Interview: Sera Gamble, Producer and Writer for “Supernatural”

“It’s just one of those out-of-our-control things that happened.”

The last of Supernatural’s pre-strike episodes, “Jus In Bello,” has aired. Intense and heavily myth-arc based, the episode leaves fans with a long wait until April 24, when the last four episodes of season three start to air. Sera Gamble, producer and writer for the show, agreed to talk to Firefox News via email about what it’s like to get back to work, why the staff is laughing, matching tattoos, savvy fans, and how rough things could get for Sam and Dean Winchester. (Spoiler warning for upcoming episodes).

FFN: How did being on strike affect you as a writer? Were you able to work on any independent projects?

SG: Well, the main effect, of course, was that I had to stop working. And I was involved in a couple of projects that lost momentum — one might be salvageable, but I’m pretty sure the strike killed the other one. I’m philosophical about that — I expected it to happen. Almost every writer I know took a hit for the strike. And plenty were fired or had their shows canceled, so all in all I was very lucky. I had a job to go back to. And yes, I did try to use my strike time wisely. I saw the fact that I was barred from writing anything for the studios as an opportunity to work on stuff that I could never pitch as a slick, easily-understandable commercial package.

I picked my favorite weird idea and immersed myself for a few weeks. It worked, too — the run-up to the strike was hugely stressful, and I was burned out and exhausted. Now, I feel back in touch with why I love writing.

FFN: What’s it like getting back to work? Are people charged up? Is it a smooth process picking up where you left off?

SG: By three o’clock on the first afternoon, we were all half-joking that it felt like we never left. I was afraid it would be complete chaos, because we only had three weeks to get up and running before production resumed. But everyone came in focused and ready to make it work. It’s actually gone much more smoothly than I anticipated. One funny thing that happened: the first script in the hopper was almost complete before we left work, and it’s kind of hilarious in its new context.

It’s a light, high-concept episode – shot entirely in documentary style by these bumbling would-be ghost hunters we introduced in Season One. The whole hour is the “pilot” of a cable show called “Ghostfacers!” So it’s quite a departure from our usual structure. And it’s completely self-enclosed and breezes right past all the mythology we set up in “Jus In Bello”, which was great when we had lots of time before we had to close in on the end of that arc.

In fact, it was necessary breathing room for our audience before we pounded them with Dean’s deal coming due. But being part of the final run of this shortened season, being the first episode when we come back, gives it a sort of importance that it’s definitely not engineered for. We all laugh about it — it’s just one of those out-of-our-control things that happened because of the strike, and we rolled with it. I think our audience will too — they’re savvy, and they’ll get it. And it’s a wildly entertaining episode, so for my part, I’m glad we get to do it. I would have been so sad if the strike went longer and it didn’t get shot.

FFN: How will the foreshortened season three affect the stories we’ll get in the next four episodes?

SG: Some story threads were condensed, and some were set aside for next season. We had to be creative with the storytelling, but these weren’t difficult decisions to make. It was obvious which story had to be serviced: Dean’s demon deal. His time’s running out; he’s going to hell. They’ve got a very short time to try to save him. The Season Finale takes place on Dean’s last day.

FFN: What about season four, are you optimistic?

SG: If this were Vegas and I had $100 in my pocket, I’d put $92 on a Season Four pickup. Then spend the other $8 on a strong drink if I’m wrong.

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