Some of the most important people in entertainment aren’t the ones you see on your TV or movie screen every week. Casual audiences probably don’t even know them by name. But rest assured, without these people, your favorite TV shows or movies wouldn’t be what they are. As 2011 comes to a close, EW.com wanted to honor some of the hardworking names and faces from behind the scenes for their outstanding achievements. Here, Dan Harmon opens up about a clip show episode of Community that was streets ahead of all the others. For more behind the scenes access to the year’s best TV and movie scenes, click here for EW.com‘s Best of 2011: Behind the Scenes coverage.
By: Dan Harmon
“Paradigms of Human Memory” was an experiment I’ve wanted to do for a very long time: using the structure of the “clip show” to tell a story, same as you might use the structure of a sonnet, phone book, or haiku. The same way we process the image of scrolling credits as the ending of a story, we process clip show episodes as a sign that the show has run a long time and the characters have been through a lot together. It’s a great way of expressing things about life, love, and friendship that would be harder in other forms.
Because all of the “clips” in “Paradigms” were original, it was an incredibly difficult episode for director Tristram Shapeero to fit into a week of production. The best way to simulate variety within our budget was to book one day on the Universal backlot, where the cast and crew literally ran from location to location from dawn to dusk with handheld cameras, grabbing every single moment we possibly could. Film buffs will recognize most — if not all — of the scenery from Jaws, War of the Worlds, Psycho, and other classics.
I am insanely proud of this episode, and, as with every single episode before and since, we clearly jumped the shark with it.
For more on the Best and Worst of 2011, pick up Entertainment Weekly’s new issue, on stands now.