Friday Question time already? Where did the week go? (That’s not an official Friday Question.)
Kim T. Bené asks:
M*A*S*H had first rate acting, memorable characters, an unusual premise... and of course incredible scripts. However the audio was lousy. When they were shooting outside it was fine. But when they shot exterior scenes in the studio the audio was always echoy and sounded exactly like they were simply shooting film in a big metal warehouse. When they shot interiors in the studio the audio was OK because the "buildings" were all tents so the fabric muffled the echo but you can close your eyes and pick out every single scene shot as an exterior inside the studio. What gives?
Funny you should mention that Kim because that was always one of my pet peeves and drove me crazy.
We filmed MASH on Stage 9 at 20th. All of the tents were set up and a huge backdrop was erected allowing us to shoot exteriors. Normally we shot all exteriors out at the Malibu ranch. We shot one day per episode and to maximize the light, cameras rolled from sunup to sundown. That was fine in the summer when the sun went down at 8:15. But once we went to PST it was dark before 5:00. So for the remainder of the season we shot exteriors on the stage. Generally that meant the last six or seven shows.
Because of the audio problem (and the lighting difference – especially daytime scenes), when David and I were head writers we stayed clear of those scenes unless we absolutely had to have them. And if we did, the scenes were super brief. Lots of activity like triage or people running from one place to another.
I complained about the sound and was told nothing could be done due to the acoustics. I’m sure today you could equalize and fix the sound with an app you could buy on your phone for $0.99.
But I used to joke whenever we were forced to do an exterior scene on the stage that we were going to the Brady Bunch backyard.
Is there a rule that says when you cut back and forth between two scenes, they have to be happening at the same time?
I was watching the second episode of HBO's "Looking" and they cut between a scene where a lawyer meets with his clients and one where one of the other characters was out clubbing at night. It felt weird that a lawyer would meet clients at 10 pm, but it also didn't feel right that the meeting was taking place during the day and the other scene was in the middle of the night, while they cut back and forth between them.
From Angry Gamer:
I have noticed that your blog posts seem to follow a familiar pattern.
Something like this:
Intro (general info)
Inside Scoop (details from the trenches)
Middle Exposition (marking time, biz story time, setup)
BAM - BIG JOKE
Last Story or Observation
End Credit or zinger one liner
So... is this deliberate? Is this the off the cuff organization of a genius comedic writer? What gives?
The genius part is correct. No, seriously, I consciously do the following:
Try to keep the posts fairly short. Maybe one page. People don’t want to read a seven-page article every day. Certainly not from me.
Sprinkle some humor in there somewhere.
Ask myself the question -- is this topic funny, interesting, or informative enough to consider?
End with a wrap up that ties things together.
Other than that, I have no idea what I’m doing.
And finally from Hamid:
When you made it as a successful writer and your name was on TV, did lots of people you hadn't seen or heard from in years, including any who gave you a hard time at school, start coming out of the woodwork wanting to hang out with you?
Not enough of them.
When David and I first started selling scripts, a number of my friends began writing specs as well. The message of course was: “If Levine could make it, anyone could.” Ironically, none of these friends could even finish their specs.
When I was on MASH I went to my 10 year high school reunion. Several people approached me at various times of the evening and said, “Is that you on MASH? We see your name every week and can’t believe it’s you.”
But generally, no. The people who had no use for me before I became successful still have no use for me. I have to admire their integrity.
However, for all the girls who told me to get lost when I asked them out, I hope when they see my credit this is what they see:
“The guy I should have gone out with and been nice to instead of the jerks I did date which is why I’m now divorced and living in a trailer park in the Mojave Desert”
What’s your Friday Question?