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What's the hardest casting choice you've had to make in your showrunner career?
Hardest casting choice?
Not sure what that means in context. Like we had two people and couldn't decide which one to pick? I can't even think of an example of that.
We've had some roles that were hard to cast. Goliath and Elisa come to mind, but once we found Keith and Salli, respectively, the decision was easy.
There have been roles where my first choice was over-ridden by TPTB, but it's always worked out pretty darn well, anyway.
1. Do you think that "quality of writing" is something that the average person might have a stronger opinion about compared to other subjective creative forms like art or music? Does that make it more likely that you'll get people complaining about the quality of the writing in a show rather than any other aspect of it?
2. Is it fair to say that a lot of complaints of this nature are ignorant of the many factors that go into making a show outside of purely creative decisions? Stuff like budget, scheduling or availability that might influence what's reasonably possible to do in a specific time frame?
3. Have you noticed these kinds of criticisms getting worse over time? I feel there wouldn't have been as many people complaining about "Hello, Megan" during the time of Gargoyles, or maybe even Spidey.
4. I get that armchair criticism has always been around and that social media has provided a bigger platform for it, but the recent negative reception to stuff like the ending of Game of Thrones or Star Wars The Last Jedi has made me curious about your perspective on this kind of thing.
1. I do think that. My hypothesis - untested, unconfirmed - is that in a literal sense, nearly everyone knows how to "write". They know how to grab a pencil, pen or keyboard and put words on a page in an order that is at least comprehensible to another human being. So there is, perhaps, a subconscious assumption that if they just set their minds to it, that they could write stories, too - as good or better as most of the professional writers out there. On the other hand, to take your examples, not everybody believes they can draw or make music. Those talents seem esoteric, special, unique. I believe they strike a bit more awe - at least generally - than writing does. So the writing becomes the easy target. Or at least the easier target. But, of course, I'm a writer that can't draw or make music. So it makes sense that I should believe I'm under attack more. Human nature. So take it all with a grain of salt.
2. I think that's very fair to say. (And this is reading a bit like I posted these questions myself in order to defend myself with the answers. Not that I'm complaining.)
3. The internet is... well... awful... in so many ways. And its spread and influence has increased over the years, so, yes, it is definitely getting worse. But it hasn't really changed. Back in the pre-internet days, I'd still get nasty letters (sent via the post office) on Captain Atom. And the basic percentage of praise to criticism to abuse is really about the same. It just feels multiplied by the internet. The quantity of feedback is exponentially larger. And, again, human nature being what it is, I can get literally 50 tweets of praise, which are then wiped out of my mind by one mean tweet.
4. Well, I hated the ending of Game of Thrones, too... and I had mixed feelings about Last Jedi... but that wasn't the point of your question. It definitely FEELS worse. The main thing that people don't seem to get is that I LIKE MY SHOW. Brandon and I like what we've done. Not every frame, mind you, but overall, we LIKE OUR SHOW. And we are making the show WE WANT TO MAKE. I don't mind that people don't like it. (It'd be lovely, I suppose if we had 100% praise for the thing, but I honestly don't expect that. Ever.) What gets on my nerves is the assumption that many "fans" (or hate-watchers) have that we should be making the show that THEY WANT US TO MAKE, and that we're failing because we're not MAKING THEIR SHOW instead of MAKING OUR SHOW. That does grind on me. You want to shout out: "GO MAKE YOUR OWN DAMN SHOW!! No one's forcing you to watch ours!" But, of course, that's not a particularly politic statement to make. And more hate-watchers are still more watchers.
In the time that you've been working in TV animation, you must have seen many changes in the industry. In terms of the "nuts and bolts" elements of making a show (storyboarding, animation, retakes, sound mixing etc), things must have changed quite a bit.
1. What aspects of production have become easier over time?
2. What has gotten more difficult?
3. Would these changes have more to do with changes in technology, your own level of experience in the industry or to the studio/property you're working with at the time?
4. Is there anything about the industry that was specifically different in the intervening decades with Spectacular Spider-Man or the earlier seasons of Young Justice that wasn't the case before or since?
5. If Gargoyles were to come back with you involved, obviously the most important thing is the continuity of the story, but to what extent would it have to change in its art or animation style to be made today?
1. I'm not sure "easier" is the term I'd use, but "possible" includes a lot of fixes we can make in editing and post-production on voices, on picture, on effects, etc. There are things we can do now that we flat out couldn't do before.
2. Nothing particularly springs to mind, unless it's the glut of content that makes getting attention for one's project more difficult.
3. Mostly, with changes in technology. I like to think that I'm better at certain things now than I used to be, too. Of course, the flip side of that is that I'm also more demanding than I used to be. Different studios have different strengths and weaknesses, but I haven't noticed one being stronger or weaker overall, and I've worked at a LOT of different places.
4. Post-production visual FX work became much more commonplace since. But it was largely not done previous.
5. That depends on all sorts of factors that are hypothetical. But there's no reason why - at least in theory - we couldn't simply use the same design style, assuming TPTB approved.
Hello! I was wondering if you ever watched Robert Kirkman's Invincible (2021) animated series? It's about superheroes and gave me the same vibes as Spectacular Spider-Man and Young Justice (just WAY gorier). I really enjoyed it, and one aspect of it that I absolutely loved was the longer episodes, running about forty-to-fifty minutes each. I know it's way above your pay-grade, but I was just curious, if you had the choice, would you want to extend your episodes to fifty-some minutes like Invincible? Or would you want to keep them a little over twenty minutes? Assuming of course you'd be able to still produce twenty to twenty-six episodes for each season, which Invincible didn't do at just eight episodes per the first season.
Anyways, Happy Halloween! I'm eagerly awaiting the next episode of YJ Phantoms! Artemis' arc is looking to be fantastic!
I haven't seen Invincible.
In some ways, I'd love to stop worrying about episode lengths entirely. But I'd still want the same quantity of episodes (or more). And budget is definitely a factor. It's been great on the last couple of seasons of YJ that if we have (within our budget) been freed from the constraints of a maximum length. But I don't feel like we've been hugely restricted by running between 22 and 27 minutes. Don't know that we need "fifty-some".
In your "big round of question-answering" earlier this year, someone asked you about why there was never a Christmas episode of "Gargoyles", and you mentioned that it was never a big enough priority, though there'd been some ideas for it.
This reminded me that Halloween was the only holiday to feature in "Gargoyles" (unless you count New Year's Eve in the "Bad Guys" spin-off) - it got in twice, in fact, once in "Eye of the Beholder" and once in "Clan-Building", and from there, a thought I'd had about "Gargoyles", "The Spectacular Spider-Man", and "Young Justice".
Now, though I think that both "The Spectacular Spider-Man" and "Young Justice" were both well done, they never grabbed me as much as "Gargoyles" did. (I suspect that this comes from my having grown up on medieval legends and history far more than on DC and Marvel super-heroes, so that "Gargoyles" war far more a "first language" for me than the other two series were.) But one feature of "The Spectacular Spider-Man" and "Young Justice" that didn't appear in "Gargoyles", a feature that really delighted me, was that sense of the year's cycle, traveling through various holidays, in particular (I recall that "The Spectacular Spider-Man" incorporated Halloween, Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Year's , and Valentine's Day, and the first two seasons of "Young Justice" - I haven't gotten around to seeing Season Three, so can't comment on it - covered the year's cycle - if a different year's cycle from New Year's to Independence Day than from Independence Day to New Year's, thanks to the time skip). Of course, I think it makes sense that those series would focus more on that cycle, since their leads were human (with a few alien leads in "Young Justice", of course, but who were interested in Earth customs), while the gargoyles would have less interest in human holidays (apart from Halloween,for obvious reasons).
More musings than an actual question, but it was an observation that I wanted to share with you.
I think you're right. But I also think it had a lot to do with an evolution in my sensibilities. Keeping track of time for me started to become a priority for me later in my work.
This is my first time writing in, so I just wanted to say thanks for having this website up! I can't imagine the amount of time it takes to answer everything. It's truly appreciated. I picked up YJ not long after the third season wrapped up, and I'm delighted I got into it when I did.
I especially have to thank you (and the rest of the YJ crew, of course) for Artemis. I was in a bit of a rough patch when I watched it first, and I saw a lot of myself in her. Watching her overcome her fears, especially in the first season, was a reassuring inspiration. There's been more than a few times when I found myself thinking of her as I braved through things. She means a lot to me, and I'm thrilled to see her still working things out now, even though she's been through so much. (I was beyond excited when we found out she's leading the Team now! I can't wait to see that!)
Anyway, I've had these lying around for a bit, so here we go.
1) You recently mentioned some of the organizations youâve reached out to for help with YJâs characters of color, cultures youâre unfamiliar with, and the LGBTQ+ community. Itâs wonderful to hear that youâre working with them! Which other groups have you worked with (both today and during the first and second seasons) and how does that relationship work?
2) What does a day in the life look like in the YJ acting booth? (I have to imagine itâs pretty fun with that particular group of actors and directors!) Any idea when youâll be able to record in person again?
3) From what I understand about acting (both voice and âregularâ), itâs incredibly important for actors to be able to play off of each other. How does that work with recording during the pandemic? Do actors record lines individually and then play off those recordings, or are Zoom meetings used to imitate the booth as much as possible?
4) One last question about voice acting: how much influence do your actors have over the characters' personalities? Are their ideas about the characters integrated into the writing?
5) Iâve always loved the glimpses weâve seen of YJâs interpretation of Atlantis. Many of the versions Iâve seen are basically just a very large underwater city with little oceanic inspiration. YJâs version seems to have been created with a lot of thought toward how the structure of the seafloor and plant life interact with it, as well as the intense influence of magic. The colors also often feel particularly vibrant and ocean-like. Given that youâre not one of the artists, Iâd guess you may not know much about how it was designed, but is there any insight you could give to choices made regarding Atlantisâs design and culture?
I've just seen the first episode of Phantoms, and it's looking spectacular so far. Good luck with finishing up post-production, and thank you again for your hard work!
1. I'm going to hold off answering which other organizations we've worked with for now, as I think revealing the organizations would by default reveal content. I'd be happy to answer this after the season's over. But I've already stated that we've been working with GLAAD and OUT and MPAC (Hollywood Division). Plus, we've run every single outline and script by Dr. Janina Scarlet (superhero-therapy.com and @shadowQuill on Twitter). She's helped us with psychological and therapeutic details, while also generally acting as a sensitivity reader for our work. And there's also Warner Bros' own DEI department, who've been very helpful. There are more organizations, but the rest will have to wait for now. As for process, it can differ slightly. But generally, we discuss the stuff we were thinking about doing with them and get their feedback. Then we show them our outlines. Then our scripts. Sometimes even animatics or animation. At each step, we listen, take their notes and make sure everyone feels good about what we're doing before we take the next step in the process. We don't do anything that doesn't work for our story and characters. But we admit to ignorance on many fronts and many levels, and we like educating ourselves and allowing that education to be reflected in the work.
2. Well, it is fun! (Or, you know, most of the time. Nothing's perfect.) But pre-pandemic, we'd bring a majority of any episode's cast in together. (Although our casts are SO big, that sometimes we might split that cast into two shifts, trying to get folks who have scenes together to record together.) Jamie usually has them do a first run through without much direction. Then he might dive in and nuance an exchange or a line. Or even a certain phrase. We like to have options, but we want to make sure we get at least one version that hits the nail on the head. And we also make sure that we have at least two versions of every line. Post-pandemic, everyone was recording alone. Which is still great but not quite as much fun. There's a lot of playing back what one actor did for the other actor. (Whomever went first, kinda gets to set the tone for any scene, in these cases.) As for when we'll get back to recording in person, I don't know. Not on Season Four. That's all fully recorded.
3. See above.
4. After an episode or two, we definitely begin to incorporate their performances into their characters. With regulars or our long time recurring actors, we often sit down and talk to the actors about their characters, and I'm not at all adverse to listening to their takes on their own characters and importing those ideas into future episodes.
5. We wanted to fully bring their culture and milleu to life. To see Posiedonis - which is all you've seen of Atlantis so far - as its inhabitants see it.
Thank you for watching!
Can you describe the recording process of Young Justice: Phantoms? Was it ENTIRELY done separately? Was it done via video-conferencing? Did each actor get the entire script or just their lines?
The first half - or nearly half - of the season was done the way we always have, with group recordings predominantly, while picking up the occasional actor at a different time, based on availability.
About halfway through the season, we temporarily stopped recording because of the pandemic.
So in order to keep our board artists supplied with vocal tracks and working (from home), we began recording scratch tracks, using myself, Brandon, voice director Jamie Thomason, Talent coordinator Laura Lopez, editor Cris Mertens, and my wife and kids.
Then we began recording actors individually from home. Some of these actors have fantastic home studio set-ups. Others, well... not so much. We weren't video-conferencing with them, but we were audio-conferencing.
Then we switched from BangZoom Studios for our records to Atlas Oceanic Picture & Sound, which had a booth with a door that opened right into their parking lot. That way an actor could drive up and stay in their car until called for. Then they could walk right into the studio without any contact with any other human being. The engineer was in the control room, and the rest of us - including Jamie - were all listening in from our homes. Then when that actor was done, the booth would be sanitized before the next actor entered. Some of our performers still worked from home, but about half came to Atlas. It was always the choice of the actor.
And every actor always gets the entire script.
In the recent IGN article you were interviewed for, you mentioned how Gary Krisel tried to nix the existence of Alexander. Is it possible there was some meta-commentary in The Gathering? Both you and Xanatos (with help) had to fight against a seemingly all-powerful force to save Alex? I'm probably reading too much into things, but I found it an amusing parallel.
All that was done before Gary suggested that Alex wasn't a great idea. (That's what saved him. He was already baked in, so to speak.) So, yeah, I think you're reading too much into it.
Why wasn't Gargoyles included in Kingdom Hearts 3? The more I binge Gargoyles from Disney+ the more I think of how it would have been just the perfect world for a DLC add on. It's just a shame it's not included and I really want to know why.
Then you are asking the wrong guy. I have no idea.
I have a simple question, who were the artists that did the concept art for the show? I have searched extensively but couldn't find much in detail, even after searching the archives.
I found Dennis Woodyard, Kazuo Terada and Hiroshi Ohno but not much in terms of concept art. Maybe it's because there wasn't social media platforms to share them to back then when the show aired.
From context, I assume you're talking about Gargoyles. This is all in the archives, but I don't mind mentioning their names again: