California Wildfires Taught Sam Zvibleman to ‘Play Jazz’ Directing PEN15

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PEN15 is one of Hulu’s most critically acclaimed comedies, but filming for the second season of the show didn’t go as planned. Director and co-creator Sam Zvibleman recently discussed how the second season got off to a messy shoot due to a natural disaster.

“All sorts of productions face this issue of you want to create this world, but the world has no interest in your plans,” Zvibleman told ComingSoon of directing the critically acclaimed second season of PEN15. “So, we’re not unique in having production problems, but for instance, we’re supposed to shoot day one of Season 2 on a Monday and come Friday, right before a few days before we had these fires in California and we lost our location that we’re supposed to shoot in in a couple of days. That was like the pool party. It was also Maura’s house for the sleepover. So we had to almost completely flip our schedule. So we had to shoot stuff that I hadn’t planned for at all in a couple of days, then the same thing happens another week later we’re supposed to shoot in the woods, but there was, it was too dangerous because of I believe the Santa Ana winds come in.

RELATED: Interview: PEN15 Director Sam Zvibleman Explains the Show’s Evolution

Ultimately, the hectic schedule and constant changes taught Zvibleman to improvise as a director and change plans at a moment’s notice.

“Okay. So you’re going to shoot something else. You don’t have any idea what you’re going to do. Then there’s like personal tragedy in our, in our cast and crew too that would happen. So things just kept coming up that threw curve balls at us. I really had to learn to fly by the seat of my pants and sort of play jazz instead of my usual way, which is sort of meticulously knowing what I’m planning and what I’m going to do. It was just, you know, shoot from the hip, take what’s coming and, and try to make it work. It was super stressful, you know, ’cause I like to know what I’m going to do. I know the crew likes to know what I want to do, but that’s life. So it was a really amazing sort of boot camp for shooting and for life in certain ways.”

The second part of PEN15 Season 2 is on the way, but it isn’t filmed yet and no timeframe has been determined just yet.

“Well, the long and short answer is no [I don’t know when filming will start],” Zvibleman told ComingSoon. “Anna and Maya are just are raising the new, you know, 2050 cast of PEN15. They had kids during quarantine. They’re enjoying being new moms. So, you know, it’s going to happen, but I don’t truly [know]. I’m not even being like coy. I have no idea, but it’ll happen.”