Words and Art…A Look Back at the Week and a Look Ahead to Episode 2×10   14 comments


Outlander artistry.

One of the benefits of being an Outlander fan is the interaction with the people behind the scenes.  We have been afforded a rare look at film making and access to creative process through their generosity.  The cast, the crew, the designers, the writers, the producers have all gone out of their way to include us, inform us and educate us.  The biggest take away for me has been understanding why these folks do what they do. I now understand why they write design, film, produce, apply makeup, fix hair, dress the sets, and edit as they do.

The are trying to tell us a story.

Read the rest of the article after the jump!

Everyone is thinking about how their particular area of expertise will benefit the characters and narrative.  Nothing and I repeat nothing is done without purpose and thought. These aren’t just pretty clothes, pretty sets, pretty shots, and pretty words. This is a collaborative effort of many with a creative and artistic bent.  If you think about the sheer enormity of their task it boggles.  The fact that it all works and appears so effortlessly real and natural? Miraculous.  How can so many minds come to an accord?

Because they are trying to tell us a story.

This isn’t about individual effort only.  Each of these behind the scenes people is talented, but talent alone isn’t enough to get a job like this done and I’m starting to gain a fuller appreciation for what it does take.

The last two days have seen some interesting developments in Outlander world.  The Paley Center event “The Artistry of Outlander” that featured the work of costume designer Terry Dresbach and production designer Jon Gary Steele opened to an invite only red carpet press line.  Their work is being discussed and displayed in a gallery/ museum like setting.  I couldn’t help but think of how appropriate that was for their “art”.


The gang was there to show their support and love.  And, there were some video clips that helped us see how important each role plays in the performances and story they are trying to tell.

Costume Design

Terry Dresbach has been one of the more open BTS folks.  She quickly realized there was a genuine interest in what she does for the production and will answer fans questions on her @OutlanderCostum twitter page and maintains a beautiful and educational blog at TerryDresbach.com.  Terry helped open my eyes to what actually happens when making a film and especially about costume design.  I have laughingly said she is the Wizard of Oz and has let us see behind the curtain.  She let us into her world of swatches, sketches, research, and interpretation. I’ve listened to her explain her creative choices and how she has blended historical accuracy with the needs and the realities of making a film.

But mostly, she helped me see the why of costume design.  Nothing is random or just because she likes something or made to show off her design skills.  She is trying to design a person. Her part in this puzzle of telling a story is to tell us something about the character and his/her place in the story through the clothes he/she wears.  Color, texture, silhouette are all tools to help us understand the story.

If you have the chance, take a look at her blog articles that so eloquently describe her creative process.  They are a true gift to those fans who care.  Her thought processes for creating Claire’s Paris wardrobe is a Master’s class on costume design and she’s given it to the fans for free.

Production Design

Jon Gary Steele, production designer is also trying to tell us a story.  His place in the story puzzle is about transporting us to another place and time.  I’ve jokingly called him a world builder, but in truth, that is what he does.  An audience has to be able to suspend their disbelief.  Gary helps us with that process by creating a world for these characters to move around in that looks and feels real.  But, I’ve come to understand that his design is more than just making it look real.  He too is helping tell the story by creating spaces that expand our understanding of a scene or character.  We know more about who Master Raymond is because of that Apothecary shop.  We felt the mystery and danger of the Star Chamber, and the bawdy elegance of Madame’s Elises.

Production designers are part architect, artist, McGyver, super collaborator, mathematician, expert on visual psychology and have the ability to see both the forest and the trees! These are the people who control the visual feel of a film.  Gary is one of those rare people who can and does use both sides of his brain and what a beautiful brain it is. Genius.  He helped create the alien world of 1740’s Scotland and Paris with hammer and nails and plaster and…vision.

Jon Gary has been more active on Twitter and is sharing BTS information with the fans (ask him about getting put in Twitter jail, I’m still laughing over that one) and he also maintains an Instagram account with some beautiful photos of his work and process.  I can’t wait for the DVD of the show to come out so that I can luxuriate in the spaces he created.  I know it isn’t meant to be picked apart when we see it on screen, but to create a whole. However, I’ve seen the story and I now intend to wind and rewind to appreciate every detail.

Filming and Editing

Image result for je suis prest outlander

I’ll admit to knowing very little about this part of the story telling puzzle, but I plan to find out more.  I think because the others opened my eyes to what they do, I’ve begun to start paying attention to other aspects of film making.  Steve McNutt, Neville Kidd, Mike O’Holloran and their teams have a huge impact on how we see and understand the story.  I’m starting to learn words like panning and close up and martini shots and pickups.  And, after the last release of cut scenes, I’ve come to realize more isn’t necessarily better and film on the cutting room floor might be a good thing. Heresy, I know.

Writing and Producing

Last night, the Writer’s Guild held an event featuring the writer’s and producers of Outlander. Diane Gordon a freelance event reporter for Variety tweeted from the event @thesurfreport.  I want to make sure these writers and producers know that I believe them when they say they want to tell the best version of the story that they can.  We all say we understand the difficulty in adaptation, but I’ve come to the conclusion that until we’ve tried it ourselves, under the restrictions of a visual medium,  we’ll never really know.

One theme that kept getting repeated was the creative leadership of Ron D Moore.


It is hard for fans to trust because we each have our own idea of how this story should be told. But, someone has to make the decisions and it sounds like these folks have done other projects and appreciate who they have have in Ron D Moore.

I’ve said it often, but this truly is a quality show lovingly created by a serendipitous group of people. We are lucky fans.

A Look Ahead

Your guess is as good as mine as to what we will see.  The Battle of Prestonpans to be sure, but how that scene will be presented and adapted is too big for me to wrap my mind around. I know that Sam Heughan said it was his favorite.  He said it was a great ensemble piece. Which given the events this week fits. In fact, I thought his interview kind of encapsulated the artists and people of Outlander.  Here is a link to that video.


14 responses to “Words and Art…A Look Back at the Week and a Look Ahead to Episode 2×10

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  1. Nice summary, and once again, says more eloquently the things going around in my brain. I don’t think I’ve ever paid so much attention to detail before this show. The way the costumes meld with the scenery/sets around them. The way the music enhances scenes, but doesn’t take them over. What a talented group of creators, designers, producers, actors and everyone else. An amazing production, and I’ve loved that they’ve let us all see, and educated us so much, as to what goes into a production like this.

  2. Reblogged this on My Outlander Blog! and commented:

    This week’s Outlandish Anticipation post looks the storytellers!

  3. From the opening scenes of Season 1 to now I’ve been awestruck by the quality of everything involved in bringing my favorite books to life. Learning how they manage to do it has been a real bonus and the time spent by all involved to educate the fans on the process has been very generous. Just like Diana’s written word though, the quality of the visuals has spoiled me for anything else.

  4. Beth,
    Love reading your blog and insights to the show we all love.
    I too am in awe of all the wonderful talent that is Outlander.
    Thank you so much. I look forward to reading your blog after every show. We really are blessed to have Ron, Terry, Maril, Matt, Gary, the writers etc. and of course Sam and Caitrona willing to share so much with us. Spoiled rotten in fact!

    Kimberly Kunkel
  5. Thanks, Beth, for a lovely article. It’s amazing to think that all of that hard work is seen for just minutes a week. I guess that obsessively watching the episodes over and over like we do is some consolidation. It’s hard to believe that we are facing the finale soon. ☹️

  6. Beth, thank you for once again using your time to point to the amazing professionals that use their gifts to bring us our favorite show each week. I am blown away by the artistry that comes from their love and appreciation for the story. We are blessed that they work so tirelessly to get everything right AND THEN take the time to share so much BTS with us. Everyone needs to remember what a gift every tidbit is and be greatful for what we receive. All involved in the production have been completely professional and have taken the time to educate us in their respective crafts. I love the line you wrote about the free master class. That completely describes exactly how it feels to experience the art of outlander from the people who create it. Its like we have been invited to sit in with them a bit as they work their magic. I wish everyone recognized how rare that is and cherished it as much as you clearly do.

  7. Beth,
    I’ve been thinking about this for a while and though it seems silly, here it goes… Do you remember Melvin’s compliment to Carol in the closing scenes of “As Good As It Gets”? I’m paraphrasing here but the gist is that people cross paths with Carol not realizing they just met the most extraordinary person in the world. Melvin gets it and that makes him feel good–about himself.

    That is how I feel about Outlander. It has been my secret joy for so many years and I felt special because I “knew”. Of course, I tried to tell family and friends but I must have done it wrong. There has been no one with whom I could share the books and DDH just made comments advising me not to touch any stones when we went to Scotland.

    Along comes Starz and now I’m fully immersed in your insightful words and the accompanying comments. I just started listening to Ron Moore’s Podcast. How perfect! I had no idea about the attention to detail, the production challenges or any of it. Whole new respect is in order.

    So here is my naive question — Do you think/know if the producers, cast, writers, etc. realize what they have created and the impact it has on serious fans? I hear Ron, Cait, Sam, others comment on the fan support but I wonder if they truly comprehend the depths of fan appreciation. I’m not speaking about the casual, “oh, he’s cute” fan but rather those who hold DG’s words in such high regard.

    As I write this, I wonder if it even matters. Yes, it is important to receive recognition but we are dealing with highly-skilled artisans. Artistic expression is often a master and if not Outlander, would their artistic skills surface elsewhere? I guess I just want to know if I’m blinded in my awe of Outlander or is it truly a new standard of excellence? I think yes to both.

    • They are people first and I would think they are like anyone else and appreciate hearing good things about their work. Lord knows they hear enough negative. Let them know!

  8. Thank you once again Beth ! I am so glad I can appreciate the many facets of making the show due to the sharing by these talented people. I agree I sure look at other shows/movies differently now. I trust them because Diana Gabaldon does. She has written the things they are helping us see in a beautifully visual way. I could not have imagined what I am seeing and yet I did imagine as I read these books. It is amazing and I am grateful for all the talent shown in this transformation. I’m thankful for all of you who have shared your gifts and talents in Outlander , including you Beth.

  9. The last picture of Terry and Caitriona says everything about their working relationship. 💚💙💜

  10. Pinned onto Outlander the Series.

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