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KryptonSite Interview With Greg Beeman
Conducted by Craig Byrne ( - Summer 2004

During the summer hiatus, KryptonSite's Craig Byrne was lucky enough to have a chance to talk to Smallville's Director and Executive Producer up in Vancouver, Mr. Greg Beeman. Beeman, a favorite of fans ever since they first saw him at the Paley Festival and heard him on the Season 2 DVD, was an incredibly fun subject who hopefully shared some insight on the world of Smallville. Beeman also holds the honor of winning the KryptonSite Award for Best Director twice (so far!)

As the interview was conducted before filming began for Season Four, some things about the production are spoken of as happening in the future.

Thanks again to Mr. Beeman for doing this interview!

KRYPTONSITE: What is your role as an executive producer and director for Smallville?

BEEMAN: I think to answer the question of what is my role, you sort of have to go back to how I got the job in the first place. At the very beginning of Season 1, there was this stupendous pilot that had been directed by David Nutter and written by Miles and Al, and I came and directed Episode Three, which was called Hothead.

At that moment in time, there was really - while there was a great clear vision, certainly in Miles and Al's mind and hearts, of how they wanted the show to be, and what they wanted the final result -- nobody knew how to make this series on a week to week basis. Basically, there was a lot of conflict and a lot of differences of opinions, both financially in terms of how do we financially make this show? How much can we do? How much can we not do? And I think also aesthetically, you know.

The crew that was in place at that time, and the directors that had been hired at that time, and just the way that the beast had been built at that time, it wasn't really conducive to making the show that we now make every week. I think I was sort of just the right guy at the right time. The minute I got there to direct Hothead, I just, like, loved it.

And I remember there was a specific moment for me, which was a rather innocuous scene in terms of Smallville, but there was a scene in Hothead where the principal is unconscious in the car, and the car is on fire, and Clark runs out and grabs the door, and rips it off its handles, and throws it like 50 feet. And it was sort of the first super power thing that I had directed, and I just remember when we did that, it was, like, really cool.

You know, I grew up loving comic books. I was mostly a Marvel fan, frankly, but, you know, I had collected Spider-Mans. I've got Fantastic Fours. I have the first 30 of all the New X-Men, I have two of the first issues, it was actually Giant Size X-Men I think when it first came out, and I have a complete collection of Conan. I have Hulk #2. I have Fantastic Four #4. So, you know, I was a big fan of comic books. And I actually had a lot of the DC Comics, too. Like, I had a lot of the Neal Adams stuff, that he'd done with Batman, and the Green Arrow/Green Lantern, and some of the Justice League stuff that Neal Adams had done in the 70's, and so I always had that love in my heart.

I had gotten diverted into filmmaking really by the movie Star Wars when I was a teenager. When I saw Star Wars, I knew I wanted to make films. But I love the medium, and I love that - so, it was funny. After all these years of making films and directing, I suddenly landed in the job that was perfect for me. I knew that I was sort of the only guy who knew how to produce the show on a week to week basis. You know. How it was meant to look, how Miles and Al want it to look, what the tone of it should be, how much action we could do, how we should do the lighting, how we should do the color. You know, how we should implement [the vision] -- Miles always had a real strong vision of what he wanted the show to be, but I think nobody knew how to implement it. So, I think I knew how to interpret what he wanted, to expand upon what he wanted, and to implement what he wanted. So, basically I got the job of producing.

So my job (which eventually became Executive Producer -- in the beginning I was co-Executive Producer but I did the same stuff), basically my job - on a day to day, week to week - on an episode to episode basis, is to maintain quality control of the show. To make sure it looks like how it's supposed to look, and to make sure that we can also financially produce it at a level that Warner Brothers is at least comfortable with.

If nothing else, I think I'm the guy who's up there thinking of cool stuff. You know, like my job is to sit there and go, like, “What if ?”. What if we do this, or what if we do that? A lot of people go what if. And all the writers always go what if. But I'm sort of the guy who, because I'm really sort of the only one of the producers who is in the field, you know, I'm the one who's always, like, going, “Hey, you know, why don't we try this? What if we blew up a house? What if we - actually, I didn't think of what if we blew up a house, but I did think of, like, what if Clark hit the guy in the face with a tree? You know, stuff like that. And I, also…you know what I think I do more than anything else is, I try and inspire all the other people around me. Slowly, we've built the right team.

You know what? -- everybody who was hired at the beginning was a talented person. There was nobody who wasn't talented. But it wasn't really the right fit for this material. A lot of people who were on the show from the beginning didn't necessarily embrace what the show was, which is sort of a show which has its roots in comic books, you know, has that sort of aesthetic, but at the same time is meant to be all the things that Smallville is. You know, physically beautiful teenage drama with superhero powers. You know, that's what it is. And until we had the team of people that all really embraced that, and really believed that it could happen, it didn't happen.

K-SITE: Did that background interest in comics make it more surreal when directing Christopher Reeve? Were you a fan of the movie?

BEEMAN: Yes, of course, I was a fan of the movie. But it wasn't surreal; it just - - I actually think I talk about this a little bit on the Season 2 DVD commentary. I was just nervous. It wasn't my episode; James Marshall was directing that episode, but I knew just how great the script was. I felt this enormous obligation to make it a great scene. I knew it was, like, one of the most significant scenes that Tom had to do. I knew that Tom's performance was going to be really critical. And frankly, I was also just worried about Christopher. I was worried about his physical limitations, and I didn't want to overwork him. I didn't want him to get tired. I'd been told that he could only work a few hours. And so frankly, for me, it was a completely unpleasant experience. Because I felt a lot of pressure on a lot of levels. Until it was all over, and when I saw the show finally cut together, then I really was able to kick back and enjoy it.

K-SITE: Tom really blew people away with that scene, too.

BEEMAN: Well, Tom and I worked very hard on that performance. I mean, Christopher, frankly, came in and did the scene Tom and I had prepared. There was this really amazing moment I know for Tom Welling and myself, where we were “there”. The nature of the way we'd set it up is, I shot a few shots of him entering the room, and looking around. Christopher came a little bit later, and we went in and met him, and I just - I saw this sort of passing of the torch. I saw how Tom was. Tom was amazed. I was a little bit more stepped back, but I do remember watching Tom meeting Christopher Reeve and feeling like wow. This is an amazing moment. And I was the only person sort of witnessing it. You know, like, the passing of the torch. I really felt it, and I felt Tom feel that it was an important moment for him, and Tom and I worked really hard on his performance. We talked about it in between set up, we talked about - I really wanted him to get to a place of that sort of sadness and loss and anger, but I wanted him to feel the pain of the concept that the planet he came from blew up. And that meant that the chance of ever meeting his parents, ever finding anyone else like him was very remote. So, I mean, Tom and I over the years have worked very hard on his acting.

I guess going back to your other question of what do I do, I sort of oversee the quality of everything, and make sure that everything is as good as it could possibly be. I sort of oversee all the creative aspects of the show. I'm the guy pushing for the sets to be better, for the lighting to be better, for the camera work to be more interesting, and I'm also always working with the ongoing cast. I don't work with all the actors that are there just for an episode, although frequently when a new character's going to come in, like Emmanuelle Vaugier, or when Sarah Carter came in, and numerous time if a important guest star comes in, I'll come in and sit down with them and try and talk about their character in the series.

And then frankly, my work especially with Tom Welling, there's been very much of an ongoing relationship about his performance, about his acting, about acting, about how to deepen it. He, as I'm sure he wouldn't mind me saying it, came to the show with very little experience. Nervous. Wanted to do really well, didn't want to mess up, and he wanted to get better. He knew he wanted to be a better actor, and he and I have worked on his acting together from the very beginning, and he has taken leaps and bounds. It's not always with me that he works, but he goes away, and he comes back every hiatus and he's deeper. He's taking this job very seriously.

K-SITE: How much prep time goes into an episode?

BEEMAN: Seven days. Which isn't very much, if you think about it.

K-SITE: As an example, what went into Covenant?

BEEMAN: We have, basically about a 50 page script. We usually get the script on the first of the seven days. If we're really lucky, we'll get the script maybe a day before. Typically though, another aspect of my job is that I will be getting the scripts as soon as they are ready, but I'm always constantly also feeding Miles and Al notes. My take both on the aesthetics of the material, and on, you know, the production issues. Like hey, we really can't accomplish this, or this just - we can't have an all night battle. This should have to become day. Or whatever, but mostly I really concentrate my notes on the aesthetics, like ongoing character stuff, and story stuff. Luckily, and gratefully, I feel that Miles and Al have come to very much trust me. They trust my notes.

And so, with Covenant…Okay. I'll tell you how Covenant came on. Covenant goes back in that Miles told me the basic idea months before. The basic idea that Tom would get sucked into the cave, and Lionel - they had the idea that Lionel would hit everybody, and there would be a big finale, and then one day, when Miles was up directing Memoria, we were talking with John Glover, and John Glover said, you know, if I'm going to go to jail, I want to shave my head. And we said what? And then we go, you would be willing to do that? He goes, willing to do that? I WANT to do that! And then when he said that, I know Miles and I just clicked on, like, oh my God, the scene which is now the final three or four minutes of the show, which it seems like everyone really likes, it was in my head the minute he said that. The minute he said that, I saw basically, like, the end of the Godfather. I saw how I ended up directing it very clearly. I would move the camera around John. What I ended up doing is I moved the camera around John counter-clockwise, and I moved the camera around everybody else clockwise, and I saw that it would all be in slow motion, there would be a song. It just clicked in my head like that. I think it similarly clicked into Miles's head. You know, and then we started to make different things, sort of an ongoing basis about, like, well, would Martha - - I actually had wanted for the FBI agent to go into the farm and be sort of pressuring Martha, and then guys would show up and shoot the place up. 'Cause it just seemed so classic. I think ultimately Miles and Al thought that was cheesy. (laughs) I just love the idea of the frickin' whole entire farm gettin' shot up and Martha diving, and the FBI guy would get killed that way.

KSITE: You might not get any sugar cookies that way.

BEEMAN: Nah, that'll be fine. We'd build them a better farm. And they had wanted to blow up a house, and so anyway. It all sort of came together. And then when I got the script, which is probably seven days before we started shooting, I probably gave them notes. The hiring of Kara was very important. Michael Rosenbaum had actually met her up in Vancouver, because she was doing the pilot of Lost in Space, and he actually recommended her, and then she read. There was another girl in Toronto who was really good. We had a lot of debate. We saw them on tape. I called her and talked to her on the phone. She re-read, we debated about who would be the right person, and then we finally really went with her, and Al really made the decision about Kara, because she just seemed sort of beautiful, but she's really tall. She's five foot eleven. And she had the sort of quality of she looked Kryptonian. She looked a sort of bizarrely, you know, unrealistically beautiful, as Tom does. So, she seemed very Kryptonian.

And so what else? You know, we had to find the woods. We had to find the house to blow up. And then there was Lionel's cell. Now, Lionel's cell was this empty building that belonged to a place that built platform trains. This building was really cool. And David Wilson, the production designer, had found this building and had wanted to shoot it a lot, and actually we ended up shooting the building a lot. We used that building for all of Asylum. It was the high tech insane asylum. It was also the tank where they lowered Clark in Memoria. And the room that we turned into Lionel's cell was a room that I'd loved, and I kept trying to use it. I kept trying to find an excuse to use that room. What it is, is the place where they paint train cars. So it's this gigantic room that was all white with the light panels in it, and I just loved that room.

The preparation of any given episode is all about finding locations. Which means as soon as we have any clue about what's coming up in an upcoming episode -- and frequently there's outlines, or if nothing else, I call up Al -- and I'll be like what's coming up? And when there's a key location, then I'll start feeding it to the location managers, and to the production designer, and they're always working and trying to think ahead, like, hey, what about this? What about that?

Frankly, though, the scripts change so much as we write them, that a lot of times we sort of chase wild geese. But the first few days of prep are spent by getting in the van, driving around, going to these locations, looking at a bunch of different choices, usually not liking a bunch of them. Usually, like, finally finding one. It very much has to work together with the script, and sometimes if the scripts are tight and they're in really good shape early on, it just makes the preparation so much easier.

Sometimes the scripts are loose, and they're not right. Many times we get a script that the idea is great, or there's something there. We know it's gonna eventually get good. But until it really gets good, it just gets really hard to lock down to the locations, 'cause locations are all about real specifics. And also, because we shoot 2-4 scenes in a day, much of the Rubik's Cube puzzle that we have solve is what locations go with what? Like, I had to shoot Lionel's cell, that was lucky 'cause it was all one day. But sometimes we have to do two scenes at the farm, and then we have to go down the road and shoot another scene.

Or in Covenant, for instance, I had to shoot the airport and the courthouse in the same day, just because those were the only things that would possibly go together. Now, those are two different locations. The obligation was there. I had to find an airport and a courthouse within basically walking distance of each other. That was the hardest task on that episode, because out of any given script, a bunch of scenes are written on purpose to be for our standing sets. Like, the Talon, the Torch, the Kent farm, the barn, Lex's mansion. Those are sets on a sound stage. And usually, ideally, three quarters, half to three quarters of the episode will take place in those sets, and the writers write to that. But, on that one, to find a court house and an airport right near each other was really hard, so we eventually found what I originally considered two compromises, but I think they worked together really well. It was sort of like there were other combinations of beautiful airports with no court houses or fantastic court houses with no airport. So, the airport was a hotel, and the court house was a train station. They were really a block from each other, and then David Wilson and Rob Maier, the guys in the production design department, just did a fantastic job. It's very convincing as an airport. That's not an airport at all; that's a hotel. And the other place is not a court house at all! But it had a great ceiling, and a great space, you know."

K-SITE: Is it true that you guys dress Kristin Kreuk in pink just to annoy us?

BEEMAN: At this point in time, I am amused by the anger of the fans, but no, not really. Originally, you know, all the characters had a color palette that was sort of theirs. Some of them have stayed the same from the very beginning. Lex's was always designed, really by Miles, to be in silvers and blues and grays and purples. Clark only wears red, white, and blue, and red, yellow, and blue. It's funny, but the specifics of that is like where my job is. Like, I wanted a red coat for him [Clark], and we worked really hard on finding a great red coat. And finally, in the middle of the season two, I finally found a coat that I liked in a catalog, and then she had to build and dye it, that coat is constructed. And the right shade of blue, and the right shade of red. It took a season and a half to get those perfect. And then we wanted a winter red coat, all those crazy kinds of things.

So, Kristin, because I think she was always designed to be the princess, you know, the object of desire, I think the idea was to put her in very innocent colors, and she would be the innocent one. So really, sky blue and pink were always her colors from the beginning. And frankly, she looks great in pink. I know people get sick of it, but I think she looks really good in those colors, so, and she also looks good in black. She looks very good in black, but Miles really does not want to dress her in black. He thinks black is a dark color for bad guys, and typically we really reserve the color black for bad guys.

So there's a very strong color pallette working, both in terms of the sets, and in terms of the wardrobe, and in terms of how they interact. Like, I actually really very much think about, like, this set is this color, so the actors have to wear these colors in that scene. And I'm doing that on every scene in every location. At this point in time I don't do that, becuase now everyone really knows the rules, and the crew just sort of does it most of the time. But, you know, there was one episode where we - - Kristin doesn't really like pink, and she hates being dressed in pink. I don't know whether Kristin goes online or not, but if she does, she probably really doesn't like the comments about her being the pink princess and everything. You know, she's very sensitive, actually, and I think she really objects to pink. So, I gave her a chance to pick her own colors on one episode, which was Crisis. And she picked this terrible color of green, and this terrible color of orange, and that was the end of that. And I think if you see the episode you'll agree, that the orange she chose, and the green she chose, were not a success. So, we were right back to pink.

K-SITE: So there's no chance she'll return with a new look?

BEEMAN: As a matter of fact, she will be returning with a new look. Her character is going to evolve. I think of all of the characters coming back in Season 4, I think the fans will be the most satisfied and be the most intrigued, and the most surprised by what's going to happen to Lana. And so, she is going to have a new look.

K-SITE: But it will still be pink?

BEEMAN: No, it will not be pink, actually, no. It's gonna change. I feel like I know how it's going to change. I think Miles knows how he wants it to change. We haven't completely had that conversation. But yeah. I think Kristin's character will be the most surprising in Season 4.

K-SITE: Are there days when only special effects work is being done?

BEEMAN: Absolutely. Yes. For instance, when we do green screen. There's two different kinds of special effects. The word special effects is used in two ways. There's visual effects, which is like for instance, when Jonathan and Clark, you know, crash through the window and fall in Exile, green screen is very slow. We have a huge green screen stage that we finally built in Season Three. It's about a hundred feet long and about 60 feet wide with a green floor. We took about ten hours to shoot four or five green screen shots of Jonathan and Clark tumbling together. 'Cause they had to be hung, and suspended, and to get them fighting in mid-air hanging on wires was very slow work. So we spent eight or ten hours just doing five green screen shots.

But there's also special effects which is also blowing stuff up. The day that we blew up the house in Hereafter, we probably did three or four shots, and then we waited for six hours while they rigged the house to blow, and then we blew up the house and that was the day.

K-SITE: What happened with James Marshall sharing the directing chores on "Hereafter?"

BEEMAN: My job is very exhausting, especially because I fly back and forth between L.A. and Vancouver, partly to see my family, and partly to work with the writers down here. Miles was originally going to direct Hereafter, not Memoria. And sort of at the last second, just because of all the work he's doing on our show and others, he had to bow out. So I took over. I just finished directing Asylum. In fact, I wasn't done with Asylum, because Michael Rosenbaum got sick on Asylum. So I still had three or four days owed on Asylum, and I started getting sick. But I couldn't stop. I was working six days weeks, 'cause we were doing Saturdays to finish Asylum. And I started Hereafter, and I was sick, and I got walking pneumonia. So, James Marshall had gone off to do Tarzan, which he was producing and the show thankfully failed, came back, he came to set to visit, just to say hi to everybody, 'cause he'd been gone for a month, when the doctor called me on the cell phone and said that I had to go home right now, that someone else would have to finish. And I looked at Marshall, and said "Marshall, you're finishing my episode." “What?”

He actually had like two weeks off before his next episode. So it took about two hours to describe what I was going to do the rest of that day, and then I went home, and I went to bed, and I didn't get out of bed for a week. But every night, James would come over to my apartment, and we'd go through the next day's work and go, like, "Okay, what were you going to go here?" He didn't even read the script until like two days after he started it!

K-SITE: The meteor freaks in Asylum, is that just who happened to be available?

BEEMAN: Well, no, not exactly. Miles and Al really wanted to bring back three of the freaks, and they did research it. There weren't that many. It had to be a guy, and they had to be alive. So there was really just those three guys, and the guy from Cool. I think those were the only living men. And there was also some debate whether the guy from Metamorphosis had lived or not. He'd been smashed and turned into a thousand cockroaches. So, the problem with that was that Shawn Ashmore was already shooting a movie, luckily in Vancouver, that he was the star of. So we kept working it out with his manager, and he was basically available one day. Imagine, like he was available one day, on the 19th, and for half a day on the 16th. Now, Jesse Metcalfe was in a soap opera at the time, and was only available for two days, but they weren't the same days as Shawn Ashmore. And luckily, Jonathan Taylor Thomas was available the whole time. Once we knew that, they wrote more for Jonathan. Originally, it was pretty divided between the three and Jesse lived to the end, and they bulked up Jonathan's role and they diminished the other two roles. I originally was prepared to direct with only doubles. Like, I would never have Shawn Ashmore or Jesse Metcalfe in the same shot at the same time. So I would have to direct half a scene over one guy's shoulder and then half a scene over another guy's shoulder.

But then luckily in a weird way, Michael got sick and went down and there was nothing to do, and then Shawn Ashmore's show got rain delayed. Suddenly Shawn Ashmore and Jesse were available at the same time, so I got to do one scene with all three guys. The scene at the end of the show when Shawn Ashmore is picking Clark up and throwing him around and beats the crap out of him, well, that scene was done on two different days about two weeks apart. One day I have to go through the whole scene and shoot every shot with Shawn Ashmore. And another day, I went back with a double, and shot every scene that was not Shawn Ashmore. Seriously. That's what I did.

K-SITE: What was up with all the ribbing of James Marshall on the DVD commentary?

BEEMAN: When I first met James, I didn't know I had already worked with him when he used to be an assistant director. I watched some of his film, I watched a show that he did called The Sentinel and I really thought it was cool. It was actually a show Bob Hargrove had produced, and I really liked the way it looked. So I hired James originally to come aboard as a second unit director. The nature of the law of Canada was such that our second units had to be done by Canadian directors. We were allowed to hire American units to do the main units, and if the American directors were able to do their second units, fine, but if they weren't, and in the first season they never were because it was so chaotic. So I had to hire a Canadian, and I hired James.

And then what happened is, because of the chaotic schedule, and because we got snowed out, and because of all of these things, James ended up directing, uncredited, about more than a third of one of the Season 1 episodes. And when I saw the episode, I was like holy moley. Like, James's stuff is substantially better than the prestigious American director that we brought up. So, then we gave James Nicodemus, which I gotta say, Miles and Al were really great. The studio resisted it because they didn't know him, and they put together a tape of all the scenes that he directed. Some of the best scenes in episodes that were credited to other directors. And so we gave him Nicodemus which, of course, is a fan favorite, and then later he did Crush, and he just started batting 'em out of the park, basically.

But the thing about Marshall, and why they teased him, is he is passionate. And he's never satisfied. See, I'm different. I'm more mellow, and funny, and I joke around. I've been doing it a long, long time, so I sort of know when it's right, and I don't fuss with it, and I just move on. But he just toils over everything. He toils over every performance, every shot. He wants it as good as it could be. He wants it better. So, that's why the actors gave him crap. They've learned to love him, because they know his episodes turn out great, but they give him crap because, like they said, he never saw a take that he didn't want to do another take of. James wants another take, then he wants another take, then he wants another take, then he wants another shot, and then he wants another shot of the same action, and then he wants another version of the shot. You know, he just wants more and more. He pushes for more all the time. It does get a good result, but, everyone likes to tease him.

K-SITE: What was the genesis of John Schneider directing an episode?

BEEMAN: John really wanted to do an episode, and made a case for it right from the beginning. Right from Season 1, he was like I can do this, I want to do it, and so it was sort of different from James's situation because we sort of committed to the idea that he would direct one, and then give him practice. Whenever an opportunity came up to do second units, I let him do that, and it was to get the feel of the show and the crew, and so John had already done four to six days of second unit directing for different other episodes. In fact, on Lineage which I had directed, it came to pass that I really wanted to be involved in the prep of the next upcoming episode, which was Dichotic, so I said "John, I'm going to give you this day for my episode." I was very trusting, I thought. So John did a day, about two or three scenes of Lineage, that I thought he did a great job on.

K-SITE: What can you tell us about the Smallville Season 3 DVD?

BEEMAN: There's commentary with Miles, and Al, and myself, and Ken Horton, and Michael Rosenbaum on Exile, and on Memoria. So, pretty insightful. I think that's going to be fun for everybody, but I think the best thing is the gag reel, which again has some really good stuff. Some really cute stuff with Kristin Kreuk, and the usual Michael Rosenbaum antics, and I will say from what I hear, there is an Easter egg that should be searched for. There's also a really cool behind the scenes documentary which really introduces a lot of the crew, and we talk about, you know, all the players including myself and Michael and Miles and Al, sort of introduce a lot of the crew people. The DP's, and the costumers, and the set constructor, and the production designers, and you really get to meet the people behind the scenes and see how we do a typical day on Smallville. And I was happy with it, in that I think it showed what tight knit group we are, and how the collaboration on a day to day basis goes, so I think that's some really good stuff for the fans that'll tell them stuff they don't know already.

K-SITE: Did you guys really have to get up so early for those Season 2 DVD commentaries?

BEEMAN: Yes. And, we weren't in the same place. They were shooting that day, and they had an eight o'clock call, so we figured that the commentaries would take 45 minutes, times two. So, yeah. We did the commentaries at like 6:30 in the morning, and Kristin and Tom were both going to work in Vancouver. Now, at that time I happened to be here in Los Angeles, and so did Michael Rosenbaum. So Michael Rosenbaum and I were here in Los Angeles, and Kristin, Tom, and James Marshall were in Vancouver, and we were sort of hooked up by sattelite. So, we actually weren't even in the same room at the same time, as we were taunting each other the whole time.

K-SITE: You had mentioned that you wanted to explain the misconceptions people have about what a director actually does?

BEEMAN: I just don't think people know what a director does at all. I don't think they even have any concept of it. You know, I go online, on KryptonSite, and I think people are very clear on what the writers do, but I don't think they understand what the director does. So I just thought it was important to clarify that.

Ultimately, the director is responsible for choosing how they're going to shoot the episode. We sort of have general rules of how we shoot the episode, which again, took about a season and a half, until it was really clear to me how to shoot the show, and then I was able to teach other people about it. So there's sort of a palette or a template, like, this is how we'd like the show to look. Which is, you know, there's a lot of long, moving cameras. There's these really big closeups. Everything's a low angle. The characters don't quite fit in the frame, you know, they're meant to be too big for the frame, and these type of things.

But, nevertheless, the director specifically decides, I'm gonna shoot these shots for this scene. I'm gonna put the camera here. They decide how to visually tell the story on a episode by episode basis. It's really the director who says to the director of photography, "Okay, here's how I want this scene to be." The director deals with the specifics of the scene. The actors are gonna come in the door here. The camera's going to record it in this way. I'm going to dedicate this many shots to this part. I'm gonna do this part in one shot, etc. And they also are really the main person thinking about the transition between this scene and that scene. Transitions are very important.

And the directors are also responsible for the performance of any given episode. The actors do not self-direct. You know, our cast is very great about this. They love performance direction, and certain directors get in there and work with the cast, and certain directors don't. There are directors who just work on the details of the techical stuff, and they get the shots. They sort of let the cast self-direct. Those episodes are never as good. The directors who get in there and work Tom, work Michael - John Glover loves direction, and Annette O'Toole loves direction. Allison Mack loves direction. She loves being directed. And she gets really frustrated if she's not directed. The directors direct the actors, and the directors decide how we're going to shoot any given episode.

This is a very hard show to direct. I've directed a lot of different television. I've directed movies. I have had the hardest time getting directors for this show, and I'll tell you why: Because it requires three or four different skills that are difficult to find in one person. It needs performance direction. Especially in the beginning, because the actors were young, and they were sort of inexperienced, and you needed someone who had the ability to bring out these performances. Two, you need to be comfortable with visual effects, and not everyone's done visual effects. Not everyone's said okay, and then Tina turns into Lana, you know. A lot of people don't know. And you have to be comfortable with action. In the morning, we might have a dramatic scene which is meant to induce tears, and then in the afternoon, we're gonna have a battle in the back alley with people getting thrown 40 feet in the air. So, a director has to know how you make that exciting and dramatic. How do you make the shoot the shots that make it dramatic and exciting, and how do you accomplish that on a television pace? You know, we've had people who knew how to do it but couldn't do it as fast as we need to do it. And fourth, we shoot a television show. So, we shoot a lot of pages every day, and just to be able to get through the day and maintain the high aesthetic standards that we have, simultaneously, it's not easy.

At the end of the day, the director is the only person on Smallville who's only focusing on that one episode. Miles and Al are always writing eight episodes at a time. They're always working on two or three ideas that are just ideas. They're always overseeing two or three scripts that are in the first draft stage. They're always overseeing the episode that's prepping. And then they're also keeping track of the episodes that are in post-production. So they're always - in the middle of the season, they're always thinking about, like, eight episodes. I'm always thinking of at least four. The crew is always thinking of at least two. The actors are thinking about two or three at the same time. They're not always working in continuity. So, the director's the only person on all of Smallville who's only thinking about that one episode. And that's important.

K-SITE: Is there anything you could tell us about the cast that we might not know?

BEEMAN: The truth of the matter is that I've worked on a lot of different shows, and normally, there's at least one bad egg, and usually the bad egg has a lot of power. Usually the bad egg would be the lead. Usually the person who's the lead of the show will come to realize they have a lot of power, that no one can make the show without them, and that person will become a jerk. There is not one single jerk on this show. Every single one of them cares about the show, cares about their individual performance. Tom is unique. Tom doesn't just care that he gives a good performance. He really cares about the whole show. He wants to make sure everyone else is getting the best chance to do their best, too. Every one of them really tries. John Glover, John Schneider, and Annette O'Toole are vets, and each of those three is grateful to be there. They know, unlike the kids, they know that a quality television show that's a success is not easy to come by, and they appreciate the chance. And they appreciate the writing and the chances that the characters get to take.

I think all of them really like their characters. One example, I was witness to another amazing moment. John Schneider and I were at the airport, and we were up to episode eight or nine filming, but the show had just premiered, and maybe two episodes had aired, and the guy who was taking tickets at the gate said "Hey, you're Jonathan Kent!" And John Schneider said "Yes, I am!" We were walking down the runway to the plane, and he went "Yes! I'm finally another guy! I'm not Bo Duke anymore!" And he was seriously touched by that.

They're all professional. But that's rare. You know, it's rare to say that I have a cast of actors who are professional, who genuinely like each other. I think that's why I'm really happy about the DVD commentary. You really see that we like each other. We like each other, we like to hang out with each other, and everybody's friends. And everyone shows up to do their best every day. That was really a part of the reason I wanted to take the job too. I saw what a bunch of good eggs they were, and it's no fun spending three or four years with jerks.

[Here, Greg particularly speaks about Kristin Kreuk] Kristin is an interesting person. She keeps to herself in a way. She's very shy. I've come to realize that she's very shy, she's very much a perfectionist, and she's very sensitive. I think that all that “I Hate Lana” stuff - how do you not take that personally? I think she's aware of it. I think it hurts her. I don't think she's always happy with Lana, and I think Lana's a really tricky character. She's a tricky character because I've read things like MobiusKlein's objectification of Lana, but, you know, in some ways, that's the truth, but in some ways, that's what it needs to be. Especially from the beginning. She was the object of his desire, and she motivated him. As a dramatic instrument, he needed to have something that made him want to move forward, and so Lana was that. She was in fact sort of an object. Miles and Al were always very alert to the fact that they didn't want her to only do that, and they gave the Talon to give her something to do.

But it's funny… just the nature of the drama…there's something about drama, and each character has a certain concept or role. If you stripped all their names away and you stripped all the actors away and you just said, okay: there's the villainous father, and there's the struggling son of the villainous father. Then there's the good son striving to be a hero, full of self-doubt, and you just put those kind of character traits on people, and then there was the beautiful object of the hero's desire. Well, that limits that character. Versus the perky sidekick girl who gets to investigate. That character gets to have more fun. It doesn't matter who plays that character, just in drama, that character gets to have more fun. Lana is a little bit limited by the nature of who she is as a character in the drama. You can go back to Aristotle. That character in that drama, that character is limited.

And I think they've actually always been alert to trying to find more for her to do. I believe, based on the meetings I've been in talking about Season 4, they've finally found something that I think is gonna be really cool. It's gonna be really cool. It is going to take Lana in a different direction, and in a way, in order to do that, you have to strip that definition off. You have to say okay, she's no longer the object of the hero's desire. She's now something else. So, Kristin Kreuk has to become something besides the original definition. I feel a lot of sympathy for Kristin, because I think she's a great person. She's a caring person. She's a hard worker. She's a perfectionist. And being a perfectionist is tough, because if somebody doesn't like you, it hurts. It hurts more than it does to a person who's not a perfectionist. So I actually think some of the negative reaction to her hurts her. I've never had that conversation with her, but I feel that is the case.

K-SITE: Tigress35 wanted me to ask, is there a reason that the more mythology-based episodes have more of a cinematic look?

BEEMAN: Miles and Al really write for the directors. I manipulated things around so that James would do Rosetta. Once I heard the story of Rosetta, I actually moved a couple directors around because I wanted him to that. I knew I couldn't do it, and I knew he'd do a great job. I think we put the best directors on the best episodes, frankly. I really do. I think if you took the Smallville episodes for all eternity, and you broke down what directors did what episodes, across - not just in the KryptonSite Best Director award - but if you broke down which directors did what episodes, I think you'd see a pattern that certain directors do the best episodes. On the other hand, there's something intangible, which is that we, the crew, know when we have a good script, or a just okay script, or, even God forbid, a bad script. And it does happen. We know whether we're fighting uphill.

K-SITE: Have you ever considered writing an episode?

BEEMAN: They don't need me to write an episode. I feel very satisfied, I know what the stories are early on, they listen to my feedback. I think I'm part of the rewriting process in a big way, but no, I don't have a desire to, because I don't see that there's a need there. I think we've got a great group there. And it's not my strength. So why would I go do something that's not my strength when there's a need?

K-SITE: Will Miles Millar be directing another episode?

BEEMAN: Yeah. That was a great experience, by the way. I think that frankly, it was his first time directing, so he was nervous. And the crew was sort of nervous too. We didn't know. I mean, of course, in retrospect, it's like he conceived the show, he wrote the show. He's very visual, and he's always giving a lot of notes about visual aspects of the show … but how you specifically get through a day of shooting, and how you implement your vision so that other people can execute it, that's something intangible, and we did not know whether Miles would be able to do it. What was awesome about Miles was that when he got there, he was very, very open. He was not coming from a place of dictatorialness, or my way or the highway. He was very open about saying I've never done this before. I want your help. And because of that, the entire crew really embraced him. I helped him as much as I could, and I gave him sort of all my tips of hey, consider this, consider that. He had a very clear vision of what he wanted that episode to do.

He had written a very great episode, of course. My experience of it was that I really felt like I held his hand in the beginning of it, the first couple of days of shooting, and then he started really getting it. And then on Day Three, I was coming around a little bit and making sure, and then Day Four or Five, I wasn't around. He took to it like a duck to water. Once he got in the rhythm of how you do it.

But I think he also very much trusted Glen Winter who is one of our two DP's and is also a brilliant guy. I think his work is beautiful, and I think he's really cinematic. He doesn't just do lighting - he's a fan of horror movies, and he's a cinematic thinker. And that became a really good relationship. He and Miles had a really good relationship which was very collaborative, in which Glen was implementing Miles' vision, and Miles was allowing him to. So, I think at the end of it, it was a real love fest. The whole crew loved Miles. They experienced him as a polite and open and positive director who did a great episode. I think he loved it, and I think he wants to do it more and more. He may do two next year. The problem, of course, is that his schedule is so crazy, so he really has to put down a lot of other things he's doing, if he's going to direct. But I know he'll do at least one next year.

K-SITE: It was probably a good opportunity for him to see some of the performances, like the whole Martha and Lionel interaction.

BEEMAN: Annette had come to Miles and Al before Season Two, and talked about the idea of wanting to work with John Glover, and they sort of constructed the whole storyline for her working for Lionel, sort of at her request. And that turned out really well, but then it sort of just got forgotten, through no fault of anybody. The stories just took a different direction. Television is an interesting thing. It's like these ongoing characters really sort of take a life of their own. In that scene in Memoria, when they interacted on the staircase, it was great that Miles was there, because it was like yeah, this is a great combination. So I do think you could see more of Lionel and Martha next year too. And also for me, that final scene [from "Memoria"] with Martha and Clark in the loft, it was so beautifully written, but, you know, Annette O'Toole, what she brings to the party... you know, John Schneider brings the paternal. He brings the masculine energy of the good father figure. But sometimes, you know, Annette is a mother. A real mother who loves her kids, and being a mother is very important to her, and so when she brings that maternal energy into the scene, it's legitimite. And it was really beautiful in "Memoria." I was on set for that scene, and I remember just being really choked up.

K-SITE: Anything else to say to the fans?

BEEMAN: You know what, I want to say to the fans out there, you are appreciated. We're grateful to have fans, and I really mean this. We are grateful to have fans. We are grateful to have fans that rip us, we are grateful to have fans that appreciate us. We're grateful for the feedback. A TV show cannot survive without fans, and we're glad you're out there.

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Smallville and its characters are copyright ©2004 Warner Bros. & DC Comics. This is a fan site and not authorized by the WB or DC. The term "Kryptonite" is a trademark of DC Comics. Page copyright ©2004 KryptonSite, unless the material is noted as coming from someplace else or being by an individual author. Smallville stars Tom Welling, Kristin Kreuk, Michael Rosenbaum, John Glover, John Schneider, Annette O'Toole, Jensen Ackles, Erica Durance, and Allison Mack.