By Marjorie Kase
This weekend, I had the distinct pleasure of touring the set of the CW's fraternal scifi thriller Supernatural in Vancouver, British Columbia. There, my fellow reporters and I had the rare opportunity to speak with several crew members from each department, including props, hair and makeup, wardrobe, special FX, and production as well as skulk around the set. The visit was extra-special, since we were there during the show's last few moments of production on the Season Two finale. Of course, we are not allowed to reveal anything right now (or risk punishment by death), but let's just say that fans will not be disappointed.
One of our first stops was a visit with Supernatural's stunt coordinator, Lou Bollo. His incredibly diverse background includes teaching for 10 years, living as a wilderness guide in the Arctic, and building log homes. He also attended the Banff School of Fine Arts as a writer, and eventually wound up doing stunt coordination. He was nothing but complimentary to stars Jensen Ackles and Jared Padalecki, as was everyone on the set. When asked if the guys actually perform their own stunts, he had this to say:
These guys are really intelligent about what they want to do, or what they feel they’re capable of doing. They never brag, "We do all our own stunts," or anything. They look at something, and I’ll say, "Do you feel like doing this?" and they’ll go, "No, this is for a stunt double." They’re not showoffs, these guys. I’ll say that also knowing that these guys are really gifted athletes — they’re some of the best I’ve ever worked with. Hands down.
Fans of the show are taken very seriously on Supernatural – so much so that the production office maintains a full time employee (Lesley DeHaan), who is dedicated to answering letters, emails, and packages. To say that the fans are devoted to the show is an understatement. Upon arriving to the office, we noticed a massive wall plastered with postcards. In addition, there were several interesting cards and packages. One uber fan painstakingly folded paper cranes, which according to Japanese legend affords the artist one wish (perhaps to meet Jared and Jensen?).
As regular fans know, the props and sets of Supernatural are just as much characters on the show as the actors. The most obvious example is the Winchesters' Chevy Impala (which by the way is as badass in person as it appears on screen). Upon our inspection of various sets, I found the set designers’ attention to detail to be truly impressive. The set of hunter haven Harvelle’s was chock-full of items that even viewers with 50-inch HD flatscreens wouldn’t be able to make out. Vintage hunter bowling ads, jars of pickled eggs, postcards from disgruntled customers, and more filled out the carefully decorated set. Other highlights included bits and pieces of campy motel sets, graves, tombstones, and mausoleums.
Wardrobe was no different. There were several racks of clothing that all seemingly looked the same. As costume designer Diane Widas pointed out, however, costumes — in addition to contributing to the overall look and feel of the show — also reflect character development.
In the beginning, we had our meetings about who they were. For Sam, he was in university, so he was going a little different route. Dean was more blue collar, so that was the initial template. One is a little harder core, and the other's a little preppier. But they’ve sort of grown together in their costuming.
While in the hair and makeup trailer, we got a sneak peek at the final call sheet for Part 2 of the season finale. Of course, we are not allowed to reveal any of the shots right now, but I'll tell you this, they're shockers. We spoke with lead make-up artist, Shannon Coppin about some of her favorite episodes, most recently the one with Tricia Helfer ("Roadkill"), who, as it turns out, really does sport brown hair.
She’s fantastic, because we weren’t supposed to make her glamorous. She really is a fantastically down-to-earth person. We were shooting in the snow all the time. She’s such a trouper. She films up here a lot, so she knows what it’s like. To have someone that is so incredibly glamorous that you see them on the cover of magazines, and then you see her on our show. She really did play the no-makeup look. She plays a dead woman who is stuck for most of the time in the pouring rain, so we didn’t really play the rain, but you could tell she was miserable. It was a good episode. She was incredible.
VFX Supervisor Ivan Hayden and VFX Producer Grant Lindsay offered us a demo of one of the crew’s most challenging CG shots – the helicopter sequence in Episode 12. The shot, which lasted a total of 30 seconds on screen, took days to render and produce. Using digital photos as reference points, the sequence was completely synthesized – no film was shot at the physical scene, yet it appeared 100% real.
Our last stop was the shooting set, where Jensen and Jared were filming one of the key scenes of the series finale. The vibe on set is palpably familial – probably because the show's production schedule is so long and intense. (Lunch is served at 7 p.m.) The fact that the two Texas co-stars get along so well is also a major factor.
Jared on their relationship:
We definitely know that it's fortunate circumstance to work with someone that you can get along with. We are appreciative of the fact that we get along very well on and off the set. We work well together. We hang out offset sometimes too…It's definitely a big luxury that we don't take for granted.
As we talked with several members of the cast and crew including Jared and Jensen, one thing remained clear — their great sense of passion and dedication to the show. Along with that passion and dedication however, is a feeling of apprehension. Rumors have been afoot as to the fate of the show, since The CW has yet to announce that it’s picking it up for a third season.
Director Kim Manners (X-Files) believes it will happen:
I think, personally, we’ll be back. I know they’ve been talking to me about two more years. We’re spending a lot of money here. I think if the network knew this show was going to come back, they wouldn’t be letting us spend that much money. So take that for what it’s worth.
Consider it money well spent. Are you listening CW?