Friday, October 30, 2009


Andrew Marlowe, creator of CASTLE shook my hand and wished me luck with all the work I had to do. All the while you're speaking to him, you're painfully aware that you're speaking to someone incredibly intelligent who is measuring your every word and intonation. His insights during the meeting were quick and incisive. He cuts to the point quickly and effectively communicating that he had already played out all the possibilities in his head. I learned a great deal watching him work and I'm beginning to appreciate the qualities and the level of vision required by a show runner.

After Andrew had left I turned to Howard Grigsby the producer of CASTLE. I asked him if it would be possible to come down to the set and watch any of my art being filmed. He said of course and would keep me in the loop.

Unfortunately schedules clashed and I wasn't able to see the sets that were made out of my artwork. Nor did I see any of the scenes that involved my graphic novel. But I got to sit in on the scene at the police precinct where Castle explains to Beckett why people get involved in the vampire sub culture.

Gina was my guide and took me around the set. The first thing that hit me was that the precinct set is HUGE. Holding cells, corridors, office after office, interrogation (er interview) rooms, stairways to nowhere, and of course the main area where Detectives Beckett, Ryan and Esposito have their desks. I first ran into Seamus Dever who plays Detective Ryan and then Jon Huertas who plays Detective Esposito. At the time I hadn't watched enough CASTLE episodes to appreciate who I was meeting. My reaction would be very different now. They were really low key and stopped by for a chat when they realized I was new and how I was involved in the show.

Afterwards, I mentioned to Gina that I'd love to meet Nathan Fillion. I asked her if it would be "out of line" to get him to sign a couple copies of Firefly that I'd brought with me. She said he's super cool and snagged him as he zoomed past on a kid's scooter. It looked miniscule on him. I'm not small, I'm 6'1 and 215 pounds and he made me feel pretty tiny. He's gotta be 6'3 and 240 pounds and he carries it well. He was fun and gracious and signed both the Firefly dvds with his signature, "Watch this, it's good".

When I later gave my friend her dvd she totally flipped out and actually jumped into the air several times waving her arms and legs like a hummingbird. She's a pretty cool cat, and to see her lose it was gratifying and hilarious.

I'm a reasonably cool customer, but I may have gushed around Nathan and there may have been some fanboy babbling.


Anyway... moving on. They finished shooting the scene and it was great to watch them work. Then the crew moved across to Castle's apartment which is also huge. And it's a really nice apartment. It was all decked out for the Halloween party and Michael Courville from the art department gave Gina and I a tour through the Halloween candy that he had especially catered for it. The whole apartment is so thoroughly designed. Everything is thought of. The letters of congratulation and rejection to Castle on his wall are all proper letters not garbled words. The books on the shelves seem like the sorts of things that Castle would read and they're all real books. He has fencing statues (reminiscent of the time that he and his daughter Alexis began an episode fencing.

I ran into Barry, the first AD and a huge HEROES fan. I mentioned to him that I'd brought down my first HEROES graphic novel for Stana to sign but that she was nowhere to be found. Above and beyond the call of duty, Barry ran upstairs and asked Stana to come down and chat to me. I was taken aback. Stana was lovely, very tall and very lithe. As I handed her the graphic novel we spoke about her character on HEROES, Hana Gitelmann and how the character was the mouthpiece for the online fans. I commented that the writers probably didn't realize her rise in popularity and really should have included her in the show more. She would have been the perfect way to keep the sprawling cast together.

On the plus side, I got to draw her Death which set me on the map as a creator who cared about his work on HEROES. She had a great laugh at the ridiculous portrayal of her body and clothing by some of the artists. I told Stana how the fans agreed and how I tried to get them involved and to put their money where their mouth is and get them to design a dress for Hana. Meanwhile she's flipping through the pages of the story I drew and I'm getting increasingly nervous. I then hurriedly told her how I was going to do a competition for who gets to kiss Hana. She laughs flicking through the pages saying, "So who won? Who did I kiss?"

Then her hand moves away from the offending panel...

Yeah. Em-BAR-RASSING!!!!

We laughed so hard. I told her that at the time I didn't have a girlfriend, and I joked that if I wasn't getting any action in real life, I could at least get some in my comics. So I drew myself in thinking that I would NEVER HAVE THIS CONVERSATION with Stana. She (graciously) laughed very, very hard.

So she asked me if she could write something in the front of the HEROES graphic novel for me as well as sign it. "Will your girlfriend read it?"

"Yeah, but you can write anything. She's totally cool."

So Stana wrote:

"To Jason, For the best virtual kiss I ever had. Stana."

And that ladies and gentlemen is why Stana Katic is awesome.

That concludes my time on CASTLE. I had a ball and was overjoyed to see how well it turned out. I only hoped that my artwork would be integrated as well as it did. Thank you to everyone involved for making it such an awesome experience. I hope you liked seeing the extra artwork and if you go back and watch the episode again (206) you will see where it fitted in.

As a final piece of icing on the cake, I turned in my invoice. A day later I got a call from Howard, "Jason, we need to have a talk about this invoice.". I start thinking, "Oh god, I've over charged. I thought it was fair but he's going to ask me to compromise or explain some of the invoice. Here we go..."

Instead Howard says, "I've been talking to Alfred (the head of the art department) and we both think you did a tremendous job and seriously undercharged us. We think you should redo this invoice. Here are some suggestions..."

Howard basically increased the invoice by 50%. I was so humbled, and stunned. I knew I'd probably undercharged myself, but fair is fair. I quoted a price so I felt (as a man of honor) that even though the amount of work blew out, I had to stick to that price. That Howard would call me to tell me that he didn't think it was fair to me tells you the caliber and integrity of the people working on this show.


Castle. 10pm ABC.

They've made me a fan for life.

NEXT: More freelance work. The GI JOE Facebook application.


Impish said...

You are the eye of the storm. A maelstrom of positive energy and goodwill. The events of your CASTLE experience are not unique in your life, but they would be the pinnacle in anyone else's.

Hummingbird? I'm surprised your friend didn't actually launch into space! (You didn't kidnap NF and ship him to me. Sheesh, and you call yourself a friend. Sure, he might have been quarantined with the other pets for a few weeks, but it would have been totally worth it)

HERO said...

Dude! I commented on your mutemath entry if you were talkin' about the show, Castle! I could tell that the art was your work. :D

That is awesome that you got those opportuhities.

HERO said...

Ummm, I meant "opportunities"... said...

Thank you so much for sharing your experience with us.

Ian said...

Fantastic recap, dude. Seems like the sort of cast and crew who deserve every single iota of critical and commercial acclaim coming their way!

Alexandre Togeiro said...

Simply fantastic post! Thanks for sharing the artwork and your experience working for the Castle show!