Supernatural From Script to Screen: Director's Commentary on "Bad Boys" with Kevin Parks
"Patience and clear direction works best with younger actors. Adult actors have past work to draw on for the performance and characterisation of their part. Younger actors have life experience to draw on, so direction for these actors is based on some part of their past. Once they can sense and feel that emotion, the performance will follow."
– Kevin Parks, Supernatural Director
Jules: As your second time directing an episode of Supernatural, what were the things that you learned that you bought to this episode either in your preparation, or in your actual directing process?
Kevin Parks: Directing for the second time, I was aware of what to expect and able to work with my 1st AD and plan better. As well, I enjoyed working with the cast. Except Jared and Jensen, the rest of the cast were new to the show, so I had to fill them in on their characters and the Supernatural Series. Dylan Everett, Young Dean, was fantastic and I got him to watch a few episodes so he could learn Dean’s mannerisms.
Jules:Your 1st Assistant Director for the episode was David Markowitz. Was he someone you knew?
Kevin Parks: David has been a 1st AD in Vancouver for many years and I have worked for him as his 2nd AD on TV Movies in the 1990s. So when I was looking for a 1st AD for my episode, I called Ella Kutschera, who worked on my episode last year, but she was not available. David had just finished a show and he was excited to work with me as my 1st AD.
Jules:You had a great location in the place you used for Sonny's farm. Was that difficult to find? Was it far from the studio, and did that pose any challenges? Were you able to use any interiors for the house or the barn?
Kevin Parks: After 8 years of looking for isolated farms and small towns, our locations department knows where to look for these locations. The farm was chosen before I started my prep. Unfortunately, the location was outside of the studio zone, so for my part there was not any challenges. For David and production, the challenge was to arrange accommodation for some of the crew and extra parking and shuttles to move the crew. We ended up building the bunkhouse in one of the garages which made it easier for me to tie in exterior to the interior. There were two barns on the property that we used for both interiors and exteriors. The smaller barn was used for Timmy’s space, interior only and the bigger barn we used for the teaser interior/exterior. The art department did a great job in transforming a big open space into two usable sets that not only let me tell the story by connecting the two spaces. Inside the farm house was built on stage with the exception of Sonny’s office. In the end the location was far from the studio but it was the best place to be for the story.
Jules:Was there any difference in the approach you took directing the present day scenes and the flashbacks?
Kevin Parks: Since the time frame was the mid 1990’s, the biggest changes that could be done were changing out the set decoration to more appropriate dressing for the 1990 to 2014. Sonny’s look was the way to show a change in time. For the present day work, Sonny had glasses and we put grey in his hair. With the help of Serge, we changed the look in the camera between the past and present.
Jules:In teaser scene and the others in the barn, there's a great use of lighting – low light in the barn, and brighter light coming through cracks in the walls and door. Was that something you worked on with Serge Ladouceur?
Kevin Parks: It was scripted to have very contrasting lighting in the barn, so we picked 3 windows give us the low lighting and with the help of smoke the shafts of light. Serge was a big help in making the look work. Serge decided carried look through to the day sequences as well.
Jules:You worked with a number of child actors in this episode in particular Dylan Everett as young Dean and Sean Michael Kyer as Timmy. Was the casting process any different given there a number of child actors to cast?
Kevin Parks:The casting process for the kids is the same for kids as for adults.
Jules:I know children have various restrictions on the length time they could work each day. Did this pose any challenges?
Kevin Parks:Normally there are many restrictions with kids. We were able to cast actors for the two main roles that were older and they had no restrictions. The other kids had restrictions but we were able to schedule the work to fit the restrictions.
Jules:In terms of getting the performances you want, was there a different you took with the younger actors?
Kevin Parks:Patience and clear direction works best with younger actors. Adult actors have past work to draw on for the performance and characterisation of their part. Younger actors have life experience to draw on, so direction for these actors is based on some part of their past. Once they can sense and feel that emotion, the performance will follow. The biggest challenge working with kids and adults is height. Differences in height can work against you but it also can help with the performance and tonality of the scene.
Jules:The death in the bath scene was both beautiful and horrific. One of my favourite death scenes ever! Could you talk about how you filmed that?
Kevin Parks: Filming this scene was challenging in that we need to have a woman in a bath tub and not show any nudity, work with water and be in a small space. Karin Konoval was great in this scene she was willing to do anything I asked. Her only limitation was how many times she could scream with before she started to damage her vocal cords. Karin helped with the shower curtain suffocation by pushing her face into the tightening curtain so her face looked like it being wrapped around her face. And when she died, her slipping into the tub was her performance to make the scene complete. We used bubbles in the tub to hide any nudity which was a big help as it was impossible to film a woman in a tub without seeing more than her face. Being in a small space, I need visual effects to fill in the wall behind camera for the mirror reflection. To shoot this, the wall had to be taken out. That is when VFX are very helpful.
Jules:Later in the house, there's a scene when the ghost is sending crockery flying and breaking around the set. What were the challenges in shooting that scene?
Kevin Parks:The challenge here was not to hit the actors; their safety. The flying crockery was on wires, so the actors had to avoid the wires and the Special Effects people had to not hit the actors.
Jules:The final scene between young Dean and Sonny, as he learns his father has come for him, was quite intense and very moving. How did you approach that scene?
Kevin Parks: I wanted the set to be calm, relaxed and quiet, so the actors could concentrate on their performance. I also did not want to get into many takes so I used two cameras on every shot to get the performance I need to tell the story. Dylan and Blake did a fantastic job bringing out each beat and emotion in the scene. They did such a good job that some crew members were crying at the end.
Jules:Were there any other scenes which were either difficult to shoot or to work out how to shoot, or scenes you were you are particularly pleased with the result?
Kevin Parks: The final scene between Sam, Dean and Sonny was a challenge for the only reason of weather. We had some technical challenges which cost some time then wind, rain and an electrical storm made me rethink how I could get all the pieces to make the scene. Technically, our steadicam operator, Brian Rose, really helped here. With his help, I was able to do a 3 page scene quickly and get the shots needed. While Brian Rose was walking around to get the big moves, our A operator, Brad Creasser, was able to get needed close ups. Serge was amazing to get multiple angles in the same lighting set up.
The actors were amazing here! They were able to keep consistent with their performances through a wind and rain storm. I was very pleased to have such good actors that were able to get the scene done and all the beats with Mother Nature not cooperating. I even dropped a couple of shots that night so I could come back the next night and finish the scene in better weather. I was very pleased with the outcome of that scene and all the great work from everybody on set.
Jules:How did you approach the editing process this time? Was it different from your first time?
Kevin Parks: The editing process is my weakest area. Being my second time, I want to build on my 1st experience. The only difference was I wanted to take what Don Koch showed me and work with Nicole Baer.
Jules:What the editing process like this time? Was there anything from your first experience with Trial and Error that you bought to the editing of Bad Boys/ were they challenges because of the flashback structure?
Kevin Parks: All the editors on Supernatural are fantastic and they are excellent at their jobs. Being in the editing room with the editors is the best classroom to be in. Again, I wanted to take what Don Koch showed me and work with Nicole Baer to build up my experience. The flashbacks were challenging and because we were working with practical locations and sets in our studio, I need some help from visual effects to make them seamless from present to past and past to present.
Interview by Jules Wilkinson, Supernatural Wiki Admin
Many thanks to Kevin Parks for his generosity in doing this interview, and for directing an awesome episode. Thanks alos to Holly Ollis of Warner Brothers.
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License. Please link back to this article if quoting from it.
For inquiries about the Supernatural Wiki, you can contact Jules at firstname.lastname@example.org
Supernatural From Script to Screen is a series of interviews with the crew of Supernatural by Jules Wilkinson, Supernatural Wiki Administrator.
- Supernatural From Script to Screen: VFX Supervisor Mark Meloche
- Supernatural From Script to Screen: First Assistant Director Kevin Parks
- Supernatural From Script to Screen: Director's Commentary on "Trial and Error" with Kevin Parks
- Supernatural From Script to Screen: Producer Todd Aronauer
If you enjoyed this interview, please tweet Kevin at @SNKevinandJill
Interview posted 7th August 2014