The cast and crew concluded filming yesterday at 1pm, having blazed through 45 pages of intense dialogue and bacon eating. These two episodes made me seriously grow as a director. By creating back-to-back bottle episodes, I reached a level of understanding in terms of script and direction that was only possible through the attentiveness of my DP, Dane Ohlrogge, my assistant director, Coco Fernandez, and our lighting assistant, Thomas Lewis. We are officially 3/4 of the way done with filming and I couldn't be prouder of everyone involved.
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Before we launch into all things Episode 208 and 209, I want to take a moment and tell you everything you need to know about the Season Pass. For this season we are exclusively self distributing all 12 episodes to our fans. That means for as little as $2 an episode you get to enjoy all the fruits of our labor, as well as directly support the artists behind the creation of this show. Season 2 will only be available to view through the Season Pass. All 12 episodes will be streamable in high definition, plus you have the option to directly download them to your home computer or phone and watch them whenever you like. Pretty cool right? We sure think so! Go get your Season Pass now by clicking here.
Alright, onto discussing the creation of Episode 208 and 209. These two episodes are so lovingly titled "October Cook County Part One and Part Two." We had four writers head up the construction of these two powerhouse episodes, Dane Ohlrogge and Michael Bartz took on Episode 208 and Micah Kronlokken and myself took on Episode 209. When we had our cabin writing weekend nearly a year ago, we struggled with how exactly these six characters' worlds should collide to bring them all back together for Season 2. Through the incredible talent and imagination of Dane Ohlrogge's writing in Episode 207, the team was able to interweave the six main characters' lives to where we finally get them all in the same room. What a sigh of relief, but without giving too much away, relief is the last thing these characters feel upon reuniting.
Some of my favorite television episodes are those that take place all in real time in the same place. Think "The One Where No One's Ready" episode of FRIENDS or "The Chinese Restaurant" episode of SEINFELD. These types of episodes are called "Bottle Episodes". Here's a little TV history lesson for you, the name itself originated from Star Trek's cast and crew when they would have to let certain episodes rope the budget back from all its expensive special effects glory. Often these episodes would take place entirely on an existing ship (set) that has already been built and with a minimalist cast, again, allowing the network to save a huge chunk of change. The cast and crew would call them ship-in-a-bottle episodes or joke that production had to pass through a bottleneck in order to carry on. Some critics give Bottle Episodes a bad name because since they are seen as a budget saving effort on part of a studio or network you could write them off as filler, but I think they are a glorious exercise for writers and directors alike. By having a small cast, one location, and only dialogue to guide you, as a director you have to sink your teeth into subtext and subtlety. As a viewer, I've always loved the encapsulated feeling of bottle episodes. You get to spend a truly uninterrupted 30 minutes with characters you completely love or loath, it's absolute fan gold.
For these two episodes we filmed nearly 100% inside the confines of our apartment. With that came the challenges of audio discrepancy, intense Chicago heat, and unexpected landlord maintenance. Our apartment is not even a block away from the CTA El train, so we were sure to film between the AM and PM rush hour. Our actors are so patient, when a train would come they would instinctually hold for audio until the train would pass. We also filmed on one of the hottest days of September so far, a blaring 90 degrees outside. It probably got closer to 100 inside the apartment with all the studio lights on and the AC off. Our last set back was having a door replaced right inside our lobby, bringing with it a good 20 minutes of loud banging that our cast and crew very patiently waited to conclude so we could continue. But to be honest, these set backs were minuscule compared to what my crew and I have been through; everyone faced them with a laugh and a smile. Attitude makes all the difference and I adore my team for their positivity.
Chicago is infamous for its love of all things brunch, so the writers only felt it was right to have our main characters brunch upon their reuniting. Another tidbit of hilarious behind-the-scenes info is that I had to make the same exact breakfast for the reuniting characters four days in a row. Each day we filmed in our apartment I cooked up a smattering of bacon, eggs, and hash browns. I think everyone has to be so sick of eating bacon by this point! Wait, who am I kidding, it's bacon. Our cast could happily live off that stuff, except for Callie (don't worry Callie we love you and your vegetarianism!).
THe Dream Team
Read the latest from the cast and crew of the award nominated indie series, THE DREAMERS.