On April 26, 2021 Jim Beaver shared the sad news that the SPNFamily had lost Charles Beeson, a talented director and long time friend to many of Supernatural‘s producers, cast and crew. Charles directed 14 episodes of Supernatural, spanning from season 2 all the way to the end of the series. His Supernatural portfolio includes some of Supernatural‘s most memorable episodes, including the beloved classics, “Changing Channels” and “The French Mistake”. Beyond these unique experiments of storytelling, though, Charles’ direction of more conventional episodes created scenes that are indelibly etched into fans’ psyches. Charles’ unique shots used lighting and angles to accentuate mood, showcase character traits and envelop the audience. His skillful eye combined background atmosphere with foreground subjects to visually tell the story that was unfolding in words and actions. We may not have seen him behind the camera, but we will forever carry with us memories of his iconic images.
We celebrate Charles Beeson’s legacy by sharing with you this gallery of his Supernatural artistry. Begin with Part 1, which presents Charles’ first 8 episodes in seasons 2, 3 and 4, then continue with this homage to his work in seasons 5, 6 and 15.
5.06 “I Believe the Children Are Our Future”
Presenting what would become one of Supernatural‘s unsolved mysteries, “I Believe the Children Are Our Future” introduced Jesse, the half demon, half human, all-powerful child. Perhaps because the episode was a character study of a young boy, the vast majority of frames match his innocence with uncluttered close-ups or headshots. Virtually all of Jesse’s shots were off-center, as if he didn’t quite fit into reality as we know it.
Once the circumstances of Jesse’s conception and birth were revealed, the episode turned from bright, daytime shots to dark, dim lighting. Occasionally, Jesse was separated from the room by a singular lamp.
Two other shots are particularly memorable from the episode: Jesse’s first glimpse of Sam and Dean…
and the simplicity with which Castiel was disarmed!
5.08 “Changing Channels”
Would it be every director’s dream or nightmare to be handed a script as bizarre and creative as Jeremy Carver’s “Changing Channels”? One of the most well-known and loved episodes of Supernatural, much has been written about this hilarious journey into TV land. It would be impossible to do justice to the non-stop humor of Sam and Dean’s predicaments with just a few pictures, so instead let’s view the adventure through the lens of fascinating frames that added so much to the episode.
Dean’s world was turned upside down when he found himself in an operating theater with Sam as the surgeon!
Once transported, the stars of the show were highlighted by their background auras.
Even the first time you saw this colorful, silent and oh so scary lever, you knew what would happen next. The menacing apprehension exemplified in the following two frames was infused into several shots, heightening viewer’s empathy for Sam and Dean.
Besides its “wait for it” invitation, this scene also signaled that shoes would be key to solving one of the magical puzzles.
The viewer was reminded of this construct throughout the episode.
Unmatched writing, priceless acting, unforgettable sets, careful lighting and just a bit of stunt work all came together under Charles direction.
Slow motion drew out the satire of their situation.
Not to be forgotten, Baby got her moments as the center of attention in a sequence that lingered on her long approach and departure.
In stark contrast to the loud colors, laughter and high energy the boys navigated earlier in their tour of the situation comedies, realty for them was hard, dark and dreary. A wet ground gave Charles the reflective surface he needed to echo the bleakness and isolation.
It turns out their upside down reality made no more sense that the topsy-turvy world they escaped.
(shot of their mirrored reflection)
From opening credits to the closing scene, “Changing Channels” was a masterpiece.
5.17 “99 Problems”
“99 Problems” returned to the more common motif of Charles’ episodes: a surprising twist on the pivotal woman of the story.
Largely a character study, close-ups and head shots dominated the episode…
while the concept of being trapped was layered onto their situation.
Per Charles’ style, lighting, angles and reflections were also used to enhance drama or convey mood.
(note Dean’s reflection in Baby’s rear view mirror)
6.15 “The French Mistake”
When the Supernatural producers created an altered reality script, was their first thought, “We have to give this to Beeson!”? So many of his episodes twisted characters or their realities. Perhaps they liked the way Charles made the boys jump through windows!
(Remember Charles’ episode “I Know What You Did Last Summer?)
Whatever the reason, Ben Edlund’s masterpiece was in good hands. A nod to Kim Manners, another legendary director who shaped so much of Supernatural.
Nothing was off limits to this satire, so Charles’ filming accentuated the “filming in Canada” jokes written into the script.
This long perspective shot leads to a green screen, the tool used to alter reality in filmmaking.
Perhaps one of Charles’ talents was seeing into the future?
The image composition is simple, but this overhead shot is one that fans will never forget as Charles immortalized Eric Kripke. The old friends would work on two more series together, Revolution and Timeless.
After “The French Mistake”, seven years would pass before Charles reunited with his Supernatural family. In the intervening years, he worked on Kripke’s new shows, plus other classics like Person of Interest and Fringe. We were then lucky enough to have him return for Supernatural‘s swan song.
15.03 “The Rupture”
Entrusted to bring yet another Supernatural character’s story to a close, Charles presented the deaths (or so we thought) of Rowena and Ketch in “The Rupture”. With so much happening to so many characters, the majority of frames were once again single head shots. The composition of backgrounds and lighting occasionally showcased the trapped group…
15.11 “The Gamblers”
Unique and varying perspectives pulled the viewer into “The Gamblers” story. The opening shots conveyed the precision with which pool balls are racked, thus hinting that pool and a pool player’s perspective would be key to the story.
(It looks like set lighting can be seen in the reflection of the pool balls, making them even more interesting.)
and unique perspectives that can’t easily be seen by spectators all portrayed the importance of the balls and the players’ skill in the game.
Dean used Baby as a bellwether of his luck in the episode. Consequently, multiple shots of her emphasize that she was just as invested as the brothers in them resolving their bad luck streak. From their arrival at the pool hall…
to their exit, viewers saw Baby’s perspective as she waited to learn if everything was back to normal.
In the parallel plot, lighting conveyed Castiel’s quest to “shed light” on Jack’s plight, from Cas’ entry into the bunker….
to his inability to convincingly pass as FBI….
to his heavenly mission to combat Supernatural forces to save Jack and ultimately the world.
(One of many images of stained glass windows that were used by Charles in his episodes.)
Thank you Charles for the artistry you added to Supernatural. Your images will stay with us as a living testament to your time on this Earth. May your path to Heaven be lit as brilliantly as your productions. Rest in Peace.
Please share below your thoughts and examples of your favorite shots from Charles’ episodes.
Episode listing courtesy of Supernatural Wiki.