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Posts Tagged ‘Kyle Chandler’

“Sometimes you know something’s coming…you feel it in the air. A voice in your head is telling you something is going to go terribly wrong…and there’s nothing you can do to stop it.”
John Rayburn (Kyle Chandler) in Bloodline

Todd A. Kessler,  Glenn Kessler,  Daniel Zelman created the Netflix series Bloodline which was shot in the Florida Keys.

“We were looking for a place to set [Bloodline] that had kind of an iconic sensibility for the United States, if not the world. Many people if they’ve never been to the Keys have at least heard of the Keys or most people have at least heard of the Florida Keys. Something weird goes on down there. It’s kind of like New Orleans or Las Vegas or Los Angeles, you know, places that people know of.”
Todd A. Kessler
UPROXX interview with Daniel Fienberg 

In about 10 hours as I write this post the Florida Keys are projected to be hit with category 3 or 4 hurricane. There’s no good outcome of this storm. There’s nowhere for Hurricane Irma to go that won’t wreck havoc.  We can hope that most of the people living in and visiting the Keys have already evacuated as the eye of the hurricane will go directly over the string of islands on the southern tip of Florida.

From there, there’s the strong possibility Hurricane Irma will go up the west coast of Florida hitting Naples, Ft. Myers, Sarasota, Tampa/St. Pete, and Cedar Key. My father died in 1995 while living in St. Pete Beach and he always worried about “the big one” hitting that area because—like parts of Houston—there’s nowhere for the water to go except over land. (The last major hurricane to hit the area was The 1921 Tampa Bay hurricane )

I last visited Key West earlier this year, and was in Tampa/St. Pete just two weeks ago. These are areas I’ve been exploring off and on for 30 plus years and it’s a land mixed with beauty and fragileness. I hope the people and buildings weather the storm well.

P.S. Bloodline ended its three season run on earlier this year. And even though the show didn’t perhaps find a wide audience some called it Netflix’s finest show to date. And it did give viewers one of the final looks at the talents of Sam Shepard—and did a super job of showcasing the Florida Keys.

Related posts:
Sam Shepard (1943-2017)
Postcard #111 (Captain Tony’s)
‘Burbank by the Sea’—St. Petersburg, Florida
Postcard #107 (Downtown St. Pete)
Postcard #142 (Sarasota Seahorse)
Don’t Waste Your Life (2.0)  (Written after an Iowa tornado I was hired to cover.)

Scott W. Smith

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The title of this post should say Writing, Directing, Shooting and Lighting Friday Night Lights, but that’s a little cumbersome and not quite as catchy.

As I get up to speed on the TV show Friday Night Lights which ran from 2006-2010, I’m not going to quite yet confess to a mancrush on Kyle Chandler, but I will say that southern drawl is mesmerizing. (Can he record some Larry McMurtry books on tape?)  And Chandler (who plays Coach Chandler) reminds me of every wise coach/father figure I had growing up in Florida playing sports who seemed concerned with doing the right thing. (And for some reason most of them were from places like Alabama, Kentucky, Tennessee, North Carolina, Arkansas and Georgia and spoke just like Chandler.)

As a fan of middle America, there is an authenticity that I think rings true in this show—a real sense of time and place. And of people who live in that time and place. And while the place is specific to Texas it somehow becomes universal. All rooted in the ground work of H.G. Bissinger’s book Friday Night Lights: A Town. a Team, and a Dream in which he used high school football as a backdrop to look at deeper issues.

I just read an article about how they approached the production of the TV program according to producer/director Jeffrey Reiner who worked on 39 of the programs.

“The (Friday Night Lights) writers are not precious about every word being said. So we stick to the script in the sense that a scene is a scene, but we have the license to explore what is the truth of the scene. Instead of trying to mimic exactly what’s on the page, we’re just kind of finding it, in a very organic way.

There’s nothing technical about our approach. In a regular TV show, actors have to hit their marks, and they rehearse, and they have to wait for the lighting. Our show, before you know it, we’re shooting. There’s no rehearsal. There are no marks. We have very minimal lighting. After you’ve done that for six months, the show’s progressed to the point … it just feel so organic.

In a regular TV show, if you’re going to sit and do a scene, you have to wait for the lighting, you have to find the right place for the camera. Here, we’re shooting 8 hour days, instead of 14 hour days. We just shoot. I’ll say, ‘I want a camera here and a camera here. The third camera – you surprise me.’

That third camera, even if you’re shooting the scene in a traditional way, that third camera will find a different point of view. So you’re in the moment, and you cut to that camera angle, you’re seeing the scene from a radically different place. And it doesn’t cost us any time or money to get those shots.”
Jeffrey Reiner
Chicago Tribune interview with Maureen Ryan

I have made two short films using two cameras rolling at the same time and I do think it gives the actors a closer feel of being in the moment. And from those actors coming from the theater it is much closer to live theater than big budget features where sometimes the actors are doing close-ups while their co-star is sitting in their trailer.

As digital cameras get better and cheaper (and budgets and shooting schedule get tighter) I see muticamera productions becoming more common. (Even ones not going for a Cinema verite/documentary  look. Heck, if Edward Burns uses two or three cameras on his next feature he could probably shoot the thing in five days.

Scott W. Smith

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“Clear Eyes, Full Hearts, Can’t Lose.”
Dillion High Motto

Okay, I know I’m late to the game but just last night I finally watched the pilot to Friday Night Lights that first aired in 2006.  Really great stuff. I’m so far behind that just over a month ago the series just finished airing its fifth and final season.

I was a fan of the Friday Night Lights book by H.G. Bussinger when it first came out in 1990, and enjoyed the 2004 film that was based on the book, so I don’t know what took me so long to getting around to the TV program other than I don’t invest too much time into television. From the start what I like about Friday Night Lights is it has a rich sense of time, place and people.

The TV version of Friday Night Lights was created by Peter Berg who wrote and directed the movie version and also the show’s pilot. In an interview with Jeffrey Brown, Berg had this to say about the program that over its five year run had a relatively small but faithful following:

“I think it’s become pretty clear in the last couple of years — I don’t know, four, five years — that mainstream audiences are looking for escapism in their films and in their television programs. They’re not looking to and I certainly understand why, they’re not being asked to work a lot emotionally or often times I think intellectually. That’s not to say that we’re lazy emotionally and intellectually, it just says that when we watch TV or go to the movies as a culture, we generally want to have fun and escape. And for “Friday Night Lights,” for a variety reasons, is not always a lot of fun and it’s certainly not an escape. I think that’s a similar problem to films like “The Hurt Locker” have encountered when trying to find and connect to, you know, large mainstream audiences.”

Berg was nominated for an Emmy Award for Outstanding Directing For A Drama Series for the pilot. And apparently the program stayed strong under the showrunner Jason Katims because Friday Night Lights picked up several nominations in 2010 including one for Outstanding Writing by Rolin Jones for his episode The Son.

Berg is also an actor who had roles in Chicago Hope and Collateral. I did a little digging and sure enough found a nice Midwest connection with Berg. Though born in New York City apparently he started taking acting classes in Saint Paul, Minnesota at Macalester College where he graduated in 1984 with a degree in theater.

Berg set the emotional and intellectual tone early in the opening show when the star quarterback who has his sights set on playing college ball at Notre Dame is paralyzed in the first game of the year. The show ends with Coach Taylor (Kyle Chandler) saying this prayer;

“Life is so very fragile. We’re all vulnerable and we will all at some point in our lives—fall. We will all fall. We must carry this in our hearts that what we have is special, that it can be taken from us, and that when it is taken from us we will be tested. We will be tested to our very souls.”

In my book, that’s pretty fine writing. And words that resonate beyond the football team at Dillion High School.

By the way, the star quarterback who is injured in that first program was played by actor Scott Porter.

“I played wide receiver for Lake Howell High School in Florida. We had a great team, went to the state semi-finals my junior and senior high, and had three future NFL players.”
Scott Porter

I happen to have played wide receiver at Lake Howell High School in Florida as well. (As did current Miami Dolphin wide receiver Brandon Marshall.) Doesn’t mean much, but still fun to make those little connections.

Here’s one last little connection that comes full circle to this blog. Diablo Cody (many of you know my inspiration for starting this blog three years ago) wrote her Juno script in Minneapolis not far from where Berg started taking acting classes. Turns out that Cody is a big fan of Friday Night Lights (“one of the best shows on television”) and even featured Kyle Chandler on her webshow Red Band Trailer.

Scott W. Smith



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