azn_jack_fiend (azn_jack_fiend) wrote in tw_gleeclub,

Notes on the Jane Espenson and Doris Egan Interview Session at 1PM today

Are you ready to be BEREFT OF HUMAN WARMTH?

Read further dear fans.  My brief notes in brackets.

Interviewer: How did the two of you come to be involved?

Jane: Working on Caprica, got a call from agent, said I would make time because I was very excited about it. Meetings with RTD and Julie Gardner to discuss 10-episode arc. I recommended Doris Egan.

Doris: At this point, assumed it would be on Fox. I said "we could even get John Barrowman to reprise his role!" Jane assured me it would be "REAL TORCHWOOD," not a remake, and it would actually be picking up where old one left off.

Interviewer: what about writing for American TV? What was the pressure there to change Torchwood (e.g. adding more explosions).

Doris: Did not have worries, did not feel pressure.

Jane: Starz said, "Don't be afraid to make it complicated."

Doris: "I have never heard that in my life."

Jane: "They are not scared of anything." They never said to play it straight (sexually). We are maintaining the bigness of Children of Earth.

Interviewer: Who is running the show?

Jane: RUSSELL. He is the only showrunner. Studio execs are very hands off.

Interviewer: Pitfalls in writing?

Jane: I used the word elevator and apartment and RTD had to correct me. [RTD BRITPICK] I picked up pretty quickly.

Doris: I was worried about the rhythm of certain lines when it came to writing for Welsh characters.

Jane: "We're playing with miscommunication and culture shock and owning all that stuff." RTD and Jane and Doris had a big waistcoat/vest confusion. RTD said "The vest! That's what you call that sleeveless white undergarment, right?" No, we call it a WIFEBEATER. RTD said "OMG that can't be right."

Doris: I got confused between scouse (Liverpool) and Scots.

Interviewer: Had you seen Torchwood?

Jane: Had seen S1 and CoE but not S2. Picked up S2 and watched all that.

Doris: Was a fan already, loved CoE.

Interviewer: Was CoE treated as the pinnacle of TW?

Jane: I was told CoE was the one to study. I compare it to Buffy, how S1 and S2 were more monster of the week but later seasons had more linear arcs.

Doris: I wondered if we could get as intense as CoE. I compare it to working on House. I recall working on an especially intense storyline in House and wondering if we could ever top it.

Jane: Talks about ambition of project. RTD already had this particular story idea rolling around his head before he even knew he could do it with Torchwood. [JUST LIKE CoE]

Interviewer: Was this an RTD idea or a plan?

Jane: It was more than a notecard, less than a bible, about the level of a pitch. RTD knew where it would start and end.

Doris: By the time I came in, the arc was already loosely established, "had a shape." "We all sat down in the room and built a sandcastle."

Jane: Things moved and episodes were developed. "Huge amounts of freedom to play." "Very collaborative, great room."

Interviewer: How many writers?

Jane: John Shiban, John Fay, ??(Gerald) Scott, Doris Egan, me.

Interviewer: is it complete? I've been reading your tweets.

Jane: I was doing a quick rewrite on Episode 7. Episode 8 is heading into 3rd draft, Episode 9: RTD is very happy with it. RTD still has to finish writing ep10.

Interviewer: You went to Wales?

Jane: We didn't get to go.

Questioner: Compare/contrast writing process with Joss Whedon, Ron Moore and RTD.

Joss, Ron and RTD are all amazing and work totally differently. Joss is very involved, and often you have to wait for him to have the inspiration. Very controlled right from the ground level.

"Ron does it almost by remote control." Starts off with very intense session, then lets people alone and pitches stuff over the phone and stays kinds of hands off. RTD didn't even want to have a "room". He was also very hands-off and wanted to do more one-on-ones. However, we had a room all together for a month, but have gone to one-on-ones now.


We melded the British and American process. I'm used to beating out episodes scene by scene in the room. Everyone knows what is going to happen: then one person writes it. Whereas in the UK, people just "go off and write it." Much more individual. So to accommodate our American working style (more scene by scene) they had a room, but the UK people felt "we are beating it to death." They were getting sick of that room style.

"Rewriting there is like the room here. The script becomes the pitch." UK writers are more used to rewriting than preplanning room-style.

Everyone came together and discussed how the system worked. I was worried about having to do a ton of rewriting. "We ended up with exactly the right amount."

The hardest thing to do with different people writing individually, how do you know what is going on with each other's stories?

What if you took the first 6 people in this room and told them, go off on your own and write 6 pieces of a story? "You take the first twenty pages of the movie, you take the next twenty pages."

Now that you have a taste of working in the TW universe, do you want to work more in TW and even in DW?

Would be delighted, but right now "Torchwood has my heart." We are floating ideas for more seasons. Trying to think of stories that have the same heft for Season two. [SHE CALLED IT SEASON TWO (not five) and there is no mention of RTD wanting to leave].

Doris: It's hard to stop.

Questioner: Lot of info leaked. How did casting call change writing of cast, since cast has changed since call?

Jane: Race of two characters switched, but nothing had to change. "We had written the characters colorblind so we didn't have to change anything." [AJF: DO NOT LIKE HEARING THAT; WILL COMPLAIN AT LATER DATE]

Now that we're hearing the actors, that has influenced our thoughts of the characters, but we are not going back and changing the voices to match the actors, because the actors are fitting the prewritten stuff.

Questioner: I'm a fan of Tru Calling. Talk about that?

Jane: Doris and I met on Tru Calling. However, it got cancelled just as it was getting good.

Doris: Decisions on whether shows live or die are usually not based on quality. It's too hard to predict.

Jane: Very tricky concept and writers would "lose the thread" often in discussions in the room. "It was a very hard show to break."

Questioner: Many of your shows have been quite dark and have left me "bereft of human warmth." Early Torchwood was very slapsticky in places. Is the series moving in a more broadly dystopian or comedic direction?

Jane: The tone is very much like CoE and it WILL leave you bereft of human warmth! However the trademark wit and humor is still very much there. Whether that makes the darkness feel lighter or all the deeper because someone is trying to lighten it up? That is up to you.

All we need now is for Ep 10... RTD famously did not write episode 5 until last minute and had not decided how it would end. How is it going for 10?

Jane: Because we kept RTD in the room for a month, we know how episode 10 is decided. However there is room to elaborate and improvise. But we have a solution; we know how it works.

Questioner: How much time did you have to work on eps?

Jane: Exactly the same as we are used to. Two weeks for a draft, which is standard for a draft.

Doris: If it had been Britain, time would have been longer.

Jane: In Britain there are more drafts and rewrites. I have been getting a lot of time for rewrites on TW, I am up to 5 or 6 drafts on some eps, which is more UK-style number of rewrites. I keep getting notes back from RTD "MORE" and "DEEPER" [LOL]. And I love getting notes that challenge me, and I have also gotten that feedback from Joss and Ron.

RTD gives the most praise!

Doris: That's why we would do anything for RTD.

Jane: Every RTD email has the subject line HOORAY and starts with "You are marvellous".

Doris: Now I talk to my dogs the same way as RTD talks to me; I always say HOORAY and YOU ARE MARVELLOUS to them.

Jane: It has changed the way I will work as a showrunner in future; I will give my writers more praise. As a writer I like it because it makes me feel less guilty about the script and more eager to do rewrites.

Questioner: in CoE they mention the Doctor a lot. How does the shadow of the Doctor work in America where Obama turned into the Master? Is there an alternate world?

Jane: It's the same universe. The Doctor is around. The vagaries of the story are not calling for a lot of that. It reminds me of splitting Angel off from Buffy. We phased off the amount of references to Buffy on Angel. The shows came to have different tones so it made sense if they drifted apart. I don't know if RTD would say the same though.

Doris: We don't talk about the Doctor in the season but we don't deny. Everything is consistent with the experiences that characters have had before, but it is not relevant to the story.

Questioner: Earlier questions about bleakness and conflict... where do you walk line between wallowing in angst and exploring conflict?

Jane: That's why there is a substantial time between CoE and MD so that most of the wallowing happens in between. We don't want to write too many scenes of people moping and whining.

Questioner: Will you compile your blog into book form?

Jane: is where I used to keep an active blog of writing advice. I would like to turn that into a book, but I need more time.

Questioner: A lot of people are concerned that the past 3 seasons of TW will not be referred to. How much will be incorporated?

Jane: Starz gave us the note to not look back too much; to look forward. It does have to be accessible to people who haven't seen prior seasons. But there are references to CoE, but they are not rehashed so that new viewers won't feel like they missed too much to understand the present. We found a balance.

Doris: The characters are all quite busy. It all seems to fit.

Jane: I don't think you'll feel disrespected and there will not be an ABJURING of what went before.

Questioner: Did you read the Writer's Tale? Did it affect you?

Jane: Read pieces of it.

Doris: Nope.

Questioner: What shows do you like that you don't think about how you would have written differently?

Jane: Project Runway, Glee, that feel different from the type of shows I usually work on, otherwise it feels too much like homework watching a show sometimes. Really enjoy new versions of songs on Glee.

Doris: Don't have a lot of time. Only respectable show I watch is Mad Men. Otherwise, just watch HGTV if I want to relax.

Jane: I was watching Hoarders this morning and laughing at the woman whose bed was buried in books until I realized I was watching the show from a bed that was buried in books.

Questioner: Many of your shows have dealt with sexual identity. What is your take on this in TW?

Jane: We're in favor of it. We were happy to hear that there would not be an Americanization of that, and JACK IS JACK.

Doris: There is no doubt as to his sexual identity.

Interviewer: Is that liberating not being a showrunner/producer?

Jane: Yes. I ran Caprica and it was very stressful having to worry about so many things that could go wrong. Was so happy to just be WRITING again. We go to set to watch important scenes but don't feel we HAVE to be there. In Caprica, there was always a crisis in the writers room in LA. Showrunning is hard! RTD is cheerful, responsive and never worried.


Interviewer: What is the show you wanted to work on but didn't?

Jane: Lou Grant. Liked the writer protagonist a lot.

Doris: Would like to do a new Blake's 7. Still very fond of it. Of course there's Doctor Who. I like the idea of writing for X-Files. Though it may not have been fun.

Jane: X-Files didn't have a room.

Doris: I heard it was rough.

Back-and-forth conversation about strange unpleasant rigid rules regarding writing for X-Files.

Questioner: Do writers get typecast?

Jane: When I went from sitcoms to dramas my title dropped and I had to start out at the bottom again. I had a meeting about Glee, and the runner was surprised to remember I even wrote sitcoms in the past. But I am known for sci-fi, even though I have written all different kinds of things.

Doris: My agent kept looking at sci-fi shows and it felt like I was getting "ghettoized." I tried to write a pilot and kept being told to write a legal show.

Interviewer: The biggest blockbusters are often genre films, yet TV producers are reluctant to make genre TV.

Jane: That has always confused me. You don't want to be associated with the thing that makes money in movies?

Doris: Once a network has a genre show, they feel like they can't do more than one.

Jane: In tough economic times, networks program from fear. Every show was DOCTOR LAWYER COP. Even with Glee a huge hit, the shows didn't go to musical or teen.

Doris: Even when they do scifi, it is still from fear. You have to sneak the good stuff by. Hard to do complicated stuff. "I understand the word vampire."

Interviewer: That's why they invented pay cable.

Jane: I am impressed with Starz.

Questioner: Going to culture clash... Jack's character was born in the future, has been in Wales, but unfamiliar with America?

Jane: Sort of. No specific lines about how he doesn't understand America, but he uses Britishisms and anachronisms occasionally. He says "sod it" in one scene.
We are keeping in mind his particular background and how that would affect his language

Interviewer: Will there be an acknowledge of his background?

Jane: There's no long exposition thing reestablishing every detail of his background. Not ignored, yet not made a big meal of.

Interviewer: A surprise scene for new audience regarding his immortality?


Interviewer: Thanks.

Tags: hand wringing, i love you jane espenson, interviews, lamentation of their women, news, rtd, series 4, series 4 news, spoilers
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