Thanks for sticking with me and reading this and thank you especially for all the kind and thoughtful comments. I think that the biggest compliment I can receive as a writer is when I see that people are really thinking about what I wrote; becoming an active participant with the material. And this blog is a great way for me to experience that -- so, thanks for participating.
Here goes with me attempting to answer your questions:
How many swords did we use in the sword fight? A lot. I found a picture propmaster James Clark posted on his twitter during filming, this is just a fraction of them:
On "Claitchen" Ultimately I'm happy with how this episode handled it. It felt a little more "real" than explicitly defining "we're in a relationship" or not. For some reason 13-year-olds have got the system down (they ask for clarification: "Do you want to go steady?") while everyone else is absolutely terrified to admit their true feelings and stumble their way through until there's an awkward "Are we... exclusive?" conversation. All of this is to say that Claire and Gretchen's relationship isn't supposed to be cut and dry. Claire's still figuring out who she is (in lots of different ways). What she does know is that Gretchen is someone she can trust unconditionally, coupled with some strong romantic feelings.
That said, I don't know how anyone could conclude that they are "just friends" ("People are gonna start to talk"/"Let 'em talk"). I agree that I do wish we'd seen a bit more of it in the subsequent episodes but I think the right decision was made not to rush into that storyline with only a few episodes left. I'd rather spend more time with it. For my two cents: I believe the characters are headed towards definitively being "in a relationship" (if not already) and I certainly hope to explore that next season (providing there is a next season and Madeline Zima is still available etc. etc. etc.).
Does Sylar still believe he and Claire are still meant to be together ala "Invisible Thread"? Not right now. At the moment (or moment of this episode), Sylar was focused on why Claire was on his arm and how she was going to help him get his "bite" back. This exchange is a little acknowledgment of that history: SYLAR: "It's destiny showing me what I desire--" CLAIRE: "And you honestly thought--" SYLAR: "Relax. They said I needed a connection. A friend." So that's the situation right now. But who knows what the future holds for Sylar and Claire, I wouldn't rule out that he could return to this notion if the circumstances in his life changed.
Was it the intention all along to have the two characters [Claire and Gretchen] end up together or was it decided later on in the season? It was definitely something we talked about early on as a possibility. We wanted to put Claire in some different situations with different characters and see where there was chemistry (male or female). We were fortunate enough that pretty early on there was clear chemistry between Claire and Gretchen (ie. "cut my hand with these scissors") so we took it from there.
[Re: Claithcen] You stated it was "liberating" on your twitter, but present it here as
"romantic," so I'm a little unsure as to what ultimately is canonical
to Heroes' storyline. My apologies, I misspoke somewhat on my twitter (can I blame only having 140 characters?) This scene was liberating for Claire but with a definite romantic undertone. Love, I believe, is a liberating experience. It's feeling free enough to be honest and trust another person with everything that you think and feel. Some people equate telling someone you love them to jumping off a cliff, a leap of faith or (in marriage) "taking the plunge". I think all of those sayings are somewhat related in that it's a freeing experience -- it's terrifying, but that feeling of unburdening (letting go) is wonderful. Especially when the person you're trusting to catch you does so. So canonically, I think they're together (more on Claitchen above if you haven't read it already).
[Paraphrasing: Why did Sylar kiss Claire? With Lydia's ability all he had to do was touch her right?] That's true, but I don't believe Sylar knew that. The only way he'd experienced the ability being used was in a sexual context. But beyond that, I think Sylar's a pretty bad guy and was doing it to get under Claire's skin -- he was frustrated that she wasn't providing the answers he wanted and expressed that anger and frustration in a sick and twisted way.
As for [Sylar's] tattoo [of Claire], did it vanish once Claire answered Sylar's question? [...] I can't help thinking that if it showed him what he desired, why wouldn't it do so again? And again? The tattoo must have faded at some point. We've seen Lydia's tattoos come and eventually go (sometimes instantly). Sylar was clearly able to hold onto his for an extended period of time -- perhaps it was by his choice/effort. But the tattoos don't typically shift into something else at a later date, he would need new/more ink to get another tattoo.
Did Samuel do ALL of that with Ian (the guy with the landscaping power) and the cottage all for Vanessa? Samuel's plan was two-fold. 1) To settle down and stop moving, have a place for he and the carnies to live permanently and 2) To have Vanessa join him at this place. (Thanks luvtheheaven for your well articulated thoughts on this and the other storylines).
Could you please clarify what an "amazing opportunity" that came up for Sendhil is? My apologies on this, I wasn't trying to be coy, I just honestly can't remember what it is. It wasn't "Rex" and it wasn't "It's a Wonderful Life". It was another feature film with some A-list actors -- Sendhil and I discussed it on set back in November but I simply can't remember what it's called (or if I'm even officially allowed to say as it's not up on IMDB or anywhere else yet that I can find). Again, I apologize for my crappy memory, but hopefully it'll be announced soon and Sendhil fans will have another thing to look forward to.
Tara, thanks for being a Mohinder fan. I'm afraid I can't really answer your questions very well as they go well beyond the scope of my episode (and paygrade). I'm sorry that one of your favorite characters is not being seen as much as you'd like, but I do hope you can find other reasons to watch. I agree that I think there's more we can do with
the character -- and I hope to get the opportunity. All I can say is that I have some Mohinder stories I'll be pitching for season 5 (as I do for most of the characters) -- but for now I'm simply hoping/waiting to see if we have another season.
Back in the day while you were writing this episode, you mentioned on
twitter that one scene in particular was difficult to resolve/get
right. Can you share which scene that was? I remember tweeting that, but for the life of me I can't remember which storyline it was (jeeze, my memory must be going). At a guess I think it might have been the Claire/Sylar storyline -- I remember having some trouble keeping things visually interesting and not just having two people talking in front of a blackboard for several scenes. Out of that struggle came the ideas for him using telekinesis, the kiss and the pencil in the eye.
CONCLUSION So I think that wraps it up for Pass/Fail -- thanks again to everyone who read and especially to those who took the time to comment. Alas, Heroes has finished airing for the season. We might hear some news about season 5 in March, but then again, we might not. For my part, I'm sitting at home waiting, working on some of my own writing projects and taking the time to write this blog and my personal one. If you're interested at all in the writing process and breaking into the business, I'm currently telling the story of how I became a writer on my personal blog.
For your Heroes fix during our hiatus, be sure to check out Hiro Nakamura's blog as he promises "to be in touch" and will soon begin a journey into the "Heroes Universe" including our new graphic novel series "From the Files of Primatech" which has already begun and will have new issues every other week.
Pass/Fail - Part 3: The World v. Hiro Nakamura
Before I get into the final part of my Pass/Fail no-DVD-DVD-commentary I want to draw your attention to our wonderful Heroes graphic novels. Tuesday morning marks the beginning of our 8 part series "From the Files of Primatech" -- a look back at the history of "The Company" and a few of its many cases along the way. Four 2-part comics will be released every other week and journey through the 60s, 70s, 80s and 90s. New author Howie Kaplan and veteran artist Jason Badower have teamed up for the first two-part issue, "1968"-- If it's already Tuesday morning when you're reading this you can check out part 1 right now!
So here we go with my commentary on the final story of Heroes: "Pass/Fail". Leave your questions in the comments and I'll write a final post answering as many as I can.
GOODBYE MOHINDER • This is a fairly awkward scene (but necessary) scene -- kudos to director Michael Nankin for figuring out difficult blocking in a limited room and making it all visually interesting. Originally, Mohinder was not going to leave, or be making a compass -- and was going to have a small presence in the final few episodes. However, an amazing opportunity came up for the actor so at the last minute we reconstructed the scene so that he leaves. Sendhil Ramamurthy fans should keep an eye out on his imdb page for some upcoming announcements. So while it wasn't ideal for the episode, it was a small price to allow the actor a great opportunity. And since Mohinder's not dead, who knows what Season 5 (fingers crossed) might bring. (PS. I'm not being coy here, I really don't know what season 5 might bring -- we haven't planned it yet).
• I'm sure you know, but the "girl" Mohinder broke a promise to is Mira Shenoy and you can see his first step to making amends in a graphic novel.
HIRO ON TRIAL • Lots of recognizable faces and guest appearances here, including Lynette, a waitress from the Burnt Toast Diner, but what you might not notice is that the jury and the people in the gallery are all extras that we have used from time to time to populate The Burnt Toast Diner in Odessa. Hiro's brain is really doing a number on him here.
HIRO ON A GURNEY • This hallway and the entire "DC Hospital set" was constructed on the back half of the New York Hospital set that we've seen Peter at all year. If you were standing in the hallway facing Hiro and Ando and looked to your right through a glass-room you'd see the NY emergency room entrance. Sets are re-purposed like this on Heroes frequently (since we use so many) and my hats off to our Production Designer Ruth Ammon for always coming up with a plan.
• The man in blue scrubs pushing the gurney is our Medical Technical Adviser who helped us out with all of these hospital scenes and the jargon behind it.
ADAM INTERROGATES YOUNG ANDO • This was shot as one really cool shot with a little trick to it (basically a "cowboy switch") -- We start on a body double of Hiro sitting up on the hospital bed, then while the camera moves with Adam to Young Ando & Kimiko we rolled the bed out and slid in the table with the real Hiro (Masi Oka) and Ando, the camera turns around when Young Ando points and finds them sitting there instead of the hospital bed. It looked great but unfortunately the pace was too slow for the urgent feel you want in a courtroom scene so you don't see it as one shot.
In case you're curious the term "cowboy switch" came from Hollywood Westerns when they would switch the main actor and stunt double without a cut. For example, stunt double gets thrown across the room, lands behind the bar (where you can't see him) and the main actor (who was hiding behind the bar) stands up, creating the illusion that it was the main actor who was thrown across the room.
• The reveal of Sylar sitting in the booth is a match to where we saw first saw him in the diner in season one/in the episode "Once Upon a Time in Texas". Nice work by director Michael Nankin and Director of Photography Nate Goodman. Coincidentally, Nate directed "Once Upon a Time in Texas".
INTERROGATING SYLAR • We filmed a transition to this that started in the operating room. The Doctor say "How many people have I killed?" and then pulls down her mask and Sylar is standing there instead and finishes his line "Hundreds I suppose." When we got into the editing room it didn't quite work so we dropped it all together. The other benefit was that it helped get you caught up in the "court room drama" forgetting briefly that Hiro is on the operating table so that it's a little bit of a shock when it comes back two scenes later and they have the defibrillator out.
• One of my favorite little moments in this episode is Adam's reaction when Sylar finally remember "Sprague! Ted Sprague". A great little bit of acting by David Anders.
• When Kaito bangs the sugar and says "One more outburst--" Hiro used to respond with "Or what? You'll find me in contempt of sugar". It was a fun line but the subtitle was simply too long for the amount of time we had for it. Sometimes that happens with subtitles. The benefit of subtitles is that you can edit them after the fact much easier than you can edit dialog.
HALLWAY TO OBLIVION • The Hallway we used is on the Sunset Gower backlot and we've used it a number of times, including last season for the entrance to Building 26 where Matt, Tracy and others were brought in. This time we painted it white and our visual effects team (Stargate Digital) extended the large doors so that they appeared to stretch on forever.
• One trick we did was to build a set of hospital doors into the hallway so that it appears as though Hiro is walking out of the operating room and into the hallway. So you have two completely different sets, several hundred feet from one another, but the matching doors make you believe they're connected. Just before the doors swing closed behind Hiro you can see a set of stairs on the right-hand side (rather than the operating room).
• We went through a countless number of swords for the sword fight. The actors were really going at it, and it's very easy for those types of swords to chip or break when you're really clashing with them. Props to @JamesProps (pardon the pun) and his team for all their sword-smithing.
• I love James Kyson Lee's reactions here in the operating room. That sort of reaction stuff is really difficult (especially when there's nothing opposite you) but is essential to telling the story. If he believes his friend is fighting for his life, so will the audience. Likewise when he sees Hiro is alive at the end.
• In an early draft of the script, Hiro's mother never appeared. The
big "shift" in the scene was that Hiro decides to plead "guilty". As
soon as he does, he sees the Kensei sword appear -- emphasizing the
point that this is what Hiro needed to do -- as "hero", he needed to
admit his mistakes and take responsibility for them. Only after that
would destiny give him another chance and spare his life. Hiro then
fights Adam and upon winning we cut to him in the hospital room as his
I really like the addition of Ishi as I think it added a very tender
and emotional moment to the scene. The only downside was that it
confused the issue of how Hiro was cured (or at least brought it more
into focus). I wanted to deliberately leave it open as to how Hiro
survived -- one could believe that it was the doctors who pulled off a
miraculous surgery and the tumor-dream was just a visual representation
of that going on Hiro's mind. Or, one could believe that what was
happening in the dream was more metaphysical and Hiro was really on
trial with "Destiny" and it was Destiny that miraculously spared his
life, in the same way that many other incredible things have happened
to Hiro. Or, you could believe some combination of the two.
In the end though, that debate can still exist with Ishi in the scene
and her line about "some things are more powerful than science, like
destiny" is fairly key. I've seen a lot of debate about this in the
message boards so that's good. It's what I wanted to happen and I guess
I can settle it by saying you're (mostly) all right.
MONTAGE • When Hiro is talking to Ando in the recovery room, the camera actually continues to pan down and under the bed you find the Kensei sword. I thought it was a fun little moment and you could believe that either it came with him from the other side or Ando had it flown over special delivery from Yamagato as a good luck charm -- continuing that real world vs. metaphysical world debate -- but alas, it was cut.
That about wraps it up for Pass/Fail. Leave your questions in the comments section and I'll answer them next week. Until then...
Michael Nankin (Director), George Takei (Kaito Nakamura), Abigail Wong Grigsby (my wife), and myself.
Pass/Fail - Part 2: Samuel/Vanessa
Here we go with part two of my (sans DVD) DVD commentary for my episode Pass/Fail. If I can stay on track, I'll do part 3 (Hiro) next week and then follow up after that by answering some questions. Comments are now working, so leave you can leave your questions there. Let's dive in:
GENERAL • The introduction of a love interest was an interesting story to tell for our villain. We'd seen him do some pretty heinous stuff already but wanted to do two things at this point in the season a) give him a little depth -- see another side to the character and b) really send him over the edge so that we really feared what he could do to the world and what our heroes were up against. And I think Robert Knepper (as Samuel) did an amazing job, deepening this character. Structurally it's very similar to what we did with Sylar in season one, meeting his mother, seeing him treated as "Gabriel" and how drastically that changed him when she rejected him. In both cases you think for a moment there's a real hope for redemption for this character -- if only the person they love would accept them as they are then things might be okay. Alas, they are rejected and the world itself is threatened as a result. And so it goes.
• Unfortunately I don't have any photos from these scenes, but I've got a few from the Hiro storyline that I'll share next week.
VANESSA WAKES UP • I had a long conversation with Robert Knepper about this storyline. He's another actor who wants to come in 110% prepared for his scenes and it really pays off. One thing we talked about was the shaving. In the script I wrote "Samuel is clean shaven" meaning that he'd cleaned up and wanted to look presentable for Vanessa but Robert thought I meant that Samuel had shaved off his little soul patch. Robert didn't want to do this as he thought it was integral to the character, I told him not to worry it wasn't what I had intended but the conversation led to this nice little moment where he has the razor and you can see him consider shaving it off.
• Getting Kate Vernon for the role of Vanessa was a dream come true for this Battlestar Galactica fan. She was brilliant and had great chemistry with Robert.
• If you look closely at the shots inside the trailer you can actually see the drawing of the house that Samuel takes out later (it's on the right side of the frame when Vanessa is standing on the left, just after she wakes up. And again when she puts on her jacket). It's sort of a goof and I'll explain why a few scenes later.
• Given that she'd more or less been kidnapped in the previous episode, this was a tricky scene to get right. We approached their relationship as an on-again-off-again romance. Vanessa knew Samuel was bad for her, but enjoyed that bad boy quality and escaping from her normal life from time to time. Her line about "this is how it always starts" is telling -- she knows that if she gives in to his first simple/innocent request she'll easily find herself agreeing to more. She knows Samuel for the silver tongued devil he is... but just can't help herself.
THE MILKSHAKE • This was originally a much longer scene and it was beautifully shot and wonderfully acted and there was a lot of brilliant dialog ;) but at the end of the day it slowed down the pace of the episode too much. A shame, but it happens.
• I love Robert's little move here where he gets up to sit next to her, and gets nervous about how close he should sit to her.
• A lot of innuendo in Vanessa's gesture for "a little". Love it. Great choice by Kate.
• This was filmed in Studio City at a place called the Gelato Bar.
REMEMBERING THE COTTAGE • Two things happened by trimming down the length of the previous Samuel/Vanessa scene. One was that we were a bit short on time for the whole episode, the other was that it felt a bit sudden to next see them running through the field together. What we felt we wanted was to see their first kiss. Well, the stars aligned and there were a few extra hours available one day that would allow us to film an extra scene. I wrote the scene late on a Friday night and we filmed it first thing Monday morning. All part of the magic of movie making.
• At the top of the scene Samuel is "looking" for the drawing of the cottage. Of course, if you look closely you can see the drawing when Vanessa first wakes up. That was one little goof that arose from filming this scene much later (I forgot we had included it in the first scene) but certainly not a big deal.
THE FIELD & THE COTTAGE • This looked so beautiful. We filmed it out at Disney Ranch. Behind us was the country bears jamboree house and a little shack where Walt Disney used to write. Nate Goodman (the director of photography) and his team did a wonderful job lighting this scene -- when it looks like light is glistening off the water and reflecting in their faces, that's actually a guy with a little pool of water and a mirror bouncing light onto the actors faces.
• The performances in this scene are incredible and most of it actually came on the first take. I can't tell you how rare that is and it's a credit to Robert and Kate as well as the whole crew. Getting a first take exactly right is pretty damn tricky.
DESTROYING THE TOWN • Shevaun Kastl who plays the waitress in this scene was great. It's only a small role, but getting those roles right (and being a good screamer) is no easy task. She also looks a little like Vanessa (Kate Vernon) which was a deliberate choice.
• The shaking effect inside the ice cream parlor was done by shaking the camera and by our special effects guys having a bunch of things on invisible wire and rigging the shelves to shake/fall etc.
• Similarly at the carnival they rigged the tent to fall over and things to drop and spark etc.
• The Carnival on the hill is put in digitally as is the town -- there's usually a freeway there. This was also filmed at Disney Ranch. If you were to look to your left (from Lydia's POV), you'd actually see Samuel's cottage.
That's it for now. I'm sure I don't need to mention that the season finale of Heroes is on tonight. Follow me on twitter and let me know what you think. I look forward to hearing your thoughts.
My extreme apologies for taking so long between posts. Part of my absence was due to the fact that I was writing my second Heroes episode, "Pass/Fail" which aired a few weeks ago, 1/18/10. If you haven't seen it yet you can do so for free on NBC's website (link good until 9/19/10). I encourage you to do so not only because I believe it to be a highly entertaining episode, but because I'm going to spend the next several updates talking about the episode in detail. Think of it as as a DVD commentary sans DVD.
I'll break the commentary up into parts, starting with the Claire/Sylar storyline, or as it's known online "Sylaire". I'll start at the beginning and go through in rough order.
THE CAFETERIA • Gretchen's bag. You can't really see it here, but on the side of Gretchen's bag is a white knot for marriage equality. Not only was it in keeping with Gretchen's character but it was also going to be a way to identify the bag as Gretchen's when Claire later saw that Sylar had it. The original plan in that later scene was that when Claire says "I wouldn't help you if my life depended on it" she would turn around to leave and Sylar would TK the bag across the room and it would fall open at Claire's feet. Claire would see the white knot amongst books etc. and know it belonged to Gretchen. Because the bag was going to fall open, the knot ended up on the side of her bag rather than featured on the front. When it came time to shoot the scene with the bag flying across the room, we simply didn't have time, and instead Sylar shoots a look to the bag and Claire follows his gaze and says "Gretchen..." (dun-dun-dunnnnn). In short, I wish we'd been able to see the white knot a little more clearly/feature it a little bit more. Unfortunately it didn't work out that way, but if you look you can still see it ever so briefly when Claire sees the bag.
• "Bapst Hall" is a shout out to Boston College where I attended. Bapst Hall is a library and one of the oldest buildings there on campus. I didn't study there very much, but I always thought it had a cool name.
• This was filmed at the cafe on the lot at Sunset Gower Studios where Heroes is filmed. It closes every day at 3pm after which we're able to use it for filming. The tricky part is that when you're filming in November it doesn't leave very much daylight before the sun sets. That's where the talented Nate Goodman and John Newby and our lighting team come in and make it look like it's day time even though this and the later cafeteria scene were filmed at night.
CLAIRE FINDS SYLAR •These study room scenes were filmed at UCLA, I forget which building but we had to do it on the weekend (a Sunday I think) so as not to disturb too many of the students.
• "Professor Yanno" is a shot out to my college screenwriting professor Drew Yanno. He's a great professor and has also written an excellent book called "The Third Act" which discusses the art of writing the third and final act in a (feature) screenplay.
• The "Why Claire Bennet" board was an homage to Sylar's apartment in season one which had a closet scrawled with "Forgive me" on it. So much so that it was actually done by the same person in the props department who's been with us all this time.
• Sylar throwing the chalk was not in the script and ad-libbed by Zach Quinto, I thought it was a nice touch.
CLAIRE FINDS SYLAR - PART 2 • This was originally filmed as one scene with the previous scene but we ended up splitting things up a bit just to get the Sylar/Claire meeting a little earlier in the episode, so you knew where the story was going. Claire's line was actually a response to his question: "I came here to learn" and she replies "Learn what, how much I would love to kill you?" When the scene got split we just ADR'd (Additional Dialog Recording) her line to "Do you know how much I would love to kill you?"
• Just after Sylar says "It's not your life you should be concerned about." They look to see Gretchen's bag. If you freeze frame you can see the white knot for marriage equality I was referring to earlier.
THE COMPARISON CHART • In the script, Claire doesn't pick up the pencil here, it's wasn't until just beforeshe stabs him in the eye that she was supposed to grab it. The Director, Michael Nankin, saw an opportunity for her to pick it up here and hide it up her sleeve which really added something to these scenes. They're having a very intense and honest discussion but in the back of your mind you're waiting for that shoe to drop (or pencil to go in the eye as the case may be).
• Zach and Hayden are brilliant in all of these scenes, but I especially love Zach in this one. He's pouring his heart out to her and she (understandably) doesn't give a hoot. His subtle facial reactions to her are brilliant. The director and I met with Zach and Hayden before filming any of this and rehearsed all of their scenes together. They had some great input and had clearly thought about the scenes and their characters. Actors typically don't film every day but that doesn't mean they're not working. Getting a script is like getting homework or having to study for a test. These two really studied the material, came in mentally prepared and I think it paid off on the screen. I can't commend them enough.
• Zach's delivery of the line "Or don't you care how many fillets I slice your (pause) roommate into" is brilliantly. Not only because he highlights the complexity of Claire's and Gretchen's relationship, but because it shows (as we're about to learn) Sylar has used his object-memory ability on Gretchen's stuff. That's what I mean by understanding the material.
• The kiss. It was amusing to see people freaking out based on the promos that featured the kiss, thinking that somehow Claire and Sylar were going to kiss willingly. Promos are tough because you want to entice people to watch the episode without spoiling too much. One way (for better or worse) is to mislead people a little bit. Either way, it got people talking about the possibilities of how and why, which I think is a good thing. For what it's worth, the writers and producers have nothing to do with the promos (that I'm aware of), it's handled by NBC.
• As for the kiss itself. It's supposed to be creepy and unsettling and it still is for me even having watched a dozen versions of it -- live, dalies, various cuts etc.
PENCIL IN THE EYE • It's worth keeping in mind here, especially on a second viewing, that Sylar is actually running a con here. He's deliberately telling Claire where Gretchen is with the plan to impersonate her. He knows Claire won't open up to "Sylar" but after the kiss and using Lydia's ability, has an idea of who Claire will be honest with. So for people wondering how Claire was able to get out of his TK hold on her, it's simple. He let her.
• I think the pencil in the eye looked great. It was made by our special effects make up team, Optic Nerve. It was all practical, no digital effects. Claire makes the stabbing motion, Sylar falls to the ground, we cut (put the eye makeup on) and find Sylar with his back to camera where he turns around and you see it. We had plans to add some digital pencil when he gets stabbed, but the practical gag worked so well, we found we didn't need to. A worthwhile note to anyone out there trying to make something on a budget. Sometimes a practical trick is all you need.
• Kudos again to Zach for his part in this. The makeup covered up his entire eye and we were warned not to leave it on for too long as it could cause dizziness, and there was no air getting to his eyeball. Even after having it on for all that time, as he was leaving set to get it removed, he still stopped to take some pictures with UCLA students and one pesky writer.
CLAIRE SPRINTS ACROSS CAMPUS • Claire sprinting across campus was also filmed at UCLA. To track with
her as she's running we used a rig called "griptrix" -- it's
essentially a go cart with a camera mount on it, where 4-5 people sit
including a driver, the camera operator, focus puller and director.
It's pretty cool. Here are a couple not-so-great shots of it: CLAIRE FINDS "GRETCHEN" • Sylar used TK to blow out the windows in Claire's dorm room. We used "air cannons". They are exactly as the name describes, cannons of air. The "building" that you can see on the left is a backdrop that you would typically see in soft focus when looking out Claire's dorm room window.
• Claire's dorm room, the hallway are the closet are all filmed on set at Sunset Gower.
IN THE CLOSET • Madeline Zima (Gretchen) is great to watch in this scene on a second viewing for the ever-so-subtle Sylar-isms. Her reaction to Claire's line "No wonder Sylar's so messed up." And her line "Maybe that's his answer...
• Yes it's in a closet. Yes that matters.
CAFETERIA, TAKE TWO • The guy in the light brown jacket that Claire walks past is my friend Matt. "Hi, Matt!"
• To kiss or hold hands? I went back and forth on this for a while. Initially I wanted Claire to be "impulsive" and kiss Gretchen here. I wanted to definitively say Claire was accepting this relationship. But some smarter, more experienced people than I suggested I consider them holding hands, and here are the two big reasons why I think it's the right choice: It completes Claire's arc for the episode and it's more intimate. Claire was unwilling to hold hands (accept Gretchen) at the start of the episode and by the end she's literally doing what she couldn't before. As for the "intimacy", having them kiss could have been seen as a "ratings ploy" and probably would have been promo'd etc. What I like about holding hands is that it more definitively says "relationship" and acceptance. With college-age people, I think that holding hands is a much more intimate and serious step in a relationship than kissing.
• Zach Quinto in five seconds of screen time and no dialog says so much here. Claire has found what he's incapable of having. And it's crushing him. I can't say enough good things about Zach's performance in this episode.
THE MONTAGE • This was one of those "got lucky" moments for us in filming. Originally, this montage moment was scripted with Claire crying as she's talking to Gretchen -- presumably opening up about what it's like to have lost Nathan, the father she never really knew. I wrote something for Hayden along those line (even though we knew it would be MOS) and we filmed that version, Claire is crying and talking and Gretchen gives her a hug. Then the director, Michael Nankin did something simplistically brilliant. He let the camera keep rolling. Hayden and Madeline stayed in the moment for a while (no one had said "cut" yet) and then they began to be themselves, kept talking a bit and inevitably burst out laughing. It was sweet. Cut to a few weeks later and I'm watching an early cut of the episode. And, as scripted, Claire is crying and Gretchen is hugging her. But, it just didn't feel right. Having seen them holding hands in the cafeteria and walk off happily, we wanted to keep that energy going, and fortunately we had just the right piece of footage to use. It also created a nice juxtaposition between seeing the Samuel/Vanessa relationship fail and Claire/Gretchen succeed. That sort of serendipity happens during film making more often than you'd expect and it's one of my favorite things about the process.
SYLAR "MEETS" JANICE • Sylar saying "hey buddy" to baby Matt was an ad-lib by Zach. It's a very sweet gesture... were it not coming from Sylar.
That's it for now. I'll try to follow up again soon with the Samuel/Vanessa and Hiro stories. Please feel free to post questions and comments about the Claire/Sylar storyline and I'll see if I can answer some of them in a follow up post. (I believe you need to have an account on 9thWonders.com to post a comment). And if you're not already, follow me on twitter, I do my best to answer questions when I can. And of course, don't forget to watch tonight!
Latest From the Scribblers
As is the norm in the world of Heroes we have a lot of pots on the stove, so here I go trying to fill you in on all the delicious dishes we're cooking.
The first bit of news is about me (go figure). Starting Monday I will officially join the Heroes writing staff. I wrote an episode last year but have continued to primarily function as the "writers assistant" -- taking notes while we break story and writing rough drafts of the outlines etc. Now that I am (officially) making the move to "staff writer" I'll work primarily on breaking story. In fact, I'm writing my second episode as we speak -- what we're calling episode 416, but I believe will appear on air as "Chapter 15". I'll let you know as I get more specifics but it should air in mid-to-late January.
The writers have had a busy couple of weeks breaking the final episodes of the season. Our schedule is getting pretty packed as we prepare for "double-up" episodes -- filming two episodes at once. Which for us means we need to write two scripts at once. Let's just say it's kept us busy. The incredible thing is that we're almost done with this season. I can't believe it.
Why do we need to film two episodes at once? It's all thanks to the Olympics. We need to finish filming these episodes before Christmas so that post-production has enough time to edit and create the necessary special effects to have the episodes all finished and ready to air before the Olympics begin in February. If that sounds hectic to you, multiply it by a number between 100 and 200 and you're in the ballpark. Needless to say, I continue to be impressed by the tireless dedication from our amazing crew. Heroes is a very ambitious show and they are the ones that really make it possible. GRAPHIC NOVELS
Erin Fitzgerald has written her first graphic novel "Smoke & Mirrors" which will go online this Monday/Tuesday. And I've teamed up for the first time (finally!) with artist Dennis Calero for the following weeks novel entitled "The Painted Lady". Dennis has created a really fantastic mood for that novel and I can't wait for you to see it.
November 16th kicks off a three part graphic novel which is focused on one of the shows major characters and I can't wait for you to see it. Unfortunately I can't tell you anything else right now for fear of spoiling something. But I think you'll dig it. SLOW BURN
The Tagged Media episodes continue to circle the
fascinating world of the carnival as we tell the story of Amanda and
her rocky reunion with her mother, Lydia. You can find them all here. Now that you've met Amanda, played by the amazing Sasha Pieterse, I can share some more pictures with you. See below.
Heroes has developed an incredibly strong presence on Twitter and I for one love the interaction it gives us with the fans. The Heroes homepage on NBC now has a place for you to see many of the twitter accounts affiliated with the show. Check it out, you may find someone you didn't know. Two of the newest accounts I want to bring your attention to are official character accounts - @DetMattParkman and the @Sullivan_Bros carnival. The Sullivan Bros will keep you updated with the latest from Samuel, Edgar, Lydia and others while Detective Matt Parkman keeps you appraised of life with Janice and his fight with Sylar aka his "inner demon". Last Monday, Matt interacted live with his followers during his epic (and somewhat drunken) battle with Sylar (during the West Coast feed of the show). It sounds like people had a blast and this sort of thing will hopefully happen again the next time we see Matt, depending of course on who is in control of poor Matt...
And now, on to the pictures:
Look familiar? These giant letters were originally used on the Paris rooftop for episode 321 "Cold Snap". They have since been re-purposed and are part of the carnival now.
The inside of Lydia's trailer:
Amanda (Sasha Pieterse) and Caleb (Dusty Sorg) during rehearsal of week 5:
Slow Burn: Episodes 1-3
Yet again apologies for the lack of updates. I was asked in an
interview the other day what super power I'd most like to have and I said
Hiro's time freezing so that I could do more of the things I don't
always have time for. Like writing this blog.
What's been keeping me very busy this time is that I've begun work on
writing my next episode of Heroes. Episode 416 which should air
in late January. I'm very excited to be writing again and I love the
stories I'm getting to tell. Some big things happen! If you're not already, you should follow me on twitter and I'll keep you updated on what's going on with my script and all the different stages it goes through (no spoilers, I promise!)
I hope you've been enjoying the tagged media episodes "Slow Burn". They
were a joy to write and work on. Some folks have been asking who wrote
which ones and though overall it was a huge group effort, here's the breakdown on who wrote the specific episodes.
1. Jim Martin
2. Zach Craley
3. Harrison Wilcox
4. Foz McDermott
5. Jim Martin
6. Jim Martin
7. Zach Craley
8. Foz McDermott
9. Oliver Grigsby
10. Oliver Grigsby
For reasons that are beyond my comprehension, the episodes aren't always the easiest to find. If you want to watch the latest episode of Slow Burn, you can find it on the latest iStory page. Just click on the "Slow Burn" link at the top. You can then dive deeper into the world of the carnival and follow the iStory from there if you wish.
If you're looking to catch up on all of the tagged media episodes that are available, check out the Heroes video library category: "Sprint Now". Just keep in mind that sometimes the most recent one is only available through the iStory.
And now, since you're such awesome people, I have some behind the scenes pictures to share with you from when we filmed "Slow Burn". I'll have more to come in a few weeks time.
Dawn Olivieri (Lydia), Robert Knepper (Samuel) and Ray Park (Edgar) rehearse for a scene: photo by Zach Wilson.
Dawn Olivieri (Lydia) has a tattoo applied: photo by Zach Wilson.
Close up of Lydia's tattoo of her daughter, Amanda: photo by Zach Wilson.
Directors Chris Hanada and Tanner Kling in action: photo by Zach Wilson.
From left-to-right: Jim Martin (writer), Tanner Kling (director), Diane Calhoun (1st A.D.), Foz McDermott (writer), Chris Hanada (director): photo by Howie Kaplan.
Season 4 New Media Episodes Sorry for the lack of posting of late, but I'm here with exclusive news that I hope will make it up to you. Part of the reason for the lack of updates (other than getting married three weeks ago) is that I've been hard at work co-writing what are being called "Sprint New Media Episodes". What exactly is that you ask? In short, it's one story told in different mediums, integrated like never before.
The spine of our story will be told in ten 90 second "episodes" (aka "tagged media") that will air concurrently with the weekly airing of the show. The first 30 seconds will actually appear on-air during the show's commercial break and lead into the following 60 seconds which can be found online. However, my understanding is that you'll be able to view all 90 seconds online if you wish. The first episode airs (and goes online) this Monday, 9/28!
The story takes place in the world of the Carnival and will focus on the characters of Lydia (Dawn Olivieri) Edgar (Ray Park) and Samuel (Robert Knepper). We'll also be introducing some exciting new characters who will appear on the show. While of course you don't *have* to watch the new media episodes to follow the story told in the show, I can tell you that it will enrich what you're seeing on Monday nights more than ever before. Some scenes will even tie directly into what you're seeing on the show.
The on-air and online video component is just the spine of the story we're telling. The graphic novels, iStory and Heroes: Survival game will all combine to integrate and enrich the story. For me, it's exactly how new media storytelling should be done. It's definitely been an ambitious undertaking and my hat goes off to all the talented people who are working their asses off and going the extra mile to collaborate with us and make sure all the aspects of the story track correctly. I'm really proud of what we're setting out to do and of everything we've achieved so far. I can't wait for you all to see what we've come up with.
You met Samuel, Edgar and Lydia in the Season Premiere and if you haven't already, be sure to check out the graphic novel "Stolen Fate" written by Zach Craley for more details on Lydia and Edgar's relationship. Things kick into high gear on Monday with the first "tagged media" episode -- look for it during the commercials and then hit the web to keep watching!
I'll post more updates as the story gets underway and tweet you from the set while we're filming today, tomorrow and Friday -- make sure you're following me so that you don't miss out!
Rebellion Wrap Up The seventh (and final) part of Rebellion is now online -- written by Jim Martin and drawn by Jason Badower. If you missed any of the Rebellion graphic novels, be sure to go back and check them out -- NBC's graphic novel library has them all available to view online or download as a PDF.
We've had several different writers take this through its stages but I'd like to give a special thanks to Jason Badower and Dennis Calero who were the only two artists on the project. They did some truly outstanding work. If you liked what you saw, please be sure to let them know -- Dennis Calero (twitter, website), Jason Badower (blog, facebook - be sure to tell him you're a heroes fan if you send a friend request).
In an ideal world I would have liked to tell an epilogue of sorts for Rebellion but with volume 5 rapidly approaching, it became more essential to set that up instead. Harrison Wilcox has constructed an excellent story, drawn by Robert Atkins, that bridges volumes 4 and 5 nicely. I'll update soon with when exactly "Ice Queen" is scheduled to appear online.
"So what happened to the Rebellion team?" you might be asking. Well, I can't say exactly as you might see one member pop up in an upcoming story, but in short -- they returned to their lives. Their superhero lives that is. As you know from the end of volume 4 the government threat has ended and thus, so has much of the threat to Rebellion. I imagine that from here on out they were able to go on living their lives, both "normal" and "heroic". And to me that's a pretty good place to leave them... for now.
I apologize for the lack of updates of late but big things have been happening in both work and personal life. On the personal front: in less than a week from now I'll be a married man. So in light of that I hope you'll forgive me as updates are a little sporadic over the next few weeks.
On the work front, I'm excited to announce that I'm heavily involved (along with Jim Martin) in creating this seasons "webisodes" (for lack of a better word). The reason I'm not entirely sure what to call them, and why I can't say much more, is that they're going to integrate with the various "new media" aspects of the show like never before. I've probably already said too much, but there you go, now you can (probably) say you heard it here first.
Speaking of places to "hear things first". Please follow me on twitter if you're not already doing so. I do try to read and respond to everything I can. That's it for now, the next time I post I'll likely have a ring on my finger!
Heroes Comic Con News Apologies for the double-post if you read my personal blog but I want to make sure this information gets out to as many people as possible...
There are a bunch of things I can now happily announce about Heroes
presence at Comic Con this year. I'll save the best for last so keep
reading, but let's start with our "booths". Yes booths, plural.
full disclosure, some of this is speculation/rumor/hearsay and
schedules/plans etc. do change last minute so I apologize if any of
this turns out to be incorrect. The reason I don't know for sure is
that most of the comic-con planning is done by NBC promo department and
the information gets filtered back through to us in bits and pieces.
That said, I do work on Heroes so I must have some idea right? Let's
told that inside the convention hall will be a Heroes themed Nissan
booth. I'm not sure exactly what that means, but I am told that's if
you're trying to get your hands on this year's Heroes Limited Edition
graphic novel, that's where you'll want to go. The comic is one you've
already seen, "Rebellion part 3: Family" written by myself and art by Jason Badower. See below for details on where to find me and Jason if you want to get that or (almost) anything else signed. The exhibitors list has "Heroes" down for booth #5312. I can't confirm for sure that's us, but it sure looks like it.edit: Oops, that's not us. Heroes/Nissan booth will be *somewhere* on the floor.
Now what is this other "booth" I speak of? I'm told that across the street from the convention center, in front of the Hilton Gaslamp Quarter Hotel
(at K & 4th street) will be a Heroes "tent". It's being sponsored
by Sprint and I've heard rumors that they'll have some pretty awesome
giveaways (possibly even a Palm Pre!) Now you may asking why "tent"?
Well, if you attend our panel on Saturday I'm sure you'll find out, but
I'll give you a one word hint: Carnival.
SATURDAY - HEROES PANEL By now you probably know that Heroes will be having its panel on Saturday from 3:15-4:15 in the Indigo Ballroom at the Hilton Bayfront.
Please note that this is a *different* Hilton than the one where the
tent will be setup. The Bayfront is on Harbor Drive and 8th ave, at the
South-East end of the convention center (same side of the street).
What you probably don't know is that the panel will be hosted/moderated by Attack of the Show's Blair Butler.
She came into the office to view the season premiere and from what I
hear is a Heroes fan and total geek in the best possible way (I love
how geek and nerd are now terms of affection). Anyway, if Blair's
recent "comic con dark secret" tweets are any indication, it should be a lot of fun.
and did I mention one late addition to the Heroes panel? I'm told that
someone named "Hayden Panettiere" WILL be at the Heroes panel on
Saturday. Did you need another reason to attend?
IN CONCLUSION *phew* I think that's everything. For more Heroes Comic Con details, stop by Heroes ARG who are doing a good job trying to wrangle all of the information together.
The Heroes All Access Party
is definitely the best place to catch me if you'd like to get something
signed but I will be at the Heroes panel and I'll try to stop by the
line outside the Hilton, provided no-one kicks me out. I'll be at other
places throughout the day Friday and Saturday and if you follow me on twitter,
I'll try to post my movements. If you're getting desperate (during the
weekend) you can always try to message me on twitter or shoot me an email. I'll do my best to try and meet everyone who wants to meet up.
Rebellion Part 2 - Providence in the Fall of a Sparrow
A quick reminder that Part 6 of Rebellion, "Lost and Found" written by Timm Keppler and drawn by Dennis Calero goes online next Tuesday 7/14.
Today, I'm going back to talk about part 2 of Rebellion "Providence in the Fall of a Sparrow" which was done by the same writer/artist team as part 1 -- Zach Craley and Dennis Calero. I really liked Zach's decision to break from Micah's POV at the start of this story and take the time to introduce Sparrow in a very cool way. It feels like you're in a different story until at the bottom of page 3 Micah arrives and you realize "of course, he was tracking the plane".
When creating a new character in the graphic novels it often helps to give the artist a real life reference to draw from. Some artists, like Jason Badower, even like to take photo reference themselves, to make sure they capture the angles and poses they like. In this case, Zach asked if Dennis wouldn't mind basing Sparrow on his girlfriend, actress Kat Purgal.
Kat's look worked perfectly for Sparrow, and I know that when it came time for parts 3 and 4, Jason was very happy to have a bonafide actress to work with.
As she explains to Micah, Sparrow is of Native American descent but we made the conscious choice here to try and not make her a stereotypical Native American character. She's simply someone who is in touch with her own ancestry. You can catch a glimpse of the tattoo on her back which is of a Zuni sunface (in honor of her mother).
The other tattoo Sparrow has that I think Dennis made look super cool, are the sparrows on her forearm:
You can also see the sparrows tattoo at the end of part 3 when the Rebellion team is formed and they're all standing in their superhero poses.
That's it for now, next time I'll talk about parts 3 and 4 which were written by me and drawn by Jason Badower. Until then, make sure you're following me on twitter for the latest Heroes Graphic Novel news.