Friday, November 15, 2013

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

Ragged Isle" episode 18, "Gone," is up at The Entertainment Experiment web site. If you haven't already, go watch it now. After you've seen it, read on for a behind-the-scenes writer's commentary.  This will include spoilers for this episode (and previous episodes), so make sure you've seen it before you continue, okay? Okay.

So, the spit is really hitting the spam on Ragged Isle, isn't it? We're gearing up for the endgame, which means fewer and fewer secrets can be kept. Some random thoughts about the making of this episode:

1) That statue of the fisherman is in Eastport, Maine. It was constructed for the reality/game/mystery show"Murder in Small Town X," which aired from July through September 2001 on FOX. The statue remained long after the show closed up shop and it's become an Eastport landmark.  And now, it stands on Ragged Isle, at least in our little corner of the internet.

2) Those helicopters, like the helicopters in season two, were created by "Ragged Isle" cinematographer (and local filmmaker) Derek Kimball.  The man's got chops, folks.

3) That's my basement Paul's tied up in.  It required very little set decoration or lighting effects to make it look that creepy. It was fun having the cast and crew in my house, and we worked hard to keep my family in the dark about plot developments they wouldn't get to find out about for a couple of years. In the original scripts for the season, it took several more episodes to reveal Paul's fate/location after his abduction at the end of season two, but Barry (rightly) insisted that we needed to see Ian earlier, which resulted in a scene I quite like, with Vance torturing Paul with his boring old newspaperman stories. Some nice work here from Denis Fontaine and Ian Carlsen.

4) That's Doughty (just "Doughty") playing the dead Agent Griggs outside Gertie Kendrick's house. Somewhere, there's a blooper of him jumping in genuine startlement when I touched his neck.  Kind of blew the whole "dead" assertion.

5) The pre-opening-credits sequences have been much longer this season, I think.  I'm digging it.

6) That's Justin St. Louis lying on the floor as the murdered Trevor Stebbins (though he wasn't Trevor Stebbins anymore when he died, careful viewers will recall). Justin was a blast to work with, and his parents were generous enough to let their house stand in for Gertie's.  Thank you to the whole family!

7) The scenes in Gertie's house were some of the last we shot, on a very long last day of principal photography. It was quite late (like, dark outside) when we shot some of it, even though this scene is supposed to take place in the early morning.  But with some fine, last-minute lighting improvisation by Barry, we were able to shoot "night for day."

8) Meghan Benton does some of her finest work (imo) in this episode as a grieving Vicki. I was at that day's shoot and it was amazing to watch her turn the grief on and off for various takes.  It wasn't like a switch.  She had to work herself up to it, and then work herself back down.  It was quite extraordinary. Amie Marzen is also so good in this scene, as Julie isn't quite sure how to respond to what Vicki tells her.  Amie improvised her voicemail message to Deputy Dan, all in one take, and while it was great, it probably slowed down the episode too much to stay on her.  In a brilliant stroke, Barry placed it over the closing credits, where it creates even more suspense for the next episode.  (You're going to Rose's, Julie?  Were you not even listening to what Vicki told you?)

9) "Ragged Isle" co-writer/prop-maker/poster-designer Jacob Lear made my CDC identification (dubbing me "Brain Hoffman" -- ha!) and I got the badge at a Halloween store.  It's made of plastic and features an image of a waving policeman.  But it works well enough for this shot, doesn't it?

10) Michael Dix Thomas is so good playing an entirely new character.  One look at him and there's no doubt Vicki's brother Eric is no longer on the scene.

11) So... yeah.  Something's up with my character, huh?  I guess there are still a few more secrets left to uncover.

12) The score is by Richard de Costa and the closing song is "Marathon Caribou" by Jacob Augustine. I love the music on this show. It adds so much.

13) There's more I'd like to say about the scripting process, but I really need to wait a couple of episodes for some more plot to unfold.  Stay tuned.

14) Thanks for watching, and for reading this far.  If you like the show, please drop us a line in the comments section below or on our YouTube page's comments section.

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