Getting Under the Red Hood with Director Brandon Vietti
RD: Do you find that it’s a balancing act between the action sequences and the emotional side of the story?
BV: Absolutely. I think the two complement each other. I think if you have something that is too heavily weighted with action than the action sort of becomes a blur and after a while you stop paying attention because it loses its impact. So you need that counter balance of drama to slow the picture down for a minute and give people something really interesting to lock into psychologically speaking. Strong characters with a dramatic interaction. Red Hood gave us that with the script; there was so much there to sink your teeth into. Psychologically things people could relate to, it’s not just superhero stuff, it’s pretty common everyday emotions we’re dealing with in Red Hood. Regret, dealing with failures, things like that. So it’s really important to play the balance between action and drama.
BV: The tone of Red Hood was really set by Judd Winick’s script. Obviously a very dark story. It had a very film noir feeling, which the Batman universe has always lent itself to that quite well. So film noir movies have always been a favorite of mine. I learned a lot about filmmaking from early film noir movies. I was a big fan of Bruce Timm’s Batman: The Animated Series; it’s largely the reason I’m working in animation today. I was so inspired by that. I loved the [Christopher] Nolan movies; I loved the reality there and the tone he set. And some of the comics. Kia Asamiya, the Japanese artist who did Batman stories, was a big influence on me as well. He had a very particular way of portraying Gotham City and all of Batman’s gadgets. He made everything big and over-the-top. He brought a great scale to the environment. That was something that I wanted to bring into this as well.
Gotham City was such an important character in this movie. There are so many sequences that are staged in the depths of Gotham City. I really wanted the backgrounds to be an important part and almost be characters in the movie. A lot of thought went into the depiction of the city, so we could capture the mood of the script and make the characters look good when they are fighting and interacting in the environments.
RD: What was your biggest challenge on this particular project?
BV: The biggest challenge was keeping up with the script for me. It was a great script and I really enjoyed working with it. It was so dramatic. When I first read the script I loved the drama and the tone of it and to me the challenge was just coming up with the visuals that would match that script and carry the words on the page.
We would do the storyboards and watch the animatics and that was the first thing on our minds – was this carrying the drama? Are we pushing things as far as we can to tell this story properly?