Friday, March 23, 2012

CM_SetReport Chat with Jim Clemente - 3-22-12

Hotchniss: Okay, So, Jim, My dream is to be a real life FBI Agent, Would you be able to tell me how I should prepare? I'm in high school now, taking forensics.

Jim Clemente: Jim here. Of course you can do that. You have to stay out of trouble, don't do drugs, get a degree. And either get a graduate degree, or have three years of relevant work experience, then you can apply to the FBI. In fact, you can maximize your chances by becoming a lawyer, accountant, scientist, including forensic science, or language expert.

Tracey_Lane: Last nights episode was too awesome. Was this an actual case you wrote about or did you just think this one up? Excellent job by the way!

JC: Thank you so much. And really it's an incredible journey to work with the criminal minds staff. It was actually based on several cases that I worked during my career in the BAU. We always try to focus on a number of cases so victims and surviving family members don't get haunted by the crimes they had to suffer. Thanks for the kudos. It was a real team effort. Morgan's history is real… it was my history. It's how I became an FBI agent.

Cheeto-breath: How close is Criminal Minds to the actual set up of the FBI?

JC: Most of it is right on point. We don't however get to fly on the G5. Except I did get to fly on that jet when I went down to Gitmo, but the profiling that we depict and the types of criminals and how they victimize people is all absolutely realistic. In fact, we have to water it down for television.

Tracey_Lane: Can anyone who works for the FBI carry a weapon or is it limited to certain agents?

JC: All FBI agents from the time they are sworn in to the time they retire must carry their weapons, and their credentials and badges, at all times. There are however other jobs within the FBI that don't require you to carry a weapon. For example language specalists and crime Garcia.

arahm5: hi jim, superb episode last night. what other episodes from this season from other writers is your fav?

JC: Thanks! Wow that's a tough question. The first one that comes to mind is The Bittersweet Science by Janine. The intensity, the backstory and it played like a thriller.

Cmwonderlady: Great episode last night, it was my favorite this season. As an FBI agent, you know this for sure. Can two agents who work on the same team engage in a romantic relationship? Can a Unit Chief and a subordinate have a romantic relationship?

JC: First of all, thank you. I really thought the episode came out great, but it could not have been done without a huge team effort. The entire writing staff and the entire cast and crew and our guest starts were fantastic this week. In terms of intimate relationships, there are in fact FBI agents who are married to each other and work on the same team. The only instance when a unit chief and a subordinate could work on the same team is if they were married before they were on the same team.

Laurenreynoldsisdead: Hey Jim! Loved the episode, it was amazing! Anyways, I was wondering, how accurate is Criminal Minds to the actual FBI?

JC: Thank you. Criminal Minds reveals the inner workings of the BAU. The BAU is not typical within the FBI. Most FBI agents work within their division, the BAU as part of the Critical Incident Response Group works cases across the country and around the world. The only thing that isn't really accurate is the amount of time it takes for us to solve a case because we only have an hour on tv to do it we compress time. The methodolgies of getting there are very accurate.

Swon: The BEST episode of the season in my opinion, so thank you very much! I was just wondering why was it that the father was kidnapping the children? Was it from the stress of the wife having cancer?

JC: Thank you and good question. In the back story that we didn't get to, it could have been the trigger, but it could not have caused him to have that desire. He was actually a child sex offender with a very elaborate scheme to acquire and keep victims in captivity.

Swon: Jim, amazing job!!!! Do you still do work for the FBI or do you consult for CM

JC: I retired in Oct. 2009. I do work for CM full time. And it's been amazing spending more time with friends and colleagues at Criminal Minds. I am also developing other projects in the reality and scripted arenas.

Seakirsten: Do you like to write outside the episode structure typically employed by the show? Between "Foundation" and "Lessons Learned", I get the impression you enjoy using all the usual elements of a CM episode in unexpected ways.

JC: Yes I do. I actually write every day in my journal. And I have four different feature scripts in various stages of completion. I'm used to multi-tasking and I love the creative challenge of writing in different formats. I'm working on my autobiography as well. And thanks for picking up that I like to think a little bit outside the CM box. But what's great is, that box is ever expanding with the great writers we have on staff.

PleaseWriteEveryWeekJim: The Challenge Coin story Morgan told was very poignant. Seemed authentic too. Did you or anyone you worked with have coins like this? Thanks for sharing the story behind them.

JC: Wow! Another great question. It is an authentic story. And most Agents, and Military personel who work in harm's way carry such a coin. In fact all of the coins used in the show are actuall challenge coins of mine and my brother Tim... Also a retired FBI agent.

LLALALALA: Do you know an FBI agent like Reid in real life? Or is he one of a kind? ;)

JC: What makes you think it's not me???

Lonewolf: Do people who work at the real life BAU offices seem to view CM in a positive or negative light?

JC: The BAU Members and the FBI in General LOVE Criminal Minds. In fact they loved my first episode so much, the FBI asked me to write a pilot for the FBI. My brother and I wrote it along with Ed Bernero, it was called Washington Field. CBS bought it and made the pilot, but it didn't get on air.

Lonewolf: What success rate does the BAU have of actually appreheding criminals?

JC: Good question... We've never done an analysis on the success rate because many of the cases that we work on have complicated outcomes. But in general we work 25 open serial killer cases a year and we solve about 15 of them a year. The thing is, there are always more to fill in for the ones we solve, so it is a never ending process.

ChocolateDivine: Having been on the right side of the law professionally, would you consider portraying a fictional badguy on the show?

JC: I have done a cameo in all of the episodes I have written. Always in a small role as an homage to Hitchcock. I have no problem playing a fictional bad guy as long as the episode taught viewers a valuable and real life lesson. But, I'm afraid I might just be too scary for network audiences...

Tracey_Lane: Do agents keep their identity about being in the FBI secretive or does it really matter?

JC: Many FBI Agents work deep cover during their careers, including myself, and have to keep their identity secret. Otherwise, it is not a problem for most agents to be "known."

EmPress: Great episode! What are the best books out there about profiling?

JC: John Douglas' books are great. Mind Hunter is his first and it is iconic in the field. Roy Hazelwood's, The Evil That Men Do, is great too, And Robert Ressler's and Gregg McCrary's books are great too. Look for Jim Fitgerald's book coming soon...

NittyMcNitpicker: In your experience, are victims who fight back or remain tough and defy the killers the ones who survive more often? Or does it usually just get them into more trouble?

JC: Great Question. The answer depends on the type of offender they are up against. First Rule: If an offender is trying to take you to a location other then where they acosted you, the chances of them killing you at that other location increase dramatically. Fight them with everything you can to get away at the beginning of the encounter. You may not get another chance. Second rule: If the offender is a Sadist, he will get off on causing and witnessing your pain and suffering. They want you to beg for mercy and they will never give it to you. more rules to come in later episodes...

Zg: At which age do FBI Agents have to retire from their job?

JC: Mandatory retirement age is 57. But there are circumstances in which an agent can be kept on for renewable service for several years if they have special skill the Feds don't want to lose or there is a severe time of need.

Cephalophile: "Foundation" was awesome storytelling - the pacing of the case, how you kept us (and the team) guessing about the dad and his daughter's memories through the episode, and of course Morgan and Angel's scenes were beautiful. So now, a question - is the real BAU travelling as much as the CM BAU, or do you spend more time in the BAU offices? Thanks so much!

JC: Thank you so much! It was tyipical for me to be in three cities in one week between cases, training law enforcement and testifying as an expert witness. I was on the road 75% of my time.

Laurenreynoldsisdead: Do you use the term, 'Unsub' in the FBI?

JC: How do you think Criminal Minds writers found out about it. Yes, we use it. Just like any other governmental agency, we love abreviations! However, UnSchmuck is a total creation of the CM writer's room... The red herring offender we see in many episodes.

Laurenreynoldsisdead: Are there any FBI agents like Garcia, like how she acts or even dresses?

JC: There is no one on the planet quite like Garcia... That said, there are a few analysts in the BAU who are as zany and talented as she is.

NittyMcNitpicker: On the show, both Rossi and Hotch were divorced. Is it really that hard for someone in the BAU to maintain a relationship? Or was it just because of the nature of those particular characters and their spouses?

JC: HELL YEAH!!! About half of the Agents in the BAU are divorced or never married. The job is demanding. The lifestyle is unpredictable. And the ability to cross examine others and knowing difinitively when someone else is not telling the truth, make any relationship difficult to say the least.

Swon: Jim, do you know when your next episode of CM will be?

JC: That's not up to me. They have been incredibly generous with allowing me to write the ones I have and they do want to give others a chance too. So... we'll see. But be assured that I have many many more stories in mind. Hey Eveyone... Thank you so much for your loyalty to the show and so many wonderful questions... Let's do this again real soon!!! MUCH LOVE, Agent Jim


  1. Best CM chat ever, and thank you Jim, for the wonderful episode, Foundation. I hope this is an indication of more to come. More team, more profiling, more mystery, more compassion...

    Excellent, old-school CM episode. LOVED it!

  2. Dear Erica Messer,
    Please let Jim do a couple episodes next year. Foundation was one of the best yet! He is amazing!
    Sincerely, a devoted CM fan.

    1. Rick Dunkle said all the writers get two, so why don't we make it four for Mr. Clemente? Or more? Heck, why stop at all, let's make him HEAD writer! Failing that, maybe he could teach a remedial class on classic CM writing... ooooh, I like that idea! Bring everyone back into the fold. Awesome.

    2. Rick Dunkle said that each writer gets two episodes, so why don't we ask for four from Mr. Clemente. Why stop there, let's just make him HEAD writer! Failing that, maybe he could teach a remedial class on classic CM writing! Oooooh, I like that idea. Bring everyone back into the fold. Awesome.

  3. Thank you for the chat. And here are the reasons this episode was great. It remembered that the main characters are the members of the BAU. NOT the unsubs they profile. We got into the mind of the unsub not by long scenes of watching the guest star playing the unsub, but scenes of the profilers PROFILING the unsub.

    It gave focus to the victims. And not focus in the sense of just showing them as unsub fodder. We got to see them through their own strength and through the love of their families. I always take for granted that the team does care about the victims and they do the job for them. But,in this episode, we got to see it. This episode really showcased what Hotch said in Tabula Rasa (season 3). That they do it for the victims.

    Last, but nowhere near least Morgan. The writing and acting were both beautiful and real. His strength in allowing himself to be open and vulnerable about his own trauma was magnificent.

    This episode should be studied to see all the ways it got things right.

  4. "This episode should be studied to see all the ways it got things right".

    Oh please oh please.

  5. Totally agree with Angela. The other writers should take note of how everything in this episode worked. They should also take note of all the viewers' comments. Jim's writing is superb. It's not just that he understands the BAU, as a former agent, but he understands what we want to see. We want to see the team doing their job, not the unsub committing heinous acts.

  6. After Janine's last episode, I thought that the show I loved was dead, but this episode gave me hope. It was the best episode of the last two seasons. It was like good old CM again. I loved that we finally got some real profiling and that we had the team each showing their experience, personality, and expertise (with the exception of Reid who seemed to be absent or have no lines throughout almost half the episode). Was Matthew unavailable for filming or something?

    I would have liked a comment on why JJ now knows some Spanish since she was never shown to have any knowledge of it whatsoever in the past-- even in this season, but that didn't stop my enjoyment of the episode.

    The thought that the daughter might be wrong about her father or that she might have been remembering someone else was good. There was a good solid mystery, and even though we heard the name of the suspect, we still didn't see it confirmed until near the end and we didn't see the unsub harming the boy.

    The scene at the beginning with the tired father and his family goofing off really cracked me up. So there was an element of humor.

    Garcia wasn't overused. I loved that they all worked together and kept having to give more things for Garcia to search for and we got a slow reveal throughout the process without having a last minute info dump from Garcia. In other episodes that is what is usually done and you'd think that just any group of random people could do the job of the BAU so long as they had someone with access to the FBI's database (and some hacker skills).

    It was chilling when it was implied that the father built a new house in the original neighborhood every time he killed a boy so that he could bury them under the foundation.

    I do wish there had been a little more insight on what triggered the unsub to start kidnapping and killing. Was he abused as a child? Was it suspected? Maybe that information was not known. I did love that he seemed like a perfectly normal guy that nobody would suspect of those horrible things.

    I wish the other writers knew how to balance profiling and the personal stuff for the team like this. We got personal stuff about Morgan with it being integrated into the case and used somewhat to an advantage. There was no distracting outside scenes that did not fit with the flow of the episode or the case.

    If this one had explained the motives/stressor for the father and had more Reid it would have been near perfect.

    Other episodes have had too much focus on showing us the unsubs doing horrible things, but still not really profiling them or explaining why they are the way they are.

    Jim definitely needs to be put in charge of quality control for the profiling part.

  7. I'm starting with my one and only complaint about "Foundation" so that I can then focus on the positive.

    My one complaint was that Reid was missing through almost half of the episode. Some have theorized this was because he was prepping for "Heathridge Manor". I don't know if that was the case, but even if it was, it doesn't explain why he didn't have one line in the van after Prentiss & Rossi showed up, but instead just sat in the back looking at something in his lap.

    Ok, now for the compliments and there are many. This episode felt like what CM used to be like before its decline. It focused on the profilers instead of the unsubs, the profiling instead of the gore and violence. Many of the team members got to have significant moments that felt a part of the overall story, instead of disjointed. I had the opportunity to care for the victims, especially Angel. There was mystery; we were kept guessing. Even when there was a suspect, we still didn't know if he was the unsub or not. Characters felt in character and I got to see the Morgan I remember loving instead of the jerk from last week. This episode interwove Morgan's backstory beautifully with the storyline. A lot of time was taken with him and Angel, but I think it was time well spent.

    JJ speaking Spanish didn't bother me because it was extremely basic Spanish and she didn't sound fluent. Many people would know what she did and, since there wasn't someone else there who could speak the language fluently, it made sense that she might pull out some high school Spanish to test the theory that Angel wasn't responding because Morgan was speaking English.

    This was probably the best episode of the season. Jim did an excellent job and I hope he'll be writing more episodes, emphasis on the plural, next season. I also hope that Erica Messer and the other writers take note of how well this episode has been received by the fans and why and apply this to future episodes in order to bring CM back to what it once was.

  8. I've commented on the episode, but now I'd like to take a moment to comment on the chat.

    I'd like to thank Jim Clemente for the chat. Though I think he was far too modest in emphasizing that this episode was so good because it was a "team effort" more than once, I think he demonstrated what a class act he is by doing so.

    I appreciate that Jim gave such thoughtful answers and shared so much of his personal experience. I realize the types of questions that went through were different than many from other chats because of Jim's background, so there wasn't as much need for the oft used "people will die" and other trite, overused, and glib comments that the other writers seem to rely on so much. Nevertheless, it was lovely to have such polite, professional, honest, and complete responses.

    My only real complaint about the chat was that there were often 2, 3, perhaps even 4 questions selected from the same person while many others didn't get even 1 of their questions selected, even when the content and tone of the questions may have been similar. That's rather frustrating for fans who are participating live, have shown up early to the chat, posed numerous questions in the hopes that at least one will get through, and sit through the hour watching other people's get picked repeatedly instead. I understand that not every person will get one of their questions put through, but to pick so many from the same individuals can make others feel like they shouldn't waste their time coming when they can just read the transcript the next day. So, I'm just suggesting to spread it out among the fans a bit more evenly in order to encourage continued participation by all.

    1. I was one of the people who had more than one question asked. I wonder if some of the questions I asked were just unique or something. It may have been due to the volume of questions. Before a chat I usually come prepared with at least 20 questions and sometimes I think of more during the chat. I'm not trying to be a hog, but I really do have all of these thoughts and I just throw things out there. I don't even expect to get things asked. Sometimes I get bored and throw out really silly questions that I don't expect to get through and they put them through and I'm sitting there thinking "Wow, really? They let the one about poutine through, but they didn't let the really good intellectual ones through?"

      I did notice that some of the questions that were asked by other people were things that I had asked as well. So maybe there were multiple people asking the same question and they just happened to pick certain ones randomly or were trying to divide things up.

      I do feel badly for people who don't get their questions asked though. Especially since I've talked to some of them afterward and was told what questions they asked and I really wanted to know the answers. And it really makes me cringe when I submit a question, realize there's a typo, and ask them to ignore the last one and submit one with proper spelling and grammar but they post the one with mistakes. LOL. I'm thinking "Yay. I look like an idiot!"

      It is unfortunate, but I guess they just don't have the time. I wish I knew how they chose the questions.

      I did really like Jim's responses. Other than the silly response to the only Reid question that got through (which was not unprofessional or rude), I think he was serious about giving us honest answers and didn't toot his own horn or be rude to the fans.

      I had to ask people what Bittersweet Science was about because I didn't remember it. Turns out it was one I didn't like because of some of the plot and line delivery from the unsub. Plus I watch MMA fighting and they would have called that last fight MUCH sooner.

      I wonder if the writers get to read all of the questions and choose them or if the moderator chooses what to let the writer see.

  9. This was a great chat, but also a great episode. Everything I've been tired of was gone, everything I've been waiting to see again was back. I think it was a vast improvement to everything we've seen the last 2 seasons.

    I really hope the writers are paying attention to the feedback from this episode - fans want more of THIS Criminal Minds.

    Great chat too - Jim had some great answers and a lot of good insights. Here's to more CM episodes for him.

  10. #CriminalMinds "Foudation" Wonderful episode, very well done and different from the classic, a pleasure, thank you Jim Clemente <3 and thank you for this great chat :)


Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.