Ron Moore live-tweeted during the premiere run of Episode 11, The Devil’s Mark, and then answered questions. Here’s what Ron had to say during the episode.
The scotch for tonight’s episode: Scapa 16 year, given to me by a very nice fan after the NYC premiere. Yes, on ice. Shoot me.
Those birds are real, not CGI.
The thieves hole was built on our soundstage by Gary Steele, our production designer. Tricky thing to accomplish, very tall set.
Really wanted them to feel dirty and awful in here. The dark kinda covdrs how filthy they really are.
Lots of discussion about how much we could do in the actual street. Restrictions in terms of usage, fire, hours, (possible) nudity,etc.
We opted to move most of the action inside. This is a real church. Tremendous credit to all the extras who sat there on hard benches.
It got hot in there and those wooden benches weren’t comfy. But the extras stayed and worked hard. They’re the unsung heroes of this episode.
I decided not to do the “Mutt and Jeff” reference re: judges from the book, even though I liked it. Obscure reference today, hard to explain.
Made it a little more of a formal trial. I felt the structure of a trial was a good dramatic frame for the audience and we leaned into it.
The story about Geillis on the ramparts was scripted and shot as first witness, but I rearranged the witnesses in post.
Poor, misunderstood Laoghaire. She just needs a good cuddle and a wee dram by the fire and all will be right with the lass…
Father Bain is played by Tim McInnerny, whose work I knew from many projects, but most prominently from Black Adder, which is a classic.
Really liked this misdirect from Father Bain. We spent a fair amount of time working on this turn.
This (the Father Bain scene) is my favorite scene in the show. Toni (Graphia, the episode’s writer) worked really hard on this scene, and I love the way it plays.
Gotta love “… looks like I’m going to a fucking barbecue.” Hope to see that on t-shirts this ComicCon.
Jamie is actually here looking for Laoghaire… but we’ll talk about that in season two… Kidding. (You guys are too easy…)
Jamie’s rescue is one of those iconic moments from the book. I think we pulled it off. You forget all about him until he’s in the church.
And just when you thought we’d forgotten about the “lies and honesty” speech from the book…
Sam’s look here — that smile on his face when he says “No, no, I believe ye, Sassenach” – to me, that is exactly Jamie Fraser.
Yes, it’s a real rabbit. Don’t tell my daughter.
You’ll hear on the podcast I almost cut this scene at the fire. Toni, to her credit, fought for it. She was right and I was wrong.
Personally, I love Claire’s outfit here: wrapped in Jamie’s kilt and belted at the waist. Sexy and true.
Q The 18th century equivalent of wearing his buttondown shirt and nothing else (when Claire is wearing Jamie’s kilt)
A Well to be fair, she does have a couple of giant skirts…
Lot of time in editing working on how much time they have together at the stones, how long they look at each other, the moments of quiet…
There used to be a long voiceover here, but decided it was more effective to just go with silence in the editing room.
Q Silence can be incredibly powerful and moving, bravo.
A I agree, but TV abhors silence. They fill the quiet with talk or noise or music or something. Fortunately, I work for Starz.
I like playing her arrival from Jamie’s POV instead of being with her.
There you have it. Hope you enjoyed the episode. Now, I’ll just turn it over to questions.
Q Please tell Terry we love the Raven dress!!!
A I will. That dress was one of her favorites of the year – and one of mine as well.
Q What was the most difficult part of filming 111?
A The trial itself. When we get to that set, I’ll explain why.
Q You and your team’s talents are phenomenal; the WHOLE production, cast, crew are outstanding. No praise high enough.
A I’m very proud of my team. They’re the best.
Q Nudity? (when talking about moving most of the action indoors)
A If we had Geillis take off her clothes at the end like in the book it would have been outside.
Q Anxious to learn how Ned found out so quickly. Flying with half the first book read and happily on show wings…
A We shot a scene with Ned & Colum where Ned tells him about the trial, but cut it in editing.
Q How much on average gets shot but cut in final edit? Or is there even one (average)?
A Varies a lot. some shows can be as much as 20 minutes over, others close to time.
Q Why are there candles when there is so much daylight in the room?
A The light from the windows wouldn’t fill the room, would leave pockets of darkness. Seeing candles allows DP to light more fully.
Q How did Jamie know to come?
A We don’t address it this season. It’s actually something we might mention in season two – still keeping options open.
Q Someone Geillie scorned? (the male villager who testifies against her) I wondered about this character’s motivation.
A That was our basic assumption. She had enemies in the village.
Q Didn’t the phrase “the Bonnie Prince” come in after in story telling, not during his time as the pretender?
A Good catch. It’s an anachronism that slipped through from time to time.
Q Are you planning for future seasons or focusing all your attention on the upcoming second season?
A Mostly focused on season two, but we do talk further down the line as well.
Q Is that why her dad (Laoghaire) wanted her beaten for loose behavior, she was misunderstood?
A See how unfair life was to her?
Q Aww she just needs a kitten to snuggle.
A She can have one of ours. Or two. Or three. Or…
Q Wondering which came first – the shot of the flying birds or Claire’s comment about the starlings?
A Toni put the comment in the script and then she thought it would be a great title card.
Q Was that opening footage of the starlings hard to get? It was beautiful…
A Our post production team had to do a fair amount of searching to find that footage.
Q The starlings in the opening were brilliant! How did you capture that murmuration? Did the timing work out? Was it filmed later?
A It’s stock footage our post production team found and then we purchased for the show.
Q What is it about Laoghaire that you love so much?
A I just love that everyone hates her. Makes me fond of the lass… and Nell is really great in the role!
Q Was it a deliberate choice for Jamie to believe Claire without testing her in front of the stones?
A Yes. Decided he would go with his heart here.
Q Was Geillis’ use of “fucking” supposed to be a clue for Claire or for the viewers? (Haven’t read, was that in the book too?)
A For the viewers, mostly. If the situation wasn’t so tense, Claire might have picked up on it. She lets down her guard and says something that’s very 20th century.
Q Why did you decide to include that guy talking about thunderstorms during the trial?
A You mean Geillis turning into a bird? We wanted some testimony that couldn’t be refuted because it was completely made up.
Q I must be a cold-hearted bitch. Not a tear shed.
A “I’d be friends with the sparrows… and the boy that shoots the arrows… If I only had a heart…”
Q What about Frank? Are we going to see him some time soon?
A No more Frank until next year.
Q You usually end on a cliffhanger. Was that discussed with this episode?
A I didn’t want to cut out on Claire at the stones which would be a cheat. No other natural cliffhanger, so went for happy ending.
Q Did you film the arrival from hers (point of view) too? Just to compare?
A Yes. The difference is subtle – it’s whether you cut to her face watching him first or him at the fire first.
Q Why did you not have Jamie experience SOMETHING at the stones to see she was telling the truth? My husband thinks Jamie’s an idiot now.
A It’s a valid reaction, but a moment when I opted for the romantic reaction versus the intellectual one.
Q I’m going to get my head ripped off for saying it now. Just cause one thing bothered me doesn’t mean I hated the show.
A No, like I said, that’s a valid reaction. (Actually, all audience reaction is valid, I just don’t always agree.)
Q Will you guys explain whether Claire decided to return to Jamie because the time travel didn’t work?
A She chose to stay with him.
Q Was Claire quoting Nathan Hale about “losing one life for your country”?
A Yes! Another good catch. Probably something that Geillis clocked and knew was anachronistic to the time.
Q Would Claire and Geillis (raised in Scotland/England) have known this as well as Americans in 1945/68?
A Debatable point. Not sure when the phrase became more widely known. Is it known in UK today? Can’t remember who caught this at the script stage. Toni might have gotten it from our historian.
Q When do we lobby for a Season 3, please?
A Feel free to start now.
Q How did you make Geillis look pregnant?
A It’s a combination of prosthetics and CGI. Took a lot of people a long time to make sure it looked right in both 110 and 111.
Q Loved Claire wearing the plaid and it explains Jamie wearing breeks, but why did he star off the episode wearing them?
A We had to do that so he could give her his kilt later. (Presumably it was back with his gear on his horse.)
Q With all your experience, when you watch other shows, can you tell if it’s real or CGI?
A Usually. It kinda distracts me because there’s so much bad CGI out there. But sometimes I’m shocked when it’s really good.
Q Curious why Claire didn’t start to “go” and Jamie pull her back. Emphasis on his faith? No need to see?
A I didn’t want to see her “fade” or go transparent. Felt like the show would be “scifi” and take you out of the story.
Q Why did you choose to leave out Jamie throwing the rosary and it landing around Claire’s neck?
A Didn’t think it would work on the show. Just a subjective call, but I think it would have pushed our reality a little too far.
Q Will there be more of them at the stones next week?
A No, the stones are now in their rear-view mirror. Next, Lallybroch.
Q Is there a reason Claire wasn’t almost “submerged” in water at the trial like in the books?
A Too difficult to film. Anything with water is tricky for production. Ask Spielberg.
Q Was the look of the thieves’ hole based on something from reality or did you guys just concoct a suitably creepy hole?
A Better question for Gary, but I think it was something he conjured out of his imagination.
Q I didn’t like Geillis in the books, and you made her likeable in this season. Reason why? Mrs. Abernathy has no fans.
A I tend to like all the characters in anything I work on, even if they’re doing terrible things.
Q I was REALLY hoping for some profession of love from either Claire or Jamie. When might that be now?
A Be patient…
Q Did you always intend for the “respect, no lies” to be placed here or was that something that you decided during the Wedding episode?
A Originally in wedding episode, but scene itself got reshot and re-edited and it no longer worked. Decided to use it here instead.
Q Which scene had it been in?
A After Claire had her scene with Dougal, she returned, Jamie was surprised by her and they had a scene at the fire. Scene didn’t work for a variety of reasons, we reshot and went a different direction to get the pearls.
Q What’s the limit/how many times are scenes reshot before you get what you’re looking for? Every time will differ in some way.
A We try not to reshoot unless I feel it’s absolutely necessary. Very expensive and screws up production schedule.
Q Will we see more of Claire telling Jamie about the future in the remaning eps? Like, about trains, planes and tanks?
A Stay tuned.
Q My favorite line was about the barbeque and I laughed because it cut the nervous tension a bit. Was that intended?
Q Why the twist with Father Bain?
A You hated him before he walked in. Wanted his testimony to be surprising, not just what you expected.
Q Why did you decide to do flogging inside rather than outside?
A Didn’t want to do the nudity (with Geillis) outside in public space. Too problematic.
Q Problematic how?
A Restrictions on how we could shoot, what hours, public access – lots of boring production details.
Q Given the intimacy of earlier episodes, why did you decide to not show Jamie and Claire love scene at the end?
A Felt like we’d already had a love scene between them and I didn’t think we needed another one.
Q How many more seasons is the show signed on for?
A Only season 2 at this point. Let Starz know you want more!
Q Did they really strike Caitriona or was it CGI?
A The magic of TV.
Q Were the vaccination marks makeup? A friend told me other countries still get vaccines that cause those marks.
A Make-up initially. We enhanced it with CGI to make sure it would read on camera.
Q Has production started on season 2 yet?
A We’re in prep on season two. We have scripts underway and the production team is busily making sets and costumes in Scotland.
Q Why cut Jamie explaining tha the wanted to beg her to stay and not go through the stones? Time?
A Once she’s at the campfire, the show is over. Nothing they say at that point tops the drama of her decision to return.
Q Do any of the scenes get to you emotionally or are you detached while producing?
A There are definitely times I get emotional watching the show. That’s how you know it’s good.
Q Thanks for indulging us! I was in line at the NYC premiere when you came to shake hands and I’ll not forget it. Thanks for all you do.
A Thank you! It’s your love and dedication to our show that makes all this possible!
Q Have you considered doing a commentary podcast like you did for Battlestar Galactica? That was an amazing resource for aspiring writers.
A I’ve done them on every show. Go to iTunes or Starz.com and you’ll find them.
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