Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Episode Sixteen.... and behind-the-scenes writer's commentary

The season two finale of "Ragged Isle," "Where Did It All Go Wrong," is here.  This is the last episode we'll be serving up until spring 2013, so savor it (though there will be some treats and surprises in the meantime).  Fortunately, we packed a lot for you to contemplate into this very short episode.  Watch it below, and after you've seen it, read on for a behind-the-scenes writer's commentary.

Did you watch?  I'm about to start spoiling the episode, so turn back now if you haven't watched.  Fair warning.

Way back when we were shooting season one, we knew exactly where the series was going.  There were drafts of all ten episodes of the then-final season two.   But then in the spring of 2011, during the original broadcast of season one, we decided to split the final season into two seasons, adding two more episodes to make the second and third season six episodes apiece.

There was more to be done besides just splitting the seasons and writing two new episodes.  The structure of every episode had to be reworked, and new plots and characters had to be introduced.

The events on the boat, seen in this episode, originally occurred in episode thirteen, the first draft of which was written by Rick Dalton.  Rick's dialogue between Colleen and Paul remains largely intact (though I think Colleen was originally a man), but when we decided that this was where we would break the season, we reworked it as a cliffhanger.  In the first season, we sent Mac (Dominic Lavoie) into the water.  In the second, Vicki (Meghan Benton) takes the plunge.

Dominic had it (relatively) easier.  He went into the water at the end of August (2010), on a fairly warm night.  We shot Vicki's plunge in early September (2011) on a decidedly cooler night, after a very long day of shooting.  Immediately after Meghan went in, she surfaced and shouted, "Goddamn, this is cold!  Whatever you have to shoot, do it quick!"  That was the closest she came to a complaint, performing the scene with astonishing grace and professionalism (despite shivering uncontrollably and slowly turning blue).  It was amazing to watch, and my hat's forever off to Meghan for the most courageous thing I've ever seen an actor do.  Maybe she can be persuaded to weigh in about the experience in the comments, because after all that, she had to keep the whole thing secret for nearly a year.

(The underwater shots were captured in a pool.  I wasn't there for that shoot, but maybe Barry can also be persuaded to chime in with a comment or a blog post of his own, because I understand that it was no picnic.)

The final script for this episode clocked in at four pages, by far the shortest episode of the season (and maybe even the whole series).  The season one finale was also short on the page, but Barry managed to stretch it in editing with great music and cool lobster festival atmosphere (courtesy of footage from the Rockland Lobster Fest).

To stretch out the season two finale (and strengthen its impact), Barry conceived of Vicki's encounter in the water.  Careful "Ragged Isle" viewers will recognize the woman Vicki sees as Emma Dobson, whose picture hangs on the wall of The Glass Jaw, and whose story Rachel Moody told to Sheriff Dalton in episode seven, "The Unforgettable Fire."  Even more eagle-eyed fans will have seen Emma's picture in the locket Madame Clelia gave to Vicki, and in a newspaper article on Vicki's conspiracy wall.  Emma also appears in a snippet of enigmatic footage after the closing credits of the season one finale, and even more enigmatic footage at the beginning of this episode.  Are you starting to get the feeling that Emma is important to the mystery?  Go with that feeling.  I think maybe it will pay off in season three.  That's actress Krystal Kenville as Emma, and there's a good chance we'll hear more from Krystal fairly soon.

At the close of the season, I want to thank Barry for putting it all together, and Jake and Karen and Rick and our whole tremendous cast for a tremendous season.  That montage during the credits brought back a lot of memories of last summer's shoot.

I feel blessed to be a part of this project, and sad that it's going dark for so long (though I'm happy Barry will be getting a break at last).  But stay tuned to the blog and the Facebook page.  We may just have a few surprises up our sleeves in the months ahead.


  1. Thanks as always for your recollections Greg. I'll share thoughts soon. Right now fighting the urge to fall off the map completely. I plan one more big blog post before I vanish into the air. Congrats on writing a pretty fantastic second season of Ragged Isle (with a little help from your friends.)

  2. All I can say at the moment, as I am sworn to a secret oath to hide under a cloak of mystery, is that I am so very proud of this production. The talent, hard work, and amazing effort put into this project is overwhelming and inspiring.

    This series is so beautiful, breathtaking, it entirely pulls you in with it's enthralling story-line and cinematography! You can not only see the chemistry between EVERYONE involved here on this blog and Facebook page but on the screen.

    The actor's and crew have done this project out of pure love and little else. As more characters are added, people from near and far have asked how they can be a part of of it all. Volunteering time, funding, and warm words because they feel that they need to be an islander.

    The fan following, awards, and positive comments from all over speak for Ragged Isle's community. I know that when Season 3 comes to a close there will be many a heavy heart, and constant pleads for a Season 4 and perhaps a "Ragged Isle movie".

    Barry and his wife Karen Dodd have spent years with close friends developing Ragged Isle. Putting sometimes more hours into this than their personal lives and more of their own money than they can probably count. It has been a heartfelt, exhausting ride of love and commitment. If there were to be more of Ragged Isle I would think that funding is a big obstacle.

    So keep that in mind Hollywood, because Ragged Isle should be in our lives forever and I for one will be first in line for a very long continuation.

    All of my Love,


  3. Ragged Isle: Barry's curse/triumph. A lot of folks are feeling the pain of having to wait until Spring for the next installment, and I understand their pain first hand, but I also know what the editing bay feels like, and I know the man hasn't had a proper break from some form of production or another of Ragged Isle in two years. Imagine waiting two years for a coffee break!

    When the show goes viral, a year or two or more after Season 3 is over, at least we'll have the blog to show that we DID push the show back when it was coming out. SO many masterpieces weren't hugely received when they were initially released, later becoming indisputable all time classics. To be certain, there are a lot of people who know how great a show Ragged Isle is right now, but as each new episode comes out, I always feel an overwhelming desire to somehow make ten million people hit "play" on episode one for the fist time.

    I'm so proud of how awesome season two is. I love season one as well, but they're so different in their evolution. Season two's episodes have inspired me so, I feel another long winded blog post percolating....