Here are Lester Lewis’ answers to your questions about Customer Survey!
Lester went above and beyond the call of duty in working on this Q&A because he and his wife just gave birth to a baby boy! Congratulations to Lester and family. :)
Q: Which came first the script or the director? | Leonora
Lester: The story was in place before we knew Stephen Merchant was on board, but he sat in on the final re-writes and lent his comic brilliance to the page as well as the screen.
Q: How was it working with Stephen Merchant? Did it make you nervous knowing that he was going to direct your episode? | Receptionitis
Lester: Any nervousness I had disappeared when I met him. Stephen is the coolest guy. As friendly as he is hilarious. The writers and actors all felt an instant connection with him. We wish he were on staff!
Q: How would you describe Stephen Merchant’s directing style? To me, it seems very unshowy – no tricks, no calling attention to the camera. I wonder if that approach allows the focus to be more on the writing and performances, instead of the camera work. Your thoughts? | joyray
Lester: He pretty much invented the docu-style that we use so it is second nature to him. But there were times that he was pretty specific about shots. For instance, the scene where Dwight pulls up in his Trans Am, grabs Jim, and screeches into his parking space to talk was pure Stephen. In the script, it was just going to be a conversation in the parking lot.
Q: Was Jim’s “don’t” intended for Dwight, Pam, or both? | Dana
Lester: Dwight, but interesting take. Hadn’t thought about it that way.
Q: The conference room telephone scene between Michael, Dwight, and Jim was pure gold. Knowing how Steve, Rainn, and John like to break during threesome scenes, how many takes did that take and was there more to that scene? | sorano916
Lester: I wouldn’t say those guys like to break, although it is inevitable when everyone is that funny. I think it took about an hour to shoot the scene and I recall having three or four takes of everything to pick from, but they blasted through it pretty well. They did improvise a hilarious alternate ending though. Hmm, I wonder if I can tell you what it is? It might end up on the DVD extras. What the heck, it’s just us, right? There was one version where Jim didn’t say to fire Dwight. Michael hangs up the phone and shouts, “We landed the Buttlicker account!” He and Dwight high-five exuberantly.
PS: Who came up with Bill Buttlicker?
Lester: All I can say is it wasn’t me. A group of writers was sent off to take a crack at that scene and it came back almost exactly as you saw it. I wish it had been me, though!!!!
Q: Were there any other options thrown around besides Buttlicker? Boobieface, perhaps? Assbucket? Fannypincher? | Molly
Lester: Keep going, I’m enjoying this.