Thursday, November 7, 2013

Meghan, Krystal, and Episode 17 -in Rick's opinion.

A few thoughts on Episode 17. There are some slight spoilers, but if you haven't watched Episode 17 yet, I have no sympathy for you. I couldn't believe it. It's a masterpiece of editing, score, acting, and some lovingly tuned special effects. But what drives me to blog again after so long? It's how long it took Barry to release a new Ragged Isle episode. Just kidding, it's the acting of Meghan Benton and Krystal Kenville that inspires this blog. Why single out a few actors over my other actor friends in the episode? Because no one can stop me. I have no wife to ask me to rethink it, or hold me close prior to a wild romp. 

I'll start with Krystal, because her scene that inspired me comes first in the episode. For me, the magic starts at time 2:10. I don't know how great actors do it, but by God it stands out when they do. At this point in time, right now, I know more about Krystal's character than most of the viewers because of course I've seen the script. That said, Krystal's eyes and expression speaks volumes of story to me. Story that, creatively, goes back years in my mind when I first saw it being born. I wish I could describe more about that, but these secrets will end up being your friend, so don't fret. When the show ends up completely posted and some viewers go back to study it all, once they have all the answers, they will feel, as I do now, a great empathy and heartbreak for certain characters. A depth to what was done, and to whom. It will hurt your heart to know it. You can't really guess at the answers right now, because the ending is too damn inspirationally clever. It's not trying to torture you by being impossible to solve, it's setting you up for a kind of delight that only comes around every decade or two. RI isn't mean, it's built properly. As a fan, you can rest assured that it won't drop the ball and rip you off. 

Back to Krystal, there are lots of ways to look at her performance, but only mine and others who agree matter. She is giving you pages of story, history, and overwhelming weights of emotions and intent without speaking a word. I'm getting more out of her 16 seconds than I can emotionally bear. It's overwhelming, combined with the post production composition of Barry, Derek Kimball, and Richard Decosta. As I write this, a second ago via Facebook chat, Barry told me of his lighting technique for this scene. The guy has it. Like a Gorham Doctor Who. Back to Krystal. Krystal is awesome. Krystal is amazing. Krystal is a real actor. Please read on...

Now to Meghan. We all got together one night in Harpswell and set up some big lights over salt water on a wobbly wharf and tried to freeze a young, thin girl to death. I've waited a long time to mention the impact it had on me. That night was strange, heavy, and exhausting, psychologically and physically. Meghan's dedication and human vulnerability left an impression on me I'll never forget. Brilliant young actress Meghan Benton (pronounced Mee'-in) as Vicki Burke plunged into icy waters late at night for the camera. She then had to float there motionless without shivering. I had to pull her out of the water twice, because the first time I had the angle wrong and fell short of getting her up and onto the dock. Pulling someone soaking wet straight up out of the water as you're leaning over is harder than you might imagine. I hoped I could do it, but I couldn't. I felt terrible that she had to go into the water again because of me, but at least I got her on the second try. I just yanked like hell. No problem. Her shoulder will likely pop back in. Soon after, I had to push on her chest pretty damned hard (because I hate it when TV CPR looks fake) over and over. Meghan of course toughed it out, with the occasion "Oh my @#%& God," as she shivered uncontrollably, sinking into hypothermia in front of all our eyes. She would however stop shivering, again and again on "action." I got to see my friend get colder and colder, soaking wet in the Maine night as she laid on the dock for what seemed like forever. While acting, pretending to save her, I wanted to save her for real. Poor little shit, having to be the toughest one of us all. A bootleg video I took of her jumping in will effectively illustrate the water temperature, but that's a treat for after the end of this, the final season. Don't worry, the Dodd's had her in a heated vehicle wrapped in blankets after not too long. She survived to act another day. Triple pneumonia doesn't last forever. 

I've been a fan of Meghan's acting since the beginning, and got a huge reminder in this episode. In particular, her realization with Eric at time 8:05. I couldn't believe the combination of grief, fear, dread, realization, terror, and loss in her face. And her running away broke my heart. That's poor Vicki's brother for Chrissakes! I find her acting flawless. She makes me believe that Vicki is real, and a completely different person than Meghan, but with Meghan's unique stretch-a syllable dialect, which I love. Unfortunately, I very rarely see her, but she's fantastic and I believe she's Ragged Isle's leading asset.

And of course I must mention Barry's direction and editing. His editing style has a signature that I've come to know, and we're fortunate that it consistently puts us ahead of so many. Sorry community, but the show is tight. In the editing bay, Barry sets up and supports mood like few others can, and does it with performances that he guided seemingly with almost no effort.

And finally (they're always last in the DVD extras, aren't they?) the composer. Richard DeCosta's scores are invisible on the first viewing, because his music so perfectly conveys the emotion of the scene. It aligns with it. I don't notice the score at all, at first. I just notice my emotion building because of it. The score commands respect but doesn't draw attention to itself. It doesn't make me think "Oh, so this is what they have for a "score"." I go back and listen carefully later, pick out the instruments, and enjoy its craft. It's hard to do, because I keep getting drawn back into the gripping story, and his score becomes invisible again.

Bravo to Episode 17. I'm in love with it. Watch it again. Share it on Facebook. Would it KILL you to SHARE it on FACEBOOK? A friend of yours might like it, and they won't know it exists it if you don't share it. Episode 17 won Indie Series of the Week on We Love Soaps! I got Best Actor of the Week too, and thank you We Love Soaps, but to my eyes Meghan and Krystal were way better.

Episode 17 is awesome. Click here to watch it! And don't forget to track down that share button...


  1. RIght on man. Thanks for putting your thoughts down in writing. I remember shooting while talking Krystal through that moment under the water (in our basement home theater for real) and knowing instantly that we had it. Was very excited to get to share that with the world. She's been the lady in the picture for so long that it's fantastic to give the audience a taste of what she can really do! Meghan has been the consummate pro on the set for all three seasons and I am still blown away by that cold night on the docks. What a trooper! Richard is one of our many secret weapons and its true he blends so well into the series. You don't really pick up on all he's throwing down upon first listen but it's fantastic. He's been a real treat to get to collaborate with and I'll miss working with that guy so much.
    Congrats once again to you for the Actor of the Week award. You were great as always, and let's face it, if you save the talented Meghan Benton from frosty september at 2am waters, you deserve recognition! :)

  2. WOW, Rick, you never EVER stop amazing me. I just by chance, a weak happening, stumbled onto Ragged Isle. I remember needing judges for a little project called the 7DayPSA, and someone gave me Barry from FOX Channel News. How it went from there to here I still do not have one clue. I would love to attach my first ever meeting of Barry picture here, can I do that? Because I have it.

    Awhile down the road Barry asked me to be a part of RI, and at the time I was so involved with another project that I just could not, and offered any help I could that did not require an actual time commitment. Barry said I would just love a photo then, and I offered my location services to him. Well, season 1 broke and there was my little 'photo' setting the stage for what I realized then a long story. Boy didn't I call him out, and all he said was, "see, I told you I would get you in this".

    I can't tell you enough how happy I am about that. IF I had not been a part of this I may be sitting in the corner tearing my hair out with regret. The energy, love, talent, and all around honest commitment to this that EVERYONE has brought literally brings me to tears.

    Please let me explain really quick how very hard parts of this role for me were. I, today, as a fully grown mature woman, STILL take a shower plugging my nose, and have a wash cloth over my eyes. NEVER in my life have I EVER opened my eyes in water, and I have NEVER not plugged my nose near a sprinkle. I am super sensitive, BUT because of the Talent that was brought forth in this production I had to bring my A-Game and conquer my fear of water in my eyes and up my nose. I think I did ok?

    Because of this crew and incredibly talented actors, I have strived (sp?)to make myself a better actor, and have made it a point to supply this talent with as much work as I possibly can. I have said this a few times before, I am SO PROUD of every single aspect of this production and everything The Entertainment Experience stands for that for as long as I can I will always support the film industry in Maine and New England.

    Rick, when I first asked you to be my 'friend' on Facebook so very long ago, I had not met you, I was nothing but a little wanna'be at the time, and you accepted and said, 'Just please do not send me anything, invites, etc." I have heeded that warning to this day, because 1, I totally get it, but because you are such a rarity that I ONLY contact you with the most important castings because you are worthy of it.

    Meghan, YEAH, everything that Rick says about you is the honest to goodness truth. you are patient, you are beautiful, you are so very very talented. It is an honor to share the screen with you. I am so happy that I actually was able to physically work with you. ~Rick, I hope to share the screen with you at some point!~ Meghan, you are a rare, and wonderful human, and I so look forward to seeing you on so many more projects.

    Thank you Rick, your words are so meaningful, and motivating to me. Thank you Barry and Karen for accepting me into your life. Thank you Greg, for being an AWESOME right hand man, and thank you to the cast and crew of Ragged Isle, YOU are the first people I think of when I cast ANYTHING.

    So much Love for so much of a production.


  3. Oh yeah, I'm a strange duck like that. I still do that stuff. Heh heh, the shit I do... Can't believe I did it to YOU!

    1. And you did a GREAT job under water! I suspect your dedication to acting might have you overcome ANY fear.