— Excellence in Production Design for an Episode of a Single Camera Television Series: “Mad Men” — Episode 9 “Shoot”. Dan Bishop, production designer.
No doubt, this is the kind of kudos we expected all along. When I first started watching, what I told people was that at the very least the production, filming, set design/dressing would get props. Not that those elements are least.
I just re-watched Shoot the other day. Stunning.
SO not to beat a dead Weiner horse, but he spoke extensively about the episode. I asked him (I actually never finished my long and wind-y question, because he jumped right in, and Janet Maslin interrupted, and I interjected into her interruption, and herds of antelope and kittens were running wild in the streets) about his themes, like birds and trains, and he picked up the bird talk and ran with it.
First he mentioned that the new testament considered birds to be good symbol.
In terms of which specific bird references were planned when, he spoke about the seeming coincidences that happen when you write. I have experienced this many times, as a songwriter. Perfect synchronistic accidents happen that you WISH you were brilliant enough to have planned. It’s just this magical thing that occurs once the faucet is turned on the water turns clear. (Someday I’ll tell you the story of the naming of this blog.)
I will say this, that when something is on your mind, if you’re lucky, it shows up in your work. and whether you mean it to or not and a lot of times. Everything that looks like coincidence, you hope that it happened for a reason.
So like, he had Don calling Betty Birdy before he had fully conceptualized a bird theme.
Often, he says, he gets a visual and works from there. So at some point he saw Betty in a pose with a golden retriever, and holding a green bottle. His plan was to use Heineken, but they didn’t want in (or, their lawyers didn’t). Coke was a great fit, because they were an actual client of McCann-Erickson, the agency that was wooing Don in Shoot. Also, using Coca Cola was a great way to illustrate what a heavyweight McCann was versus the ranking of our fictional Sterling-Cooper.
Weiner talks about his inspiration for Betty shooting the pigeons.
My writer’s assistant–that was her mother did that. Her mother shot the pigeons. It was a very different scenario in the sense that that A) it was a pistol B) her mother didn’t smoke, and they were latchkey kids. And she had an older sister and it was one of these things where the dog had gotten in trouble and the neighbor had threatened the dog and the girls were losing sleep over it and finally confessed to the mother who was raising them by herself.
And the mother went out one morning and just started firing. And I just thought when I heard it I still get the chills thinking about it… This is the greatest act of like motherhood and frustration…it’s really fierce lioness behavior but it’s also just like SO “I’ve gotta get somebody”.
He said he had the visual of that incredible scene; Betty out on the lawn, shooting at the pigeons with the cigarette in her mouth, and they worked the show backwards from there.
And, on theme (theme being art direction, birds and Hitchcock)… this from Hollywood Reporter about last night’s awards ceremony:
ADG president Tom Walsh kicked off the evening with a congratulatory toast to legendary art director Robert Boyle, whose credits include “North by Northwest” and “The Birds” and who is to receive an Honorary Academy Award at the upcoming Oscars. Walsh also congratulated the nominees, noting that an art directors job is “translating the writer’s word and the director’s vision.”
Kids, check him out. Robert F. Boyle is 98 freaking years old.