Hello everyone... Sean Baker here. I directed this episode of 'Warren the Ape' and I'm locking myself in solitary confinement to write down my memories of the process. Like Warren's 'Epiphany', I promise this will be self-indulgent.
From its inception, 'Anger Management' was the most cartoonish episode we had written for the season. Originally, we planned for Warren and a celebrity known for anger management issues (Danny Bonaduce) to get in a heap of trouble and go to jail. The original outline had Warren and Bonaduce burn down Corey Feldman's house in a drunken stupor. The two are arrested and Warren is forced to go to anger management classes. After he attacks the therapist, he ends up going to jail. We had a follow-up episode that took place entirely in prison.
In our writing period in October/November of '09, we developed the episode, toned down the over-the-top moments such as the fire, and decided to take the 2nd act in to prison. We weren't able to get Danny so we went out to anybody else who might fit the 'angry guy' role. Mike Tyson, Gary Coleman and even Naomi Campbell. For months we threw around names. Tyson came the closest but we weren't able to secure him and with only a week and half before production, my friend and producing partner on 'Prince of Broadway'
, Darren Dean
suggested we go with Mick Foley
. Mick is a famous three-time WWF Champion wrestler but he is the anti-thesis of someone with anger issues. He beats the Dalai Lama when it comes to being one of the most peace-loving guys in the world. I know of his comedy pursuits from the Opie & Anthony
show. He is currently dabbling in stand-up as well as being a multiple-time New York Times bestselling autobiographer
and still wrestling with TNA Entertainment
. We booked him on a Thursday and shot on Monday.
The bonding scenes in which Warren and Mick compare their war stories originally took place entirely on the mini-golf course. I felt that for an MTV audience, we should speed up the pace and make
the sequence more of a montage. Chris Bergoch and I worked together on stretching it over two additional locations... Muscle Beach in Venice and the Crazy Girls strip joint.
At Muscle Beach, we had an additional puppet body builder that was eventually cut from the episode for time. Puppeteered by the talented Victor Yerrid
and Paul McGinnis
, it was an FX shot that had a full
body puppet unable to lift a bar bell over his head. Another example of "killing your darlings."
You may recognize our two hot strippers at Crazy Girls. The first girl to swing on the pole and crawl across the stage is the star-in-the-making Ms. Tanner Mayes
We actually shot this during another production cycle... and I really hope we get a DVD release because the behind-the-scenes footage must be seen. Paul McGinnis was controlling the arms of the sleazy old man puppet and because of monitor problems, Paul was unaware that the puppet's hands were exploring Tanner's nether region. Tanner didn't protest and it is hands down the dirtiest stuff the WTA/GTB team has ever shot. Thank you Tanner!
The scene's lead stripper is played by adult starlet Chastity Lynn
It was actually quite tough for Mick to build up his anger around her. He had to apologize after each take for raising his voice in front of her.
Thank you to Chris Bergoch
, our long time collaborator in the GTB/WTA world, for "going out of his way" to contact and secure the starlets' appearances.
That brings us to the miniature golf course. This was the first day of production of this episode. We were all just meeting Mick for the first time, including Dan Milano who had to act with him (as Warren of course). So although I think this scene cuts fine, Mick was just getting the knack for interacting with Warren when shot these scenes. So it wasn't until the 2nd day of shooting that Mick was 100% comfortable and things flowed. Plus, we had the destruction of the chipmunk to shoot. Which brings us to "the incident." I can't even write about this without cringing. I'll let Mr. Foley fill you in by clicking here.
The little girl who cries at the end of this scene, Brooklynn Shoemake
, is a professional actor who can cry on cue.
That's talent people! It's quite fascinating. As a director, it was quite unsettling because I wasn't expecting such genuine tears that poured from her eyes.
Our judge is played by the hilarious and talented Mindy Sterling
You may recognize her from "Austin Powers". She's been part of the Groundlings improv troupe
since 1984. So you can imagine how things went with Dan... they improv'd every take.. some lasting up to 10 minutes. It was amazing. Again, I hope this gets to DVD.
We shot our prison at Pitchess Detention Center in Castaic, California. It is a working detention center with minimum, medium and maximum facilities. This center made the news a few years ago because
of a riot.
We shot all of these scenes in one long day.
Our Script Supervisor Jeff Gonzalez,
who brought many great lines and ideas to the table.
Now here is probably the geekiest reference of the entire season. And I would be surprised if even one person gets it. The name of the prison, Stonehaven, and the warden's name, Ranken, are both nods to my favorite prison flic, Andrey Konchalovskiy's "Runaway Train
The talented Jason Stuart plays Ira, Warren cellmate.
Check out www.jasonstuart.com
for his comedy DVD's and CD's. Again, the improv went on for 45 minutes and was fantastic. We cut it down to one very tight one-shot but if you watch the on-line version, I put 30 seconds of audio of the improv over the end credits.Carl Johnson
plays the prison guard who scolds Warren and Mick after they attempt to incite a riot.
He played it exactly the way I had hoped and for me, is one of the biggest laughs of the season. The "No Dancing with the Stars for you" line is his... thank you so much Carl.
And the wonderful Matt Malloy
plays Warden Ranken. I love the way he plays it so straight in this scene. In one of the takes, he asks Mick to sign an autograph for his son. Very funny but cut for time.
This was the end of the 2nd day of shooting, Mick was very comfortable with the improv at this point and it shows. The "masseuse with the wandering eye" line is his.
In the episodes that I direct I try to get at least one FX shot in there to up the production value and give the audience something extra. In this episode, I wanted to show a full body shot of Warren walking around in circles in his cell. I feel as if there is a certain amount of forgiveness by the audience when it comes to puppets and shows of this style. So from the beginning, I knew we weren't
going to be reaching the heights of Avatar but hey... I knew it would be fun and I wanted to give it a try. It involved a few stages.
One plate of Warren's upper body. One plate of Warren's lower body. Both shot against green.
And then the plate of the cell.
And finally the security cam filter to help hide the seams and awkward moves. Richard Sanchez
, our great AE, helped oversee the process.
I want to thank our DP, Peter Smokler
, and our amazing camera department for giving us a nicely stylized look to the episode especially the solitary confinement scene. We had to spend alot of time peering through a window in this scene and the moody lighting really helped sustain interest... that and of course Dan's fantastic improv.
I really wanted the episode to go out on an emotional chord even if it was absurdly emotional.
I knew that the song that accompanied the last scene would help achieve this and I actually spent awhile on getting just the right track. I wanted the classic melodic acoustic sound to score the moment that Warren pronounces Cecil's name correctly. Plus, I needed lyrics that referred to either 'remembering' or 'missing' someone to hit just as Mick waves goodbye. One of our awesome music supervisors Joe Rudge
found 'Come Back Home' by Mark Russell
. Perfect track!
The goodbye moment between Warren and Mick was actually a last minute addition. We actually shot that in the parking lot of the fast food restaurant in which we shot the first scene. It was Mick's last shot and I think the entire crew felt that it was a bittersweet ending to the shoot. I had scripted it as "Goodbye my friend" and Dan gave me "Farewell, my gentle giant." Haha.. I love it.
I also want to give a shout out to our editor Andy Sipes
. He really helped me streamline the episode in ways I wouldn't have thought to do.
This episode was quite Cecil light.. but Josh Sussman
, even in the 40 seconds he has on screen, makes such an impact.
His delivery of "I missed you buddy" gets me every time. Thanks Josh!
Well, that's it for my production blogs from this season. I want to thank everyone involved for such amazing work. It was a blast! And thanks for taking the time to read these.
By the way , most of the fantastic photos that are used in these blogs are taken by the very talented Augusta Quirk
. Thanks Augusta!
PS by Dan Milano
Just had to add to Sean's blog for a second to shout out a little trivia bit - when Warren yells at the prisoners playing Tennis, I called out the names "MacReady" and "Pliskin" in an attempt to make Sean laugh --- he's a huge fan of the John Carpenter / Kurt Russell movies (as am I) and both names are references to Kurt's roles in THE THING and ESCAPE FROM NEW YORK. :)