Would it be Friday without Friday Questions?
Ike Iszany starts us off:
Why do sit com set often have so many angled walls? The rooms seem to have 7 to 10 walls and no 90 degree angles in them. And often have little alcoves that never get used for anything.
Reason two is just to give the set some depth and make it look interesting. In some cases those alcoves off to the side are really ports. You can bring a camera way up behind the alcove and shoot through a sliding window.
As a director you’re always looking to get good “eyes” on the actors. You try to avoid profiles. These ports help.
When you say "Problems arise when characters are so undefined no one really knows how they’ll react in a given situation," is there ever a situation on a long-running show where the problem might go the other way -- i.e. the audience is so locked into who the characters are there's little room for exploration, based on the idea (or the network's idea) or not tampering with what works? And at the other end, do you have a little more leeway to try and add on little things to a character when a show is relatively new simply because the character has yet to become locked into a certain persona?
You make some excellent points, John. One of the reasons David Isaacs and I left MASH in the 8th season was because the characters were so entrenched we felt there was nothing they could do that could surprise us. Especially on that show where we were locked into time and space. It’s not like we could give Hawkeye a new job. That’s why it was always such a blessing when we could introduce a new character.
And to the last part of your question, yes, early on you’re still “developing” the characters – inventing new layers and also shaping them to the strengths and weaknesses of the actors. It can be exciting. Every so often you tap into an unexpected vein of gold.
Louis CK and FX have a basic agreement: LCK gets complete creative control, FX's budget for his show is peanuts (in show biz terms) and as long as the show gets eyeballs/retains its quality, FX leaves LCK alone. Do you think most showrunners would take trade no network inference for a reduced budget?
And when artists like Louis CK fulfills his promise and turns out great work it only makes it easier for others to get the same deal. So thank you, Louis.
And finally, from Peter:
What's your opinion on prank based comedy like Bad Grandpa, Borat and Bruno? Are they your cup of tea? Do you think comedy is comedy, whether it's fully scripted or whether it relies on playing a prank on the public?
It’s just personal taste but my problem with this brand of comedy is that it relies on mortifying people to derive its laughs. A lot of it is mean spirited. There are laughs but at what cost? I prefer more humanity in my comedy. (Although, I must admit I did find parts of BORAT funny. Perhaps it was the political satire aspect of it. Or I’m just more shallow than I’m willing to admit.)
What’s your Friday Question?