Patience is a virtue in Hollywood and with ten seasons under his belt on CSI: Crime Scene Investigation as a post-production coordinator and associate producer, Carlos M. Marimon is finally making his TV writing debut. His premiere installment, “Exile,” is an episode years in the making with multiple revisions and extensive research along the way. A series known for infiltrating special worlds and cultural territories, Wednesday’s chapter delves into the world of singing and consequences from fame with the death of a Cuban singer’s sister. The first-time writer caught up with Shane Saunders to discuss his first TV writing experience, the creative process for a spec script, and tease some future episodes.
CSI Files: This is your first episode, but you’ve been with the show for many years. Working in the post-production office and not in the writers room, how did the opportunity come up?
Carlos Marimon: We’re not physically located in there, but I’ve always had an interest in writing. I’ve been working on spec scripts over the years for CSI and other shows just trying to practice my craft. At one point I finished a CSI spec that I felt was good enough to show them, so I gave it over to Don [McGill] and Carol [Mendelsohn] and they liked it. The show had developed a slightly different set of characters from the time that I wrote it, so we tweaked it and rewrote it somewhat according to their notes; they had some great suggestions. We got it to the point where it was satisfactory and then went ahead and filmed it.
CSI Files: What was the time frame from when you first wrote the spec to having it produced?
Marimon: It’s been at least two years.
CSI Files: How different is the final product from what you initially had? Is “Exile” the first spec you pitched?
Marimon: Yeah, it basically is. We changed some details, characters, and some key plot points, but it always was set in that world.
CSI Files: Not much is known about the episode, other than it delving into the death of a singer’s sister and some more developments on the Hodges (Wallace Langham) and Elisabetta (Catrinel Marlon) side. What else can you tease about the episode?
Marimon: This is the part where I have to be careful. [Laughs.] Very quickly we are thrown into a cultural universe that presents several possibilities for suspects all the while the singer is sort of freaked out by what has happened to her sister and having to look over her shoulder trying to figure out who’s against her and who is on her side. The CSIs spring into action to stay ahead of the evidence and find the source of the threats to the singer’s life.
CSI Files: And Elisabetta isn’t in the episode, but obviously there’s some continuing tension between Hodges and Morgan (Elisabeth Harnois). What will we see from them in this episode?
Marimon: You’ll basically see a little more of what that means to each of them. I’ll leave it at this: you’ll see more of that tension develop. That’s basically all I want to say about that. [Laughs.]
CSI Files: How often were you in the writers room for this episode? Did you have a shadow on set helping you out along the way?
Marimon: I definitely had a shadow on set the whole time–the very talented Melissa R. Byer. There was an initial sort of reduced writers room situation in the sense that since this was a spec that had been completed, then a small group of people that got together for us to re-break some of the details and get it to a different level, and then I went off and wrote it on my own.
CSI Files: Both you and director Jeff Hunt started out in different positions on the show and you both have been able to move up. Did the two of you share your experiences and have that collaborative, “Wow, I really got to where I want to be”?
Marimon: It was kind of interesting that way because, like you said, I started on the show in Season Three and he was already a member of the crew at that point. It was weird and thrilling to share my first experience writing with someone who, like me, had been on the show for a very long time and had seen the show really grow and become the amazing juggernaut that it is.
CSI Files: When you fleshing the story out, was there a character you felt more comfortable writing?
Marimon: I don’t know if I gravitated toward any particular character. The amazing thing about our cast is that they’re all fine, fine, and amazing actors, and embody their characters pretty distinctively. They all have a voice, a clear voice, and it’s one that because of their work I was able to get into their characters’ heads more easily. That’s a testament to their ability.
CSI Files: Will there be any continuing complications in the Grissom (William Petersen) and Sara (Jorja Fox) area?
Marimon: We don’t really visit any of that in this particular episode, but it will come up soon.
CSI Files: Alimi Ballard is back as Officer Crawford in this episode, does that mean Brass (Paul Guilfoyle) is MIA?
Marimon: No, Paul is in it as well! But, yes, Alimi is in it and gosh, I can’t say enough about that guy. He’s a fantastic actor and tremendous human being.
CSI Files: What are your duties as an associate producer in post production?
Marimon: I have my hand in a little bit of everything post-related. I also happen to deal a lot with the graphics on the show. In other words whenever the CSIs are on a computer, I tend to be heavily involved with what is displayed on those screens. As far as traditional post is concerned dealing with the editors on a daily basis, the sound process somewhat and making sure our looping is properly scheduled, and then viewing the episode in its entirety before it hits the air.
CSI Files: Have you talked with Don and Carol about writing an episode next season?
Marimon: That is certainly the hope. The future will hold what it holds, but I am very hopeful.
CSI Files: You were mostly involved with just this episode, but what can you tease from the episodes after yours?
Marimon: All I can say is we have some really amazing and fun stories. The upcoming Sara episode is an amazing character-based episode that’s really tense and thrilling, Episode Sixteen is a poker tournament that is just classic CSI, and a David Phillips [David Berman] episode is going to be very fun and very surprising to the audience.