In the show The Office, especially this scene, how did it work out the way it is? What I mean is the entire set of dialogues that Michael & Dwight say after the watermelon falls on the car is dependent on whether the watermelon hits the car or not.

So, was this scene improvised? Or was some CGI involved in making the melon fall on the car? Or multiple scripts were made and a certain one had to be followed depending on the course of the melon? Or were a lot of takes done and the shot which contained the right one was taken (this seems absurd because keeping throwing watermelons until it hits the car is not economical in my understanding)?

The core element of this question is that the dialogues are dependent on the falling of the melon. The melon falling towards the edge of the trampoline and then going towards the car seems like a thing of chance, hence uncontrollable. And I assume any film/show maker would want things controlled. Hence, the question, what was the trick here (if any)?.

  • Few takes, lots of practice. It's economical. They could buy thousands of watermelons. And it would be cheaper than the pay of the person who had to clean after each try. – SZCZERZO KŁY Nov 17 '20 at 9:40

Mashable wrote an article based on what was shared by Jenna Fischer and Angela Kinsey in episode 49 of their Office Ladies podcast:

  1. 12 watermelons were purchased for the trampoline test scene, and the first 10 or 11 takes didn't go well, so Daniels thought they'd have to use a CGI watermelon in the end.

  2. Miraculously, a watermelon finally bounced off the trampoline and onto the Chrysler 300 in the parking lot. The melon reportedly dented the roof and broke the electric moon roof, which cost the production team $6,500 to fix.

From the transcript of the episode (the "Kent" they're referring to at the start is Kent Zbornak, a producer on The Office):

JENNA FISCHER [00:46:58] Yes. I also had a question about the watermelons.

ANGELA KINSEY [00:47:03] Oh OK.

JENNA FISCHER [00:47:04] And I was not alone. Lauren Brightwell, Meghan Keall, Ciara Begley, Phoebe Bono and Maddie McKee all wanted to know, "How many watermelons were used for the trampoline test scene"?

ANGELA KINSEY [00:47:18] How many?

JENNA FISCHER [00:47:19] Kent told me that we purchased 12 watermelons. But around take 10, Kent said to Harold Ramis, I think we're going to need to CGI the watermelon thing because none of the watermelons that he was throwing off the roof were coming anywhere close to hitting the car.

ANGELA KINSEY [00:47:35] Yeah. They talk about it in the commentary that they, they weren't getting it until take number 11.

JENNA FISCHER [00:47:42] Oh, Kent said it was the last watermelon that it was take 12.

ANGELA KINSEY [00:47:46] Oh, Harold-.

JENNA FISCHER [00:47:47] Did they say it was?

ANGELA KINSEY [00:47:47] Harold Ramis said it was take number 11.

JENNA FISCHER [00:47:51] Oh well. So guys, it was either take 11 or 12. I guess by some miracle it landed on the trampoline and it hit the car perfectly.

ANGELA KINSEY [00:48:00] And I feel like Steve and Rainn's expression like is real because they were like, "Oh, my god, we finally did it".

They return to discussing the scene a little while later:

JENNA FISCHER [00:50:49] So fun. Well, I have some more news about the scene before we move on.

ANGELA KINSEY [00:50:53] OK.

JENNA FISCHER [00:50:54] The car that they hit was a rental. It was a Chrysler 300 picture car. Guess how much money it costs them to do this gag?

ANGELA KINSEY [00:51:04] Oh, my gosh. I don't know, how much?

JENNA FISCHER [00:51:07] They dented the roof and they broke the electric moon roof of the car.

ANGELA KINSEY [00:51:12] From that one watermelon?

JENNA FISCHER [00:51:14] Yeah. It cost 6500 dollars to fix it.

Note that the timings in the transcript don't seem to correspond with the podcast as presented online. I assume that advertisements etc. have padded the episode. The actual time where this section starts is approximately 50:30.

  • I pity the poor props team… "Cut. Reset." followed by half an hour of cleaning down the mess from the last take & making everything look shiny & new again. They do it without complaint, of course, but it's often quite a task. I remember hours of them cleaning up breakaway [sugar-glass] glasses for a big Russian drinking scene, complete with throwing them at the floor each take… what a sticky mess that makes, & how far the shards can travel. – Tetsujin Nov 17 '20 at 11:35
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    The other thing, of course, is that the subsequent scene on the rooftop doesn't have to have taken place even on the same day [presumably it was , but it didn't have to be].. Once they got the money shot, we never see another pan shot to the car, only one cut-away. The dialog after the stunt, therefore, is totally independent of the stunt shot itself. Sound fx cover the join - car alarm going off etc. – Tetsujin Nov 17 '20 at 11:40
  • @Tetsujin There is a talking head interview with one of the other characters outside, and in the background you can see the car with watermelon parts on the top of its roof. Of course that doesn't necessarily mean that it was done on the same day, but on the other hand why even bother to spend time on such a sight gag that most of the audience will miss unless the car is already there? – BCdotWEB Nov 17 '20 at 11:53
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    I just meant for purposes of the OP's question - was it improv or a split script depending on the outcome? No, it was a single script, many takes to get it right, then the rest of the scene they could just take their time over. The two are [in shooting script terms] unconnected. – Tetsujin Nov 17 '20 at 12:08

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