By Julie Plec
Updated February 05, 2016 at 12:00 PM EST
Eli Joshua Ade/The CW

Welcome to Julie’s Diary! Every week during the season, Vampire Diaries showrunner Julie Plec will add an entry to her diary. From answering burning questions to giving behind-the-scenes stories and more, this is a place for fans to hear directly from Plec about the episode they just watched.

Hello, Friday Friends! I hope you enjoyed “Things We Lost in the Fire,” written by Melinda Hsu Taylor and directed by our very own Paul Wesley. This was Paul’s third directorial effort on The Vampire Diaries, and his second team-up with Melinda (last year they brought you the Kai-fest “Woke Up With a Monster“). He is kinetic, visual, and he most definitely has the gift. And I’m not just saying that so he’ll hire me to write a script for him one day. But I hope he does. Please, Paul.

When an actor directs an episode, it’s always a logistical challenge. Directing is a full-time job, and if we wanted to give the actor the opportunity to focus 100 percent on that one particular job, we would have to write them out of two straight episodes. For a character like Stefan, that’s not an option. But months before we get there, the writers try to figure out a storyline that will keep the character present without overloading them with too much work. Sometimes we are able to give them a storyline that is very easy to schedule into one or two days of work, max. However, sometimes the story can’t support reducing the actor’s screen time. In the case of this episode, we were able to reduce Paul’s work during his prep time while we shot Damon’s hellscape episode, but Stefan’s work in 711 turned out to be very heavy. He really had to juggle. But he nailed it.

This episode brought us back to Covington, Georgia — television’s Mystic Falls. Shooting in the Covington town square, you get a warm embrace and jolt of adrenaline from the crowds of excited TVD fans who show up to watch the cast and crew in action. Paul ran into a Vampire Stalkers tour while on his tech scout — they were thrilled to get a wave hello from him. While the crew was filming the drag race, the real-life Mystic Grill served them a special late-night snack of a savory soup mini-buffet plus hot chocolate and popcorn. A special note about the Mystic Grill — for five seasons it was actually a lawyer’s office. But then the mayor and some investors got together and opened a restaurant. So now the Mystic Grill is a place you can eat in real life.

Tidbits from set:

  • It was Paul’s idea to have Tyler’s doll’s head fall off during the baby shower diaper-changing race. Matt’s comment on his own poorly diapered doll (“Looks like a helmet”) was actually an ad lib from Zach during his in-character reaction while we rolled that take.
  • The underwater sequence was shot on our stages. In season 4, we built a small tank in order to drown Carol Lockwood for Christmas. By season 7, we’re up to a 12,000-gallon tank. If we hit season 9, we’ll be able to film Titanic 2. Directed by Paul Wesley, written by Julie Plec.
  • This episode’s title is based on one of my favorite scripts of all time, a film written by Allen Loeb. That script is an extraordinary piece of material and a must-read for any budding writer.