By Julie Plec
February 12, 2016 at 12:00 PM EST
Annette Brown/The CW
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The Mikaelson family is extremely complicated, and who better to untangle that drama than Julie Plec? The Originals showrunner will blog each week’s installment throughout the season exclusively for EW. 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. 

Let’s say a prayer for the “Dead Angels,” written by Michael Narducci and Kyle Arrington and directed by Darren Genet. This was Darren’s first outing as a director on The Originals, but it wasn’t his first experience with the team. As director of photography (and frequent director) on The Vampire Diaries since mid-season 4, it was Darren who worked with director Chris Grismer to create the look and feel of the new show when we did the very special New Orleans episode called “The Originals” (420). This was essentially the pilot for the new series.

Grismer and Darren were responsible for setting many of the visual rules of the show. For example, what we call “Cranky-Cam.” Whenever magic is in play, we have a signature style that you have definitely noticed: The image repeats and layers and distorts. This is achieved by using a vintage film camera called a Hand Crank. Old-school style, the operator captures the image on film by manually winding the crank to expose the film. It gets wound forwards and backwards. Essentially, by cranking it in both directions, the film is exposed multiple times with the same image. Hence the messy ‘layered’ quality. It looks fantastic, but Darren and Grismer both came to rue the day they created it, because there’s nothing worse than getting to the end of a long scene, trying to make your day, and the extremely temperamental and extremely old Hand Crank Camera decides it doesn’t want to work during the one shot you need it for.

There’s a plug-in you can use in editing to create a similar effect, but what I love about what we do is that in a show about 1,000-year-old vampires set in a city known for its centuries of history and lore, we use a camera from the early 1900s and shoot on actual film to create this style. It feels right. Thank you, Darren.

Tidbits from the set:

  • The moment where Klaus tries to attack the witch but instead slams into the barrier was inspired by this horrifying video of a gorilla at the zoo trying to escape.
  • There were, at one point, five full flashback scenes in this episode. What aired was about five percent of what was shot. It’s a very long story, but suffice it to say, the season 3 DVD will be chock full of never-before-seen footage from this episode.
  • Madison the witch was originally played by Switched at Birth’s Vanessa Marano. When we watched the episode, we realized we needed to shoot two new scenes to flesh her character out better. However she had started back to work on her own show, and no matter how many mountains they tried to move, we couldn’t get her back to Atlanta in time to make our airdate. We had to cast a new witch (Rebecca Blumhagen) and put her into the scenes that Vanessa used to be in. If you watch closely, you can still see the back of Vanessa’s head in certain shots.
  • Episode Recaps

    Joseph Morgan and Daniel Gillies star as Klaus and Elijah Mikaelson in this Vampire Dairies spin-off about the first family of vampires, their life in New Orleans, and the witches and werewolves who live there.
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