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Saturday, February 27, 2010

FUN FACTS: "iSpace Out" !!!

by Dan Schneider
iCarly Executive Producer/Creator


Here's all the cool behind-the-scenes scoop about iSpace Out, which will air again tonight: Saturday, March 6th, 2010.

If you're an iCarly super-fan, you'll probably enjoy reading this stuff.  But if you're a casual fan, you might find it boring.  But even more important...


Remember: You can wait and read these Fun Facts after you watch the episode.  And please feel free to DISCUSS the episode here below, in the comments.  Okay, here we go....

When you're done reading all this, please tell any of your friends who like iCarly about these Fun Facts, and that they can come here to read them.  Thanks!

*** iSpace Out ***

Lots of people have have been asking me if the iCarly gang really goes up into space in this episode.  I haven't seen the promos on Nickelodeon, but I have a feeling they make it look like the kids really do go up into outer space.

Well, good news: They don't.  Why is that good news?  I'll explain…

When I was first pitched this episode, the story was about the iCarly gang doing their web show from space.  When I heard that, I started to roll my eyes.  The "pitcher" said (smiling), "So, should I just stop now?  Am I fired?" 

I laughed and said, "No, you're not fired."  But I told her there was no way we could do a story about the iCarly kids actually going up into space – certainly not in a normal, half-hour episode.  That would be way too silly – not believable.  Just thinking about it, I can visualize the four iCarly stars actually jumping a shark. ;)

But I felt we could do the story, as long as the kids were locked in a SIMULATOR (not a real space pod).  That, I could believe.  And that's how this story began to form.

iSpace Out is a really fun and funny episode of iCarly.  There's a lot of good character interaction because Carly, Sam, and Freddie spend much of the episode locked up together in very cramped quarters.

And as for the Spencer story… it's one of the weirdest yet, for sure.

Okay, here we go with the scene by scene Fun Facts...

*** Scene 1 ***
Scene begins in the iCarly studio with Carly and Sam holding blue buckets full of sudsy water.

A new Penny-Tee on Sam!  I don't want to spoil the surprise by telling you what it says, but I think you'll like it.

Yes, that is an actual, real laptop computer.  I don't know what kind, but we sure ruined it.  And despite what Carly and Sam say, it's really not the "proper way" to clean your parents laptop. ;)

Light-up pants!  Gotta love 'em.  I wonder if people would actually buy them.  They were made by our head costumer Kris Dangl and our prop master, Chris Devicariis.  They're brilliant at their jobs.

I love what Sam (Jennette) does with her hair when she says her line "Which we call" – so random and fun.  That's just one little example of why no one else could play "Sam" as well as Jennette McCurdy.

I've got to hand it to our amazing post production department.  The visual effects in this episode are really amazing.  When you watch this scene, it all looks very smooth and seamless how Carly, Sam, and Freddie interact with the live video callers.  But keep in mind: that whole big verticle TV set was just a GREEN SCREEN when we filmed this scene.  All the images had to be added later.  The final result looks completely real.  Excellent post production work.  I often hear people in the business say that post production work isn't creative.  They couldn't be more wrong.  In 2010, post production is JUST AS creative as writing or production. 

When the dancing happens in this scene, you hear a voice going "Dance dance… dance dance… dance dance…"  That's me.  I did it into my iPhone, emailed the audio file to my post producer, and he gave it to our audio engineer who gave it an "electronic sound" and added it to the show.

*** Main Titles ***

In my recent Fun Facts I've mentioned a change in the main titles, which you see iCarly.com typed into the menu bar.  That change is the addition of TheSlap, which is a brand new website for my new show Victorious, which premieres on March 27th, right after the 2010 Kids' Choice Awards.

*** Scene 2 ***
Scene begins Carly running downstairs, dragging a suitcase behind her.

"Oystamato" is a drink I made up.  It doesn't really exist.  But in the Schneider's Bakery world, it's a mix of tomato juice and oyster juice.   The label was made by our fantastic prop department (thanks Chris and Lynn).

As you'll see, the writing credit on this episode goes to Jake Farrow.  Jake is a great writer and all-around hilarious guy.  He also happened to play "Gavin" on Drake & Josh – the depressed guy who always says "I got it."

It wasn't easy to get a real helicopter to fly by Spencer, out the window. ;)

Doesn't watching Carly and Spencer talk on the phone with their dad really make you want to meet their dad?  Would you want to watch an episode where Carly and Spencer's dad comes home to visit?  If you do, I have the perfect actor in mind to play Colonel Shay. :) 

Jerry's (Spencer's) delivery of his line, "Oh you don't care?" makes me laugh every time, and I've seen it dozens of times.

Jerry's line, "Don't forget your brush!" was not in the script.  When we shot the scene, Miranda set the brush down and, for some reason, Jerry picked it up and yelled, "Don't forget your brush!"  When I got into editing and watched it, I liked it for some reason, so I used that take in the show.

*** Scene 3 ***
Scene begins in the big "Spacecations" room, with the door rising and everyone walking in.

In the first editor's cut of this episode, there was a short scene before this scene, where Carly, Freddie and Sam walk down a hall and are given popsicles by Mr. Blanton.  But the scene was unnecessary, and cut for time.  Bums me out a little, because there were some funny jokes in that scene.

Check out what Freddie says as he walks into this scene.  There's a lot of random Spanish from Freddie in this episode.  WHY DOES FREDDIE SAY RANDOM THINGS IN SPANISH?!?  (*I* know why.)

In this scene, you'll notice that Mr. Blanton makes up two words that don't exist: "Testitude" and "Pungulate".  What inspired me to give him this trait (making up words) is a friend of mine who actually does this.  I'll be talking with him, and he'll just use words he thinks are real, but aren't.  I just smile and don't say anything, because I usually know what he means.

I specifically gave Freddie the LIME popsicle because of a discussion I always have with my wife, Lisa.  She says that certain flavors are "boy flavors," and others are "girl flavors".  Meaning, there are certain flavors that guys tend to gravitate toward more, and other flavors that girls seem to like more.  She always says lime is a "boy flavor".  She admits that there are plenty of girls who do like lime, but she insists that it's a flavor that appeals mostly to guys.  Is she right?

The "Exercise Rocks" girl is played by Greer Grammer, the daughter of Kelsey Grammer from the TV shows Cheers and Frasier.

For the hardcore, super-observant fans, you might recognize the "Exercise Rocks" guy from a previous iCarly episode.  Generally, I don't cast actors twice in the same series (to play different roles in different episodes), but in this case I figured only one in a thousand iCarly fans would even notice.  Do you know what role he played in a previous iCarly episode?  Hmmm?  Do ya?

*** Scene 4 ***
Scene begins with Spencer in his apartment, talking on the phone as he heads for his TV.

"Girly Cow" is not a real cartoon.  It's a fictional one I made up.  I think it's been mentioned on both Zoey 101 and Drake & Josh.

I love that Spencer is watching the uncensored version of Girly Cow. 

That's me doing all the voices on the Girly Cow cartoon.  This was a little cartoon I made a few years ago, I think for The Amanda Show.  But we never used it.  So now, whenever I need to show a cartoon on one of my shows, we pull out Girly Cow.  Comes in handy.

I can't wait to hear what fans think of Spencer's sub-plot in this episode (with the little mystery girl).  It's definitely one of the oddest stories we've ever done on iCarly.

The little girl is really cute, but when we started filming her scenes, we learned that she's not the best little runner.  Watch her run – it's very awkward and cute.  See if it makes you laugh like it did with our cast and crew.

When the kids are each in that chair, experience the "blast off" effect, if you're wondering how we achieved that effect: We rented a special chair that shakes and moves, and then we aimed extremely powerful fans at the kids.  The effect worked great, especially with Carly (Miranda).  When she's in the chair, watch what  the powerful air-stream does to her face.  Hilarious.

The "spinny" thing was very temping to our whole cast, and pretty much everyone who works on iCarly.  Our production assistants had to keep telling people not to get in it.  But everyone wanted to.  I never tried it, but the kids told me it's really fun.  (Those are the real actors in that thing – no stunt doubles were used.)

I love that the spinny thing terrifies all the kids and makes them scream… except for Sam, who just laughs like a maniac. :)

*** Scene 5 ***
Scene begins with Spencer in his apartment, talking on the phone with Lewbert.

Again, just the way the little girl runs makes me laugh.

Nice fall by Spencer.  It's not a stunt double.  Jerry took the fall himself (several times).  Love that guy!

Spencer runs out into the hall after the little girl.  Then the girl runs back in and closes the door.  The way we filmed the scene, Spencer ran back to the door and it was LOCKED.  So Spencer had to use his keys to get back inside his apartment.  But since the show was long, I cut the part where he finds the foor locked and uses his keys to unlock it.  The edit works well, BUT… if you watch Spencer in the hallway, when he comes to the door, there are no keys in his hand.  But when he walks into the apartment, he DOES have keys in his hand.  But you never would've noticed if I didn't tell you.  (Hmm, maybe I should shut up.)

At the end of this scene, Spencer yells "What's happennnniiiiiinnngggg?!"  I tend to use that a lot in my shows when there is a scene filled with chaos.  It's a nod to the movie Poltergiest.  In fact, when we writers are in the writers room, and something goes wrong (like, if our computers stop working or the lunch order is messed up), usually one of us will yell loudly, "What's happennnniiiiiinnngggg?!"  To see where it all started, go to this YouTube video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8hQkBLrd1rE -- Go to the 2:04 mark and watch.  Haha.

*** Scene 6 ***
Scene begins in a Spacecations hallways as Carly, Sam, and Freddie are led to their space pod simulator.

The dude with the glasses kills me.  So funny.

As the kids enter the pod, the whole run of dialogue about Spacecations not being insured was not in the script.  I added those lines on stage as we filmed this scene.

You'll note that Mr. Blanton says the phrase "That's for true."  We just made that up.   I don't think I've ever heard anyone actually say "That's for true."  But somehow, it just seems to work well for the Mr. Blanton character.

In this scene, if you watch carefully, you'll see one of the clips from the current main title sequence (when the theme song plays at the beginning of each episode).  Watch what's playing during the lyrics "…breathe air, I know somehow…"  That clip comes from this scene in the space pod simulator.


*** Scene 7 ***
Scene begins with Carly, Sam, and Freddie in the space pod simulator.  Carly has a clipboard in her hands.

Fans who enjoy Sam and Freddie interaction will probably like this scene a lot.

I believe this episode marks the very first time that Sam has every slapped Freddie across the face with powdered nuts.  Yeah, I'm pretty sure.

On the wider shots, look at the screens (the TV monitors) over the kids heads.  All of those were just green screens when we shot this scene.  The moving "sci-fi" images were all added in post production.

It was not scripted for for Sam to slap Freddie with the package of powdered nuts.  I added that on the stage.  And to Nathan's credit, he welcomed it!  He was all, "Hit me hard" to Jennette.  That's a dedicated actor. :)

*** Scene 8 ***
This short scene begins on Spencer in his kitchen, giving a juice box to the little girl.

I love Spencer's line, "Yeah… three percent fruit juice."  I wrote that line because I remember, as a kid myself, looking at a carton of some punch I was drinking, and on the package it proudly said, "Contains 10% real fruit juice!"  And even as a little kid, I thought to myself, "Are they really proud that it's 90% fake chemicals?"  Hahaha. 

When you hear the police dispatcher over the cop's walkie-talkie say, "We have a three-twenty-one in progress…", that is my voice. 

In this scene, Spencer grabs the cops arm and forcibly brings him back into his apartment.  If you grab a police officer's arm like that in real life, you'll be in jail very quickly. :)

"Uncle In Law" – that's a term you're not likely to hear often.  I used that phrase for two reasons: (1)  It sounds funny.  (2)  It keeps Socko's true ethnicity a secret – because we're meeting his Uncle IN LAW, which means he's not a blood relative. 

When the little girl pops up from behind the couch and gives Spencer a "raspberry" (sticks out her tongue and makes a spitty noise at him), that is actually ME making that sound.  The little girl didn't do it quite loudly or strongly enough.  When my post producer was doing the final mix, he couldn't find a good sound-effect for that moment, so I actually recorded myself going "PBBTHBTHBTHBTH!!!" on my iPhone, then I emailed the audio file to him at the mixing facility.  He downloaded it, gave it to our mixing engineer, and that's how the sound got in the show.

*** Scene 9 ***
Scene begins with Carly, Sam, and Freddie in the space pod simulator.  getting ready to do a test web show.

During rehearsals all week, when Jennette ("Sam") said her line, "Why are you so stupid?" (to Freddie), she said it in her normal Sam voice.  But after we did a few takes, I asked Jennette to try the line with a kind of Rosie Perez accent.  The result will almost definitely make you laugh out loud (I hope!).

SIDEBAR FUN FACT:  As I'm sitting here writing these Fun Facts, I'm on stage shooting an episode of Victorious.  :)

In the script, the ending to this scene was Carly picking up Freddie's camera and saying (into the lens) "Thanks for joining us."  When we filmed it, I decided I didn't like that ending, so I changed it (at the last minute) to Carly saying (into the lens), "iCarly's brought to you by… Astro's Powdered Nuts… the best nuts in the galaxy… or something."  I think Miranda's acting was really cute and funny on that line.  I love her delivery of it. :)

*** Scene 10 ***
Scene begins with Spencer lying on his couch while being asked questions by a psychiatrist.

I really like the actor who played the psychiatrist.  I totallly believe him as a psychiatrist, don't you?

One of the things I like about this scene is Spencer talking about how he loves Carly.  I find the whole Spencer-Carly brother/sister relationship very sweet, and a good example of how siblings should love and take care of each other.  I have 3 older sisters myself, and we all feel the same way. :)

Do you agree with Dr. Paksal's evaluation of why Spencer is seeing the mysterious little girl?  Is he rightIs it Spencer's imagination?  I'm curious to know what your opinion is about Spencer's problem (at this point in the episode).

I love the end of this scene when Spencer runs out of the kitchen and heads for his room.  No one "runs away" funnier than Jerry Trainor!

*** Scene 11 ***
Scene begins with Carly and Freddie in the space pod simulator, trying to sleep.

I enjoy Freddie's line, "It sounds like an animal eating" – especially when we find out who the "animal" really is.

Do you know what a "brisket" is?  If you're curious, click THIS.

Who else would fill a Ziplock bag with creamed corn and smuggle it into a space pod simulator?

Did you see Carly's freakout coming?  Or were you surprised?

I love Miranda's commitment to her line, "UNLOCKTHISDOOR!!!"  Awesomeness.

If Carly's "exit" to this scene doesn't make you laugh out loud, check your pulse.  You may have recently passed away. :)

*** Scene 12 ***
Scene begins with Carly coming home with her suitcase.

It was Jerry's idea to put his sword into the hand of his Bottle Bot sculpture.  It made us all chuckle when he did it in a run-through, so I had him keep that in for the show.

Again, I find the whole Spencer-Carly brother/sister relationship very sweet, and a good example of how siblings should love and take care of each other.  I think the warmth between these two characters is a big part of why people like iCarly.  And it's not just acting.  In real life, Jerry and Miranda and good friends and make each other laugh all the time.  I feel that their friendship really comes through on screen. :)

Carly's line, "And I missed your spine" wasn't in the script.  When we started filming this scene, I saw that our costumer Kris Dangl had put Jerry in a skeleton tee-shirt.  That's what made me think of the new line for Carly, "And I missed your spine."

I'm sure some viewers will be mad there was no real resolution regarding the identity of the mysterious little girl.  But I really like that we left it an open question.  I think that makes the story end in a cooler way.  But I'm sure it will also frustrate some people.  How do YOU feel about it?  Do you like that the mystery is never solved?  Do you think that was a cool way to end the story?  And what is your explanation regarding her identity, and why she was there? 

When we were writing the outline for this script, and talking about how "little mystery girl" story should end, one of the writers suggested that she jump up on a window ledge, sprout wings, then fly out the window into the night sky.  That made us all laugh really hard.  However, I (of course) rejected that idea.  If we did that ending, I think Nickelodeon would have had me committed to a mental institution.  But still, the idea of it makes me laugh every time.


And that wraps up the Fun Facts and behind-the-scenes info for iSpace Out.  Thank you for watching.  Let me know what you think.  Please comment below.  :)

–Dan :)

P.S.  My new show Victorious is coming soon!  It stars Victoria Justice, and it will premier on Saturday, March 27th, right after The Kids' Choice Awards!  Follow @Victorious and @Victoria Justice.

P.P.S. Remember: If you know of any iCarly fans you think might enjoy reading these fun behind-the-scenes faces, please send them this URL: www.DanWarp.com

P.P.P.S. Please tell your friends who like iCarly (or don't know about it yet) to follow me on Twitter: @DanWarp