Whoa!  It’s a pretty crazy idea.  As far as crazy ideas go, it’s certainly not the craziest I’ve had – but it does rank up there with the very craziest.  But more on that in a second.

Okay, so I’m full into prep on episode #102 (Carl Binder’s 12 Hours). Today, I spent the early morning hours incorporating the french dialogue into episodes #104 and #105 (Thanks to the lovely Sarah for doing all the heavy lifting), then moved on to a tone meeting for 12 Hours.  We sat in a room and went through the script, scene by scene, line by line, discussing character motivations, subtexts, and deliveries. That took us to noon and…lunch time!  Of course just because it was time for lunch didn’t mean we had time to eat lunch.  We moved upstairs for a stunts meeting with Cyril Raffaelli in which we discussed the means by which we could make the most effective use of his incredible talent.  We went over the fight sequences in 12 Hours including the BIG ONE (I re-jigged the shooting schedule to give him an entire day on that one).  As Cyril and his right hand man, MoMo, headed off to check out the location (As I told Cyril, the scripted fight sequences should serve as a guide more than bible.  He’s great at improvising so he should feel free to be inspired by the room and its various potential props – fire extinguishers, vacuum hoses, detachable floor panels – in constructing his colorful fight sequences), I grabbed a sandwich, then returned to the office where I fielded a gaggle of emails and phone calls on everything from auditions to the ongoing script rewrites.  From there, it was off to the extras meeting where we discussed low-lifes, young techies, and Swiss border guards.

So, I was about to sit down to write that (new) closing scene of #104 when I was alerted to some production concerns related to my forthcoming shooting block – episodes #103 (Sharks) and #106 (Payback).  They’re both my scripts and, alas, don’t exactly marry well in the shooting schedule.  Unfortunately, they’re like geeks at the prom.  While they may not go well with each, they don’t exactly go well with any other episodes either.

A little aside here to elaborate on what I’m talking about.  At the script stage, most of the issues are creative and you do your best to address network concerns, notes, and requests.  Once you move into prep, the episode begins to take shape in the form of preliminary budgets, schedules, and timings.  And so, the trick is to make sure said episode isn’t over budget, doesn’t take too long to shoot, and doesn’t time short.  Often, attempts to adjust issues related to one category will result in a ripple effect over others.  For instance, if the episode is looking like it’s going to take too long to shoot (ie. an extra day), the obvious answer is to lose a couple of locations and tighten the script. Okay, but what if you’re timing short?  Losing those locations and tightening the script will help you make your days (and also bring down the episode budget) but it will make the episode even shorter.  So what do you do?

This is what producing is all about: sitting in a pub in Hamilton, eating lunch during a location scout, disassembling the preliminary shooting schedule and rearranging the various scenes, marrying nearby locations to avoid big costly moves, and reassembling the pieces to form a schedule that will allow for very makable days including one whole day dedicated to that BIG fight sequence.  But don’t get ahead of yourself, because once those departmental budgets come in, it’ll be time to revisit the script to take another, longer look at all of the many small elements that add up.  You have to ask yourself: Do I really need six gorillas or will two suffice?  Does the tank really have to crush two dozen SUV’s instead of, say, a dozen sedans?  Does the villain’s office chair have to be made out of real gold?

And, of course, all the while you’re making the changes to ensure the script is awesome, producable, and on budget, you’re still receiving broadcaster notes.

So, while Paul is on set producing episode 101 (Pilot), I figured I’d jump on the rewrites of the next two scripts he’ll be producing (104 and 105) between prep meetings.  A great idea – until I realized that while that’s all well and good for him, it’s not so good for me as I’ll still have to do my rewrite of Payback and final pass on Sharks while I’m on set producing 12 Hours!

As I was wrestling with that reality, I was informed of the Shark/Payback block-shooting issue.  To those of you who don’t know, block shooting involves shooting two (sometimes more) episodes simultaneously to take advantage of like locations.  For instance, if we’re in a parking garage in both episodes, we can shoot scenes for both episodes in the same place by altering the look of the location. It’s a quicker, more efficient way of  shooting these episodes which, in turn, allows us to shave time off our production schedule (and, in turn, dedicate it to other episodes in the form of extra days or savings that can be splurged on that big visual effects shot of Frank fighting atop the Eiffel Tower).  All this to say block-shooting is great if you have episodes with similar locations.  It’s not so great if you have two episodes (say, Sharks and Payback) that have very dissimilar locations.  When that happens, you’ve got to think out of the box…

Which brings me to that crazy idea I had.  Granted, it’s crazy and will, in all probability, kill me – but if it works…

Anyway, waiting to hear word back from Rob, Alex, and Paul on the subject.  But they’ve got to get back to me fast.  I’m going to have to move quickly…

Hey, here are those pictures of yesterday’s location scout…

Hmmm. A seemingly innocuous path.
Tim. Sassy.
The Devil's Punchbowl.
I shot this from a distance. No way am I getting anywhere near the edge. The very thought of this sequence makes me dizzy.
Anna, already thinking about lunch.
Shades of North By Northwest!
Director Bruce McDonald discusses options...

Okay, off to squeeze in a work-out, a couple of dog-walks, and then it’s on to that (new) final scene for 104.

I’m sure that once that’s done, it’ll be smooooooooooooooooooooooth sailing!

32 thoughts on “July 19, 2011: Another Transporter production update!

  1. Joe, you continually amaze me. In a good way though. 🙂 I am really enjoying all of this behind the scenes action of a brand new show. I know it’s gonna be great!!!

    Still prepping for the big move. We leave for the West Coast in five days.

  2. I will never complain again of having a busy day. But in this industry it is feast or famine, right? Go crazy while the crazy is there, because you might be in for an unexpected dry spell. Still, whew, typing 3 medical reports was all the energy I could muster up after the massive infection. I head back to the infectious disease doctor on Thursday, but I think I have until Sunday for antibiotics unless he decides to extend my number of days. If all goes well, maybe the PICC line will be withdrawn next week. It’s causing me to have some chest pain and palpitations which I am not liking AT ALL.

  3. It should be some consolation that once you have a season or two under your belts, things will get smoother and smoother. At least you got an excellent education on your last gig. And glad to see that you seem to be enjoying yourself so much.

  4. The mind boggles. At least mine does.

    @PBMom: I hope your medical report from your infectious disease doctor is good and you can get that line out and get back to normal.

  5. What’s really crazy is how much stuff you have to juggle and in the timeframes you have to do it all in.

    So tell us, Joe, what are some indispensable things…whether tools (laptop, particular software, etc.) or skills without which one could never really do what you do.

    Obviously you have to be a good writer. Duh. But what else? In the unlikely event you’ve ever actually met somebody who does what you do, but maybe not quite so well, what are things about them that they’re missing that make them not be able to do that kind of work so well?

  6. @PBMom….hope things go well. crossing all crossable parts an wishing you good vibrations!

  7. Your brilliant idea…I hope it doesn’t involve using replay scenes from Transformers 1 and 2. Michael Bay could get away with it because it’s not like he could tick off the Transformers fans even more.

    Does your brilliant idea involve night-time shooting? Amphetamines?

  8. @ pbmom… feel better SOON!

    Okay, your work schedule and complexity is making me depressed. And you enjoy that why? Oy. Can’t wait to see it though.

    Question…… Is there any truth to the comments that a year after the cancellation of star gate the network regretted it, tried to revive but was too late? Or that Shanks leaving allowed a “fresh” start on SyFy and probably was why it got renewed. (Never mind Shanks came back I guess?) Comments from Shoreleave con made by C Judge.

  9. so im guessing “block shooting” was used in stargate for like every episode? because it was always the same backwoods location.

    So whats the plan? you want to use deceptive establishing shots for the different location? You can shoot one episode in the morning and the other at night, I’m sure people wouldn’t notice that its the same place. You know what’s so cool, a car chase during a rainstorm, comon I want to see that!

  10. Blargh…big day. Not a bad day, just busy. Work, a doctor’s appointment, and finished up the day at the little farm market fair the town has every Tuesday during the summer. I got my Carolina-style pulled pork! Woo!

    So, saw a new endocrinologist, and he was very nice…he spent an hour with me. Unheard of these days. He gave me a diet plan (not a ‘diet’, per se, but eating guidelines that – hopefully – will help boost my metabolism). No more two meals a day… 🙁 …I have to have three, and no snacks (I’m not a snacker anyway, so that shouldn’t be hard). This will be hard because I get distracted and forget to eat,, or eat too late – just no routine, at all. Good thing is that my blood sugar is still low to normal. Bad thing is that I have all the signs of turning into a wildebeest if I don’t get a handle on my problem. One thing I really liked about this new doctor is that he acknowledged I have very bad ADD, but – unlike my last endocrinologist who fired me because of it – he actually gave me suggestions on how I can make and keep schedules so that I don’t get so easily distracted, and leep to routines of regular exercise and eating. He was so nice that he inspired me to give it a try, which I haven’t really felt like doing for a long time now. So, we’ll see…I just have to realize that it’s not a ‘diet’, but a lifestyle change, which makes it a tad harder. Hubby has to be on board, too.

    Anyway, that was my day. Not nearly as exciting as yours, though, Joe. 🙂


  11. Coucou 🙂 Vous allez bien? Moi super, hhier j’ai été voir HP 7.2 en 3D…vraiment super, par contre ici le temps ce n’est pas trop ça, il pleut depuis 15 jours…déprimant =/!

    C’est cool de voir l’évolution de la production, je suis certaine que vous apportez beaucoup à la serie, vous êtes quelqu’un de brillant Joseph! 🙂

    Bonne journée!
    Gros bisous!

  12. Joe, can you post one of those network / broadcaster notes? I’ve always been wondering, what they are all about.

  13. Joe, you are ever the optimist. Fingers crossed for an Emmy after Christmas.
    Would love to see you and Paul bounding up the stairs in L.A to receive it, then you and Paul fighting over it in the car to the hotel.


  14. In my opinion Dieter should also speak some french the multi language Mechanic 😉

  15. Phew…I’m exhausted just reading all of that – hope you’re taking your vitamins Joe!

    BTW, I’m scared of heights too…I can’t even jump into a swimming pool!

  16. Smoooooooooooth sailing.

    Oh yeah…that’s right.
    I think that I saw that film.
    What was that title again?…”White Squall”?

    Good luck with everything Joseph.
    Stay strong!….stay sane!

    I am having many high hopes for this new show of yours
    turning out to be a pretty damn cool ride/watch.

    I can’t wait to see what you folks have cooked up
    with your new and different takes on the basic
    concepts of the characters and themes etc.

  17. I’ll be interesting watching the show and seeing what locations actually made it in.

    Posting unmodeled ladies panties, for shame sir!

    To all those having health issues, I wish you a speedy recovery.

  18. Yowza, the Eiffel Tower fight scene sounds awesome, this is looking like each ep is a movie.

    Stargate also had that big cinematic look so you guys are the perfect dudes to run this show, looks like tons of work but I’m excited to see the finished product.

  19. Stagnation promotes brain atrophy… keep busy and keep sharp. This is why my brain has shriveled to size of a mosquito’s mustache…

  20. Take extra care to keep everyone cool tomorrow. I’t’s going to be very, very HOT! And humid.

  21. Debra that Syfy rumor isnt true. Though Syfy had no choice but to cancel SGU, they haven’t closed the door on Stargate, Its been said enough times they would want an SG1/SGA movie if made. MGM are the ones holding up new Stargate, Syfy would take a new spinoff show if made.

  22. Sounds like being a TV writer is busy but fun. Is it so busy because your a writer? Or is it so busy because you are a producer as well?

    PBmom: hope you feel better soon and the picc line gets out!

    Das: I’m glad you found a doctor that listened to you. One question for you: My 15 year old son has ADD. How did you learn to pay attention while driving with ADD? He is having a hard time keeping himself alert. He starts zoning! Any “stay alert” tricks you can pass on? He could “pass” his drivers test now (he is 16 next month) but there is NO way I’m letting him drive unsupervised. He has found ways to stay alert in school, so I know he can find ways to cope while driving. It may take a while though 🙁 .
    Good luck with your new “diet” plan. My problem is that I get too focused. I get so involved with whatever job/project, that I forget to eat. I’m a little OCD too, so routine exercise is compulsive. I HAVE to go swim/karate or it blows my whole day 😀 .
    Stay cool!

  23. >>>Does the villain’s office chair have to be made out of real gold?<<<<

    Well, DUH.

    @PBMom, I hope you heal soon and come back better and faster!

    The hospital stay knocked out the infection in my hand, and I was discharged Saturday around noon. Less than six hours later, I was at the Utah Burn festival, winning the Banana Blowjob Contest! Fat old me beat out half naked young beauties of both genders. Age and experience huh?

  24. @ Tammy Dixon – Two words: The Force. When I started to learn to drive, I pretended I was Luke Skywalker flying down the Death Star trench in the Battle of Yavin. Really. 😳 😛

    I don’t know what else to say. I can be a very focused driver (Mr. Das, on the other hand, scares the crap out of me because he sightsees while he drives). I think I remain focused because when I’m driving I really can’t do anything else – can’t do the dishes, or the laundry, or play on the internet, or weed the garden. My biggest problem is that I tend to fall alseep at the wheel, so I have to be very careful when driving alone. The car relaxes me, so maybe that’s why my ADD calms down when I drive…but the falling asleep part is not a good thing, either. 😛

    I often get too focused on some things and also forget to eat. Household chores will do it – I get started in the morning and don’t stop to eat until noon, which is what the doctor wants me to correct. Now I have to eat when I get up (but I’m not hungry!), and at noon, and at dinner…and I’m sure I’ll pack on the pounds. Well, we’ll see…but I can’t see how adding another entire meal is going to help me lose weight.

    I HATE, HATE, HATE exercise! Exercise is one of those BIG ADD triggers for me. I just get so bored and/or anxious to get it over with because – in my mind – it’s a huge waste of time. Even if I go to the gym I get restless. I would much rather do something that kills two birds with one stone – like a walk or bike ride (which counts as recreation for me), or something constructive, like housework, or gardening, or mowing the grass, or washing the car. If I do those things then I can get lost in what I am doing and I forget about the time, but if I’m just lifting weights or walking on a treadmill or doing pushups, I am ever aware that I could be doing something else!


  25. to Bailey–stargate was probably twice as much work because of the special effects & stuff, but Mr. M wasn’t a show runner so he didn’t have to be involved with so much.

    to maggiemayday–what’s the criteria for judging such a contest? or don’t i want to know?

  26. Thanks for the well wishes everyone.

    @maggiemayday — “Banana Blowjob Contest???” OMG ROTFLMAO. I am not even going to ASK what was required to win.

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