It was early on in season two of Stitchers when I sat down with our showrunner, Jeff Schechter, to discuss the episode of Stitchers I’d be co-writing. Knowing my random assortment of hobbies, one of which includes flying planes, he figured an episode set at 30,000 feet would pique my interest, and he was right. I talked with the team I’d be writing with, Shelley Meals and Darin Goldberg, along with the rest of our amazing staff, and it was wheels up on episode 2008: Red Eye.
Telling a story from multiple perspectives on the same plane was something that had been discussed from the beginning, and this felt like the perfect place to do that. A bunch of people in a confined space, all witnessing parts of a crime but no one seeing the whole thing. So we took a few victims, figured out what they saw, and pieced it all together. Sounds super easy, right?
Well, not exactly. We hit some turbulence along the way.
It took days and days (and days) to choreograph everything that took place on that plane. Who saw what, when they saw it, how they saw it, when and where it happened, and probably a bunch of other details I’m forgetting. Who was the killer? Who was the intended victim, and why? We had two days to shoot all of the stitches on an airplane set in Pacoima, California (fun fact: it was the same set used in the movie Airplane!) That meant lots of mapping things out ahead of time, so much so that we had to tape out a mocked up set in front of Kirsten’s house on our stage so we could run through this whole thing and figure out how to shoot it without arriving late (that’s a little airline humor for you.)
Our talented director, Chad Lowe, who you might recognize from, well, everything…was given the task of putting this puzzle together on-screen. Fortunately (or unfortunately) we prepped the episode, then took our winter break so we could all freak out about it while opening presents and ringing in the New Year, and then started shooting on January 4th of 2016.
The two very rainy days we spent on the plane set were certainly stressful as we had a list of things to make sure we captured, and somehow the list grew after we started shooting, but with myself, Chad, Shelley and Darin, we somehow managed to get everything. I don’t even think we lost any luggage along the way. A miracle!
What’s funny about this whole process is how quick it goes by on screen. The run up to last night’s episode was six weeks of writing, seven days of prep and seven days of shooting an extremely complicated 44 minutes of television. It was like putting a jigsaw puzzle together without being able to consult the picture on the box. TV is fun!
Stitchers’ next episode airs Tuesday, May 17th at 10pm on Freeform. Don’t miss it!