Prep week invariably begins with the concept meeting, the preliminary pre-production assembly attending by all of the department heads. We all sit around the long conference room table as the First A.D. goes through the script, scene by scene. “Scene one,”he’ll say, “A puddle jumper flies through space. This is a visual effects shot.” – and wait for the director or visual effects supervisor to chime in. Is there anything special about this shot? Has the director envisioned something he wants to run by us? No? Okay. “Scene two,”says the First A.D., “We’re interior jumper. Sheppard is alone. He gets a radio message from McKay.” Anything? No. Moving onto – “Scene three. McKay is in the control room, talking to Sheppard…” And so on. We all sit in our respective seats, flipping the pages and following along, weighing in when necessary (“Let’s use rear-screen projection on that shot.” or “Let’s put the detectors on the wrist bands and let’s make them flash red instead.” or “What say we make the drinking glasses actually easy to drink out of unlike those unwieldy, counter-intuitive “alien” glasses we used in The Other Side.”). It’s a grueling process that usually runs about an hour and a half (God help you if you’re prepping a two-parter) in which the preliminary concepts are discussed, occasionally in some detail (although the really detailed discussions are reserved for individual department meetings) to ensure that everyone is on the same page. Once satisfied that we are all, in fact, progressing in sync, the director orders the door unlocked and everyone is allowed to leave.
On this day, we started prep on Travelers, finishing the concept meeting at around 10:30 a.m. and heading right into the Art Department meeting where we discussed ship interiors, auxiliary control rooms, and blasted door panels. From the Art Department meeting to the costumes meeting and from the costumes meeting to lunch – Carl’s favorite – Dominos! I went barbecue chicken, regular crust, thanks.
Fortified, we head into the props meeting. Alas, our props master Kenny, a.k.a. Evil, is up north fending off polar bears, so his temporary replacement takes the reins. “Should I go through it scene by scene or should I just highlight the hero props?”asks the sub. “Just the hero props,”replies director Wil Waring (pictured). After all, we’ve already done the excruciating scene by scene overview. Let’s cut to the chase. “Alright,”says the sub, flipping the cover page. “Scene one. A puddle jumper flies through space. This is a visual effects shot. No props here. Scene two. Interior jumper…” I can actually feel myself getting older. As we progress through what for all intents and purposes is a repeat of the concept meeting, I notice John Smith getting squirrely in his seat, shifting this way and that while, in contrast, D.O.P. Jim Menard sits slumped and unmoving. Although his eyes are open he is unusually stone still and I briefly consider shouting his name, just to be sure. But eventually Jim blinks, confirming that he is, in fact, alive. Half an hour in, John Lenic has apparently had enough and, feigning some pressing business, leaves the room. On we go. I’m reminded of a former props master who used to preside over equally torturous sessions in which he would cover the tiniest of details. “Scene thirty-six,”he’d say. “Daniel sits in the chair. What kind of shoes? Do you want laces? Velcro?” “Laces,”I’d respond. “Laces,”he’d repeat, noting my choice in the script. “What kind of laces? Black laces? Brown laces?” “Black is fine,”I’d say. “Black,”he’d repeat, marking down my choice. “Do you want the laces tipped or plain?” “Tipped!”I’d answer him, growing frustrated. “Tipped,”he’d echo, writing it down. Fine. Then – “Okay, we’re done with the laces, now onto the shoes themselves…” And on we go. After another twenty minutes spent cursing John Lenic and his transparent ploy to get out of the meeting, I finally think “Ah, fuck this”, feign an urgent phone call, and leave the meeting. It’s instances like these when writing partners come in handy.
My apologies to Arctic Goddess and the organizers of the chocolate party. After schnitzel last night, I was so tired I went home and even skipped t.v. night with the wife. I hope everyone had a great time and were suitably chocolated-out by night’s end.
Hope everyone in town for the Whosits Con is enjoying themselves and following up on my past restaurants suggestions. Let me know.