the MST3K Information
Club still in operation?
A: No. In
October of 2007, the Info Club as it was known since the late '80s was
shut down when Best Brains Inc. relaunched at mst3k.com. Most of the merchandise that was
sold has been discontinued (though a few items were retained) and replaced with new merchandise.
Q: How can I contact them?
A: You fax them at 952-252-0267. You can send
to them at: Box 5325, Hopkins, MN 55343. You can
email them at firstname.lastname@example.org.
I never got a chance to tour the studio. What was it like?
A: The tour was brief, because the place was
small. All the shooting was done in different
areas of one studio, which also had a kitchen in one corner. (The
kitchen was used as the background for the "infomercial"
shown on Turkey Day, 1995.) The SOL bridge
set was at one end of the rectangular studio (the floor
of the SOL was about four feet off the ground,
permitting the puppeteers to stand on the real
floor of the studio as they worked). The other end of the studio was
where any other scenes
were shot (the Deep 13 set sat there for many
years, later replaced by Deep Ape, the Observer's Planet,
the Camping Planet, Roman Times, Castle Forrester etc.).
The "theater" was simply a cut-out plywood outline
in the shape of seatbacks, put up in the space between these
two areas. Mike sat on a stool behind this cutout, while the puppeteers
huddled behind the cutout on low, legless
chairs to work the bots. In front of them was a large bed sheet, masking off the SOL
set from view (not a movie screen).
Mike and the puppeteers were actually watching the movie on a small
monitor on the floor at their feet, which showed the movie
with the time codes (their scripts had the time codes on them, so they
knew when to say what).
Connected to the studio itself (reached through doors behind the Deep
13/Castle Forrester set) was the prop
room. This is where the bots (and
their spare parts) were stored when not in use. Each of the bots had
its own little stall and work area (for the
record, Gypsy's stall was on the left, Tom Servo's was in the middle
and Crow's was on the right). Connected to
the prop area was the building's garage, which at
one time housed Pearl's VW microbus, along with a small
selection of some Info Club merchandise. Down the
hall was the writing room, which had a big-screen
TV in the corner, surrounded by several large (and rather soft) leather
couches. The rest of the building was mostly
offices, a video editing room, etc.
writing room at the old BBI offices, where the movies were screened
and the magic began.
Where did MST3K get their writers from?
A: They always selected writers from the local
theatrical and stand-up comedy scene (which, for those unfamiliar with
the area, is
quite robust). Unless you were already working steadily in Minneapolis
as a writer or standup comic, it was very
unlikely you'd be considered.
How did they write and produce the series?
A: Pretty much like you'd think they do it.
The writing staff sat down and watched the movie--with time codes--and threw out
riffs, while a typist nearby typed them into a computer, along with the corresponding
time code. The movie was paused and rewound
endlessly. The head writer, usually Mike, controled the remote. When he stopped the movie, somebody
said something funny. One time through the movie usually took an entire
working day ("It gets a little tedious
about 2:30 in the afternoon," Trace Beaulieu once noted.) After a day
of much needed rest, they ran through
the movie again, refining the rough comments made during the first time
through. The comments were then assigned
to the characters (a process called "line-assign"), during a third
run-through of the movie. On the off
days, they worked on host segments, etc.
In earlier seasons, it took about nine working days to write and shoot
an entire episode. Beginning with season
seven, that was expanded to ten working days.
How does MST3K's episode numbering system work?
A: The first number indicates the season, and
the second two numbers indicate the episode. So, episode 801
was the episode number for the first show of the eighth season.
I heard that, at one time, some of the writers didn't come to the
didn't even live in Minneapolis! How did that work?
A: In the earlier years of the show, they had
several "home writers" on the staff. "Home
writers," got the movies on videotape, wrote down their riffs with time
codes, and faxed them back to Best
Brains. One person who did that for a couple of seasons was Colleen
Williams, who lived in San Francisco. Mary
Jo Pehl and Bridget Jones worked this way, too, at times. The "home
writer" system seems to ended somewhere
around the fifth or sixth season.
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