled on the wires from servos to receiver! It just wouldn’t do anything. So why would pulling on some wires in a console allow a person to fly this Alien UAV? You would have to either a) create a communication link between the craft and a ground control unit or b) reprogram the onboard computer to by pass an AI capability and fly a set of pre-determined commands for the mission’s completion … Those are your basic options for making UAV’s work.

Thirdly, since we’ve already described the absurdity of this mission’s technical understand of UAV’s it only makes drawing straws even more absurd when you watch the episode. However, let’s forget all that and just focus on the drawing itself. First off why would you pick 2 random people to fly to the Moon? You would a) need to train people how fly this UAV, b) people would need to be trained in the proper usage of the explosive devices, c) you would need some form of recon of the base (i.e. photos possibly taken from a rather large telescope or they could possibly get some of the Volm’s ultra small drones) , and d) you need to actually draw up a battle plan. Unlike the A-Team you just cannot take out an alien base with stuff you made in the garage while being held captive.

Otto Carius said...

Continued…

Four-- What happened the girl that originally played Ben’s love interest? Was she not cool enough for season four? Did David Eick feel that you know a love triangle with Maggie would be so much better right? It might even be a case of Eick getting to play out his BSG fantasies for Lee, Kara and Dee—right? I mean will we get a Three-Way with Hal, Ben and Maggie??? I think it is a brave way to go myself.


Five… If Lexi was in the hell-plane communication trance—why wasn’t she also present to Espheni as well? What I’m saying is this why didn’t she appear in their visions as well? Or why didn’t they feel her presence in the realm? That seems to question exactly how Lexi could occupy the same special plane of existence without actually being seen.

Six-- Continuity again… remember back in season 1 when Uncle Scott created the Radio Jammer—that totally stopped the communications between the Mechs and the Aliens. And remember when the Skitter gives orders to the mechs in person.. it all pointed to Aliens that evolved naturally to use radio as a means of communication between aliens and machines. So why is it now we find out the Espheni are psychic??? Not that the Radio communications made much sense but at least it would be coherent in the series continuity.

Seven-- Gravity isn’t really the greatest force in the Universe… Actually the strong nuclear force ( or strong interaction ) is far more important since it is what keeps the atoms together and helps to you know keep matter together. Gravity is really a weak force in general but is especially weak when it comes to subatomic particles (most of which have almost no mass to speak of).. This is why we are trying to figure out the riddle of Quantum Gravity! You migt want to get a science advisor as well…

Eight--- The Espheni can travel the universe but they don’t have plastic surgery?

Nine--- What happened to Sarah? She just vanished and now what?

Ten-- What happened to the almighty Sharps 1874 rifle?

Anonymous said...

I just wanted to say good job to you and everyone else on Falling Skies, I think you have a great show and I'm so happy it has gone on as long as it has done. It made me quite sad to see that the ratings dropped a bit on TNT and made me worry about Season 5 happening but when it was renewed, that was great too.

Best of luck with Season 5 and ending it on a high note. I honestly have no idea how the story could end and that's the biggest surprise to find out.

I really love some of the high production values on the show, you clearly do the best you can with the budget you have and it comes across really well.

I also liked Episode 5, it showed the harsh reality of the reality they're living, poor Cooper. The brother story was hard hitting and the scene between Tom and Matt at the end was great. It had to be done, it was very human.

Otto Carius said...

Beeman, AM I YOUR ONLY LOYAL POSTER NOW?

Everyone needs a Loyal Point Of Opposition? Wouldn't you agree?

Aldenata said...

I remember Nash Bridges, and I seem to have once liked it.

I recall one episode in which the sidekick started lusting after the hero's (recently-separated?) wife. He confesses these impure thoughts at the end, and the hero calmly explains the psychology behind it: Sidekick is secretly gay and projecting his repressed feelings on the spouse of his true affections. Sidekick asks if he's being serious, and Hero says no, but if he keeps thinking that it'll stop him from wanting to sleep with his wife. Don't remember it well, it may not have even been Nash Bridges. Puppets were involved.

Hal should have done something like that to Ben.

And what's all this talk of Secret Santas, and so little talk of the episode itself? Have you eaten on the insane root that takes the reason prisoner? Hath thy mind been rent at last by glimpses into outer darkness, where thither congregates the leadership of they who despoil our species? And shall this "Santa Claus" of yours gird himself in battle against their host?

Yes! Behold, he slays the demons!

Aldenata said...

@Otto:
-Good point on Hal. Though, as far as I know, Maggie and the others don't realize that Karen essentially raped him during his sleepwalks, and maybe he'd rather have it stay that way.

-I don't think the Beamers were purpose-built UAV's, I think they were formerly piloted aircraft that, for some reason, have had biomechanical remote controls put in place of the crews. They did say that at least some of the craft were crewed early on, and we've also seen smaller ones (flown by what looked like harnesses) that were clearly too small for humans to use.

-Going out like they did does seem like an incredibly bad idea. What they should have done was relocate to a more remote area and set up a new base to plan their lunar assault. They already had the plane, they knew that their surviving remnant would be discovered eventually, and I can't see how there was anything they needed in Chinatown that wouldn't work just as well elsewhere.

-Shadow-Plane: well I was calling Lexi the Queen of Hell even before realizing that she could also use their Portals to Hell. Many there be which go in thereat, so I guess she could always hide in the crowd, and would presumably know her way around.

(Putting it another way: think of it as eavesdropping on a phone call.)

-Espheni have been psychic for a while; Karen said as much back in Molon Labe:

"It's so much bigger than that. How can I make you understand? You see, every living thing, every grain of sand on a beach, every star in the sky is linked by an intricate web of causality.

If you can comprehend that web in its entirety, down to the movements of the smallest subatomic particles, then you can predict the course of events and alter them."

"Wow. That's the most ridiculous load of crap I've ever heard."

"I knew precisely where and when to place the de-harnessed bodies of those kids so that you and Maggie would find me. I knew every word and gesture needed to get the desired response of you and Ben, up until the moment he ran away with me."

"Yeah, well, you must have missed a subatomic particle or two, 'cause things haven't really gone according to plan ever since, have they? There are always unexpected variables that require adjustments."


(My interpretation of that is that they somehow built their entire civilization around the premises of quantum entanglement, and have such an intimate knowlege of it that they can partially tell the future. Implausible, but there you have it.)

I don't think the skitter-mech radios were ever supposed to be natural. They mentioned in Season 2 that they had changed their frenquencies to avoid further jamming, which doesn't seem like something you could do with something you were born with. And then they manage to do some jamming anyway in the pilot of Season 3.

-The Espheni monk never says that gravity is the strongest force in the universe, only that it's the most "pervasive", whatever that means. Nonsense nonetheless, but I don't think a well-rounded physics lesson is what he was trying to give Lexi.

Aldenata said...

@Drawing Straws
-Matt helps show the grownups how to fly the ship. Hmm, how very Season 1 of him. (Meant in a good way.)

-1776 MHz is Ultra High Frequency, as in televisions, walkies-talkies and cellphones. I guess it would be possible to transmit at that frequency, but not many civilian radios could receive it. Anyway, why would a Spaniard care about the year 1776? 1492 would have been a better choice, and probably in the KHz range (AM radio; 14.92 MHz if you must have shortwave). Otto would probably know more about radios than I do; surprised he didn't comment on this.

-Turns out that allying with the Queen of Hell might be a bad idea when you use Portals to Hell to discuss your plans for murdering her. Who'd a-thunk it?

Lexi is not psychokinetic, she controls molecular structure. That's cause for concern; it potentially means that she's more powerful than some classical deities.

Watching the monk explode was enjoyable, even though the rest of the show seemed to slow to such a glacial pace afterwards that I just about quit watching.

Blah blah blah love triangle blah blah blah parting is such sweet sorrow blah blah blah she'll probably marry Matt. The way this series is going I wouldn't be surprised if she marries Cochise (that would be bestiality, by the way; don't do that).

Airpwr7 said...

Greg, the show is/was an amazing success..Nothing needed to be changed..Some people do not understand that sometimes an artist projects what they like and not necessarily what an audience wants...And there is nothing wrong with that! I don't think Van Gogh was instructed by an audience on how or what he should paint..Therein lies the freedom that art should express..I know you are aware of this better than I, but that statement was not for you!

Thank you for your hard work and integrity. I wish you the best in your future!

Airpwr7 said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
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