EXCLUSIVE - TV Junkie Interview: Louis C.K. on Location with 'Louie'
Back in March I published an interview with stand-up comedian, show creator, writer, and producer Louis C.K. that I hope you take the time to read. In the last week of April, when I was in New York I had the extreme good fortune of being within a couple blocks of a location where FX's "Louie" was filming. After a quick confirmation with a producer of the show, I walked to the exterior of Caroline's comedy club on Broadway at 50th Street where a crew was setting up cameras and lights at about 6pm, with the glow of neon from Times Square in the periphery, plenty of taxicabs honking, and a saxophonist blasting away across the street - you couldn't get a more real New York experience than this.
Louis C.K. was standing in the street near the entrance of the club and every 10 minutes or so a passer-by would recognize him, say "hey" or ask for a photo, which he seemed happy to oblige. In our quick interview, we followed up on some the items that were discussed a few months ago which is why I'm urging you to check that one out. The second season of "Louie" begins on Thursday, June 23, at 10:30pm, and as someone who interviews a lot of showrunners, writers, and comedians, I can't tell you how anticipated the arrival of this show is. "Louie" was at the top of my list for new shows that began running in 2010 and from what I've heard, the second season will be at least as good. In person, in a one-on-one, C.K. was a very friendly guy, eager to express his enthusiasm for what he's doing with the show, and truly appreciative of his situation.
Here's what we talked about, standing on Broadway on a warm spring night in New York City:
LAist: How has shooting the season been going so far?
Louis C.K.: I have about 9 nine episodes shot but we don't do it by episode, we do it by pieces and I haven't fit them all in together yet. I've started to deliver cuts to FX. I'm done writing finally. I was starting to get ahead instead of behind. So now I'm done writing so now I'm just editing and shooting.
LAist: Did you realize your dream or idea of using alternative lenses, like old school lenses?
Louis C.K.: Yeah, we bought our own set of Super Baltars, which are very old American lenses, by Bausch + Lomb, and they're from, like, the '50s. The case has some old "Property of Paramount Pictures" on it, so it was probably used on some old movies. We have the only set that's complete that I know of, so the good thing is that not only do we have that look but we own it so nobody else can use it. We've had a few scenes that we've used it so those will have that very distinct look that you get from it. So we've been using all kind of cool glass. We shot some 16mm with an old Aeroflex camera and we put some vintage lenses on that. So we will have some very cool looks this year.
LAist: You're getting all Kubrick on us?
Louis C.K.: Yeah, [laughs], not quite that, he was a little crazy. I'm not that much of a perfectionist.
LAist: So you're not going to do any scenes lit exclusively by candlelight like he did in Barry Lyndon?
Louis C.K.: Oh, I'd love to, but I don't know where he got the lenses, the lenses he used for that, nobody can find those anymore. I read about them, I looked into that.
LAist: The Cahiers du Cinéma book that you can get at the Strand [Bookstore] might explain that.
Louis C.K.: [Laughs] Yeah!
LAist: Can you give us a couple hints of some guest stars we can look forward to seeing...
Louis C.K.: I'd hate to because it....
LAist: Yeah, it spoils it, so yeah, don't tell us, that's fine.
Louis C.K.: I won't, but we will have a few. But we don't have those blockbuster "I-can't-believe-you-got-that-guy" stars. We get people that are, "Oh, cool! I've never seen that person in a thing" - you know, that's what I'd rather do.
LAist: That's great. Were you shooting during this really crummy winter that we had [in the Northeast]?
Louis C.K.: That's what we do, yeah, we shoot in the winter. It's the hardest thing about this show, is the fucking cold, it's just so....[frustrating] and some stuff isn't supposed to be in winter but the show runs in the summer and it shoots in the winter. So all summer, people are watching us walk around in these coats and scarves.
LAist: You have scenes with kids in the playground, there's snow on the ground, "What's going on?!"
Louis C.K.: Yeah [laughs] that's the way it is! There's nothing we can do about it. We're going to do a Halloween episode this year, and it's going to air in August, you know?
LAist: That's OK!
Louis C.K.: Yeah, I don't think it matters. And we're shooting it in June, I think, so it's going to be pretty warm. It's all a mess but I don't care. Half the time I'm not shaving the right way and stuff doesn't match.
LAist: "He had 3 day stubble there and..."
Louis C.K.: And in the next shot it's gone and in the next shot it's back. We shoot, like today, we're shooting 3 different scenes from 3 entirely different and unconnected episodes. Little pieces from each. Because we got this location, we got the right person for this [scene] and we shoot it by convenience and not by continuity or by chronology.
LAist: What is your philosophical look at this? You've expressed that you're confronted by all this stuff that you have to put together. When you're editing, when you're putting this together at your computer how do you visualize it?
Louis C.K.: Some things start to make sense together and some don't. Some work well together because they contrast and some work together because all these [specific] stories are a little bit related. Or they just feel good together, one just feels.... Sometimes it's just wanting to have every episode to have certain elements like: there's one funny scene, there's a creepy scene in this story, there is a long scene and a short scene, sometimes it's that. Then I'll find stand-up that makes sense. We have at least one episode that has very little stand-up in it. Some of them will have a lot, some of them will have a little. I try not to let people get used to it - I don't want it to be like "Malcolm In The Middle" where you know exactly how the format is going to be.
LAist: Or you're queued by the music: "Oh he's about to do some stand-up!"
Louis C.K.: Exactly.
LAist: Well I appreciate these few minutes you gave me here, it's a great insight to what you do, right here on the street.
Louis C.K.: I love shooting in New York, employing New Yorkers.
LAist: You'll pick up the slack from the soap operas that ABC cancelled.
Louis C.K.: I know, it's painful. But I love when we audition an actor, and hire them. It never gets old for me, knowing that the person is getting a call that they got a job and I know they're happy and that all these people [gestures to the crew] are happy to be working.
The second season of "Louie" begins on Thursday, June 23, at 10:30pm