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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.
Hi Greg! I'm such a big fan of you and the spectacular team's take on Spider-Man. I grew up with Spectacular, (and young justice!) and it came back as a big inspiration in my life as an artist and writer after insomniacs fantastic games and rereading the classic comics from when I was a kid. You have created my favorite versions of these characters by modernizing them and giving them that classic feel in ways that blow my mind. Im a pretty classic spidey fan (i love lee/ditko/romita) despite being in my teens and I value cohesion like your take did. I have a question however from an aspiring writer to a professional;
If I think that a version long passed (yours) was the best version of something, what can I do to personally find a way to make my own take, despite having a similar mindset? Should I be afraid to be similar?
I would really value your opinion and again, thanks for your fantastic and inspiring work. Really hoping to see more of your stuff!
Well, first off, thanks.
Secondly, as a professional, I really wouldn't spend much time (even much idle brain time) adapting something that you don't own, unless you're (a) being paid to do it or (b) you have a reasonable hope of being paid to do it. And even for (b), I wouldn't recommend doing very much work until someone said, "Yes! I love where you're going with this. Let me pay you to go further." Instead, I'd recommend coming up with your own original thing. Blow us away with that. And then maybe will want to trust you to adapt something that is theirs, e.g. Marvel with Spider-Man.
But finally, to get to your question, I guess I wouldn't sweat it too much. If I adapt Lee/Ditko or Lee/Romita comics, I'm still borrowing from what came before. And I'm not stopping there, nor am I shy about "stealing" from any of the source material from any era. Because, that's NOT stealing. It's adapting. I'm sure my adaptation had many similarities with others that came both before or after Spectacular. Of course it did. We're all going back to the same source material. So how could it not?
As a live action film producer/director, Iâve often thought some ideas might be created as an animated series. What guidance would you give to someone looking to branch into animation? Assume I have no existing relationships.
Your best bet is to go through your agent, who should be able to get you meetings with animation execs.
Hi Greg. I'd like to ask for some career advice.
1. I would love to write for animation. Besides writing as much as possible, what steps should I take that would make me a better writer for this art form?
2. I love animation, but cannot draw nearly good enough for any type of decent storyboarding. Is this something I need to fix in order to write for animation? I'm good at describing what I want to see, but I'm worried not being talented at drawing will hurt my chances.
3. I'm curious on your stance in terms of writing CAMERA ANGLES and TYPES OF SHOTS in the script. Traditionally, I've been taught to leave that to the director as much as possible. How do you tackles this when you write?
4. In action sequences, how detailed do you go? Do you give a general description for the director or an actual play-by-play. For example, is it more: "they trade punches, parrying each other until Clara gets an opening and hits Harry across the face." OR "Clara goes for the uppercut, but Harry leans back and dodges, then attempts to sweep her legs. Clara jumps over the kick, then grabs his shoulders, and head butts her opponent. She makes up for the previous miss with a fist to the face." (Just came up with that, so obviously not the best examples but hopefully that suffices).
4. What should I do to get hired on a show? I know that connections are key, but as someone who has no connections, what's the best thing for me to do? I have a spec of another show and a pilot for an original series. I'd love to be a writer's assistant, but that also comes about through connections. I have occasionally messaged a creator on social media and asked if there was any opportunities on their show, but I know that's hardly a good method to pursue a career. Any guidance on this aspect would be greatly appreciated.
Thanks for taking the time to answer these fan questions.
1. Sebastian, I'm going to refer you to the ASK GREG Archives on "Writing" and "Writing Tips" and "Biz, The". No offense, but I've answered this basic question so many times, it's kinda pointless for me to right it up again.
2. I can't draw stick figures well.
3. When I began in animation, we used to do much more directing in our scripts, as opposed to live action scripts, where you are advised to stick to Master Shots. Nowadays, we limit that calling of shots and angles, etc., to specific needs, e.g. we need a close-up on that light switch being turned off or a wide shot to reveal who is in the room or a tight close-up on a character's lips turning up into a cruel smile, etc.
4. I go for the specifics, because it expands page count. And page count equates to time. And if you're script is too long, you'll have to cut. So we try to get an accurate sense of time in the script, even if the board artists chose to choreograph the fight a bit differently.
5. Pre-pandemic, my first question would have been, "Where do you live?" And if your answer was anywhere other than Los Angeles, my second question would have been "When are you moving to Los Angeles?" Now, all the old rules are out the window, at least for the time being. I'm not sure what to recommend. Some of the advice in the archives should still be helpful. Otherwise, we're all just going to have to wait and see what happens, post-pandemic - assuming we ever get post-pandemic.
As a writer and creative, you've been responsible for some of my most cherished childhood and adulthood favorites. Given your experience, I wanted to know what one's approach would be when they come up with a story that they could see manifesting as an animated series? Do you flesh the whole story out as if writing a novel, or do you try and create episodes on paper and tell the whole story; is the process entirely different altogether? I would love your insight on this sensei. Thank You
Are we talking about selling or producing? They're two very different processes.
Sorry to put you on the spot but...
Roy Thomas alleges here, https://www.bleedingcool.com/2019/04/18/an-open-letter-to-dc-comics-from-roy-thomas-on-paying-and-crediting-whats-due/ that DC Entertainment has not paid him royalties for their use of Artemis who he created. How do you feel about this?
Did DC ask you to change Artemis' name to Tigress or was it just a story/character decision?
DC did not ask us to change Artemis' name to Tigress. That was a purely story-driven decision. (And her name is still Artemis Crock.) Besides, to my thinking Roy created BOTH Artemis and Tigress (i.e. the Tigress version of Paula Brooks).
I worked as Roy's assistant editor at DC in the mid-80s. He was very good to me. And, of course, I personally think he deserves royalties on the Artemis character, no matter what she's called.
In the Bleeding Cool article linked above, he's wrong on only one point: when he says that virtually every other character in YJ has creators listed. Unfortunately, that's not true. No matter how many creators he sees credited on our show, the vast majority of characters still do not receive creator credits - or only include some but not all of their creators. How they decide who does and doesn't receive that credit (and the royalties that go with) is a complete mystery to me. I have been pushing back against this from Day One... to no avail.
Now, I might honestly get in trouble for posting this. And it won't change anything, anyway. So a big part of me is hoping that Ask Greg doesn't have much of a reach.
Or that I'm politically smart enough to delete this post.
But I'm not.
Having watched the first half of season 3, I can honestly say that the writing on Young Justice is as sharp as ever. As always, some episodes like "Evolution" and "Nightmare Monkeys" are better than others, but that's going to be true of any show.
However, I recently re-watched "Depths" from season 2, and I have to say that the quality of the animation on Outsiders is just not at the level of the animation on seasons one and two. What would account for this? Is your budget smaller? Did you switch animation houses? Or, do you not agree with the premise of my question?
Don't get me wrong. I think the animation is okay. It's just not as good as prior seasons.
Our budgets are technically higher, but are (with inflation) more or less the same. We did switch animation houses. But we had to. The world has changed. There's way more production in Seoul than there used to be. It's way more competitive for studios and artists over there.
But basically, I don't agree with the premise of your question. We've had mixed animation success in every season, with strong episodes and weak episodes and everything in between. I'd put the animation on "Nightmare Monkeys" up against anything we did in Seasons One or Two. And there are episodes in all three seasons that had us pulling our hair out over the animation. In the end, however, I think they all cleaned up respectably.
Hi, Greg. I hope you are well. This is a follow up to an earlier question about what not to say while working in the entertainment business.
Would you say that it is best not to publicize your political opinions while working in the entertainment business - especially if they go against the mainstream? Would you suffer some kind of retribution if higher-ups don't like what you have to say?
Let me give you two examples. They are my examples, everyone. I am not saying Greg even has an opinion on either of these issues. Let's say you disagree with Israel's treatment of the Palestinians and say so on an online forum - not as an employee of Warner Bros. but as a private citizen. Or, let's say you think corporations have too much power over the U.S. government and that corporate donations to political campaigns ought to be banned.
Would publicly expressing such opinions be a career ending move? Should you limit such discussions to friends and family?
I'm not too shy about expressing my political opinion. I'm a liberal Democrat and that's hardly a secret. And, GENERALLY, I work in a liberal industry, so there aren't a ton of repercussions professionally.
On the other hand, I try not to be obnoxious about it. And "politic" about when I bring things up. There are appropriate and inappropriate times. Again, most of this is about common sense and being polite.
On the third hand, I'm not that interested in using my position to make online political statements. I AM interested in using my fiction to make those statements: hopefully with some finesse, if not subtlety.
Most people who know me would say I'm book-smart, but not street smart. (I'm a little like Dustin on Stranger Things.) I have an unfortunate tendency to not be politically smart and blurt out exactly what I'm thinking. Sometimes it gets me into trouble.
How do you deal with that as someone working in the entertainment industry? What do you do, just for example,if someone asks you what you think about the current Spider-Man cartoon, and you happen to think that it sucks? What do you do if somebody asks you what executive producer John Doe is like, and you happen to think John is a jerk? Do you lie? Do you massage the truth? How do you do that? Can you give some examples? As someone who will probably always be socially inept, I'd love to know.
Teach me, oh wise one.:)
Mostly, it's about (a) thinking before you speak and (b) utilizing common sense.
A lot depends on who's asking me. Do I know this person? Do I trust this person? What does this person do?
If it's a reporter, I'm going to be way more circumspect unless I'm confident I'm speaking off the record.
If I think a show (or Producer) sucks, I'm not likely to say that unless I know the person I'm talking to and trust that person not to spread it.
Some of this is political. I don't want to burn bridges; I have to work in this town, etc. But some of it is just being polite and considerate. I don't review other pop culture for a living, and I don't need or want to be a jerk, tearing down the hard work of other professionals just because it's not to my taste.
Having said that, keep in mind, I haven't always been "wise" about this stuff. I had a massive learning curve as early answers in ASK GREG will probably reveal.