In This Episode
On this episode of X-Ray Vision, Jason Concepcion and Rosie Knight ! In Strike Watch (1:00) Jason and Rosie give updates and thoughts on the historic double strike from WGA and SAG-AFTRA. In the Previously On (13:43) Jason and Rosie discuss SDCC without studios and why it was fantastic and dive into the box office phenomenon of Barbenheimer. Then in Hive Mind (29:51) X-Ray Vision is thrilled to welcome writer, director, and producer David S. Goyer (The Dark Knight, Foundation, and more) to discuss his career, his inspirations, his writing methods, and more. Then in Nerd Out (1:11:55) more fan thoughts on Indiana Jones.
Note: Imprecise timestamps are an unfortunate side effect of a new ads system. Thank you for your patience as we work to resolve this issue.
Tune in every Wednesday & Friday and don’t forget to Hulk Smash the Follow button!
Nerd Out Submission Instructions!
Send a short pitch and 2-3 minute voice memo recording to firstname.lastname@example.org that answers the following questions: 1) How did you get into/discover your ‘Nerd Out?’ (2) Why should we get into it too? (3) What’s coming soon in this world that we can look forward to or where can we find it? If you’re sending a theory, feel free to send only a summary of your theory (no audio needed) for Jason and Rosie to react to on air.
Follow Jason: twitter.com/netw3rk
Join the X-Ray Vision Discord
Follow Crooked: twitter.com/crookedmedia
The Listener’s Guide to all things X-Ray Vision!
Consider donating to the Entertainment Community Fund here.
The Entertainment Community Fund’s Support Staff Donation page.
Variety article explaining what is and isn’t allowed under SAG’s strike rules.
Deadline article detailing Execs’ plans to let writers go broke.
Jason Concepcion Warning. This podcast contains spoilers for actually nothing this time, but references to Foundation Season two airing now on Apple TV Plus. Hello, my name is Jason Concepcion.
Rosie Knight And I’m Rosie Knight.
Jason Concepcion And welcome to X-ray Vision, the Crooked Media podcast, where we dive deep. Been to your favorite shows, movies, comics and pop culture.
Rosie Knight In this episode, Strike Watch. Then heading into Previously On, an SDCC scene report and a little talk about that Barbenheimer box office. In the Hive Mind is an interview with writer, producer, director David S. Goyer. And in the Nerd Out, some thoughts on Indiana Jones.
Jason Concepcion Coming up, Strike Watch. The historic double strike continues and some updates here. Dwayne Johnson, who we have been tough on on this podcast, has a has come up big. We talked about in the previous episode how important it is that the most powerful and successful members of the WGA and SAG have been supporting have been in this fight to support, you know, some of the people who are on the lowest rung of the ladder. And here is Dwayne Johnson, who has come through with a historic seven figure donation to the SAG fund per variety during the COVID 19 pandemic, the SAG-AFTRA Foundation work to provide financial relief to many unions, 160,000 members via the foundation’s Emergency Financial Assistance Program, which will again be used during the strike. And just in recent days, it has been announced that Dwayne made a truly historic donation to the fund.
Rosie Knight Yeah, I think like you’d made a great point when we talked about the strike for the first time, which is like, this is the thing that makes us love comic books is like the people who are most powerful, who have the power looking after the people who don’t. And in this reporting, that was something really interesting, which I think sums up the power of why a union like this when it works like this is really, really great. Because it was saying that Courtney B Vance, who’s the SAG-AFTRA Foundation president and executive director, Cyd Wilson actually wrote a letter to the 2700 of the union’s highest earning actors being like, Look, we need money like you all rich, give us money. And I’m like, That’s exactly how it should be. And I love that Dwayne was the one who stepped up and was like, Well, I’m giving seven figures, so who else wants to jump in? So I’m ready to see more rich people giving money to this because, like you said, this is for the workers who are going to be in a situation where they’re not going to make health care this year.
Jason Concepcion Yeah.
Rosie Knight The $26,000 that they need to make annually is not going to happen. And that could even be if they were still working, that might have happened anyway with the way residuals are. So it’s really great this is happening. I’d love to see it.
Jason Concepcion George R.R. Martin. Our good friend George R.R. Martin, has weighed in on the strike. The King, in his latest entry on his Not a Blog blog, he has weighed in on the strike, calling it, quote, the most important of my lifetime. He continues, No one can be certain where we go from here, but I have a bad feeling that this strike will be long and bitter. It may get as bad as the infamous 1985 strike, though I hope not. Now, of course, George has been a member of the WGA since the mid eighties and he also continues with updates about House of the Dragon, quote, House of the Dragon is shot mostly in London, a little bit in Wales and Spain and various other locations, which is why filming is continue. The actors are members of the British Union Equity, not SAG-AFTRA, and though Equity strongly supports their American cousins, British law forbids them from staging a sympathy strike. If they walk, they have no protection from being fired, breach of contract or even sued.
Rosie Knight That terrible, terrible, terrible law. It’s really strange, too, because England has a history like as George actually says in this blog, one of the major two parties is called the Labor Party is built on the idea of protecting workers. But that has changed as parties move more centrist. And it’s really interesting because the subways in England, we call it the tube, right? They have an incredibly powerful union, The Transport Workers, and that the fact that their union is so powerful has kind of been used to turn unions sentiment in the public to be like, oh, well, they’re getting it and you’re not. When the big reminder that we all have about unions is if you see someone in a job and you see them getting good benefits and going on strike to get better pay and they get paid better, then you don’t ask why they’re getting that. Ask why you’re not going on strike to get it, you know? So it’s kind of that. Yes. Yeah, I was really I was actually even shocked, even though I knew the union protections weren’t strong, I didn’t realize they were. You can get fired and sued by HBO, Max, if you walk not strong.
Jason Concepcion Absolutely. Absolutely nuts.
Rosie Knight Also wait. I just want to say as well, because this is a great this is shows how scared the studios are right now. George R.R. Martin, his overall deal with HBO was suspended.
Jason Concepcion That’s right.
Rosie Knight On June 1st, which they’re doing with a lot of people. But you don’t expect him to be one of them.
Jason Concepcion I think they’re doing it. I will say it. It seems like they’re doing with everybody. They’re taking the opportunity to not pay people. Now, there is a there’s a significant calendar date coming up in August sometime, which is the I’m not sure of the exact day, but it will be the point at which contractually the studios have the opportunity to cancel some overall deals completely. Well, by claiming force majeure, as has happened this happened last time and you would expect them to do it this time. You know, one of the talking points you hear is, oh, this you actually likes this early part of the strike because they want to save money. They want to get rid of deals that are in performing. I’m sure George will not be among those whose deals are canceled. But yeah, I think everybody is not is everybody on an overall is not.
Rosie Knight Yeah, they’re cost cutting.
Jason Concepcion And some of them may be maybe done away with in the coming weeks. SAG approval. SAG has granted approval for 39 productions to continue during the strike, including two films from the to the Artistic Darling studio, A24. The list includes two projects. For me, 24 is the independent production company. The titles are Mother Mary, starring Anne Hathaway and Michaela Cole and Death of a Unicorn, starring Paul Rudd and Jennie Ortega. So basically SAG is kind of signaled that indie projects that aren’t, you know, they were they’re going to like forensically look through their accounting. But anybody that’s not taking money from the studios and not is not going to be distributed by any of the major players is truly an indie movie. And as in the case with A24 studios who agree tacitly to the WGA and SAG’s demands, it says, Well, we’ll go by, we’ll go by what your proposals are. Now, we’ll just willingly do that, are allowed to continue shooting. So if A24 question is if A24 can do it, why can’t the rest of them? Yeah, we’ll see where this goes.
Rosie Knight Yeah. What’s what have you been on the picket line obviously. What’s the feeling been on this. Because I’ve seen it’s been quite controversial. Some people are like yeah, A24 doing it. That’s amazing. But some people are also like, well this is giving the biggest name actors paid work when people are on strike who are kind of the lowest rung workers who really need that money.
Jason Concepcion I it, it’s a little bit of a wait and see I think people I think everybody on. Stands the idea, which is one support to the independent producers out there, truly independent film number one, which is just a good thing to do. And number two, try and create these divisions by saying, hey, if you if you agree to our proposals, we can serve them right away. Like, who wants to? Who else wants to come in? You know, that’s how the.
Rosie Knight Oh, that’s yeah.
Jason Concepcion Notably the the agency campaign from a few years ago which I won’t delve into. But part of how that eventually resolved is, you know, the studios one by one saying, okay, fine, we’ll work with you if you were working if we And so if they can peel off some of the members of the AMPTP, that’s all for the good. That said, I think that there is. There’s also some. Okay, well, let’s see how this goes, because I thought the idea was we’re not working. So we’ll see.
Rosie Knight Yeah.
Jason Concepcion The AMPTP released a 23 page document a few days ago. We’re recording this on July 25th. They released this document on July 21st, and it had their version of the, I guess, last few negotiation rounds with SAG-AFTRA and their proposals and counterproposals. You can find that in various places. But The Hollywood Reporter had a good writeup of it. But there’s one thing that I wanted. So one of the things that, of course, has been a sticking point is the the issue of revenue sharing, you know, a.k.a. residuals, which is how many writers and actors, you know, keep the lights on when they’re not, you know, in the months often, you know, significant amount of months between jobs and the AMPTP is position is that they don’t want to pay for it or they don’t want to pay those anymore. The you know, they say, well, the business has changed. You know, tech has come in, it’s Netflix, Apple and Amazon, and they have different cultures. Their culture is based on secrecy. They don’t want to give up the streaming numbers. Any kind of revenue sharing, sharing in the success of a project would necessarily involve the sharing of the viewership numbers, and they don’t want to do that. So in their kind of counter to SAG’s revenue sharing proposal, the AMPTP statement says, quote, The union is proposing that performers share in the rewards of a successful show without bearing any of the risk. The union proposes to share in success, but not in failure that is not shared one. This is the way it’s been done in the book. Yes, of course, like that. The actors are not putting up their own money and mortgaging their houses so that, like, you know, the project can go through. That said, throughout the entire history of TV, this is this is basically how it’s been done. It’s been understood. Yes, of course, the studios are making the capital investment, but anything that succeeds beyond, you know, a certain set point, then it’s time to share in the wealth. The AMPTP now says, well, that’s the old thinking. We’re not going to do that anymore. I don’t think that the the unions should accept that. But number two, this idea that because that the actors are not taking on a form of like scaled capital risk is actually completely wrongheaded. First of all. A lot of this is a fight for actors and writers to be able to, one, make their year, which is been which is something that’s gotten harder and harder. Making year essentially means making enough money through the Guild through guild work to qualify for health insurance. Anybody who has struggled to figure out like, where is my health insurance coming from? How am I going to get it? Can I keep it? What am I going to do? Understands that, like living in a world in which one you’re trying to make it as either an actor, a writer, and two, trying to figure out, okay, do I need to get some kind of straight job in order to get benefits? You’re taking a risk in your life just going out of the house without health insurance and trying to get it one to the amount of a large part of this struggle is about the amount of free work that goes on in this industry, whether it’s actors spending their own money and time to send in a self tape, which, you know, part of the complaints that actors have is these self tapes are becoming more and more intricate with like lighting and like scenes. And now it’s like not everybody has the resources to do this. All of which is to say actors and writers take on significant risk. It’s not capital risk in the same way that the studios do, but they take on plenty and they should absolutely share in the success of a project when it succeeds.
Rosie Knight Yeah, completely. And also, I mean, you talk about self tapes. I also saw that there’s been a movement for people to get paid for auditions because legally and contractually you are supposed to be paid for. They’re supposed to already, but that hasn’t been happening for a really long time. So even these base protections that you would hope these actors are getting for this alleged small investment of time that they’re giving, the studios haven’t been paying them anyway.
Jason Concepcion That’s right. Well, the strike continues and we’ll be covering here and next revision Up next. Previously On.
Speaker 1 <AD>.
Rosie Knight It was SDCC,just gone. Our first SDC since Twilight took over Hall H and invented Hall H culture that there hasn’t been a major studio presence inside the convention. Because I will say when you go to San Diego, they always have activations. They have things that people can do without tickets you can sign up online and there were still a few of those I believe turned up. I believe Hulu turned up with that kind of stuff. But inside there were no major Hall H panels, there was no DC movies, there were no Marvel movies. There weren’t even any big TV panels, aside from a couple of little premieres where there wasn’t any talent, apart from maybe a director who was able to turn up. But I have to say San Diego was bumpin. It was incredibly busy. Babb, who’s an incredible pop culture analyst and comic book journalist at Pop Blast, did a great write up about how she spoke to lots of different retailers.
Jason Concepcion Yeah, I read that. It was great.
Rosie Knight Like Silver Sprocket, one of our favorite indie publishers. They said they had their biggest preview and I ever, and preview night’s usually a pretty quiet night, mostly for industry folks. I spoke to multiple different exhibitors who said it was the biggest year they’d had. Brooks Books was also quoted in Pop up. Yeah, so basically what happened?
Jason Concepcion Funk Funko, I believe historic.
Rosie Knight Also the Marvel booth, they had a they had like a marvel merch booth that apparently did really, really well. Basically what happened was because people were not in the hall H queue lines and there were not six, whereas some people were like, yeah, they were on the show floor. And you know what I have to say? They were also in the panel rooms. I did three panels, all of which were busier than most panels I’ve ever done. But the one that really stuck out to me, and I think this is representative of a lot of people’s experience, I did a panel with web tune called A Golden Age for Women in Comics, and the idea is was to highlight the women have always been making comics, but they’ve just been erased from the narrative. And now, thanks to Web two and thanks to incredible indie publishers like Black Jersey Press, the publisher, Jimmy La Raza, was on the panel. Women are being recognized for making comics, even though they’ve always been. That is the kind of panel I’ve done at San Diego before, about like disability or about different aspects of representation. And you get an eager crowd, but not necessarily packed room, right? Those rooms can hold like two or 300 people are Golden Age Women in Comics panel, which did feature Rachel Smyth, who makes Lore Olympus, who is arguably one of the most famous cartoonists in the world. So I’m giving her credit for how many people came as well. But that was a one in, one out panel. It was standing room only and they had a queue outside to let people in. And I started to hear the other people. That was a queer horror panel, and that was the same thing where they had a queue outside. So what happened with Hall H not being there is it drove people into the show floor, it drove people into the convention center. And the coolest thing is people just were excited. The vibes were great. I didn’t see anyone who was disappointed or who wasn’t prepared for the fact this was going to be comics focused and it was just a really wonderful experience. Also, I will say there was a lot of great strike support. There was lots of cosplayers with strike signs, actually, like Duncan Crabtree Island came on Saturday to speak on a panel about AI and voice acting and kind of advocate for the voice actors. And there were people giving. I know Danny Fernandez, one of my friends in the pod, she was giving out a lot of strike pens. And one of the coolest things was they had these signs that were like SAG signs and they said, Support the strike, carry this sign, and people would just hand them off to each other. So you’d see like Deadpool carrying it and you’d see and it really kind of opened my eyes to the fact we obviously care about this stuff, like deeply, not just because we’re involved in it, but because it’s something that we care about. We care about it because we love comics we care about because we love to be in movies. We want people to get paid. I don’t think the studios realize how widespread that mentality is that you can have a kid in a comics accurate Deadpool cosplay because there was a lot of comic accurate cosplay because people didn’t want to do movie cosplay because they felt like they were supporting Strike Studios. It was really heartening not only to see the love for comics, but also to see people recognizing that they understood why this DC was different. It was really cool and I would say if I was in charge of SD CC, I’d be having very different meetings with the studios next. Yeah. Like how can you how if you want this platform, we don’t need it. But if you want the platform of being on Hall H, how much are you going to invest in the convention? How much can we use this your resources to make this an even better place for comics, for the museum, for artists who can’t afford an AI style table? Because the truth is Hall H not being that did not impact how. Right. Aside from positively for smaller press and artist alley people who felt like they especially by the end of the weekend, I heard that Saturday and Sunday it was almost like on the first two days folks were walking around and kind of being like, okay, I’ve never really been on the show, so what am I going to buy? Like budgeting it out like you kind of do? And apparently Saturday and Sunday, those sales just went absolutely crazy.
Jason Concepcion That’s great. That’s great. And it’s you know, it’s interesting. Now I’m kind of reflecting on the fact that certainly in the Hall H era. I have never, never once heard someone talk about the kind of Hall H culture and immense lines and what it takes to get in there with any kind of warmth. No. You know, it’s like.
Rosie Knight I don’t want to queue out there for two nights.
Jason Concepcion Yeah. It is only complaints about a slow whole rigmarole of, of getting through that and it’s nice to see. That was almost like a turn. The clock back movement of this, the energy and the community is still here. It’s not going anywhere. And to your point, maybe there is a conversation about like what the relationship will be in the future between the studios and Comic-Con, and hopefully that conversation can make the experience of Comic-Con kind of just better.
Rosie Knight Yeah, and I you make a great point because I think something that was really special. So Dorian Parks, who’s really great, who’s a host and a kind of journalist in the same space as he moderated the Spider-Man two panel, which was about the video game. Right? But what was really interesting was so many it was in Hall H and so many people who would never have got to experience will H got to experience it because that wasn’t necessarily the two day wait. So I think there’s a lot of lessons to be learned. And the thing that made me the happiest was the my worst case scenario was like, people won’t come or they will come and they’ll be really mad and it will affect the people who’ve invested thousands of dollars who are indie cartoonists, who know that this is the time that they can make, they can make the bag that we can. That can be the one show you do that really makes you money. And it turns out it was the complete opposite. And it was just an absolute delight to be there. And because people were on the show floor and there weren’t whole lines. San Diego was actually pretty chill to walk around. So, yeah, it was it was overall just wonderful. And I’m hoping that we learn a lot of great lessons and kind of see them come into play more as we go ahead.
Jason Concepcion Up next, let’s quickly talk about the insane Barbenheimer weekend.
Rosie Knight Wild.
Jason Concepcion Okay, so Barbenheimer weekend has come and gone. Barbie is currently at 160 plus million and climbing. Oppenheimer as well is around 80 million ish and climbing. Both movies are handily beating their projections. And the movies are back, folks. Here’s my manager, Kenny, who, you know, has been endlessly roasting me because I was not able to get into either movie. I tried. I really tried, my usually my usual move is Friday morning or Saturday or Sunday morning, I’ll take in a matinee.
Rosie Knight A nice matinee. Nostalgia.
Jason Concepcion Nice matinee. Wonderful matinee for whatever the new movie is. I tried every movie time for both movies and there was like nothing except for like the front row seats at an IMAX where you’re sitting basically.
Rosie Knight And you can see one foot of the screen.
Jason Concepcion And your jaw, my fucking vertebrae will snap in half because like, my head is completely like looking up at the top of the screen and I just couldn’t do it. But two huge movies, obviously a marketing bonanza. And one of those things, a counter-programming coup in which both projects have been burnished by this entire scheme, part of which is just like the overall pettiness of of Warner Brothers. So one of the things that has happened in the past that led up to this is Christopher Nolan, among many filmmakers, was upset with Warner Brothers move to take movies out of theaters, only giving them a short run in theaters and then put them right on. Max, right is a lover of movies. He wants movies to be seen in the movie theater, and he didn’t like that. So he left his longtime home, Warner Brothers. And as a kind of like pettiness, I guess they were like, oh, yeah, well, we’re going to have our movie A Barbie open opposite Oppenheimer. When you do Oppenheimer at your new A New Place, and guess what happened? Both movies are succeeding through this because the Barb and Hammer phenomenon has become a thing.
Rosie Knight Yeah, I mean, it’s I read a really interesting interview with, like the head of global marketing from Warner Brothers, and it used some times I’d never really heard of. So there’s like, you know, obviously paid advertising, right? Which is paid marketing, which I have to say, Warner Brothers did an unbelievable job of like they did the weirdest, coolest shit like the the they did an Architectural Digest video tour of the Malibu dream house, like Barbie Dream House, like they just did really weird stuff that kind of hit in the shit post era of the Internet that we’re really into. But he also talked about earned marketing, and that’s essentially what Bob and Haim A comes under the umbrella of.
Jason Concepcion Yeah.
Rosie Knight Which is an organic internet like fun like people getting. Yeah. And I mean this is one of those wild moments where like neither of the studios saw this coming. Warner Brothers had no, no I’ll be tracking they have Barbie tracking a 75 mil and Oppenheimer was tracking for Universal like 50 mil.
Jason Concepcion 50.
Rosie Knight Movies. Made $500 million globally over this weekend. These are $4 billion that doesn’t exist without all the people online who made memes. It doesn’t exist with people like without people like super Yaki making T-shirts in the Barbie font that say. Do you guys ever think about dying? It doesn’t exist without the incredible artists who made Bob in him a mash up posters like one of our Discord fans and friends like Rodrigo. He runs this film magazine called Layered Butter, and they did a Oppenheimer poster that went totally viral, and it is now basically used as almost as if it was an original official piece of art that both the studios made. They didn’t. Neither of them could ever have imagined that these two ridiculously juxtaposed movies would create this fandom. But I also think that that comes from Nolan being an auteur. GERWIG Being an auteur. Yeah. And this kind of hilarious dichotomy between like the serious talky three hour biopic, which, by the way, should never have been able to make. Emily And that’s a superhero movie.
Jason Concepcion I mean, it’s insane, truly insane.
Rosie Knight And then Barbie weighs in, should be a flop, but later finds a cult following. Kind of like, you know, Jetman, you know, Jem and Holograms. So that has less of a cult following. But something like Josie and the Pussycats, right? Like, that’s kind of where people expected Barbie to land. So Barbie is now the biggest opening weekend of the year being Super Mario, which, by the way, had a ridiculous opening weekend and also be in Guardians of Galaxy one three. Also now the biggest opening weekend ever for a female director, being both Wonder Woman and Captain Marvel. So being too super Are movies also in the international box office? Barbie almost made $200 million over this weekend and I have yet to see Barbie because try seeing that in San Diego and SD CC weekend. People were not busy at SDCC. And today, obviously bargain day at AMC. Good tip there if you want to save some money. $7 to see a movie. I looked, going with friends who work in the O.C., and I looked from everything from like Irvine down to L.A. and it was almost impossible to find a ticket that was not in the front. Like three rows. Like this movie is going to keep making money. The drop for Barbie from Saturday to Sunday was 9%, which is basically unheard of. And Oppenheimer’s was also really low by my understanding. So I think Baarbenheimer weekend is over, but the Barbenheimer summer is not over. Like sorry to the Haunted Mansion, but you’re not touching either of these movies this weekend.
Jason Concepcion You know, you just know that right now there is an entire floor of people who work for like Apple Studios marketing who are trying to figure out who Napoleon’s Barbie is.
Rosie Knight Exactly. This is what I’m saying.
Jason Concepcion How did we do this?
Rosie Knight How upset do you think every studio is right now that they can’t be on the phone to like every screenwriter and every director being like, So do you want to do like street sharks? Is it like, can you think of like an A24 take on like street sharks? Those meetings would be happening if the strike was not on. And I know that. Or sitting there stewing in their juices, writing things like gritty Polly Pocket, like trying to find ways that they can do this. I love that. What is Napoleon is Barbie actually.
Jason Concepcion Can we Russian indie Carmen San Diego movie theaters in time for Napoleon You know.
Rosie Knight I feel like those conversations are happening. And you know, this is one of those things where the real truth is, Is there really a lesson here? It’s hard to know because counter grabbing is always work. This is organic. You can’t really replicate it. But the lesson that studios are going to learn is like toy movies, but with like an auteur director and also like, I guess biopics can make a lot of money now if that program to get something like that. So yeah, I did see, I don’t think it was a coincidence that yesterday they announced that Ryan Reynolds is rebooting biker mice from Mars. So I think we’re going to see that what we’ve been seeing is the IP rush for comics. I think we’re going to see that moving back to toys, which it hasn’t been for quite a long time. So that will be interesting. I’m sure we’re going to get many terrible toy movies, but maybe some good ones too.
Jason Concepcion Yeah. I mean, listen, Transformers is out here. G.I. Joe has been out here, Lego has been out here. The toy movies have been doing well. It’ll be interesting to see what’s next.
Rosie Knight This is the first one that’s come close.
Jason Concepcion This is a culture mover. It moves the culture
Rosie Knight This is in the top fourth opening weekend of all time. Only beaten by The Force Awakens, Infinity War, and End Game. So now toys are in that they’re in that superhero movie space and it be Transformers Dark of the Moon is the biggest movie based on a toy. So yeah, toy movies are back, baby, for better or for worse.
Jason Concepcion Up next, our interview with David S. Goyer.
Speaker 1 <AD>
Rosie Knight Welcome to the Hive Mind, where we explore topics with an expert guest today. We’re thrilled to welcome writer, showrunner and director David S. Goyera to discuss his career, creative process and foundation.
Jason Concepcion David, thanks for joining us.
David S. Goyer My pleasure. I’m I’m a fan and I was happy to return the favor because you cohosts that other podcast you and I did.
Jason Concepcion And it is a delight to do it. Yeah. So how is your summer going?
David S. Goyer Well, you know, I was I was filming something and we got shut down because of SAG, and I was over in Europe and we got shut down early Saturday morning. And then I, I booked a flight on my phone right there and went back to my hotel and packed and got on a plane about 5 hours later. And then I picketed in L.A. yesterday in 95 degree heat. But I’m like, it’s. That it’s a crazy once in a lifetime situation and completely justifiable. But I’m also. You know, after spending the bulk of my last four years over in Europe, I’m really grateful to have this time with my family and not during a pandemic. So that’s the silver lining for for me.
Jason Concepcion Yeah, tell it. Could you tell us about that? That the obviously this this strike is a is another bit of complexity and challenge on top of everything that’s and it impacts everyone industrywide but like what. The show that you were making is so. Grand and complicated. You just mentioned that you were in Europe for a lot of the last couple of years. Tell us about some of the challenges that you went through producing that.
David S. Goyer I mean it. Foundations, the most complicated project I’ve ever worked on. And we don’t we don’t film it in in sort of a volume of VFX box like some of the shows out there. We film more than half the show on location in season one, filmed in six different countries, I think Season two filmed in five different countries. We do what we call cross boarding, meaning like the schedule gets we don’t film one episode and then another. Everything gets put in a blender is incredibly difficult, and it would have been difficult even without a pandemic and multiple strikes. But it’s it’s just we just keep you know, we had the initial lockdown and then season two lockdown wasn’t happening, but we actually had many more delays because of COVID. Then in season one, because in season one, everyone was in a bubble. This so-called bubble, we would we would take over hotels and we would charter flights and. And it just it’s just like the hits keep coming and coming and coming and coming. And it’s it’s awesome. It’s crazy because it’s the show. So while we ambitious and and I’m so grateful to have made the first two seasons but like all of the changes the seismic changes that are happening to our industry are like I worry they’re the very things that will make a show like ours not possible anymore. So who knows? You know?
Rosie Knight Yeah, I mean, there’s lots of things that from basically from the very inception of Adapting Foundation, you’re in a situation where it’s going to be a challenge because there’s many things over the years that have been called unfilmable, but there’s this probably like one of the most.
David S. Goyer Unfilmable, unfilmable things.
Rosie Knight Unfilmable of all things. So like, what was the origin of you wanting to adapt it or what was your origin with as much foundation and kind of how this came to become a TV show?
David S. Goyer Okay, I’ll answer that, but I realize I should qualify. I’m speaking to you in the capacity as a director. And of course, because I’ve directed episodes two and three of the show and not only am I allowed to promote in that capacity, I’ve been encouraged to promote by one of the two guilds I’m involved in. But what was it like? I mean, I was given the book by my ne’er do well father when he was 13 or I was 13. Not him, he was 13. He said, This is great science fiction book of all time. You should read it. And I didn’t read it because I was angry at him. And I think I read it in my 20 my twenties and I got some of it. Didn’t understand what the big deal was. Re-read it in my thirties and then over the years, because I’ve heard the first two decades of my career, I was writing almost exclusively features. I was offered the opportunity to adapt it a couple of times, once with Warner Brothers and once with Sony. And even then I just thought, Oh, there’s people are thinking, Oh, we want to do a trilogy of films. And I just didn’t think it was possible to, to condense all of that. It’s anthological in nature. A lot of the stuff has been strip mined, you know, by Star Wars and Dune and how do you make it new again? And and so I said no a couple of times. And over the years, just like everyone, I’d hear, Oh, this person or that person is trying to adapt it. And I’ll say, I’m not sure I was a sophisticated enough writer to have adapted it earlier on in my career, but then maybe, I don’t know, five years ago, streaming had started and people were suddenly tackling these big novelistic projects and saying, okay, now you’ve got at least 10 hours or 20 or 30. And then it seemed like it might be possible and and I’d had enough weighty adaptations under my belt to be crazy enough to try. But what was crazy was I was I was wading into Adapting Foundation at the same time. I was wading into Adapting Sandman, but another famously, unfilmable.
Jason Concepcion Yeah.
David S. Goyer Watch. Yeah. And and I just thought it was just so surreal. And I’d flirted with Sandman for more than a decade as well. And it was they both sort of came together at the exact same time. And then it just was a race. I was meant to run either one of them, and it was just a race as to which one is going to be greenlit first and foundation was. And then after work in the initial adaptation with Neil and then Al and him very well and hybrid took over that. But I don’t know. Did that answer your question? I got lost in my head. By the way, I heard you Rosie described me as a friend of the pod on one of your podcast the other day. And I’m I’m honored to be considered a friend of the pod, although you and I have never spoken prior to this. So
Rosie Knight You know what? Jason’s friends. My friends. Pod friends.
Jason Concepcion You mentioned that you didn’t think that maybe you were sophisticated enough writer.
David S. Goyer Yeah.
Jason Concepcion When you first.
David S. Goyer Some people would argue I’m still not, by the way, but keep going.
Jason Concepcion What? But what do you what, what is it about your writing evolution that you think is it made you able to take on that project at that particular time? What had changed, what you learned?
David S. Goyer I think that. You know, I guess over my career, I started to become the sort of one of the go to guys to adapt to take on like weighty IP or complicated IP and and. I just remember I think one of the things that changed was when Chris Nolan and I were working on Batman Begins. And we, we had this very methodical approach to Batman in which we would try we would just before we even came up with the story, we spent weeks just talking about what makes Batman Batman. And so writing lists of the things that we felt were like essential Batman tropes and then things that don’t make Batman, Batman. And then this was crazy at the time, but we flew to New York and we met with all the editors of DC for three days, and we asked them the same questions and and they said No one in all the decades prior to that had ever even asked DC what made Batman Batman. And we just thought it was a no brainer to do it. And so, so then we before we even came up with the story, we just thought, okay. How have we identified the core DNA of this thing? Do we have it right? And the editors at DC, you know, Paul Levitz and people like that at the time, even Neil Adams, who we talked to, felt that we had gotten it right. And then we started building our story. And so what’s amazing to me is how many people don’t do that. And so that is an approach that I’ve just applied then to. Everything I’ve worked on over the last two decades is just try to figure out, can I, you know, what makes this thing unique and can I tell a story that doesn’t betray those elements? And it sounds simple, but but it’s amazing. You know, I’ve talked about this before, but, like, I had this feeling, like, with a lot of superhero adaptations that they’ll think about, okay, what villain are we going to use? And then build a story around it as opposed to figuring out what makes, you know, you know, a superhero superhero and then figuring out what’s the right villain to tell that story. So Chris and I did not decide we were going to start with Raja Ghoul or the Scarecrow. We were going to tell this story about Batman overcoming his fears or Bruce Wayne, overcoming his fears and having all these daddy issues. And so fear led to Scarecrow and daddy issues led to Raja Ghoul, who was, you know, one of the one of the only villains. Yeah, Yeah. That was like more parental. And so I guess the approach was just very holistic in that way. And we applied the same to the same man. And in the case of Sandman, we had Gaiman with us and, and Allen and I said we spent like three or four days just saying, okay, Neil, what makes Sandman? Sandman, What do you think? And I did something similar with Robyn Asimov, Isaac’s daughter, on foundation.
Rosie Knight Yeah, it’s I was going to ask that’s really interesting you brought up because I feel like often as comic book fans, people who love the stuff comics have been seen since, you know, they first in the 1800s when it was comics or after to, you know, wear them cause they’re seen as like lowbrow disposable art for kids. You know, that’s still something people see. So it’s kind of incredible to be talking about how adapting comics taught you how to adapt these kind of huge epic sci fi stories for Prestige. Were there any other kind of things that you learned from adapting so many superhero stories and comic books that helped you when it came to adapting something like this that takes place over thousands of years? The way that comics kind of have that modern mythology of going over many, many centuries.
David S. Goyer Do you think? Yeah, I do think that it’s funny if you go to classic comic book storytelling, right? I think comic books are the closest to serialized TV. Storytelling is almost any other art form, right? Yeah, because you’ve got the individual episodes, which are akin to the individual issues, and then you’ve got these arcs which would be akin to like the season, and then you’ve got like the Super Ark, right? You know? Yeah. And, and so because I spent so much time reading comics as a kid, that’s, that’s just the way structurally, I think. So with regards to Sandman and Foundation, we definitely think about, okay, this is a serialized story, but is each episode, can each episode be a complete meal? And then how does it fit within the season? And is there a beginning, a middle and an end to the season? And then how does it fit with the super story? And that’s definitely something I, I picked up from, you know, Danny O’Neil or Chris Claremont or, you know, Frank Miller or someone like that.
Jason Concepcion Can I ask you about that? There.
David S. Goyer You can eat anything, Jason. Well, we’ll see whether or not. Yeah.
Jason Concepcion Yeah.
David S. Goyer Whether or not I answer.
Jason Concepcion Hey. Well, since we’re on the subject comics a few years ago, a letter that you wrote to editor and writer at Marvel, Mark Grunwald, who was then in charge of the Captain America book, emerged. And it was you basically giving notes on a particular storyline and the challenges the character faced in that particular era in the mid eighties. Mm hmm. You know, Reagan in the White House. Did you always take comics that seriously and were you? Was it in your mind to be a writer at that point? Because surely I mean, it’s not very many people write a like 700 word letter to the editor to two Marvel Comics.
David S. Goyer Yes. And yes to those questions. I mean, I also have a letter in the Alan Moore run of Swamp Thing, American Gothic, which I’m very proud of. Yeah. Yeah. And which I incorrectly guessed what was behind, like all the various sub monsters that were going on this whole thing. But yeah, I, I’ve probably got about a. I will say this. Every letter I wrote, got printed, I probably have about seven letters.
Rosie Knight Wow.
Jason Concepcion Wow.
Rosie Knight That’s a solid run. Yeah.
David S. Goyer Yeah, but I was I was, you know, growing up in Michigan going, oh, my local comic book store. And and I, I, you know, I don’t know. From the time I was about fourth or fifth grade, I thought about, you know. Right. Becoming a comic book writer, first and foremost. And the idea that I would become a screenwriter was just crazy. We didn’t know anything. Anyone in Hollywood but comic writer felt like attainable. Possibly. Mhm. And yeah, I revered them. I just thought because I was coming up in the, you know, Teen Titans when that, when that started and I was, I was reading, you know, Byrne and Claremont’s uncanny X-Men while that arc was happening like in real time and it was when it was he was bi monthly and that was just blowing my mind. That was, that was one of the first ones that really blew my mind was what was happening. Yeah, yeah. With X-Men and I, I just thought it was amazing.
Rosie Knight Yeah. Well, I will say there is a grand tradition. One of my favorite things. I have a lot of back issues, and one of my favorite things to do is read the letters page because you actually see a lot of that from people who had gone to write comics for.
Jason Concepcion George R.R. Martin. And, you know, yes.
Rosie Knight You can go in there and you will find letters from like big name people and, you know, like you are the fan. So what was it like to then go from being one of those fans and then continue that tradition of actually getting to write comics?
David S. Goyer Well, the funny thing is, I wrote movies before I wrote comics. Like a lot of people. Yeah. Yeah. And they killed me. And then I was so I had already, you know, was making a healthy living. I’d already had blade come out and. And then. Randomly. I was introduced to James Robinson, who was on the Starman run at the time. And and we met we had dinner one night, and he confessed to me that he had writer’s block and he was trying to figure out where to go and what to do. And and I started pitching some ideas for him. And he said, that’s a really good idea. Do you mind if I use that as a no, Go ahead. And then we had dinner a couple weeks later and he said, You got any more ideas? And then he just said, Do you want to start plotting it with me? Because I’m I feel bad. I’m using so many of these ideas. And, and so then I did and I co plotted it with him for a while and, and then he said, Hey, DC wants to revive the Justice Society. Do you want to just co-write it with me? And I said, Sure, that sounds great. And irony there was James bailed in the second issue. His name is still on on like five more issues. But he bailed. He had this sort of crisis of conscience. And I literally I’d only written like two full scripts. And DC said, Well, do you want to keep writing it? We like it. I said, Sure, sure. But I need help. And so here’s what’s really crazy at the time was I was also friendly with Geoff Johns, who had just written I think he was still like Richard Donner’s assistant, and it just written like, I don’t even know if Stargirl had come out, but he’d like written a proposal for something. And I said, Hey, Jeff, do you want to write this with me? And DC wouldn’t. I’d like really pressure them to approve him to call you.
Rosie Knight Wow. You change the course.
Jason Concepcion Yeah, yeah.
David S. Goyer Yeah. But. But Geoff started on JSA with me out of like the second issue, and then obviously he became Geoff Johns, you know, with a capital G and a capital J. But it I backed into comics in just a really weird way. And then, you know, we kept it up for about four years and, and then it became too unwieldy for me. But that was I loved doing it. I would still go back and write comics at some point. I really, really enjoyed doing it. I didn’t do the Marvel method, though. We wrote full scripts.
Jason Concepcion Yeah.
Rosie Knight Yeah, better, yeah. Better to do it the full way.
Jason Concepcion So how did you break into screenwriting then? You know, I remember I’ve told you the story before, but in 98 I worked in a movie theater, so I saw every single movie that came out in 98, every single movie that came out that year I saw in the theaters, including Blade and Dark City, to.
David S. Goyer Which the movie came out the same year, I know.
Rosie Knight Crazy.
Jason Concepcion So how did how did that happen?
David S. Goyer I broke in two movies. Well, basically the short version is I didn’t know anyone in Hollywood, couldn’t figure out how to make a path into writing. So I was going to become a cop in Michigan. I was going to become a homicide detective. I was going to get a degree in police administration, go to Michigan State University, And then my high school teachers said, Oh my God, you can’t do that. You got to write. Which I’d wanted to, but I had a single mom. We didn’t have much money. And they kind of staged an intervention. They came over to our house for coffee and said, You they suggested I apply to U.S. screenwriting. And my mom said, We cannot afford it. And they said, just we think you can get in and just get scholarships and whatnot. And so we had enough money with financial aid for me to attend one semester. Wow. And and I got in and this was an undergraduate degree. And then every semester was sketchy is like whether or not I could keep going. So I worked two or three jobs and I would apply for all these grants. But I made it and I busted my ass. And I in the program, you were meant to come out with one screenplay and I had three by the time I was done. And in my last semester I thought, Oh, I’m going to get an agent. And I remember reading about this particular agent who’d become an agent. I believe it, ICM at the time, which is one of the. Yeah, I think they’re defunct now, right?
Jason Concepcion No, no longer with us.
David S. Goyer They’ve been absorbed by one of the defunct agents.
Jason Concepcion Yeah.
David S. Goyer And I read about this guy who had, he’d gone through Berkeley in like two and a half years and become an agent at 23. And I thought, Oh, that guy seems like a real, you know, firecracker. I’m going to I’m going to have that guy be my agent. So I started cold calling his office from my dorm room, and I called I think it was 42 business days. I would say, Hey, this is David Goyer. You know, I need to talk to so-and-so. And finally I’m like, the 42nd day became a joke. I would just But I was in my dorm room listening to what? What do I. Yeah, yeah. And finally the assistant, he jumps on the line and says, Who the fuck are you and why you keep calling me? And I realize I forgot like 30 seconds. And I said, Listen, I’m about to graduate USC film school. I’m going to be a giant film maker one day. You should represent me. You’re going to kick yourself and you don’t. And there was this pause and he said, okay, send me your script. But don’t fucking call me every day. It’s going to take me a while to read it. So. And by the way, I hadn’t I had nothing to lose. I was in my dorm room, in my underwear. And so and I waited two weeks, and then I started calling him again for another couple weeks. Finally he answered, and he said, I’m going to sign you. So I got an agent before I even graduated.
Rosie Knight Wow.
David S. Goyer And but what was interesting is you said in your script, surely good. But I decided I was going to sign you even before I read it. And I said, Why? And he’s because you were so damn tenacious that I just thought, this kid’s going to succeed. And. And then I graduated, and I got a job as a production assistant on a studio. And it was my job to deliver mail around the lot and also snacks. Like, I had like a hand cart.
Rosie Knight Yeah.
David S. Goyer You know. And and I did that for about four months. And at the time he said, I thought I was going to write funny, sort of like American Werewolf in London movies. And he said, Can you write? I think Die Hard had just come out and he said, Can you write an action movie? And so I studied some and I wrote one. And after four months he said, I think I can I can sell this. And like two days later, he sold it and he sold it to MGM and he sold it for more than ten times what I was making as my yearly salary as a P.A. And he sold it to Jean-Claude Van Damme and and who had just come out with Cyborg and I had watched any movies. And I remember this. He called me at work this before cell phones. And and he said, Jean-Claude Van Damme wants to buy your script. Do you know who you know? And I could hear I could hear him unfolding the newspaper. And he said, there’s a there’s a there’s a show at like 1:45 at the Chinese theater on Hollywood Boulevard. Go see it and meet with him at like 5:00. So I feign sickness. I saw this movie, which is terrible. Then I then I met with, you.
Rosie Knight Not his best. Not his best.
David S. Goyer And I met with him. But he was, you know, say what you will about him. But he was effusive and he said, you’re a great writer. And I remember I can’t do a Belgian accent. But he said, I will. He said, Hollywood will try to destroy you, but I will protect you like an eagle. And he and they made the movie. And like, like two months later I was on the set. So I was I was 22 and it was four months out of out of school. And then I kicked around and did some other Jean-Claude movies for a while. And then eventually I got the gig to write Blade and that was the first time that I might deliver. Who was running New Line at the time and now is running Warner Brothers. Just let me write what I want to write and just didn’t give me notes. And so, you know, I guess the proof is in the pudding with that. Another line long answer.
Rosie Knight I was going to say, it’s.
Jason Concepcion A great one.
Rosie Knight One great answer. And I love that Jean-Claude Van Damme story makes me very happy as someone who is a huge fan of his spin can protect your ego. I mean, that’s the most Jean-Claude Van Damme thing I’ve ever heard. It’s actually like an ego. Okay, so let’s talk about Blade because, a, that’s like a fucking masterpiece. Yeah. And B, that essentially establishes the superhero genre for the next, you know, still now it’s still going on. But yeah.
David S. Goyer People cite X-Men, the first one, which was great, but yeah.
Rosie Knight Yeah, it’s Marvel studios, you know, you have this. So could you talk a little bit about Blade? Like, was that a character you’d come across before, or did you go back and read the black and white stuff, or was this just a story? I mean, it’s such a cool concept that you were just like, I immediately know what this is going to be.
David S. Goyer Well, I read the giant comic book anyway, so there was almost no Marvel or DC character that I wasn’t familiar with. So I had read all of Tomb of Dracula and I’d read The Black and White. Yeah, sort of more mature magazine stories. And I was so I was completely familiar with with Blade, and I had heard that New Line wanted to make the it had some success with House Party and Deep Cover, like, so-called urban movies. And I’d heard that they wanted to do a black superhero and. So they were thinking Marvel. And at the time it was Luke Cage, it was Blade or it was Black Panther. And I thought, Blade. Could potentially be made for a price because it was a horror film, you know, an action horror film. And I was also really I was watching a lot of Hong Kong action films at the time, way before they became in vogue. And so I had to. Yeah, yeah, yeah. Crazy idea. Like out movies like Bride with White Hair and stuff like that. I had this crazy idea to to Fuze like Hong Kong action films with, you know, vampire movies where it was just like, I don’t know why I came up with that. And I pitched it and I and I pitched a trilogy. I remember to DeLuca and I said, I’m going to pitch you this Star Wars of vampire films. And he said, They and they at the time, they wanted to make it for 6 to $8 million and they like the pitch. And he just let me write it. So the movie they Got me is largely the one that I wrote. But the funny thing is he said 6 to 8 million. And my first draft came in and they budgeted it and it came out at 45 million and it was R-rated. And the crazy thing is, DeLuca, who took these huge risks at the time, just said, Screw it, we’re going to make it. And then eventually the budget even escalated. 55 million and people were is eight spawn it come out and people were just making fun of the movie before it came out. I remember reading early chatter even on like Ain’t It Cool, way back when, you know. But I knew what we’d made and I knew we had the goods. And it was amazing being in those first couple of audience previews because you could just feel the audience like, Oh my God, this is something. Yeah, yeah. See, before it was cool.
Rosie Knight Okay, sorry. I just need Jason. I know we have.
Jason Concepcion No, go ahead.
Rosie Knight I need to know about the blood rave because it is like one of the most iconic sequences ever and is now, like, constantly spoken of between dead and maimed, you know? So it’s like, you know, the Batman. There’s definitely, like, they have the rave sequence there and it’s like, definitely rad and very thin. Could you just talk about that? Like, because did you know that that was going to become like such an iconic moment?
David S. Goyer Well, I mean, look, that was in my pitch was that opening. I mean, I pitched that scene in the end because I was trying to reinvent vampire movies and vampire stories. And and I just thought, what’s the most decadent, you know, thing I can possibly think of? You know, a kind of vampire, let them eat cake or something like that. And and so that was in the first pitch. And then, you know, Steve Norrington did an incredible job shooting it. It was it was completely miserable. We shot it in Los Angeles and we shot it over the course of like, I can’t remember how many days, but it was hot. It was summer, and the crew had to wear those sort of like white hazmat suits, you know, like Breaking Bad, clean suits.
Jason Concepcion Yeah.
David S. Goyer And it was all this fake blood in the floor was really sticky and it smelled awful. I mean, just awful. And you couldn’t walk around without your, like, your feet sticking to things. And and it was I mean, it was a miserable sequence to film, but but I don’t know. It’s like we’re talking about something that I wrote 20 no more than 27 years ago. We’re like, Where did I come up with the idea? But I was just trying to come up with breaking down the conventions. I was like, Look, don’t get me wrong, I love Hammer House of Horror Film, but I was trying to come up with like, we can tie, you know, hammer or vampire stories. Yeah.
Rosie Knight Yeah.
David S. Goyer And also chip into blaxploitation and all of those things. It’s it’s crazy that it worked.
Rosie Knight Yeah.
David S. Goyer You know, because we were sort of fuzing so many different elements.
Jason Concepcion So you’re a writer for a number of years, it increasingly says successful writer. You become the go to guy for adaptation, comic adaptation IP stuff, as you noted. How do you then make the transition to director and showrunner and how hard is that to do?
David S. Goyer Good question. Well, at the time when I started to do it, it was very hard because I, I, I built up a head of steam as a screenwriter back in the days when one could make a good living as a screenwriter as opposed to what’s happening right now. And and I was a fast screenwriter, so I could write four feature scripts a year, and I was making a really good living. And I had had the fortunate, well, I would say with Blade and Dark City, that those were the first times I’d worked with, you know, genuinely good directors and I’d worked with some not so good directors prior to that. And I’d seen one of the things it’s hard as a screenwriter is you can have your name on a movie or a teleplay and up to 30% of it could be rewritten by other people, but they won’t get credit. Their names won’t appear, but you get the blame if they massively. Oh yeah.
Rosie Knight Yeah, yeah.
David S. Goyer And, and so I’d had this experience of just either being rewritten by people or worked with some mediocre or bad directors. And I and I, I wanted to retain more control, so I wanted to start producing and then eventually directing. And I thought, well, I can, I can at least be a mediocre director. And, you know, maybe at the beginning I was I think I got better at it. And it’s it’s the whole 10,000 hour thing. But it’s hard because my agents did not want me to do it. They were making money off of me.
Jason Concepcion Dave, we got a good thing going.
David S. Goyer Yeah, yeah, yeah. And so and people don’t want to give a first time director a shot. So I.
Jason Concepcion Mm hmm.
David S. Goyer I adapted a book called Zigzag that I had a budget for $2.8 million, and I, Wesley agreed to do a cameo. He worked on it for six days. He was like the anchor. And then I got some other people like Oliver Platt and Natasha Lyonne and John Leguizamo. And I took I worked in that movie for a year and I took what’s called scale, so I can’t remember what I made to write it. Something like $18,000 into direct at 40,050 8000 seemed like a lot, but I was making far more than that as a writer. And my, my, my agents were not happy with me making this shift.
Jason Concepcion And how much more complicated, because obviously we’ve been in this business now so long and seen so many changes, and now you’ve got productions on TV streaming that are essentially Multi-episode movies. How did you you know, it seems like a very daunting task to try and put all those tools together and say, Now I’m going to manage a Multi-episode Multi-season movie that takes place on just, you know, a one continent, but across the continent in multiple timezones at once. You know, what, what were the things that you encountered that you were like? Well, I’m glad that I had been through these other experiences to let me know how to do this.
David S. Goyer Well, first of all, I mean, it is daunting. It is really hard. It’s it’s like there are times when I, I, you know, wish I could work on a show that just took place in one city that, you know, in one time zone that didn’t have a ton of visual effects or things like that. But I but it was also kind of bit by bit by bit by bit over the course of 20 years. So it’s just building upon what I learned before. And I and, you know, the first show that really made some waves was a show that I had co-created called FlashForward way back on ABC at the time, and I directed the first two episodes of that. And then I had another show on Starz called DaVinci’s Demons, which was a little more ambitious. It sort of each one was successfully a little more ambitious and it just building upon look, you look at a lot of people, a lot of filmmakers, and, you know, Chris Nolan started out with, you know, Following, which is most people, I mean, haven’t seen or heard of and and and and then why am I blanking on Memento? Memento. Yeah, then Memento and then insomnia and then, you know, it just he didn’t start he was incredibly talented but he didn’t start out with Inception.
Rosie Knight Yeah. Yeah. So with something that’s also like you talk about ambition and you’ve already set up this kind of huge challenge for yourself. And then coming into the second season, you arguably switch everything up. Yeah. And kind of go a hundred years in the future and change course and change like a lot of the major cost. Could you talk about those kind of choices and challenges and how that adds to the ambition and the storytelling?
David S. Goyer Well, I what I when I pitched Foundation to Apple, I said this is going to be a crazy hybrid because it’s it’s it’s going to be a cross between a serialized show and kind of a seasonal anthology. And so I said, we’re going to have like, you know, a complete story and they’re going to be a handful of characters that are going to continue from season to season that are through the various tropes of science fiction, are going to be effectively immortal and. And then we’re going to introduce new characters each season, and they’re going to have a complete story and then, you know, either succeed or die or whatnot, and then they won’t come back. And I just I couldn’t really think of a show that had pursued that format before. And I thought it would be an interesting way to kind of tackle some of the more anthological aspects of a foundation. And I guess Apple was crazy enough to go for it. You know, normally, normally when you pitch something that just like breaks all the conventional rules of storytelling or where storytelling is, is No. One on streaming, you’re like, Oh, you’re crazy. That’ll never fly. And on top of it’d be hugely expensive. But there were some fans at Apple of Foundation and and that helped. And I, you know, at the time I created it with Josh Friedman, who left after the third episode or so. But yeah, we spent a lot of time on that pitch. And each of us had, you know, had a certain body of work that we worked on prior to that that I guess they, you know, brought our crazy pitch. You know, I think that the in terms of changing it up, I. I think on one hand, what we did with season two. You could say you’re crazy to have attempted that. Like, why not continue what you did? You know. Why? Why are you just doing a refresh on everything? But but people seem to have really, you know, gone nuts for it. And so I just felt like it would be boring if we repeated ourselves or boring if we just I just wanted to try something really bold and challenging and and I’m kind of amazed at how well Season two has been received. I thought more people would be freaked out by the fact that we’re just we’re just jumping forward 130 years and just introducing a whole slew of new characters in even many of the characters that, you know, are are. You know, we’re perceiving him in a different way. And I love how we just start with the first episode and we just plunk you in the middle of this Black and White film, you know, with Harry Seldon. And then we just say, You got to catch up. Sorry. You know, I don’t know that excited me. And I, I am amazed though that it didn’t throw more people, I will say.
Jason Concepcion Mhm. That opening scene where Harry is trying to knit his mind back together. Yeah. How much of that was written, how much of that is Jared, just kind of going.
David S. Goyer About half. So, so we wrote some stuff. I will say this, it’s, it’s not all random will because you’ve seen this season like some some of the stuff that he says loops back around to go oh interesting. Jared’s a really smart, shrewd guy and we talked about the themes of things that he could talk about. So he said everything that was scripted and then it was just kind of an open mic, let her rip, stream of consciousness. I mean, honestly, I would have gone on longer, but those that stuff is also really expensive because whether it’s whether it’s the black and white stuff where we’re trying to erase things or whether it’s this stuff in the prime radiant itself, where we’re trying to erase crude reflections, it’s. But he’s we used there were times when he said a bunch of stuff and he said, oh you’re not going to use that. You’re not going to use that. You’re not going to use it. And we ended up using a lot.
Rosie Knight Of course. And then you get that juxtaposition with that, like, incredible action sequence.
Jason Concepcion Oh, my God.
Rosie Knight With Lee naked fighting the assassins. And that’s like a very different tone shift, too. Could you talk a little bit about that? Because the action is so great.
David S. Goyer You know, I. I loved juxtaposing those two scenes together, though, because there’s like, one is is heady, kind of hard, filmy, you know, teenage acts 1130 is you can get. And then the other one is just kind of a Game of Thrones action sequence. But I, I again, I wanted to challenge the audience and challenge people’s expectations of what if they’d seen season one or even if they hadn’t seen season one and you heard about it. What kind of scenes we could take on in the show? Because I think there was some people I’d heard about it, but maybe there was a barrier to entry because they thought it was like too high brow or too heady.
Rosie Knight Cerebral.
David S. Goyer Exactly. Exactly. And it is still cerebral, but but I thought it’s a big tent and we can embody a bunch of scenes. And I’m excited with you know, I don’t know when this episode is going to drop, but episode two will drop the 21st. Yeah. And they we also start to introduce some more elements in some more dry humor, which as of episode two and particularly with episode three. And once again, I’m excited for the audience to, you know, on the surface of it, it feels like it wouldn’t work, but it does work. And you realize it’s just that, Foundation so serious, that it’s good to have some characters that don’t take Psychohistory seriously, or the Empire Series. It’s good to have characters like that kind of in your quiver.
Rosie Knight Yeah.
Jason Concepcion Well, David, this has been such a fun conversation. Thank you so much for joining us.
Rosie Knight Yeah, thank you so much.
David S. Goyer My pleasure. And if I can do a tiny plug.
Jason Concepcion Yes, please.
Rosie Knight Please.
David S. Goyer I’ve got a little website that I’ve I’ve neglected for a while, but I also because of the striking stuff, DavidSGoyer.com. I’m doing show notes as episodes drop, and I’m also including kind of behind the scenes making of photos and things. And so if people want to log on to there and I’m going to put together a mailing list, they can get some more sort of fun behind the scenes details, and that’s all I got.
Rosie Knight Cool.
Jason Concepcion That’s awesome. Thanks again, David.
David S. Goyer My pleasure.
Jason Concepcion Up next, Nerd Out.
Rosie Knight In today’s Nerd Out where you tell us what you love and why. Or theory you’re excited to share. Or a quick question we can answer. Matt offers a thought on Indiana Jones. Matt begins with some kind words towards us. Thank you, Matt. I won’t make any promises then, but we appreciate you. Matt says with Indiana Jones back in the limelight, I wanted to share a realization I had during the last time I watched Raiders of the Lost Ark. Throughout the introductory sequence, walking through the Peruvian words encountering bats, double crossing aids, outsmarting traps, shrugging off scary wildlife, even taking a gorgeous relic and surviving a collapsing tomb, many exclamation points. There is not so much as a hint of the legendary John Williams theme. It’s only when Indy grabs the vine to swing into the water and escape his pursuers that we hear those trumpets blare out his motif. That got me reflecting on how the heart of Indy is truly the escape. He doesn’t get to keep the ark at the end of Raiders or the Shankara Stones at the end of Temple of the Doom or the Grail at the end of the Crusade or the Skull at the end of Kingdom. I haven’t seen Dial of Destiny yet, but I kind of hope it keeps to this tradition of Indy getting into something way over his hat and just making out by the skin of his teeth. Because that true Indiana Jones is the ultimate fuck around and find out here. Thank you for indulging my observation. Sending you all the love in this nerd’s heart, Matt. Thank you, Matt. I think that’s true. I think it’s all about the escape.
Jason Concepcion I think that’s true.
Rosie Knight It’s about the close calls.
Jason Concepcion It is about that. I’ve been thinking about something we talked about during our conversation about Indy. And that’s how in the final act of most of these movies, the agency goes to a higher power god, aliens, whatever. And it’s actually not Indy kind of doing whatever the big thing is at the very end of the movie. And I was thinking about it and I think, you know, to match point, not only is it about the escape, but what makes Indy the hero in these stories is the fact that he has he is able to put. Whatever the object and the power behind the object is in the correct framing. He understands, like, I’m just a man. I’m not I don’t I’m not going to fuck around with God. Like, I’m not even going to into I’m not I’m not going to mess with that. Right. Like he has that respect in all the other villains of our various pieces, mostly Nazis never do, right? They always want to say, Well, I want to see God’s or an aliens power for myself. Indy never does that. And number two, you know, kind of attaching this observation to Mat’s observation, part of the reason it’s about the escape for Indy is think about it. He can only he can only go for objects that he can carry out in a medium sized duffel bag.
Rosie Knight It has to fit in a satchel or else it’s not happening to them.
Jason Concepcion It’s not or it’s not happening, folks. He’s got to be able to tuck it into like a postman’s bag and climb out. So it is often about the escape because you think who’s going to help him carry the thing out of there? How is he going to play God? How is he going to get the ark like out of Tannis and out of the building? Like I guess they were going to have a truck or something. But there was come on, there was no way.
Rosie Knight Never going to happen.
Jason Concepcion No, It was never going to happen.
Rosie Knight Thanks, Matt. If you have theories, passions or quick questions, you want to share, hit us up at Xray@crooked.com. Instructions in the show notes.
Jason Concepcion A huge thanks to David S. Goyer for being so generous with his time this episode. And that’s it for us this episode. Rosie, any plugs?
Rosie Knight Yes, I’m going to plug mutual aid. It’s very hot out there. So on Saturday when I was leaving San Diego, I went to CVS. I bought $28 of water, which was like six big cases of water. And I just handed out to all the folks who live in San Diego year round. If you were at San Diego, there are loads of great mutual aid organizations that you can donate to if you weren’t able to be there and help out the folks that when you were actually at the concourse, you were busy. There’s a great one called WeAllWeGotSD. That’s the Instagram handle. Also, if you have a freezer that is big and you live in America, maybe because a lot of the freezers here are really big. But okay, so what are in your freezer then when you’re driving around? If you see anyone just sitting out in the sun, you just give them an icy bottle of water. Cold water saves people’s lives in these heat waves. And if you can’t and don’t have the time or aren’t physically able, there’s loads of great spaces, homemade meals, community fridges, there’s loads of different places that you can do it. But right now it’s really hot and being outside is really dangerous. So Cold War is a great thing. Having a fridge or just storing some things and crash to one of the mutual aid orgs in your area.
Jason Concepcion Well said. Catch the next episode of X-ray Vision Friday, July 28th, for the finale of Secret Invasion. We’ll be there.
Rosie Knight Yeah. Secret invasion. It’s the final. Finale. Final episode. It’s time. It’s happened. You can you can watch full episodes of the podcast on YouTube and check out our Twitter @XRVPod and our Discord to hang out with all those cool fans we are always talking about.
Jason Concepcion Five star ratings, five star reviews. We need them. We got to have them. You got to give them to us. Here is one from Ash. It’s the only podcast I prioritize listening to. Wow. If you care about any nerd stuff at all, this is the podcast for you. I’ve been a loyal listener since episode one and I love the show so much. I have enjoyed the Discord. Something I’d never done before. Welcome, Ash.
Rosie Knight Yeah, thanks for joining us.
Jason Concepcion X-ray Vision is a Crooked Media production. The show is produced by Chris Lord and Saul Rubin and executive produced by me, Jason Concepcion. Our editing and sound design is by Vasilis Fotopoulos. Video production by Delon Villanueva and Rachel Gaewski, Social Media by Ewa Okulate and Caroline Dunphy. Thank you to Brian Vasquez for our theme music. See you next time.
Rosie Knight Bye.