The Infamous Pad Thai Episode: A Creative Turning Point

Meme_S1E5_5I know I’ve been yammering on about the business side of things for a while now, but when I re-watched what will be our video for the day today (which just happens to be the one Mhairi and I lovingly refer to as “The Infamous Pad Thai episode”) I realized its time to get back to talking about the creative.

The Pad Thai episode was yet another creative turning point for us for multiple reasons.

First, there was the obvious turning point in storyline. I think if anyone still had any doubts about whether this was an actual web cooking show or not, this episode killed that and showed that we were up to much more as this episode gave a more overt glimpse into the deeper narrative we were eventually going to tell.

Second, this episode showed me what an incredible actress I was working with and that the sky was going to be the limit in what we could do with this show. It sounds silly now, but prior to seeing this footage I had never actually seen Mhairi in action. I am a Second City trained yes-and-er, so when she told me what she wanted to do with this show I just said yes, and then assumed she had the acting chops to pull it off, but up till then I hadn’t seen any proof. I just trusted that she was in fact “Classically trained”.

We had discussed prior to shooting that we wanted Tallulah to have an emotional arc for the season and what that arc would be, but when we sat down to look at the footage I realized she had pulled it off in a much bigger way than I was expecting. She had yes anded me. 🙂

Allow me to explain…

For me there are 2 types of comedy: there’s the kind where the character knows they are funny, where they often keep it light, sometimes even ham for the camera and we, the audience, laugh with them and then there’s the kind where the character is actually quite serious, deeply invested in their circumstances and we, the audience get to laugh at them.

I genuinely love both (as for me comedy is like Chocolate, some kinds are better than others, but I pretty much like them all) but if I’m honest, as a lifelong fan of Writer/Directors like James L. Brooks, The Coen Brothers and Cameron Crowe, Nancy Meyers, the second kind of comedy is my all time favorite, which is why I was over the moon to discover, based on Mhairi’s layered and nuanced Improv performance, that this was the kind of comedy we were going to get to make.

The third turning point came in the form of another much needed confidence boost for me.

Editing this episode was difficult, and not because I didn’t have good material to work with, but because she had given me so much. I was staring down the face of 3 awesome takes I was attached to, each with different emotional aspects that I adored, each offering different story elements I thought were important. I found that I was wanting to use the very best parts of all of them, but since this was Improv rather than scripted material, it was not at all obvious how all these elements would line up seamlessly and to be honest I didn’t know if I could pull it off.

I found myself needing to draw from all my years of both writing and editing to perform the mental gymnastics needed to marry these takes together in a manner that looked like I had done nothing at all. And after a long series of “hang on a second, I know this is crazy but let’s try this” and “maybe if I put this chunk here, and that chunk there” I was overjoyed to discover that it had worked. That I had been able to pull it off. I surprised myself! Which lead to the quiet confidence of “I can do this” that you can only get to when you are first challenged and then rise to the challenge. And now…

Industry Tip #7
When shooting Improv performances always use at least 2 cameras. (Or at the very least shoot some close ups that can act as cut aways)

I would not have even had the option to grab the best of each take and make it look like it was seamless if I hadn’t had two different camera angles to draw from. Even with the 2 camera choices we still needed to employ the use of title cards on occasion to give it that seamless effect.

Without further ado, here is the Infamous Pad Thai Episode. The episode that saved Marge’s life. The episode where Tallulah gives us an example of the difference between being the eagle or the chicken. The episode where Tallulah was not actually making a Pad Thai. Hahaha. In fact, I think all of you should ask her about that story.

5 thoughts on “The Infamous Pad Thai Episode: A Creative Turning Point

  1. I love the interaction with Diego on this episode! He’s pushing all the right buttons! FYI Tallulah, the next time I see a zebra soaring, will be the first time I see a zebra soaring! Channeling the eagle! Have a great weekend!

    • Thank you so much darling! Diego did come up with some brilliant one liners that I am sure will make it to real life bumper stickers one day soon! I will look out for zebras soaring as well as people with zoos on their heads and send you over the photographs immediately. Happy Tuesday night! and thanks again for watching.

  2. Another fabulous blog Holly! Mhairi is so very talented and gives us so much in such a few short minutes, I completely understand your editing challenge! I actually can’t imagine she gives you much you can’t use. I too prefer the type of delivery she uses it it is not dumb or stupid humor that too many comedy shows on TV have and then they force it with a laugh track. She is very elegantly funny in a very brilliant way with a genius sense of timing that together with her other talents and her lovely look is just such a perfect package!

    Love the emotional arc you are having Tallulah go through while teasing us with her cooking persona. She is really so much more, but clearly a champion for the single woman or man! Agree with Bob that the interaction with Diego is great and she plays off of him beautifully! You did a brilliant job editing The Infamous Pad Thai episode! It’s a fabulous episode!

    Can’t remember which blog you asked about the BTS and the Fed-Ex guy… but I have been thinking about that and I am nearly certain I have it wrong, but here is my current take on both. I am thinking the Fed-Ex guy is code for an agent or someone who is helping facilitate getting work of some kind? Probably all wrong but it seems like he could be doing something to help further her career and other things. The BTS just lets us see more of Mhairi’s brilliance in layering the character of Tallulah in a more multi-faceted way and just allows her to show more of her talents while showing how gifted of a acting partner she can be to the others in the scenes. Well done everyone!

    • wow am blown away by your comments Heidi. Thank you so much for taking the time to read, watch, think about and write such an eloquent response. Thank you!! The Fed Ex guy was Tallulah’s ex in Paris…but more alluded to than anything more so far although will come into play more in the 30 min TV show. Really the 1st season was a character development/workshop more than a fully formed idea but its been so helpful to understand and see what resonates and how we can develop things further…the aspects which people like and drop what maybe isn’t working so well. Your insights are invaluable in how we develop the series further so thank you for your feedback and thoughtful comments. Xo

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