SUPERSTORE Post-Mortem: Ben Feldman on Embracing the Horror Tone of 'Carol's Back' - Give Me My Remote : Give Me My Remote

SUPERSTORE Post-Mortem: Ben Feldman on Embracing the Horror Tone of ‘Carol’s Back’

March 26, 2020 by  

Ben Feldman Interview Carols Back

SUPERSTORE — “Carol’s Back” Episode 519 — Pictured: Ben Feldman as Jonah — (Photo by: Tyler Golden/NBC)

[Warning: This post contains spoilers for the Thursday, March 26th episode of SUPERSTORE.]

Carol (Irene White) returned to SUPERSTORE, much to the chagrin of her colleagues—and ended up having her Cloud 9 coworkers bend over to make her comfortable.

“I think Irene is the next Kaliko [Kauahi] in that everybody always felt like, secretly, she’s the best actress,” SUPERSTORE star (and “Carol’s Back” director) Ben Feldman says. “And then Kaliko got a much bigger part, became a series regular, and, in my opinion, next in line is Irene. She’s just so good and she’s an incredible villain. She’s terrifying, I think.”

So when Carol refused to take responsibility for her actions—threatening to bring in a corporate HR person—the comedy series took on a darker tone.

“I actually felt, when I first read it—and I talked about this a lot in our tone meetings before we shot—that this episode, in very, very subtle ways, was written like a horror movie,” Feldman says. “Which is another thing I can bring to the table, as someone who’s been in three. So I made little tiny [visual nods] just here and there that were just for my benefit: the way we would light or shoot in the warehouse at certain moments. There’s a moment where Nico [Santos, who plays Mateo] is screaming. And the first line Colton [Dunn, who plays Garrett] has is about the robot wars and there’s a creepy robot in the background that is hit by a little bit of light; it’s a blink and you miss it thing in the setup of that scene. But of course, later on that robot goes on to almost murder Carol. So that felt sort of horror movie.”

SUPERSTORE — “Carol’s Back” Episode 519 — Pictured: (l-r) Kelly Schumann as Justine, Mark McKinney as Glenn, Kaliko Kauahi as Sandra, America Ferrera as Amy, Amir M. Korangy as Sayid, Irene White as Carol — (Photo by: Tyler Golden/NBC)

Feldman set the tone from the start, even with the seemingly innocent scene of Carol and Sandra meeting in Amy’s (America Ferrera) office, as a way to hash out their issues before the first shift together.

“There’s a moment in the cold open where we’re shooting over Kaliko to Irene and she’s waiting for the apology and I actually did something different lens-wise and put a different kind of lens on that camera for her coverage that kind of distorted it,” Feldman shares. “Not enough for anybody really to notice, but just enough to make you subconsciously uncomfortable; it just looked weird. Because I want this [scene] to feel…this is creepy. And I want [Carol] to look and feel creepy in it. The lens kind of made Kaliko bigger and a little more distorted in the foreground. I wanted to keep putting little tiny horror touches into this into this episode. It was fun to watch Irene play that part as everybody else horrified of her.”

A different kind of challenge for Feldman were the scenes outside, as his character, Jonah, tried desperately to fit in with a Raise the Wage protest group.

“Both of my SUPERSTORE directing episodes involved shooting on a completely different location, outside all day long,” he points out. “Both of them were terrifying. First time around was a golf course, and that involved a stunt and a night shoot and all that kind of stuff. This time around—It was easier to shoot. Because the golf course is just I feel like the polar opposite aesthetic of what our show normally looks like. Whereas this was a little more busy, but was a crazy day.”

With nine pages to shoot, it was further complicated by that portion of the backlot losing sun faster due to the way the buildings are set up.

“[One we lose the lights,] we just absolutely cannot shoot after that,” he explains. “It was was an insurmountable, lunatic task. And so part of what we did to mitigate that was we shot one of the scenes, where Jonah is talking to her on the phone early on, the day before—[it was decided] at the last second, in between shooting other scenes. We decided that we should just get it to be safe, because it was the last shot of the day on the actual outside day and we didn’t think we’d make it.”

The decision ended up being the right one: “That [safety shot] makes it to air on Thursday.”

As if that wasn’t enough, they also had to allow for the table read of the next episode “which meant that lunch goes way longer, because we have to travel to get there.” And it was also the day that Ferrera’s upcoming exit was announced publicly. “I watched the crew all learn of this thing that scared them in real-time while we were shooting.”

“I barely watched any playback [to get through the day],” he admits. “It’s just me running back and forth, because I was in every single scene. It was a lot!”

But, thankfully, Feldman anticipated a number of the issues they would face and also requested the day start earlier than normal. “Thank God I did it, because we if we had shot for 10 more minutes, we would have been shooting in the dark,” he says.

SUPERSTORE, Thursdays, 8/7c, NBC


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