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Writer's blog: season 2, episode 12

By Kate McDermott

Episode 12 was named 'Silly Season' for obvious reasons (it's set in December!), and this was a very fitting title due to the fact that it turned out to be a silly episode.  Okay, that's being polite about it. To be brutally frank, it was an almost unshootable episode. Oh, our poor, poor cast and crew, we certainly saved the toughest two episodes for last. 

When we shoot, we have a certain amount of studio scenes (the Taka bar interior, the McMann house interior, Cody and Eli's house interior, Kev's place interior - shot in our big studio in Albany) and a certain amount of location scenes (exteriors of the characters' houses, Easy Tune, the beach, Joseph's house, Kirby's house, all shot wherever). 

Location scenes are obviously more of a big deal as they involve driving cast and crew and make-up trucks and wardrobe trucks and all sorts of other trucks to the location, setting up, shooting, then packing everything up and moving on to the next one.  Add in weather, traffic, the public and it can be difficult.  It's even more difficult when irresponsible, thoughtless, just-plain-cruel writers decide to pack an episode full of locations and ... parties.  Oh yes, the parties.  These are equally difficult as they require a lot of setting up, large amounts of extras, and plenty of traffic control from the director. So putting a party scene on location rather than in a studio set is doubly mean, especially when there is more than one party in the episode.  Especially when there are more like three and every one of them is on location.

We kicked off in scene 1, the Christmas party at Easy Tune.  Then there was Nan and Brad's fairy party at the beach, which featured not only a location and a party but also a bunch of children! God, we're mean.  Finally, there was Fran McMann's Christmas drinks at her house.  See, I could've been nice here and set this inside the house, but Gavin pointed out that there was going to be a party at the McMann house in episode 13 so it would be nice to do this one somewhere different. So, I called our production office and asked if it would be easy to shoot a party outside the McMann house. The answer was no, no, NO!  The locations manager told me it had a nasty view of the motorway, it would be loud, it would be hard, it would be windy, and of course it would be yet another location to try to fit in.  So, I took all of their concerns onboard and then completely ignored them.  (Again, sorry!)

But at least we were shooting in the middle of summer. The cast and crew weren't going to get rained on as usual. Much.  But there was another problem, back in our big studio in Albany.  In between scenes, the actors and the crew would come outside for their breaks, drenched in sweat.  It turned out that on a sunny, hot day the studio was like an oven, especially under the many hot lights making everything look beautiful.  It is thanks to our awesome make-up team that Kev, Brad and the girls aren't shiny and red-faced throughout the last two episodes. 

So with the weather and the mean, nasty writers making things difficult - (I prefer "challenging") - for the team, it's a wonder this episode got finished at all.  Well, actually... yeah, about that...

Okay, secret time.

Picture this.  The series has wrapped - yaaay!  The wrap party has been held - yaaay (and ouch, sore heads for some).  The actors and crew have run off on their holidays, the sets have been taken down, Go Girls 2 is almost in the can, aside from cutting together of the last 2 episodes.  And then the writers, the producer, the director and the editor have a screening of episode 12, and ... disaster.  It's a good couple of minutes short.  As Kev would say: shit-balls! 

What to do?  We had no choice, really.  Rach, Gavin and I had to write a couple of extra scenes.  We had to work out who out of the actors were still around, where we could shoot them, what they would be about, and would they stick out like dogs' balls? (again I'm channelling Kev for that last saying, I never say "dogs' balls", ugh.) ...

So.  It was a little daunting.  First, content.  We remembered a sequence which had been cut out of an early draft (because we thought the episode would come in long - ha! - what do we know?) which involved Leo and Olivia having a sad little Christmas party for the Shore Chronicle.  This had originally been part of another scene set in the Taka.  We thought it would be good to use it, as we'd had some regrets about losing it (mainly because we liked Leo's line "I could spit in your drink, just so you know").  So, this material was resurrected and reset in a park by the beach, which was great because it meant that Leo could be drinking cask wine.

So, that was one scene.  The other was completely new material.  After viewing the episode, we were really pleased with the moment where Flinty told Cody the truth about her marriage to Eli.  We thought it would be good to follow Cody outside, to see what she and Olivia talked about.  So, originally the scene cut straight from Cody and Olivia leaving the house, to them walking into the Taka, Cody going up to Kevin ...

Kevin: Wanna talk about it? 
Cody: Nup. 
Kevin: Wanna get smashed? 
Cody:  Yep.

...(or something like that) which did kind of work.  But now we had added a scene in between, which showed the thaw between Cody and Olivia - two characters who had never been best of buddies. Genius! It was almost like it was meant to be.  Except, now that the two scenes were written, we had to see if they could be shot...

So...Bronwyn Turei, Esther Stephens and Leighton Cardno got the call to tell them that they weren't quite on holiday yet.  Wardrobe head Sarah Voon got the call to tell her to dig out the costumes the actors had been wearing, and Danelle Satherly, our make-up head, had to be on hand to make sure the hair and faces matched the scenes on either side.  Our producer Chris Bailey directed the scenes himself, they were quickly cut together and dropped into the episode, and then we all gathered again to watch the result.

I have to tell the truth here, we cheered and clapped so hard when Olivia walked into the Taka bar having just been out in the park, wearing the same blue dress, with the same hairstyle, and the same attitude.  Ahh, the magic of television.  It worked, the episode was the right length, and everyone was happy (except for Alix Bushnell and Jay Ryan who were a bit sad that they didn't get to come and play for an extra day).

So, episode 12 was a hard slog for the cast and crew.  But we got there, because they are all wonderful, the Go Girls crew who work so hard in pelting rain or stinking heat; taking whatever impossible madness we writers have dreamed up and making it so.  They are all truly awesome.

And now, the big fat silly episode has been on air, full of its parties and revelations and surprises and secret extra scenes.  There are moments when you're in the midst of writing, rewriting, slashing, editing, when you sit and dream about the moment when you'll be sitting in front of the television, glass of wine in hand, watching the finished product.  But in the dream the moment is never as satisfying as the reality.  Phew.  Bye-bye, episode 12, and next week, hello our big finale: episode 13, with all of its parties and revelations and surprises ...