I decided to take a brief look at each episode directed by Kim Manners. My focus is simply to add a little BTS bit Iâ€™ve read or heard either through an article, a Con, Kim himself (by interview or commentary) or the Companion Guides. Iâ€™m sure very little of this will be revelatory since likely youâ€™ve all heard these before but itâ€™s just a small way to honor the man who did so much for this show.
Dead in the Water
The episode that introduced Kim Manners to Supernatural, and Supernatural to Kim Manners.
Kim said that he was called to do this one episode, went to Vancouver, shot it and was headed back home putting it out of his mind until he got a call; how about joining the show. He didâ€¦and we got 16 more episodes of his brilliance at the helm and three and a half seasons of his brilliance behind the scenes.
The story is that, when Jensen and Jared entered the little room to film the scene with the swarming bees, everyone around them was suited up in protective suites; the best they had for protection were their costumes, and perhaps an additional layer underneath; they were still going to be very vulnerable. Not thrilled but with no other options they were ready to do what had to be doneâ€¦and then Kim entered the room in shorts, t-shirt and sandals. His take, if the actors have to be exposed, then Iâ€™m exposed. They shot the scene and yep, people got stung but you have to take your hats off to true leadership.
William B. Davis from The X-Files is the professor.
Nicki Aycox (Meg) is introduced to the series. Kim states, â€œWe started a mythology that the show desperately needed. [SPN Season 1 Companion] Kim would direct three other episodes that Nicki (Meg) was in.
The scariest shot to date is Dean standing on the ladder next to the scarecrowâ€¦and nothing happens. Brilliant! Less is more.
Kim and Eric went round and round about Megâ€™s character. Eric wanted to kill her, Kim said they shouldnâ€™t. Eric states that Kim was right, they shouldnâ€™t have killed her. Fortunately the character can come backâ€¦unfortunately Nicki canâ€™t â€“ well, mostly canâ€™t.
Kim knew what he was doing when he put cameras in multiple locations for the final scene, even he couldnâ€™t have predicted that the placement of the camera in the box in the field would be so perfect â€¦and thanks to the heroics of the stunt driver at the wheel of the 18-wheeler we get a beautiful shot of the vehicles barreling across the field straight at the camera.
The Impala was supposed to be drawn on a pulley by the truck so that the two would meet on cue, that worked until the Impala got â€˜marriedâ€™ to the front of the truck and it caused both vehicles to veer off course and straight toward a rickety bridge that had only been slightly reinforced by the crew. The shot would have been ruined â€“ and they only had money for one shot â€“ but for the quick thinking and experience of the stunt driver who knew where Kim had placed the camera in the box in the field and managed to wrangle the 18-wheeler towards that location. Kim credits him with saving the shot â€“ itâ€™s a fabulous shot.
In My Time of Dying:
Brilliant director Kim Manners was, he didnâ€™t always get it correct. In shooting the initial scenes with Dean traveling through the hospital he had Dean opening and closing doors. Eric saw the dailies and immediately stated what the fandom most certainly would have caught â€“ spirits can go through things and wouldnâ€™t people find it creepy that doors are opening and closing. Kim and crew had to go back and reshoot. Oops.
Children Shouldnâ€™t Play With Dead Things:
More fun from Kim on this one, although it wasnâ€™t his idea. Jared split his pants while filming the scene of him and Jensen digging a grave. Kim kept the cameras rolling and that little gem can be found on the excellent gag reel.
Kim, ever the prankster, took advantage of being the director and thus in charge of ordering the shots for the day. Deciding to get revenge on J&J for dunking him in the water during some tunnel shots he rearranged the order of shots so that the last one would be of J&J climbing down into a dead-end hole the crew had erected on set. When the two were at the bottom and, in essence, trapped, he got his shot and then had the crew dump two five-gallon pails of water on their heads. Whoâ€™s the master of pranks on the set?
You can enjoy it again and again on the Gag Reel.
Houses of the Holy:
The plan had been for Dean and the Impala to chase the would-be rapist in a much longer car chase, however, Vancouver was icy that time of the year and for the safety of the stunt driver as well as the crew Kim cut the chase scene significantly.
Jensenâ€™s flinch at the end was courtesy of Kim. Jensen had watched Jared prepare himself for the massive crying â€“ by imagining he had to put down his two dogs (having just done that last July with my precious friend it is agony, thank you, Jared, for â€˜going thereâ€™ for the scene). Jensen for his part remembered Jaredâ€™s pain and put himself in that state as well so that heâ€™d be set for his coverage of watching Sam walk away to kill Madison. The single tear is/was a trademark for Dean and Jensenâ€™s face displayed the pain he intended; the flinch was not part of the preparation. Right at the moment the gunshot would be superimposed on the audio Kim yelled â€œBangâ€ causing Jensen to flinch. Kim knew gold when he saw it and took the cut.
Itâ€™s said later that Jared and Jensen were watching the dailies and Jared saw Jensenâ€™s coverage and was impressed enough to let Jensen knowâ€¦â€you totally stole my sceneâ€ Iâ€™m sure the admiration was mutual, both actors gave massively and Kim, once again, was the man behind the brilliance.
All Hell Breaks Loose II:
Jensen still credits the scene with Samâ€™s body as his finest moment. I thank Kim for aiding him in achieving it. Two years of friendship and hard work with no one but Jared for continuity day in and day out and he was at the mercy of a monologue over his characterâ€™s dead brotherâ€™s body. Jensen approached Kim and let him know he was concerned, thinking he wouldnâ€™t have the energy to be able to do multiple takes. Kim, ever the leader, ever the professional, adjusted the camera angles, closed the set, hid the cameras behind curtains and put Jensen, Jared and himself in the small area and let Jensen work his magic.
Kim had the honor of directing the season finales and the season premiers; most times these episodes were brilliant; this one wasnâ€™t. Still all is not lost with some excellent angles at the house where Sloth killed the family as well as the opening shots (granted itâ€™s mostly special effects) with the demon swarm in the sky.
Kim has given us some of the biggest, most crucial and sentimental brother moments on the show; Sam and Dean first separating and Deanâ€™s apology (Scarecrow); Sam at Deanâ€™s bedside telling him he â€˜canâ€™t go, theyâ€™re just starting to be brothers againâ€™ (IMTOD); Dean admitting heâ€™s not all right and heâ€™s certain Dadâ€™s dead because of him (CSPWDT); Dean perhaps believing in God and Sam loosing faith in angels (HOTH); Sam realizing he has to kill Madison and asking Dean to stay behind and let him do what he has to do (Heart); Dean mourning Samâ€™s death (AHBLII); Sam wrestling the truth of the deal to bring him back and telling Dean heâ€™s selfish (M7); and now here as he reveals to Dean he knows how scared he is and that he knows Dean because heâ€™s been looking up to him all his life, wanting to be just like his big brother. We seen Dean trying to reach back to Sam and be the big brother again, as he teaches how to care for the Impala; something heâ€™s not going to be able to do much longer.
Kim brought us a few more such magical momentsâ€¦oh, that there could have been more. The actors both say they feel very comfortable and confident at really delving into the emotions whenever Kim is at the helm.
Thereâ€™s a story told by a blogger who also works on the Supernatural set of how he met Kim Mannersâ€¦and didnâ€™t know who he was meeting. It was this manâ€™s first episode on set and he was eating his lunch in â€˜The Circusâ€™ on set and chose to sit next to this man who was all alone, there was no one else even in the area. He chatted with the man, introducing himself and perhaps asking a few questions. The man was gracious and engaged him thoroughly in conversation talking about the show, the business and basically showing the newcomer a warm welcome to the set. After a bit the man finished his meal, said good bye and left the newcomer.
Not too long afterwards the newcomer found out who his lunch companion was, Kim Manners. He felt terribly embarrassed at having taken up so much time of this important man who was directing this complicated episode fearing that he had interrupted the manâ€™s concentration as he had thousands of details to attend to. No worries though, as the newcomer continued to work on the set he realized that that is just who Kim Manners is, a man with time for everyone and, if not, heâ€™ll make the time.
No Rest For The Wicked:
Kim admits that â€˜theyâ€™ torture Jensen and Jared and states both actors do a lot of things other actors wouldnâ€™t do. He stated that in reference to Jensen filming the scene where Dean is suspended by meat hooks and the pain he endured as the harness slipped and a buckle was digging into his hip bone for the five minutes he had to hang there while they got the shot. Kim stated at the time that both â€˜kidsâ€™ would do anything â€“ theyâ€™d go through glass â€“ because theyâ€™re nuts.
Kim didnâ€™t get to film the episode where Jensen and Jared did â€˜go through glass â€“ candy glass that is â€“ that episode, Heaven and Hell, was directed by J. Miller Tobin.
Jensen has a scar on his left forearm courtesy of Kim Manners. Kim wanted to use real glass, not the fake candy glass thatâ€™s normally used, in the gas station scene; itâ€™s more realistic. Jensenâ€™s stunt double got it the worst as he threw himself on the piles of glass and got quite cut up and bloody. Jensen got his own though as he had to tumble onto some glass for his part of the shot and, when he was done, he was bleeding from the cut on his arm. He went to Kim and basically said, â€œReally?!â€ Kim gave him a look and shouted for someone to clean him up; they needed to move on to the next shot.
Ever the prankster Kim continued his reign of practical jokes with an oldie but a goodie. The scene where Sam and Dean are watching Jack through binoculars provides the fun, of course someone has to ink up the lenses and the trusting Jensen and Jared fall for it. Good times.
Thatâ€™s just a quick glimpse of some stories and some moments from the 17 episodes Kim had a chance to direct. We could spend time wondering at what other episodes he would have directed had there been no writersâ€™ strike and more importantly, no cancer, but it would serve no purpose.
Kimâ€™s memory will long live on in his work, his family and his friends. His presence and influence on the show remains as we see small touches put into episodes time and time again, from pictures in Jump the Shark to Ellenâ€™s â€œKick it in the assâ€ as well as trademark shots from Eric Kripke who did his best (and it was excellent) to shoot Lucifer Rising in a way memorial of Kim Manners.
Kim told the crew time and time again, have fun or donâ€™t bother. From interviews at Cons and in articles it appears all continue to remember and adhere to that sage advice.
We can enjoy Kimâ€™s episodes over and over again, remembering how the brothers separated and fought and apologized. We can remember that it was Kim who brought us Dean hugging John, and John Dean; Sam hugging John, and John Sam; Kim brought us Dean hugging Sam (AHBLII) and Sam hugging Dean (Mystery Spot) and Dean hugging Bobby (Lazarus Rising) and finally what so many had been waiting for â€“ Dean and Sam hugging each other â€“ awesome.
Weâ€™ll remember that Kim introduced us to Meg, and then killed her off. Kim introduced us to the first Ruby as well as killed the first Ruby off. Kim didnâ€™t get to kill Sam but he did bring him to life; he made up for it, however, by having Sam kill his girlfriend. Kim did kill Dean and sent him to hell â€“ ever gracious though he brought him back and out of the grave â€“ awesome. Kim showed us Sam exorcising demons, not once but twice and gave us another fabulous fight between the brothers (Scarecrow being the first) but Metamorphosis showing Dean punching Sam twice and then smashing a lamp in the motel room in his anger and frustration.
Kim directed episodes that gave us angry spirits in a lake, pagan gods in orchards, daevas in a warehouse and the introduction to the first big baddie, Azazel. Kim killed John, Dean, Meg, Ruby and Dean again and again and again. With Kim we experienced killer bees, zombies, vampires, Tricksters and angels. He closed stories (psychic kids) and opened new ones (angels). He had some of the best episodes of the series as well as a couple of clunkers, still the shots are beautiful. Thereâ€™s little doubt the inspiration of Kim Manners will long endure on this show and thereâ€™s little doubt that while outwardly Season Four as a whole was dedicated to the man, the whole cast and crew continue to dedicate all their efforts to remembering the man who gave them so much.
Thank you, Kim, for setting such an excellent example.
As a suggestion to TNT, how about a two-day marathon of all Kim Manners episodes; that would be fabulous.
Thanks for reading, Elle2