Ariane DeVere (arianedevere) wrote,
Ariane DeVere

“Good Omens” Episode 4 – ‘Saturday Morning Funtime’ DVD commentary

“Good Omens” Episode 4 – ‘Saturday Morning Funtime’ DVD commentary

This is not a word-for-word transcript, nor have I written up every single comment made. I hope, however, that – particularly because there are no subtitles – this may be helpful to people whose first language is not English or who struggle with audio-only dialogue.
Further extracts may be added in due course.
Please remember that some of the comments made by people may look serious in plain print but were frequently meant sarcastically or humorously.

PLEASE NOTE: If you post a comment on this commentary and you’re not registered with Dreamwidth/Livejournal, your comment will be screened automatically until I unlock it, so please be patient for it to appear on screen.

If you quote extracts from this, a link back to this page would be appreciated.

Direct links: Episode 1 / Episode 2 / Episode 3 / Episode 4 / Episode 5 / Episode 6

Commentary by Michael Ralph (Production Designer) and Claire Anderson (Costume Designer)

[Transcriber’s note: In this and the following commentary transcripts, I mostly won’t repeat things that were already said in earlier commentaries.]

The location for Hogback Wood was the third place they found. The other places eventually didn’t work out; Michael says that usually that would leave you disappointed that you had to settle for not-the-best but this one really did work out. He didn’t learn until later that the hollow was a bomb crater [see the commentary for Episode 1] but likes the idea that it
was a bomb crater and was the place where the end of the world would start. “It’s all part of the process of Good Omens. Some things are meant to be,” he says.

CLAIRE: Michael [Sheen] enjoyed all the broken-down detail [of his outfit]. He knew he wanted something that Aziraphale had taken with him through many years on Earth and held on to bits that he favoured.
MICHAEL: One of the interesting things to say about costume and production design, or sets and décor and propping is that a really good actor, no matter how experienced they are and how long they’ve been around, can feel the detail, and it doesn’t matter how much you feel that you bring to it yourself as an actor, when you are surrounded by that type of detail and that sort of care and that sort of study, it really gives them a few percent on top of what they already are.
CLAIRE: And it helps feed their vision and helps them create their character. Both the leads were very involved in orchestrating their look, choosing from the items that we selected to show them.

Michael designed the logo of International Express – both on the van and on the delivery man’s uniform – to be a four-wheel-drive wheel because he delivers everywhere, so it’s a big chunky wheel, together with the wing coming out of the wheel.

Michael always imagined Heaven being almost like Mount Olympus, and put in as many monolithic structures outside the window as he could manage. [Transcriber’s note: He doesn’t mention (so I will) that the mountain range behind the Eiffel Tower is the outline of the Isle of Skye as a nod to Douglas Mackinnon.]
Claire considers the angels’ suits to be their ‘military armour.’
The first concept art for Heaven which Michael did was based on London’s Sky Garden in Fenchurch Street and they did film those scenes [where you have the view outside] in the Sky Garden. [As explained in earlier commentaries, the other parts of Heaven were filmed in Weybridge.] Michael wanted an aluminium floor, an office block pre-putting the carpet down.

The table in Crowley’s flat was made from various ‘found objects’: ceiling pieces, plaster cords, statuettes. The idea of the apartment was for it to be almost a cement tomb but with a very high ceiling with cement hanging in mid-air so there was a sense of light coming in from a very high level.

MICHAEL: Because [Crowley] was a demon, he could have anything he wanted but, after a chat with Neil and Douglas, we were just going to surround him with the odd object but not very much at all. If you look closely, one of them is the Maltese Falcon. We wanted to tip our hat to the Maltese Falcon as being a precious object that no-one thought really exists but it does.

All of the rubbish in the river where Pollution is sitting was actually put in the river. [Transcriber’s note: Of all the things I learned in these commentaries, this was the one that blew my mind the most because I always assumed it was CGI.] They had to make sure everything was clean and non-hazardous. Every piece was connected to netting which was laid out like a blanket and pulled in again afterwards, and they had a very limited period of time to do it.

Lourdes Faberes [Pollution] was very interested in getting the costume right. Michael designed the Camelot-like golden crown and its black equivalent.

It was difficult to find a matching delivery van in South Africa; there wasn’t time to ship the van out there from Britain (it’s actually an electric American delivery van).

MICHAEL (when Death appears): Nice to be able to be heavy with the smoke and not be told, “Clean it up a bit”!
Jamie Hill [Death] wore a green cover over his face while filming and the rotting face was put in afterwards by JC [Jean-Claude Deguara, Visual Effects Supervisor].

When Michael was recceing Hambledon village he saw a Reliant Robin in a back street and realised it was the perfect car for Newt. He sent a photo to Neil and Douglas, who agreed. They had to find three of them to use during filming.

The coat which Newt puts on is the same one that Lance Corporal Shadwell was wearing in 1967. There are various “nonsensical” awards badly stitched onto it and onto Sergeant Shadwell’s jacket which he’s wearing in the flat. Bronwyn Franklin [Series Set Decorator] found a couple of large pins and Wyn Jenkins [Model and Prop Maker] made the ‘WA’ initials for the tops.

Douglas mentioned in the Episode 3 commentary that his young daughter designed the spaceship; Michael explains here that she actually built it out of cardboard. On the set in the field they only had the ramp and the hatch. The ramp has giant Band-Aid sticking plasters on it, because Adam used [normal sized] plasters on the model hanging in his bedroom.

The children’s appearance is deliberately rather timeless. The postman who walks past them is wearing a very old-fashioned uniform. Because Adam has kept out anything he doesn’t want in the village, the village is like a time capsule. Hambledon has no telephone poles or lines obviously visible.

MICHAEL: When you’re on a period piece you want to get rid of all the telegraph poles and the aerials and antennas, but in this case the village didn’t have many of them.

The whaling ship scene was shot in South Africa in the cabin of a boat tied to a dock.
CLAIRE: And then they took the ship out and took a drone out [to film it].
MICHAEL: Yes. And then we lost the drone.

Claire loved doing the costumes for the characters in Hell, which included twenty extras. Twenty costumiers came in each day and helped wrap the actors in dirty rags and bin bags and grubby string; and truckloads of paperwork were brought in for the desks. Claire describes the denizens as “people in a decayed state of wherever they left society, now in Hell in even more decayed versions of their Earthly clothes.”

MICHAEL: Here’s our Tibetans.
CLAIRE: The day they came in to film, we really had to race through their material because they were off to meet the Dalai Lama!
MICHAEL: We only had a short window of a couple of hours, and we’re saying, “Why are we doing this in such a hurry?” “Well, these guys have got to go.” “Well, where are they going?” “Well, they’re Tibetans.” “What, real Tibetans?” “Yes.” “Where are they going?” “They’re going to get on a plane to go and see the Dalai Lama.” And we’re thinking, ‘What, are we in a film here?! This is maddening!’
CLAIRE: I think this was one of the very first days of principal photography and so we weren’t certain of the pace of things, so we were a little bit alarmed that it was all going to be at that pace; but it was the Dalai Lama dictating that!
MICHAEL: Fancy the Dalai Lama putting pressure on us, of all people in the world!

The scenery for the Fields of Megiddo had no CGI added; that actually is the view. It took two hours to get out there. Michael kept offering to take stuff out there to help the filming but Douglas reassured him he didn’t need anything but the actors.

Ned Dennehy was very involved in Hastur’s costume design and requested huge platform shoes so that he could tower over everyone else. [He’s actually 6’1” tall (1.87m). By comparison, Nick Offerman (Tad Dowling) is 5’10” (1.8m).] [Don’t say I never do research for you!]

Anathema’s bedroom set was in South Africa.

Jack Whitehall knew that in the book Newt had odd socks and so requested them as part of his costume.

Louis Ralph [Concept Artist] designed the etching of the Antichrist on Anathema’s kitchen wall.

MICHAEL: I’ve gotta mention that, otherwise I could get shot in the middle of the night!
CLAIRE: It won’t be a happy family Christmas, is all I’m saying.

The only other person in the cinema in which Crowley is sitting is Neil Gaiman, who also did the ‘voices’ of at least one of the cartoon rabbits. Michael explains that they needed an empty cinema where they could get a technocrane onto the stage to film Crowley. The cinema was in a suburb of Cape Town.

Every single card in Anathema’s box of prophecies was typed separately on an old typewriter – they didn’t just photocopy them – and each card had handwritten notes on it.

A lot of work went into the various implements and objects in [what was an incredibly short scene in the historical] Agnes Nutter’s cottage.

Anathema’s bedroom was built on a platform so that part of the floor could be taken away to get the camera down below the floor so that the lens was level with the floor. The legs of the bed were extendable to get it to different heights: high for when they’re underneath, low when they’re sitting on it. It needed springs to film through when they took the mattress off to film Anathema and Newt underneath it, but it couldn’t have springs when you sat on it.

Claire remembers them clearing snow from the streets of the Soho set. [You can see some snow they missed on the ledges of the red restaurant behind Crowley when he’s trying to persuade Aziraphale to get into the Bentley.]

MICHAEL: I built the bookshop on a crossroads because I always felt crossroads were a deciding point of any village, any town. I always thought that’s where confirmations were made, people were [hanged], people changed direction and either went home or went away; it was always where people met and where they broke up. Crossroads were always important decision-making processes. And with that came the idea of the compass. The whole interior [of the bookshop] was built around a compass. If you look at the oculus in the roof, it actually is the shape of the face of a compass, the glass top; and then the mezzanine level has N, S, E and W on it.

The snake doorbell outside Crowley’s flat was made specially.

MICHAEL: We put a real safe in the wall, which is unusual because normally we’d just build one, but there was something about the idea of hearing it clink and clank from the weight of it. It caused us some complication in respect of, when you’re inside the safe with the camera looking out, we have to take that one away and put a fake one there just for that shot; and getting that safe [out] was a four/five man lift just to get it off that platform.

CLAIRE: I’m just trying to remember the logistic of [Ligur’s death by Holy Water].
MICHAEL: I know the bucket was on [Ariyon’s] head quite a few times!

Crowley’s flat was the first piece of concept art which Michael did before he got the job, and it stayed the same. He sent in seven pieces of concept art before he went for an interview, and four of them stayed – nothing changed from his original instinct.

Michael says that once you work out that there’s a compass in the bookshop, you can work out that Aziraphale’s office is under the Eastern side of the compass, reflecting when he was the Guardian of the Eastern Gate of Eden.

MICHAEL: I don’t know where the Sword is now but it was the most well-travelled prop. It went to many different deserts, many different parts in South Africa and back in London.

CLAIRE: One of my favourite scenes [is] with Michael Sheen dancing the gavotte, which was such a gleeful, gleeful moment.
MICHAEL: It was a joy, wasn’t it?
CLAIRE: And it was an incredibly complicated piece of dance performance, to get all of these men choreographed and working like this.
MICHAEL: And it was as joyful as it looks.

There had to be multiple outfits for David and Ned during the phone-travel sequence because the rig on which they flew had to be cut through various pieces of clothing. They filmed in a greenscreen studio in South Africa.

MICHAEL: There was a beautiful coffee shop that we built across from the bookshop. We called it ‘Jon Coffee’ after [John Coffey in] The Green Mile ’cause I’ve always loved that. Don’t wanna get sued for that, but I spelled it with a J-O-N, not a J-O-H-N. ’Course, I don’t think anyone’ll ever see that or understand it either – but they might now!

MICHAEL: [In Hogback Wood] we created all these tree roots so that when it went dark like this, all this became evil-looking, and more sinister and threatening.

[When Anathema and Newt are pulled sideways by the hurricane]:
CLAIRE: Far, far wetter than I could have anticipated. There were quite a lot of runs to set with towels and hot water bottles.
MICHAEL: Everyone’s on wires, everyone’s in mid-air and then suddenly you say to the Special Effects guys, “Go for it,” [and] here’s the wind machine, here’s the rubbish, here’s the rain, and they do go for it.
There were two wind machines in the bedroom blowing a gale in two directions to get some spin on the papers and cards being blown around.
MICHAEL: We destroyed this set with rain and wind. Wasn’t much left of it after we’d finished.
CLAIRE: It just sort of dissolved by the time we’d finished filming.
Michael says that Douglas always knew he wanted that scene to end with the camera pulling out of the cottage’s roof and coming through the map in Shadwell’s flat. They had to build the bedroom roof so that they could break through it.

Michael and Bronwyn don’t hire props; they bought everything (second-hand where possible!) which meant that they had much longer to dress the set in advance, which gave Gavin Finney [Cinematographer] longer to light the set once it was dressed.

Claire loves that the “Them” flag flying on a pole behind Adam’s throne is a T-shirt.

It was bitterly cold while they were filming on the Soho set.

MICHAEL: I remember we had seven thousand books in that bookshop. Bronwyn had bought them from all over Europe and everywhere else. But because the spines weren’t always what we wanted them to be, I had Louis [Ralph] and Jim [McCarthy], the Concept Artists, inside the bookshop doing all the detailed writing on the backs of all the spines for nearly two weeks, but they were so rugged up – mittens, gloves, hats. It was so cold in that bookshop!

Gavin loved that the lights which Michael put into the shop were practically all that were needed to light the set.

MICHAEL: I could see it on [Michael Sheen’s] face, when he walked into that set, I could see that he loved that set himself. Again I’m mentioning the percentage it gives an actor to feel like he’s really [at home]. Everyone walked into that set and said, “Could we just have a room upstairs and just come down and drink wine and read all day?”
Claire suggests that they might want to put some heating in first!

With all the snow, one day Michael couldn’t get to the lot for a while, and once he got there he couldn’t get out again.
“I was living in a container!”
During the Christmas break Claire spent two weeks at home with pneumonia.

MICHAEL: I would say that if anyone wants to know about the detail behind all of this, there was so much more to see that I might be willing to write it out for somebody if they’re interested because there was so much. I’d hate to see it lost in the ethers, so much work was done.
CLAIRE: Well, it was absolutely heartbreaking ...
MICHAEL: ... to set fire to it.

MICHAEL: Does that mean we’re allowed to swear now?
CLAIRE: Fuck knows.

On to Episode 5

PLEASE NOTE: If you post a comment on this commentary and you’re not registered with Dreamwidth/Livejournal, your comment will be screened automatically until I unlock it, so please be patient for it to appear on screen.

A full list of the episode commentary transcripts can be found here.

Tags: commentaries, dvd extra, good omens, good omens dvd commentaries

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