Lauren Montgomery Talks Supergirl & Apocalypse
RD: Green Lantern was one of the best DC Direct titles in balancing character and action. How do you go about balancing the two? I know there is often a push for more action, because boys like action, however the characters are the most important part, especially when it comes to an older audience.
LM: We are doing these for an older audience. Bruce Timm and Alan Burnett care about the characters. Alan has been writing these characters for so long and he cares that the characters get enough time where you actually care about them. If you're sitting there watching a ton of action, it gets kind of numbing. And we don't want that. We don't want one big punch fest. We want people to care about the battles going on and who is going to win and who is going to lose. Because we have that storytelling base, we can do that for our audience. And our audience always responds to that as well. On Justice League Unlimited we had a lot of character stuff, it wasn't just punching all the time, and those are the ones that the audience remembers the most. It's the relationships more so than a really cool punching scene. If you don't care about the characters, who cares who is getting punched?
RD: You started out as a storyboard artist, how do you think that work helped your transition into directing?
LM: It's technically the same thing. Directing in animation, we don't have actors to move the camera around, we're just working with drawings and that's what a storyboard is. The storyboard is essentially our camera. As a storyboard artist you learn how to do it and the natural progression is into directing. I don't know how anyone could direct anything in animation without being able to storyboard. You have to be able to understand the visual aspect and how to put that story into pictures.
RD: When I talked to Brandon Vietti about Batman: Under the Red Hood, he said that becoming a director made him a better storyboard artist.
LM: Yeah, I believe that to be true as well. As a storyboard artist, you're only working with your work, but as soon as you become a director you become in charge of everyone on your crew's work. You start working with other storyboards and you start seeing the differences. It teaches you what makes a storyboard good and what makes a storyboard not as good. So if you see a weak moment you have to go and help improve it. I didn't know what a good storyboard or a bad storyboard was until I started directing, because all I knew was my work. Sometimes I liked it and sometimes I didn't.
LM: There are a couple of things. Number 1, it's a female story with Supergirl, which I always appreciate. I love to get the chance to work with any of the female characters, because we don't get that chance too often. And also it's an origin story and I've always liked origin stories, because it's the first interaction with that character. I like being able to handle that first time the audience gets to meet that character. It's fun to make that first impression. You don't have to follow any real precedent that was set by the previous movie. I get to make her character on my own… as long as she's not radically different; I can't turn her into something else. But I do get to form her personality a little bit by being the first one to handle her in a movie.
RD: When it comes to action — whether it be animation or live-action — it's kind of boys' club. So as a woman, what new perspective do you feel you bring to the mix?
LM: Just the fact that I'm female helps sometimes. I can't tell you how many times we'll go over the female character models and the high heel was drawn incorrectly. Or she's making a bad fashion choice. Some of those things can really help the guys. Some of the guys are really good at designing female characters and others aren't as good.
And also in the movies I noticed that the women would act in a way that a guy would want a woman to act, but not necessarily how a girl would react. I try to call them on it as much as I can. I'll say, "No girl would do that. That's crazy." I try to give as much believability and humanity to the women as I can, because that's what I know the most. And if I need any help on how a man would act I would have to go to them and ask, because that's not something I'm as familiar with. I can fake it pretty easy, but sometimes you need help.