We are Jonathan Nolan & Gregory Plageman from PERSON OF INTEREST - AUA!
Hey this is Jonah and Greg, showrunners on Person of Interest, nerf weapon hoarders, and occasional dabblers in side projects, like batman movies. We're taking a break from gloating about our ability to predict our nation's descent into an Orwellian surveillance state in order to capitalize on it -- by getting you to watch. If enough of you tune in we can finish constructing a giant faraday cage for our writers and their families to ride out the technopocalypse. Ask us anything -- the NSA is really curious.
EDIT -- reddit's laggy. We're still here. The writers are screaming at us to get back to work. Screw 'em. We'll keep answering questions through the day.
-- 4pm and Hans Z has roughly 50 times the upboats. Unacceptable. Yes he's incredibly talented and a lovely man but he wears orange shoes. Truly. I'm going to stay on here to answer more questions or I'll never hear the end of it.
-- All right. Zimmer wins this round. Thanks for all of your questions. We'll be back in the fall with season 3.
Can we please keep the conversation focused on Rampart?
This ama is just a ploy so that when our employers see all of the time we spend on reddit we can claim we're marketing the show.
PoI is wonderfully hard core in that most of the tech is based on reality and you deal with real issues surrounding it. Are you that familiar, yourselves? Or do you just have amazing technical advisor(s)?
I hate it when shows and movies get that stuff wrong. Sometimes there’s no time to get it right. But when we can, we do. All of the writers are engaged in doing their own research and trying to get it right. We have an incredible technical advisor named Tony Camerino who looks like a schoolteacher but has done all kinds of crazy shit including interrogating honest-to-god terrorists. So we try not to piss him off. Valerie Plame also stops by everyone once in a while. She’s completely rad.
Oh, and can you pass along to wardrobe that Mr. Emerson's/Finch's suits are AMAZING? Talk about suit-porn, holy shit.
Thanks. We had a whole "origin of the vest" story we cooked up that unfortunately wound up on the cutting room floor. Frank Fleming is our amazing Wardrobe Czar, and always keeps our boys bespoke. Cause when you have a show where one of the characters is always referenced as the "Man in the Suit," it better be a damn good-looking suit.
Did the Machine pass the Turing test in the last couple of episodes? Finch was convinced that they were dealing with a human being for a while.
Yes. Are we?
Do you think a moral, self-aware AI - without human judgmentalism, temptations or agenda - is the only entity who should have control or access to the massive amounts of surveillance that the machine does?
great question. Central question of the show. No one seems to mind that a computer somewhere at google reads all of our emails. We applied the same idea to the surveillance state. Is it a good thing or a bad thing? For you to decide.
Thank you. We think we have one of the most amazing casts on television. Total pros. Though Bear is turning into somewhat of a diva.
No question just some free pitches:
-Reese is mortally wounded and Fusco has to take his place.
-Fusco maneuvers himself to become head of HR.
-Fusco and The Machine become a cyborg.
-Give The Machine a wacky acronym ala H.E.R.B.I.E. from the Fantastic Four.
Chappy, is that you?
1) So someone has to ask about your opinion on the news regarding PRISM. What’s your take from it?
2) But I also want to ask if you guys try to purposely differentiate POI from the recent Dark Knight Trilogy given that POI is a somewhat more realistic version of Batman (Fusco is Robin/Harvey Bullock! ).
3) To what extent is J.J. Abrams involved with the show?
4) Also, I remember Jonah mentioned in an interview that he and Christopher disagree with the ending of The Dark Knight Rises. Can you elaborate as to who thinks what about the ending?
Turns out the only thing that’s science fiction about our show is the public outcry that we imagined if anyone found out about Finch’s Machine. Our Machine is superior in a number of different regards.
I caught this show once while exiting my room. I just saw a glimpse of Michael Emerson and Jim Caviezel doing something badass and I couldn't help but sit down and watch.
Within two days afterwards, I had gotten caught up on the show and now I'm addicted. Like, you don't even know; I tried to decode the blue screens, but all I got was the Omega symbol. Either way, the show made me feel super smart for seeing them and recognizing a coded message in the first place. Ironically, it reminded me of Lost.
My question for y'all is ... Will Grace feature as a much bigger role in the third season? Finch/Wren has been going a couple years pretending to be dead, but I don't think he can keep that under control for much longer.
I say that because he certainly seems to want to emit an aura of patience about him, but he seems to be really more of an impatient man. That's my theory, anyway....
Thanks for doing this AMA, and remember, Big Brother is always watching.
We know exactly how deep your commitment goes, and frankly you can step it up a bit.
Hi there! I'm one of the people who's been working on decoding the glitches you put into many of season two's episodes. Just wanted to say, what a fantastic idea!
I was wondering who decides which articles to put into the code - the writers in general, yourselves, or someone else? Did you discuss the overall theme you wished to express through the articles?
You've spoken about the myopia affecting the government today and how you've decided to approach that in Person of Interest. What can we hope to see in future in terms of more ramifications or the results of Finch's actions on the people currently in his life, such as Will Ingram or Sam Shaw?
I thought Zero Day was absolutely fantastic. Are Amanda Segel and David Slack set to write more episodes together in season three?
Recently Kevin Chapman asked his followers to send along reasons why we appreciate Person of Interest. I was wondering if he passed any of that feedback along? If not, here is a personal thank you. The people I've met in this past year and the depths to which POI consistently goes have been a catalyst for giving me more inspiration than I've had in a long time. It's something I can't thank you for enough.
I for one would welcome a visit from some of the POI staff to London MCM Comic Con. Good luck in season three!
David Slack, who is here with us right now, takes a special delight in torturing viewers with more and more elaborate puzzles. At this point we’ve created a monster. He talks only in glitches now and we keep finding them in new places.
They’re sitting in the room. David and Amanda refuse to write anymore episodes unless the stunt budget is greatly increased.
how did you pitch POI?
I painted this dark, dystopian picture of a world under total surveillance and then explained that it was real. Everyone’s favorite part of the pitch was when I pointed to someone’s cell phone and said that the NSA could be listening to the pitch regardless of whether or not they were on a phone call.
Would you still describe Carter as the show's moral center? She ended the season in a very dark place.
Please answer this!
All right all right! Yes -- love Carter. Love Taraji even more. And the only thing more fun than writing the moral center of the show is knocking that person off balance and seeing what they do. We've got a fun arc planned for her next season.
does the concept of the machine scare you?
Yup. We did a lot of research into real world attempts to build the machine -- figures like Poindexter, who was quickly demonized for Total Information Awareness but who, at least according to what we read, was actually deeply aware and concerned about what I'd call the privacy paradox. Poindexter and others always thought that automation was the only possible solution. You don't mind when gmail has an algorithm look at your emails. So thats what Finch built.
So what did you guys think when you realized the government had actually create their own machine
We always knew about their Machine. You’re welcome for helping usher in our new Orwellian nightmare. We’re taking requests for the next Nostradamus-style prediction.
Is all this NSA stuff some kind of publicity for you guys?
How real did you think those ideas could be when you started the show?
My mom doesn't watch the series because she doesn't like the 'big brother is watching you' idea. It scares her. Can you give her ONE reason she should watch the show?
Also, I wanted to say that i really like the show. I like the idea, which this show is based on, a great, almost science fiction like idea, but I like it.
EDIT: my excuses if you saw this comment twice. It didn't show up, so I posted it again. Then again with another account.
Tell your mom it doesn’t matter if she watches the show, we’ve already activated the camera on her laptop.
The first rule of viral marketing is that you do not talk about viral marketing.
Is the Machine constrained by something like the Three Laws of Robotics?
With all due respect to Asimov, we're guessing Finch had a few more than three laws for the machine. Not sure how many are still in place in season three...
Hey, Jonah and Greg! I am a huge fan of person of interest . I think it is one of the most interesting shows on TV. How did you come up with the idea for the machine to speak using clips of people's voices? Usually, people making voices for computers or robots go with either computerized voices or normal human voices. I thought what you did was pretty genius.
I became obsessed with the Conet Project a number of years back and was looking for a project to use it for. Seemed like a perfect fit for the machine.
Any regrets about featuring Bear so prominently in Season Two? Love the show, keep up the great work!
Only regret is Amanda Segel cuddled Boker the dog so much that the trainer cut all the rest of us off.
Are you regular users/lurkers of reddit or is this your first time here?
Do you ever read reviews or user comments on your show and have any comments affected the writing or direction of the show?
I'm more of a lurker. Fascinated by Reddit Island...
As for the second question, we love the whirlwind of thought-provoking online reviews and comments, but we never want the show to become a feedback loop for our fans. We just want to keep pushing the show ahead in dangerous new directions. And as you can tell from recent revelations in the news, we have no shortage of amazing material to keep twisting and turning into dramatic narrative. We're entering a really weird era in this age of information technology. Buckle up and join us on the ride.
Hey, I really love the show. Any chance you could explain the thought process of creating the characters you did (John and Harold)?
My wife was tired of hearing me spin out my conspiracy theories and suggested maybe America would rather hear them instead. That's how we arrived at Finch.
What was your inspiration for creating Person of Interest?
How did you get started with screenwriting?
What is your screenwriting process?
Do you have any say in the music that is used on the show? I've noticed a lot of Massive Attack, UNKLE, and the XX to name a few. What are your favorite bands,etc?
Has the emergence of the information about PRISM and the NSA gathering intelligence on everyone changed the way you are approaching the new season of POI?
For the music, we created a ‘shit-we-like’ algorithm, then turned it up to eleven.
Who wins at arms wrestling, Jonathan. You or your brother Chris ?
me. every time. Unless he cheats.
Mr. Nolan, you and I actually share a screenwriting professor from college (he brags about you to his students, and then I brag about him bragging about you to anyone who will listen because I'm a big fan). My question for you then (and for everybody else in the room with you) is how much you apply what you learned in college to your day-to-day in the creative industry?
Prof. Glavin? Such a great guy. I use the things he talked about every day. Most important being the discipline of writing whether or not you're feeling inspired. Inspiration is fickle bullshit. You have to write every day if it's going to work. Personally most days I hate writing. I find it exhausting and depressing. But on those days when you are inspired and you're working its amazing. I used to say it's like sex -- if it's too easy you're doing it wrong. [edited to sound less bleak]
Who came up with the idea of the colored reticles? You guys are awesome! Looking forward to season 3!
It started on the pilot when we peered through the lens of our camera smartphones and the face detection box popped up. Seemed logical that the machine would employ similar technology in its surveillance. We thought color-coding would be a cool extension of the machine's POV, depending on how it categorized each individual.
Hello Mr Nolan and Mr Plageman! Firstly, I want to tell you that I am a big admirer of Person Of Interest, and have been following the show without fail since season 2. I love the writing, the uniquely engaging plot and especially the two main characters, Mr Reese and Finch.
My main question to you guys is, that is there any possibilty of an addition to the main cast in season 3? Someone like Root or Shaw or even Hersh?
Also, which TV shows do you regularly watch and which is your favorite TV show of all time?
This question is for Mr Nolan. Have you ever thought/intended to direct your own film? I'd absolutely love that!
Absolutely, cat's out of the bag on this one, we recently disclosed that Sarah Shahi will be joining our regular cast of characters for season 3. She’s holed up in a Hong Kong hotel room waiting for scripts.
Wow, seems like I have been out of touch. Shaw is such a kickass character! No promotion for Amy Acker yet?
Amy Acker’s people have requested that henceforth, her lines all be written in iambic pentameter.
Directed an episode last season on Person of Interest. Had great fun and made a huge mess in New York City. Very much looking forward to making a film. But first we have some more TV to make.
Welcome to Mr. Nolan & Pledgeman!
I am /u/Minifig81, I have decided to ask every person who is an announced AMA a few simple questions:
What are you currently reading?
Is it non-fiction or fiction?
What books do you recommend to everyone that they should read or what books have changed your life?
These books will be compiled in to a spreadsheet with your name and the date you did your AMA, so that if you revisit us on a future date, I can remind you of what you were reading the last time you visited our fair site.
Thank you for time!
As per Mod request, I am to ask you one personal question on top of my Reddit AMA Books Project, has there ever been an episode you wanted to write about but thought it might be too gritty for TV? I must also ask, how do you feel about piracy of TV shows? George R.R. Martin once said that he doesn't mind it because it brings more viewers to the series.
Reddit AMA Readers who wish to see the Reddit Books AMA Project will have to wait, as I'm still compiling information. I don't know how long I should wait to share it (I've been thinking a month), but I have promised the AMA Mods that I'm going to share the data eventually.
Re-reading The Watchers by Shane Harris. That guy was way ahead of the curve on the machine front. As was Admiral Poindexter. A must-read for all our writers and hard-core fans of the show. Also...
The Art of Fielding by Chad Harbach Y Last Man Series The Singularity is Near - Ray Kurzweil
No questions, I just want to say thank you. You've created more than a show, you've created a family of fans. I've met wonderful people because of a mutual love for this show; and it's all because the phenomenal cast and crew work their asses off to make the best show possible. That show's made a world of difference for me. Finch's speech in 2-Pi-R about there being no extra pieces came at just the right time for me, and countless others as well. I can confidently say that POI and the Irrelevants saved my life. Thank you for putting in all the effort that you do, and good luck in season 3!
Thank you for such a wonderful note. We appreciate you and all the Irrelevants. Stay tuned for a kickass season 3!
Hello, Mr. Nolan and Mr. Plageman! Thanks for coming on Reddit today.
I just wanted to know how you and your writing team manage to write such engaging, realistic, and occasionally terrifying female characters? What are your inspirations for them?
One of the things I love about Person of Interest is that, barring some Irrelevants-of-the-week, there are no "damsels in distress" that need to be saved. Carter takes care of herself, Zoe could run an entire country, Root could rule the world and Kara Stanton could put them all to shame. They're also not reduced to romantic side-dishes. As a woman who hopes to be as badass as they are, it's a great sight to see. Thank you.
P.S. Is this also where I throw in a request for Annie Parisse to make another appearance in flashback form? Don't make me get the bomb vest out.
Yes! The main female characters in this show are very well written. I love that none of the main female characters have become love interests thus far. It is so rare to find a show where the main female character does not end up with the main male character. Please, please, please keep it that way.
Thank you! Greg and I are both married to engaging, realistic, and occasionally terrifying female characters. No damsels in distress in the picture. But we can't take the credit. The show is really the sum effort of a huge number of people, and a number of writers, several of whom are women. Not that men are incapable of writing women well and vice versa -- but having a diverse staff means you get an instant read on whether you're pitching a cliche. You're going to love the Bechdel episode we've got planned for season 3.
Favorite sci-fi novel?
*Ever think of writing comics?
Foundation. I feel like I just spent the last 10 years writing comics.
Are we going to see any former POI's pop up in Season 3?
We love to bring back POI's that really pop on our show. Zoe, Leon, Shaw, Root, to name a few. No doubt some familiar faces will reappear in Season 3.
Maybe some that haven't already reappeared? :)
Hi. Mr. Nolan and Mr. Plageman - my only question is: Is there any possible future in Person of Interest having a spin-off show or comic book.
Would love to do a comic book with POI (I get anxious if the phrase 'comic book' doesn't come up in my life at least once a day now).
Just found out that Person Of Interest is on the list of shows going to Comic-Con SDCC this year,,will you be wearing the "Toldja" T-shirts and will you have a bit of a teaser trailer for season 3 taped and in the can to show during your panel?
We were kind of hoping the 'irrelevants' would create their own.
Thanks for doing this Q&A and for creating the best show on TV. Kudos to all of the writers, cast and crew. Others have mentioned the great details such as wardrobe and music and locations. I also want to applaud the gorgeous cinematography and sets on the show. Kudos to everyone who works so hard on the details. The quality shines brightly.
Thank you! Our crew is incredible. They shoot out on the streets of NY almost every day, rain or shine.
Gentlemen - I'm a New Yorker and big fan (I actually used to work on Hunterspoint Avenue where you filmed Reese walking down in 2x04). Do you have any plans to incorporate NY fans into the show (maybe as POIs or a real life scavenger hunt/code decryption by Finch)?
In another note, with the recent news of PRISM coming to light, how will that affect the beginning of season 3 and where the series will go?
Thank you! Love NYC and especially our NYC fans. We incorporate NYCers every day when we're out shooting! We put the signs up and they walk right past em and shove our actors out of the way. Gotta love the city.
The shows mythology is engrained,,if the Words "Walk in the Dark" are mentioned we know the story of Stanton and Reese without the need of flashbacks also as in God Mode when Reese says "if I hadn't kept my mouth shut 7 years ago.." we know the story of him and Jess without flashbacks,,Finch and Grace likewise,Will you take us back there again,,to fill in more backstory,,quite a few arcs have been brought to a close but we still would like to see some answers like what was happening with Reeese during the gap in time between his surviving Ordos and his bloody wound on the bus ride into New Rochelle, In short will there be more backstory on our heroes?
We have an elaborate kickback payment scheme with actors whose characters have been killed off. We get a check, they get a flashback. But yes, we're also deeply invested in the backstory of all of these characters. I loved Lost. That show was able to jump around and grow the characters stories backwards and forwards. And it always eases the pain of the 'we're about to kill of your character' phone call to actors when you can remind them that everyone lives forever in flashback on POI.
I was sad to see that Nathan is (or is he??) really dead; I was hoping to see him show up again in real time vs. flashback. I enjoy Brett Cullen's work; he is equally convincing as a good guy AND a bad guy!
Great casting of everyone on PoI, the best, from the regular leads to the guest stars.
And about of Nathan, I am looking forward to the day when Will turns back up. :-)
Brett is such a great guy. He was giving me crap all season about how his character didn't really have to be dead. I pointed out there's a bust of dead Ingram in his first episode. We'll be revisiting his character again next season.
do you know anything from season 3 of POI yet? =D
Greg- What do you miss the most about NYPD Blue?
The writers. Everyone I worked with on that show has gone on to do interesting, challenging work. It was a real sink-or-swim environment for me coming up. Maintaining a high-level of writing on a cutting-edge drama is difficult in network television, just because of the sheer volume of episodes. That was a fun era when the most critically acclaimed shows were also network shows. And oh yeah, I also missed being able to say "bullshit," "douchebag" and have actors show their ass on network tv. The FCC changed all that after Timberlake flashed Janet Jackson's nip at the Superbowl.
Are the Irrevelents correct that Ernest Thornhill was a hat tip to "North by Northwest"? Can we call him Ernie?
Do you know about the "Payphone Time Machine" project in NYC? Are you geeked about it?
NxNW, featuring the character Roger Thornhill, written by one of my heroes, Ernest Lehman. Dude wrote one of Hitchcock's best thrillers and Sound of Music. That's a versatile writer.
You wanna give us some sneaky details for Interstellar? ;) It'll just be between me, you, reddit and the NSA
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