The following text is Ryan Murphy's commentary for episode 1 found on disc one of the four disc set. It is the only commentary he has done for any episode of AHS so far.
"Hi my name is Ryan Murphy I am the director of the American Horror Story Pilot and co-creator with Brad Falchuk of the series..."
(Cuts to the first shot of Murder House in 1970)
"The House! The house to me was one of the hardest parts to cast, I would say, it is a part to me; it is a character. We worked really long and hard on finding this house. I was obsessed with because it was A. supposedly it was a haunted house and B. when I walked in it had Tiffany windows and lamps...there you see one....(insert red-headed twins) my long obsession with twins continues here in the opening. These are called the "mischief twins" that's how we wrote them in the pilot...And we dressed them in a very sort of cool 70's, Dennis the Menace type outfits...'I hate trees' (was) ad-libbed...(Cut to young Adelaide) I loved this little actor, she was afraid, though, the more she had to say "you're gonna regret it" so we had to soothe her between takes...Alfonso Gomez really killed the sequence. I absolutely loved working with Alfonso, he was my second unit director, he's just a brilliant director. He was really our go to guy for the first season of American Horror. He was very instrumental in helping me with the look of the pilot and then he ended up directing my favorite episode of the year which was Birth."
(Twins enter house and start vandalizing with the song "You Belong to Me" playing)
"This mayhem, I believe, went on, I believe, for half a day. It was every little boys dream to destroy a house. They really were exhausted by the end of this day. And it's funny this song, when I was writing the pilot with Brad Falchuk, I turned on the radio one day and they were playing this song on Serious FM and I thought it was really creepy and scary. We really designed the sequence here around that song. The line "you belong to me" of course refers to the house; once you get in you never leave. (Cut to dead opossum) This I thought was an amazing work of art for our team. They had to build this opossum and it took around three times to get the blood levels right in it's throat and the breathing is a tube stuck literally up it's butt and they kept pushing the pump. I also love how Chris Baffa and the crew lit this pilot. And this is sort of the signature of the show, this season. Every episode began with a flashback and this was the first one we wrote. And also we set up a lot of lure in the pilot here in the basement, who is in the basement? Of course, we got deeper into the show and you saw that it was the baby creature, The Infantata, but also the good doctor did many of his dastardly operations and abortions et cetera down here. And the pilot was a lot of mysteries set up one of them was 'Why are these things in the jar? What is this creature.?' In the first cut of this pilot I remember we really held a long time...there's a baby bike...we really held a long time on the creature's face. But ultimately we decided less is more and we didn't really reveal him in full, the full closeup, until I think episode 11. (Cut to jars in the what used to be Doctor Montgomery's lab) These are also animals that the doctor collected. These boys were remarkable because they had never really acted before and a lot of times they had to act and react to things that were off camera so I think they did an extraordinary job. It's a great trope of any horror show that the opening is something to begin setting up a legend that you will answer and the big question here is 'What in the hell is the baby in a christening gown?' I don't think people even knew that it was a baby, they just thought it was a monster. It was later revealed to be a hybrid of a sloth and a baby. Coming up, the gown that the baby is wearing is modeled on the gown that the Lindbergh baby was wearing when he was kidnapped and unfortunately killed in the 20's. I was always obsessed with that story as a kid so here was an opportunity to sort of use some of that...(Infantata emerges violently from the darkness, screeching) There he is...I love that sound design, Brad, our sound editor did a great job there. In the house I think in this pilot we had to dress and redress a total of four times it was kind of nuts."
(Cut to Vivian at the doctors present day)
"This was the last scene we shot during the pilot which was one of the first scenes which was funny. At that point Connie Britton and I were on really good terms. No matter what I would ask her to do she would roll her eyes and say 'Really?' So at this point this unfortunately, uncomfortable scene she was like 'Ok, it's nothing compared to what I've already shot so I'll go for it.' But she was great and was the first person I cast in the pilot. We built the cast around Connie. She had just come off Friday Night Lights of course and I was coming off Glee so we wanted to do the opposite of what we had done. So I took her from the best marriage in the America to the worst. (Vivian says "I'm not a house" in response to her doctor) I got a fan letter from Susan Summers after this who I deeply admire for all her alternative works saying "Thank you for this shout for bioidentical hormones." So that was yet one of many things that the pilot gave us which was fun. 'I'm not a house' sets up, I think, the entire first season really was about the family as a house metaphor which was fun to write."
(Cut to flashback of Vivian arriving at her home in Boston while Ben is in the bathroom with Hayden)
"I believe this was shot in L.A, and we spent a lot of time making it look like Boston. The snow levels we could never could get right; it was a sound nightmare. I kept saying to Connie when I was directing her in this, Katharine (?), repulsion, repulsion, repulsion! Which I think she instantly got what that was about. (Vivian calls the police and give her address) That is one of Brad Falchuck's childhood streets which we ad-libbed the day we were shooting because the original address didn't clear, I think we thought it was funny. This is a repulsion shot, one of the things about the show is that it really does pay homage to great horror movies that Brad and I loved as a kid...(Vivian hears a noise upstairs, arms herself with a knife, and approaches Ben and Hayden in the bathroom) I always love a lady with a Knife...We had cast an actress for this part, the woman we did cast, Kate Mara, who is a friend of mine, was not available to shoot this day she was, I think, doing a movie so we're gonna go and pick it up in bed with Dylan here. (Vivian catches Ben and Hayden, Ben emerges from the door but not Hayden) I like not seeing [her], I thought it was more powerful. (Vivian slashes Ben with the knife) This is our sort of first pseudo-sexual thing that we did in the year. This was all CGI, Dylan being slashed with the knife. It was a plastic Knife, I loved him there."
(Cut to title sequence)
"And this was a title sequence. Most of the time when you shoot a TV show you shoot this at the end after you're picked up but I really was adamant about working with our team to create a title sequence that I thought would instantly set a tone and help everybody, particularly at the studio network, understand what we were going through. So when we did this we really worked hard and encouraged the title sequence team to come into the house and shoot while we were shooting the pilot which is almost never done. They read the script. And all of the visuals in here are clues for the season to come because we of course had worked out the season before we had stated shooting it. A lot of that stuff we couldn't say because we didn't want to give it away...I love that dress floating...my favorite part is there goes Jessica Lange's name as huge as a house. There's only one thing in the title sequence here that we never really answered which was the guy with the cutting shears. We had it in the script but we cut it out but I love how the title sequence set up clues for the shows to come."
(Cut to Ben, Vivian, and Violet in the car on their way to see Murder House)
"Well one of the things in the pilot that we were very sort of interested in doing was sort of paying homage to the work of the 70's horror directors that I love. So many of the devices in here you truly don't see a lot in film. We do a lot of dissolves, we do a lot of POV shots, we do a lot of sort of jump cutting. This was Taissa's, one of her first scenes, she was a real find for us. Dylan we obviously cast right after Connie. I knew his work, I was a big fan. But there were two part that we wanted unknowns. It was Taissa's part, here as Violet, and also Evan Peters were the two that we read and read and read and Taissa got the part because she was the only one who never acted fear. She was just so naturalistic and lovely and young and this was unbelievably the second thing that she had done. So the fact that she was able to, this season, do so much work that was so adult was amazing."
(The three arrive at Murder House present day. Ben and Vivian convince moody Violet to join them on the front porch for a picture)
"Yeah, you see the house, the second incarnation of the house all cleaned up. A lot of this scene was ad-libbed by Dylan and Connie. (Insert Marcy) Marcy the realtor! Christine, who I became obsessed with her performance. She was only supposed to be in this first episode but I thought she was so funny and such comic relief that we kept her back. The writers loved writing for her, she was so crazy and racist and bigoted and hilarious. So she became a writer's room favorite just because she was comic release. This is one of our first jump cuts that we did. And we did that which was a very sort of 70s device they did back then to, I believe, create tension so we used it whenever we could. It's a little disorienting. And that was the point. (Vivian's dog runs towards the basement door and begins barking frantically) It took forever to get the dog to run around the corner, we bribed him with every dog treat known to man. This was the owner of the dog behind the door calling for him, we took out the owner's voice. But that's how we got the dog to be so crazy at the door.
(Violet approaches the basement door and enters)
Violet, who is the most fearless character of them all and was also attracted to fear, and of course that would become her undoing. But I just like the idea that she was not afraid of anything...there's another jump cut...The sound design was also really fun to work with, it took us a couple months to get it right. This is the basement, again, cleaned up. There's a lot of POV shots, there's the POV of the Infanata, which is the name of the monster here. Which is also a very cool little horror thing that we wanted to fool around with and make sure that anyone who was down there was in peril."
(Connie discovers Constance's murals during the tour while cello music plays in the background)
"We had a big cello scene in the pilot that we ended up cutting and saving for the end of the season. The mural was my (?), it took forever to get that right. (Marcy reveals why Murder House is so cheap) I always thought this was hilarious. So did Connie and Dylan they laughed for many many takes. [laughs] 'They both died in the house, murder suicide.' And it was funny when were shooting this and we mentioned the gay couple, of course we didn't know that Zach Quinto would be one of those guys. It was a happy discovery in the writing process, we went after Zach quite heavily. The ever exciting moving in scenes. (Cut to Marcy removing "For Sale" sign) I love Christine's face here where she looks up at the house...She knows the secret."
(Cut to Vivian and Ben in bedroom)
"I really love Connie and Dylan when they would do these just sort of normal people in bed marriage scenes. They both really took to them, they loved them. They had really really good chemistry and they had never really worked together or met actually before the pilot but they were very fond of each other. I remember Connie when we were shooting this. I kept giving her so many pieces of business with the unpacking. (Ben puts on lotion while talking to Vivian) All this lotion stuff was ad-libbed by Dylan though. I thought it was really kind of good and sexy. The other thing that's interesting about this pilot when we were shooting it many people said later that this first season of the show really does mirror the American housing crisis; The idea of forclosures and people losing all their money. With home ownerships, so that was something we sort of discovered in the writing that was really something interesting to write to. Because the show really was about all different types of American horror stories and one them being economic. So we really wanted to write about that idea of what would you do for one of the American dreams? Which was the perfect dream house. You always here that phrase: 'the dream house.' Would you move into your dream house even if people had died there? Even if you don't believe in hauntings, it is haunted by the lives and pain and joys of other people who were there. So that's something that we liked exploring."
(Cut to Violet walking into school smoking a cigarette. An eerie song plays in the background)
"This was another example of a needle drop song, the name escapes me, but we really tried to put moody, moody, moody music into this thing and I always loved this. This sort of became Violet's theme throughout many of the episodes. (Gang of girls yell at Violet about smoking) Teenage bullying, another form of American Horror. I've obviously written about that a lot in my career lately by doing this and Glee. But these were sort of more foul teenagers with no happy ending. Also a lot of people I think felt after that pilot that it was very visually unsettling and the camera moved too much and they didn't know where they were. I thought people would love that but it turns out not so much. So we toned it down a little bit after that and I think visually the show really found its groove around episode 3 where we kept a little bit of it in every episode but not so much. (Violet escapes bullies after burning one with her cigarette and looks back) I love this little smile that Taissa gave. I think that was like the 10th take and finally just laughed and I put it in..."
(Cut to Vivian peeling off wallpaper to reveal the murals in the house. She is then startled by Adelaide, Constance's daughter, and Constance soon enters the scene)
"There's Adelaide...Now this was funny because this was Jessica Lange, who I was obsessed with, took me a long time to get her to do it. I'm so glad she did. This was her first shooting day and it was Connie Britton's first shooting day so it was interesting that this was the first scene for both of them. I love how both of the women play this, you know? This was sort of the birth of the whole Jessica Lange DuBois thing. I had seen Jessica do Streetcar on Broadway twice and I was obsessed with it. And so our idea for this part was always, what would have happened if Blanche DuBois had grown up and not got into the loony bin, which Jessica really like playing that. She also loved that she was southern. We dressed Jessica sort of as, in all this early 70's stuff, like she was frozen in time with the hair and the clothes and the jewelry. (Constance swipes a valuable from the room while Vivian isn't looking) This was the beginning, also, of Constance's magpie idea where she kept stealing everything that we just...[trails off] at the beginning because I thought it was so funny but then turned out that it's how Constance survived economically. The other crazy thing about shooting this in this house that was reportedly a little bit haunted was, in the middle of this take from this angle, this front angle here, all the light fell right near Connie's head that had been secured by a very great crew. It was sort of unnerving and we stopped but it was the beginning of 'Is this place haunted? Is this show kind of doomed?' So it was sort of scary and things like that happened throughout the shooting of the whole pilot...I love Jessica's checking for dust...(Constance tells Vivian of her past, wanting to be a movie star) I love this whole speech...Jessica and I used to go round and round about that hair which is a wig. She kept wanting to wear it down, I was like 'no no no' I loved it as it looked in the pilot: up. Which she didn't like but then I think halfway through she sort of got that it was armor and then she really loved it. (Constance says "Of course, I couldn't work after that.") I got a lot of questions about that line. But this is an example of something where it's really fun to be a director because you just take two great actors, with sort of really fun dialogue, and then let them go. I don't remember really directing them much at all, they just sort of instinctively were fans of each other and they just really went at it which was great to watch. It's like 'Who's gonna win this scene?' and I think it was a draw...(Jessica gives Vivian a gift: sage to get rid of "Bad Juju") I love it when Jessica says 'juju.'...Jessica at this point when she signed on to not know that she had four children that were dead and from this house, we parceled out the information. But I think she looks so great and she and Connie were truly a joy to work with."
(Cut to Vivian burning the sage throughout the house and approaching the attic)
"I think we wanted to do a horror show because I was also obsessed with Dark Shadows, which was a Gothic soap opera about vampires that I was terrified of and my grandmother used to make me watch it as punishment, not knowing that I secretly loved watching it. [laughs] Hiding behind her rocking chair. (Vivan finds the Rubber Man costume tucked away in the attic. She screams and Violet and Ben soon enter the scene) This is sort of setting up one of our great monsters in the show which was the creature called "The Rubber Man" which we discovered in the writing. We didn't know what he was going to look like but I collect books and I had a book about how to care for your (?) rubber wear from the 50s, which was insane, and on the cover was this outfit. So from that and the writing we came across that visual which I thought was very, sort of, strange. The whole show is about a mixture of emotion and fear and sex so this sort of launched this. And it's almost like this Rubber Man was a spectral energy. Of course later we set up the whole story of the suit and where they got the suit and how Zach wore the suit. Dylan didn't know it was coming but I knew it what was coming so I just directed him 'be really interested in the suit' because I knew he would wear it."
(Cut to Tate's first psychiatry session with Dr. Harmon)
"Evan Peters. This was a really great piece of casting, I had not known Evan and he came in and I was the only one that knew, well Brad and I, that Evan was going to be the son of Jessica Lange so when he walked in and he looked like that I was really excited and then he was such a great actor that he sort of got the part in the room. "
(Brief cut to one of Tate's dreams, clad in skull face makeup, wielding a gun, and walking around a high school)
"This is part of a really big sequence that took a long time to shoot which was sort of the massacre at the high school and we shot a lot more than we put in. But it was very rough to shoot because it was so chilling and obviously based on true events and we had to be very careful that it didn't come across as too exploitative. There was a big sequence that we shot, I believe in the pilot you see a pop of it, where Evan leaves and looks up at this hallway and there's this big rush of blood which is a great visual that I cribbed from The Shining but it was just too much and we didn't put in the pilot. I think it might be a DVD extra (Can be found on disc four in the special feature "Behind the Fright: The Making of American Horror Story")."
(Cut back to Psychiatry session. Tate discussed Native Americans with Dr. Harmon)
"There's a lot of Indian lore in this first season. Evan has this speech, Jessica has a big speech about people claiming the lands in the old west. (In a quick cut Tate sees himself behind Ben drenched in blood) This was a really interesting thing having Evan see himself covered in blood. It sets up of course the dastardly crimes he's committed. I always loved the writing of the Evan-Dylan scenes. I thought it was really fun, the writers did a great job as we progressed in the season...(Evan says "She's a cocksucker, I mean literally, a cocksucker.") I had a hard time getting that word through. I think I was allowed two uses for the whole season, I hoarded them."
(Tate finds Violet cutting herself in the bathroom)
"This is an example of the cutting of just something that is so scary and is so epidemic and interesting to sort of go from the grand (?) aspect of the show to these sort of smaller intimate moments that are real."
(Ben emerges from his bed, naked, in a dreamlike state and walks downstairs to the kitchen stove)
"This is, again, something that was fun to write about as we went through the season 'Who is this talking? Who are these people hearing?' and of course we set it it up later as being the wife of the burned man. Who is sort of speaking through voices and haunting these people, these men particularly, because she wants company. But it was a really fun show to work on because everything that's mentioned is hopefully solved by the end of the run. Because it's sort of a mini-series of the beginning, middle, and end. Dylan was very fearless with all this nudity which I was thankful for. He sort of went for it, he got that it was important to the series. It was really about vulnerability and possession."
(Cut to Vivian outside hanging Clothes on the line)
"I remember the shooting of this was a monster because the sun kept coming in and out and in and out and it took us forever to sort of wait for shade because I really wanted a very sort of blown out, spooky, overcast L.A. day. (Vivian is approached by the maid, Moira) Frances' first scene. The interesting thing about her eye here was everybody thought 'Oh, you did this eye for the show and it meant something' but the truth of the matter is Frances had a, I think, an accident where a rake fell out of a closet and hit her eye and then it turned that color. So she was sort of thrilled that she didn't have to wear contacts and we decided to use that as one of Moira's traits. She's another great actress who I had always wanted to work for and I offered it to her and she just instantly said yes so it was really fun. She has a great sense of humor about her, she always finds the joke in everything. And we dressed the Moiras in this sort of hybrid of young Moira is the French maid and old Moira is the Irish maid which is also a trope of the horror world."
(Vivian and Moira go inside and discuss her offer to be the maid. Vivian asks why women always have to clean up men's messes, Moira replies "We're women, it's what we do.")
"That line is funny to me, 'It's women, it's what we do.' I had a good friend, an actress, who watched the whole series recently and said 'You know what this show's about? This show is about feminine rage.' and I thought, 'Well that's pretty accurate,' and we certainly have a lot of references to that empowerment; feminism in the scripts. (Ben enters and suddenly Moira appears much younger from his perspective) I love that sort of really spooky game change, we did that in sort of two fluid moves. We hit a cut in a camera move and then worked to sort of worked to erase the line of it but I liked it sort of happened in the moment. (Moira exits and Ben eats a banana while talking to Vivian) Dylan was obsessed with these bananas. I believe he was dieting for his nude scenes and was thrilled whenever we would write in the food eating aspect of the show which is always very boring but he made sure they were non-carb."
(Young Moira enters Ben's office and attempts to seduce him)
"Alexandra was a great find also, I only gave her one bit of direction in the entire pilot which was in her first scene and she said 'Well what kind of maid am I?' and I said 'You're prissy and gone with the wind, you just don't want to dust that house and you're a dobbler and almost comical in a way.' and she said 'Ok, got it.' and she was sort of good to go. This whole scene and many other scenes of this pilot, the first season of this show, of this miniseries, is really about infidelity. It's really about betrayal and infidelity. The second, third, fourth seasons will always be about another theme but that was really what it was about. It's hard when you have several scenes set in like a home office, we in every scene, if you notice, shot completely different angles to make it look different which is one of the great liberties you can do when making a pilot, you have more time. And I was really obsessed with the furniture in this house because I thought Dylan and Connie would be cool cats and I didn't want it to feel like an old, crusty, haunted house so we added a lot of modernism to the show. You'll see a lot of modern furniture in his office and their bedroom, along with some craftsman pieces."
(Ben finds Tate in his office, sitting in a chair swinging his feet in a childlike manner)
"Evan made this whole little boy thing up in the chair which reminded me of Lily Tomlin's character. Feet never touching but I thought he was incredibly, always just riveting really. One great moment I have with Evan is we were at the Golden Globes, nominated for the show, and I saw Jodie Foster walk up to Evan and whisper in his ear. And I love Jodie Foster and I said 'What the hell was going on there?' and he just simply said 'She's a fan.' and so I thought 'Oh that's amazing.' But he's such a good actor, Dylan is so good too."
(Cut to Violet and Tate in her bedroom with the "Violet Theme" playing in the background)
"And here's the Violet theme again. I believe this was Taissa's first scene that she shot, being shot halfway hiding behind a wall. There's a great piece by Adam Kurtzman, who's a sculptor that I collect that is in the corner there that is a haunted house that lights up from within. Nobody would really know it but me but I love the mood that it helps set in that room. (Tate says "You should never hurt someone you love" and writes "TAINT" on Violet's chalkboard) I love the irony of his character saying that after he's massacred almost a dozen people at the school. 'TAINT' was a clue that we came up with in the pilot that everyone was always obsessed with. 'Why did he write that? What did it mean?' We never really said but I knew what it was. And what it meant was 'Tate A'int.' It was a clue later that we never really revealed until the end that he was dead but that's what I wanted people to come away with. 'Tate A'int, Tate.' (Violet removes a tape from her tape player and suggests listening to Morrissey) Taissa had no idea who Morrissey was, we had to explain to her. [Laughs] She's so young. There was a whole sequence after this that we cut, that there was the child in one of the rooms that was one of Jessica's children who was an Albino. And it was Evan who was later revealed to be her son ran in and saw him and he was actually quite terrifying and we cut that. Just because at this point I thought it was one too many creatures."
(Cut to Ben masturbating in the attic after his encounter with Young Moira)
"This is the infamous Dylan crying masturbation scene which, we've done several events and this is the one thing everyone wants to talk about. And I think that, y'know, for many people it's sort of strange and funny. It's something you've never seen on television before but I was really proud of it because to me it was about a sex addict and it was about sexual compulsion and trying to be monogamous and fighting your demons and I loved his performance. This was his second take and when we got it and ended it I was wildly uncomfortable directing it. I believe (?) my first direction and only direction was 'A little bit more'...(Insert Larry Harvey watching Ben through the window outside) The burned man...Denis O'Hare was a great actor, he's another one that I just offered him the part, I had always wanted to work with him. He accepted it on good faith, he didn't know what the Hell he was getting into was like 5 hours of make up every day but he loved the part and I loved him."
(Cut to Vivian downstairs encountering the supernatural occurrence of all the cabinets in the house suddenly popping open)
"This was hard, we shot this interestingly enough. Connie turned and we had 30 crew people run into that room, each one was in charge of a drawer, and they ran out. To open everything, so that was sort of like we had to do many takes to get that right. (Adelaide and Constance enter the scene) This was a scene that we added to the pilot after we got Jessica Lange, her part started out, not small but not as big as it was, and as soon as she agreed to be in it we added two more scenes to the pilot. And then of course she really took over the series but I loved this scene with her. She did not like that poofy dress, I'll tell ya...(Constance changes the subject of Vivian's concerns with the supernatural occurrence) Cover up!...I love Jamie's line readings with 'Can I...pet your dog?' Always did it the same way, I thought it was great, hilarious. (Vivian aggressively tells Adelaide to stop breaking into her house) Look at Jessica, mother's rage building up. This was the beginning of the 'You do not fuck with Constance' look right there because when I saw that I was like 'Oh, okay that's what we're going to write' and we did. It's funny how when you're doing a pilot you get inspired by little tiny moments and you tuck them away in your brain and then when you start writing, you can do whole episodes about it. That was one moment for me. (Constance and Addie leave and Ben enters) Right after that where Connie looks at Dylan there was a ton of dialogue after that and Connie was like 'Why wouldn't he stick up for me? Why is he yelling at me?' and I was like 'Oh, you're right.' so we just cut all the dialogue. I think it was half a page of words and she did it in one look which I thought was great acting."
(Young Moira enters Ben's office, attempting to seduce him once again)
"This was another fun day at the office, the male crew members particularly enjoyed this, I was wildly uncomfortable. Here's the prissy direction. Just the bad house cleaner, not interested at all in what she is doing [laughs]. She was so great, Alexandra, she really went for it. She was never afraid to do these kind of wildly obnoxious sexual scenes. But the succubus is sort of a great inspiration in horror. We enjoyed writing that a lot. And I also love the idea that what Dylan saw, Connie saw the opposite. That was a sort of interesting sort of thing to play with. Again, of course, we find out that she seduces men and kills them because she was shot by Constance for having an affair with Constance's husband even though she was innocent. So in a weird way she was avenging that sort of death of hers. At this point though when you were watching the show you had no idea she was dead and he was alive, that was something that we parceled out as we went along...(Young Moira gets on the couch with Ben and begins kissing him) I remember telling Dylan, 'Grab the couch harder, harder.'...(Taissa sees the two on the couch but perceives Moira as and elderly woman) That was a great moment, I love it when Alexandra becomes Frances. They all laughed and laughed, Frances particularly thought this was hilarious."
(Cut to a brief scene of Violet getting in a violent fight at school with the bullies)
"This was incredibly hard to do because it was all minors and we had to shoot it with them for the acting and then we stunt doubled everybody. You could sort of see it in the (?) if you knew that but it took a long time to do."
(Cut to scene of Ben and Vivian discussing their marriage in the room with the murals)
"This mural, too, was interesting, to me it was going to be something that we were going to write throughout the long history of the show but I really felt after the first episode 'Oh, i don't want to do that anymore." The visuals were too strong I thought it was too telling. So we kept it in the pilot but after that it was very quickly covered up and it was then later hinted that Constance was the painter of said murals which I thought was really fun. This is the scene that Connie, and I believe Dylan, loved the most. I know Connie later told me that this was the reason why she signed onto the pilot, after she read this because she really love this sort of very physical, verbal fight. And the interesting thing is, the week we were shooting it we found out that somebody, an agent I suppose in town, had given the script out to somebody and they had given it to somebody and we found out that this scene was being used in acting classes which Connie and Dylan [laughs] thought was very intimidating to have to shoot a scene used in an acting class. And nobody had seen the performance yet, of course, so they really felt an obligation to bring it. (Ben and Vivian's discussion become heated and violent) This took a long time to shoot. We did, I believe, 12, 15 takes at every angle for every actor. Because is this scene is the one we really wanted to get right, the two of them particularly. Because it was their favorite scene we booked in a lot of extra time for the shooting of it. Of course there was a lot of glass in this room, I was always terrified when Dylan throws the stuff and she's about to do, that we would break the stuff and were going to have to pay for it but he was a great aim. This was also just great fun to watch two great actors go at it. We always would say in the writing of it, 'Where's the fight? Where's the fight?' because every episode we wanted a scene like this, that was sort of a scene from a marriage. I knew at the time when we were shooting the pilot, Dylan did not know in a couple episodes he would be killing people. So I really wanted to make sure, even though he did not know it as an actor, that you got a hint in this scene, in the pilot, that he was capable of great rage and almost homicidal impulses. So I really kept pushing him and pushing him, and he kept saying 'I think it's too much, I think it's too much.' But I loved how we did it and that we did it for a reason which is to set up what is to come...(The climax of the argument is reached with Ben screaming "I needed you and you got a dog! It was me you should have been cuddling with on the couch!") Here's the rage moment...I really believed that he would kill someone after that reaction [laughs], and he did. Connie told me later that this scene was a catharsis for her after being such a great wife and mother in her previous work (Friday Night Lights), that she was glad to scream in rage and say terrible things...(Ben describes their last experience with sex as "even a little weird") Weird setting up the Rubber Man idea...At one point in the writing we were going to have these two characters have a past where they were swingers; that they had sort of opened up their marriage. I had really thought long and hard about it, we broke a whole episode where we had that fact and we were like, 'No. No let's keep 'em nice.' We wanted to root for them in some way and the darkness that we had come up with was just too much ultimately, I think, to sustain. But when we were directing this, that idea of 'It's a little weird', was something I was like, 'Okay, I really want to write for that, what is it?' But I think that this couple did a lot of devious things sexually, I really do. (Ben and Vivian's anger quickly develops into passion and they begin to foreplay on the couch) This was really hard to direct actors, to go after each other like that, they both had bruises on their arms the next day. It went on forever it was really tough. This was the only note that I got from the network after they saw the rough cut, they wanted more of the two of them on this couch. I had cut away a lot earlier than this so I added like 15 frames. Connie and Dylan are never going to do, I think, something with complete nudity, particularly Connie. So I was like, 'No, I don't want to do that.' It was written that way but we ultimately didn't shoot it that way."
(Cut to Taissa coming home from school with a wound from the fight and encountering Vivian in the kitchen)
"This was sort of the beginning of the beginning of the Taissa as Annie Hall look, I'm a great fan of Diane Keaton's. Sort of, the idea of how we dressed her was to, sort of, get away from the Cliche of the goth and make her sort of a new Annie Hall, dressing in a lot of menswear and looking cool. This was one of the last kitchen scenes we shot, I felt like there were like 50 in this pilot, I thought it was never gonna get out of this kitchen. Which we built because I knew we were going to spend a lot of time in the run of the series, which we did. Connie's hair got a lot of attention in this pilot [laughs]. After this sort of series began to run she was on a lot of women's magazines as the hair every woman wishes she had. And she indeed does have star quality hair. But you can track her character, interestingly enough, through the deconstruction and lack of interest in how she looks. So, the pilot, we decided that Vivian really was still caring a lot, trying to get her marriage back on track, and then as she became more unhinged we really just, sometimes, stuck her in there fresh off the bus so to speak. (Violet asks her mother "What are you afraid of?" She responds, "Lately? Everything.") I loved that line, that line to me summed up the entire show. 'What are you afraid of?','Lately? Everything.' Brad wrote that line, I loved it."
(Cut to Tate in Violet's room discussing how to deal with her bullies)
"This was something where it was a late at night shoot with these two kids and I was sort of like, 'Let's just really shake it up and do everything.' Which is why for an hour I had Evan look into the camera and just scream insanities where we get the 'Helter Skelter' moment coming up."
(Cut to brief scene of Violet approaching main bully and enticing her to come to her house after school on the basis of drugs)
"But the idea was to sort of do what The Exorcist did which is cutting weird subliminal frames sometimes; that was my inspiration for this scene. A little bit more on the nose than what they did with that because that was just a visual two frames and this is an actual line of dialogue."
(Cut back to Tate and Violent in her room, Tate suddenly pops up at the screen saying "Helter Skelter!")
"It makes absolutely no sense but I just loved the exercise so we kept it in."
(Cut to Vivian in bedroom being approached by someone in the Rubber Man costume)
"This was the MOST difficult thing of all to shoot in this pilot which was the Connie Britton, Rubber Man sex scene. Because we had to shoot it with three different actors. This was our Rubber Man stunt double. But she, rightly so, did not feel comfortable with someone she didn't know in a complete S&M vinyl suit gyrating on top of her so we had to ask Dylan if he would wear it and step in. And then from that came this weird inner cutting where she saw anything and everything. There's also a moment where she's in the bed and you see the pills and it's supposed to set up 'Is she crazy? Is she not crazy?'"
(Cut to Ben downstairs in another dreamlike state turning on the stove)
"This I loved. I always loved anything with the fire, the house wanting fire, which of course is set up with Larry and what he did to his family."
(Cut back to Vivian in bedroom having sex with the man in the rubber suit)
"This is Dylan. This was a weird thing where you had to make the camera have sex with Connie, going in and out. (Pill bottle is visible on nightstand) Pill bottle set up, 'Is she mad? Is she imagining this? Is it a hallucination?' It really was sort of inspired by Rosemary's Baby, the whole Jackie Kennedy dream that I was obsessed with as a kid. But anytime you see Connie with the Rubber Man on top of her in this pilot it was Dylan, and then the other closeups were from the stunt guy."
(Cut back to Ben about to touch the fire on the stove being stopped suddenly by Constance)
"This was a scene I threw Jessica in at the very last minute. I always felt looking back on it I would have re-shot it because I thought the dress was a mistake. She looked a little too much like Agnes Moorehead from Bewitched. It was a little too crazy and then after that we were like "Okay, let's calm the clothes down.' But I loved her performance and Dylan was thrilled to have a scene in the pilot with her like this. And that was of course setting up the scene that Constance holds the keys to the kingdom. (Ben then rejoins Vivian in bed who just has sex with Rubber Man) This whole idea of the house speaking to me and the horror of it was really inspired by my childhood love of a rash of weird crimes that occurred in the Sharon Tate Manson murders. A lot of them were people under the influence of drugs and were hallucinating and would write 'Kill the pigs' and stuff like that. So that sort of weird, trippy, murdery thing was very much in our mind when we wrote this series."
(Cuts to Violet taking her Bully down into the basement to get drugs. Although really she is taking her to Tate who, unbeknownst to Violet, unleashes the Infantata on her)
"This was a great sequence to shoot because it was the kids, I had an entire day and a half to shoot it, we really story boarded it out. It was also loosely inspired by Diane Keaton again, Diane Keaton in Looking for Mr. Goodbar. Not so much the action in what was happening but there was a great Richard Brooks, I believe, strobe killing at the end of that movie and I always thought what was really scary was what you didn't see in the flash...(Bully meets Evan who is wearing a t-shirt that says "Normal People Scare Me") Evan was obsessed with that t-shirt...(Infantata begins to attack bully) So this begins the weird strobe effect, the Looking for Mr. Goodbar moment. And we had a lot of fun, a lot of people thought that Evan was the Infantata, which we later find out was not the case. But this was the most fun, I think, of the entire shoot. We aged the Lindbergh baby dress in tea, I kept trying to get the color right and we would move Evan around the room so you were very unsettled by the POV. I had many girlfriends who watched it and told me that when they watched it with the teeth and the hands that this is where they shut the show off. It was too much for them. We ad-libbed that (?) and the teeth we designed to look like the mouth of a leech. It was funny because nobody really knew what they were playing yet, the actors. Y'know, and I didn't reveal too much to them. I did not tell Evan he was dead when we were shooting it. I thought also that Taissa and Evan had great chemistry when we were shooting the pilot, similar so that we really, I think, wrote much more of the Tate, Violet love story than we would have. But I was very inspired by how they were with each other. Evan was really good with her because she had not done a lot of work. Of course then she became a champ. But sometimes that's, again, another happy accident of just chemistry."
(Cut to Ben on a morning jog being stalked by Larry Harvey, the burn victim spying on him earlier in the episode)
"This is always how I think of L.A. light. I moved here in the late spring, I remember that sort of 6 o'clock, 7 o'clock lighting that was very eerie to me. It reminded me of Dark Shadows, which was one of our inspirations, so we really were cognizant of that kind of lighting in this sort of sequence. Alfonso did a great job here with a lot of these shots. (Larry finally catches up with Ben and there is a confrontation) This scene was insane to shoot because there were like, we kept getting attacked by the snakes. We shot this at a park and it was a really hot day and for some reason a lot of these snake eggs had hatched so, I would get through half a take and there would be a snake and people would scream and it took us a long time. And also, it was so hot that day, I was really nervous that this makeup (in reference to Larry's burn makeup) that took so long, it was so brilliant, would melt. And I think at the end of the day it did kind of fall off a little bit. (Larry confesses his past with Murder House to Ben) This of course was yet another one of the mysteries of the pilot is 'What Larry's saying, is it the truth?' I told him to play it as if it was the truth and he was so good at that, and of course I knew that it wasn't. And then the only thing I told him to do at the very end of the sequence was to give me a really evil smile. He was like 'Wait?! It's not true?' and I wouldn't tell him. This was a piece of Hitchcock music, Bernard Herman music, that I was obsessed with. We payed a lot of money for it but I loved the tone of it, I wanted to pay tribute to Bernard Herman in some way. He's one of my favorite composers."
(Cut to flashback of Larry pouring gasoline over his Daughter's bedroom and lighting a match)
"This was a sequence that we really debated how to shoot and were at one point cut because it was just too, I thought, in your face. We had to make sure that you never saw the kids. The smoldering children who later we do an episode about. But it's so sort of hyper surreal that I think it worked because it was scary and it wasn't too graphic...This took a long time to shoot because we had to build the set and have it fireproofed and we had to have fire marshals. Shooting with fire is really, really hard. I didn't know it was this hard. So after this pilot when we would have a scene, some of this stuff we did optically of course, but a lot of it is real. We were very careful with how much or how little to shoot of the fire because it's just so time prohibiting."
(Cut back to Ben and Larry's conversation)
"That was the first take of Denis' which I loved, he was just right there. Of course, we later find out that the reason he wants these people to move out of the house is because he wants to move in with his beloved Constance. Also, I love the poetry of this character though, at the beginning he's just out of prison for these horrible crimes and at the end he goes back in, I thought that was really cool. (Ben pushes away Larry saying "Leave us alone!" and storms off) I think Dylan ran into a snake right after that."
(Cut to Constance in the Murder House stealing valuables being caught be Old Moira)
"This was fun, this was one of the first scenes we saw another example of chemistry in the pilot. Which was Jessica and Frannie who are big fans of each other. And after this Jessica pulled me aside and said 'I want some more Frances scenes.' and I was like 'I aim to please.' (Constance says "Jesus H. Christ") Jesus H. Christ became a phrase that the writers loved, I think we tried to put it in every episode for Jessica who was also quite fond of it...There she is stealing again...Coming up is my favorite line in the pilot...(Constance says to Moira, "Don't make me kill you again.") Whenever we would do that take they would hold it, then they would always die laughing, as did the crew, as did I, but we got through it somehow. That was the first indication, I think, in the pilot that a lot of people have like, 'Oh, some of these people are dead.' Which became a great fun thing to reveal to the audience."
(Cut to Vivian coming home to find Ben in the Kitchen)
"We wanted to end the pilot with some degree of hope here which was that the marriage was maybe back on track and there was going to be a baby and things could maybe work out. Of course, Brad and I knew and Connie and Dylan knew that they were going to die by the end of the first season. So I think as actors they were very upset, like 'What's gonna happen to the baby? What's gonna happen to the baby?' Connie, I think, was smart [laughs] and we were shooting this, I think, and she said, 'Am I going to die in childbirth?' She kind of figured it out, I didn't say anything to her until later."
(Cut to credits. The only credits for AHS ever to have flashes of the episode pop up at random intervals)
"This was another fun, sort of, timely thing that we discovered in the editing which I really loved. I loved, also, the weird spectral thing of the Rubber Man at the door here. The accelerated push ins and all the stuff like that that cuts away to the weird horror elements. I love Jimmy's score in here too, I just saw his card...Chris' work is great. You saw right there a flash of the dolls. That was in the scene where the albino guy was introduced that I had cut but we did a little pop there.....And that's the end."