For my second sneak peek at the DVD series The Write Environment, I really enjoyed listening to and learning more about television and feature film writer Joss Whedon in Jeff Berman’s one-on-one interview.
Before I delve into the content of the interview, I want to offer Whedon’s chronological career timeline…
1989: story editor/writer on Roseanne
1990: co-producer/writer on Parenthood (1 season-sitcom; co-produced by Ron Howard, starring Leonardo DiCaprio, David Arquette, Ed Begley Jr. & Thora Birch)
1992: screenplay, Buffy the Vampire Slayer
1995: screenplay, Toy Story (collaboration w/3 others including Andrew Stanton)
1997: screenplay, Alien: Resurrection
1997-2003: creator/producer/director/writer, Buffy the Vampire Slayer (series)
1999-2004: co-creator/producer/director/writer, Angel (series)
2000: screenplay, Titan A.E. (collaboration w/2 others, including John August)
2001: treatment, Atlantis: The Lost Empire
2002-2003: creator/producer/director/writer, Firefly (series)
2004: creator/producer/writer: Buffy the Vampire Slayer: The Animated Series
2005: director/writer, Serenity
2007: director, The Office (2 episodes)
2008: director/producer/writer, Dr. Horrible’s Sing Along Blog (3-act online series)
2009: creator/producer/director/writer, Dollhouse (series debuts on 2/13/09)
2009: co-producer/co-writer: Cabin in the Woods (film slated to premiere in October 2009, directed & co-written by Lost producer/writer Drew Goddard)
2011: director/screenwriter, Goners
I will start by confessing that I was merely a casual viewer of Whedon’s shows (Buffy, Angel & Firefly), all of which have achieved cult status thanks to his notoriously loyal fans and new legions who have discovered them on DVD. That being said, as a sci-fi and huge Lost fan, I can certainly appreciate why millions of people have such fervor for all things Whedon.
For the uninitiated, I refer you to Whedonesque, which is a fantastic and organized fan site and online community; it is both sanctioned and visited by Whedon himself.
The beginning of Berman’s interview with Whedon begins in similar fashion to the one with Damon Lindelof that I reviewed yesterday; a casual introduction to the writing space that Whedon has set up for himself. In this case, he has designated a small house rather than a single room or office [it is not stated, but I assume that this house is entirely separate from where he actually lives]. It is a cozy little home with great natural lighting and bookshelves filled with reference and history books. The walls are adorned with comic book art and a top secret white board/story board. it is exactly the type of idyllic cottage that one would imagine a writer to have.
As I have stated before, I do not wish to recap the entire conversation. This 60 minute DVD is available now through the official site and Amazon, and I have no doubt that all fans of Whedon’s shows and films would love to watch and own this themselves!
From start to finish, Whedon provides fascinating insights into his multi-tasking mind, from a typical day-in-the-life to his approach to scripts. That he is a proud fanboy, sci-fi and musical theater geek only adds to his charm and my respect for his body of work.
This is not an original revelation by any means, but it occurred to me while listening to Whedon discuss the first script for the Buffy movie that his vampire vision preceded the current craze by over ten years; without Buffy the series, I’m not sure that the Twilight books/film and True Blood would be half as popular as they are now.
Whedon clearly identifies with all of his characters on the small and big screen, and has a collaborative relationship with the actors who play them. Although he sets goals for a season of episodes, the mythology cannot be locked in; he lets go and allows for surprises.
When asked about his preference for writing a film versus a television series, I absolutely loved his response: “TV shows are a question, and movies are an answer.” He enjoys creating a moment, which is easier to do in serialized television.
And now, for a few teasers. Whedon addresses the fate of Ripper, the story behind his Wonder Woman film scripts and working with/trusting FOX again with Dollhouse after the cancellation of Firefly.
So order the DVD now for yourself or a fellow fan friend. The in-depth, entertaining interview will give both Whedon acolytes and aspiring writers a unique perspective into the mind of this very accomplished writer and artist.