Genndy Tartakovsky Takes on Giant Robots
GT: Of course. When you start directing you start thinking about the end product. You're always thinking of every single step. If you're a storyboard guy, you're just focusing on what you have to do. But as a director and a storyboard person, I know what it's going to take to make this look the way I want it to look at the end of day. I can't pass the buck so to speak. I'm along for the whole ride. So it makes you conscious of making things too complex. If I can't draw it, who's going to draw it? There's also the confidence that if I can storyboard it, I can produce it.
GT: No, no, there is a lot of me in there. Brian is the storyboard supervisor and we went over with everybody each board and really helped it along. This is the first show that we had ever done scripts. So before we always started with a first board, so we did a lot more writing in the storyboard process. Where here we have really good tight scripts and we sit down with a board person and we start going through it from the script. After, I realized the script was like a first board pass because it was written really visually. So it made the second board pass even better. So Brian and I would go over it and punch up the action. Really the more difficult part of it turned out to be the comedy. To do simple staging and acting that took a lot of effort. To communicate a cool joke is much harder than to communicate a cool action sequence.
RD: What drove the decision to do scripts and not go straight to boards?
GT: Part of it was network, because they wanted scripts. But for us it was a much more complex character show than we have ever done and we have a giant story arch that we're following. To leave it to each storyboard artist was too much reign. We had to control it a lot more. We had to lay out the arch and work one each episode. I think it made it easier on the board people and easier on me to make sure that everything is more episodic and all the mythology makes sense.
RD: Will some episodes be one-offs and other deal with a larger mythology run over the whole season?
GT: Yeah. There is a little bit of mythology in each one, but there are definitely some that are one-offs like you said. There are some that really play out the story of the characters and where they came from.
RD: I'm assuming that the mythology was something nailed from the beginning and you had to work it into the episodes.
GT: We wrote the whole thing out. This was something that we wanted to do. We wanted it to be a little more operatic. And we wanted a bigger story for the characters to deal with emotionally. So to really feel the pulse of that and control it, we definitely wrote it all out. So when we broke our first 20 down, we marked each episode and said here we need this and here we need that.
RD: Was it a challenge to work those elements into the different episodes or did it come organically from how you planned it out?
GT: It's part organic, but it's also a challenge. We go through a few episodes and realized that we haven't even introduced this whole big element yet. So you start to sprinkle a little bit here and there. As we progress we started to get better at it.
We were also afraid at how episodic we could be as far as the network goes. Because before on Jack. we were not allowed to be episodic at all. So we had to kind cheat our mythology into that. But on this if a character has a girlfriend, they'll have that girlfriend for four or five episodes until they break up. It's very cohesive and there is a lot of continuity.