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Backstage - Interviews - Ben Jones

WF: First up, explain to the readers your role in Batman: The Brave and The Bold in as much detail as possible.

As a director, my job is to oversee an episode from the storyboard stage through to when it gets shipped overseas for animation, then to help tinker with it when it comes back.

WF: "The Rise of the Blue Beetle" is both the first episode of this series you directed, and the first episode of the series. Did you find it difficult to have to direct an episode that basically introduced the premise and format of the series on top of finding a directing style for this series?

Actually, for a premiere episode, this one was relatively painless. James had a lot of very specific things he wanted for the show from day one. Fortunately, most of the crew has worked together before, so we could all start knowing what the others were capable of.

Story-wise, there is a lot to introduce, but weíre going on the assumption that people already know who Batman is, so that partís done. For most of the other characters, weíre really just focusing on their interactions with Batman, so that streamlines their introductions as well. Since most of the show is filtered through Batmanís perspective, we can introduce new concepts quickly by just putting them onscreen and letting the audience know whatís going on by Batmanís reaction to them.

WF: Batman: The Brave and The Bold seems to work on a system of three rotating directors - you, Michael Chang and Brandon Vietti. How do you decide which episode to do? How does your directing style differ from Chang's and Vietti's?

Sometimes a director might request a story with a certain character, but often the realities of the schedule make that impossible to work out. For example, I was looking forward to directing a story starring my favorite character (the Red Tornado), but the script wasnít finished in time, so it went to Brandon, who did a great job with it anyways. Outside of any special requests, itís just a standard rotation.

As for how my directing style differs, I seem to have been pegged as ďthe weird oneĒ, which I think is meant to be complimentary.

WF: What did you look toward for inspiration in this series, such as Dick Sprang's work? Did your previous directing work come into play when it came time to start directing for this series?

The 50ís and 60ís influence is predominant, but weíre trying to draw from all kinds of sources, including more modern comics, other animated shows, and some live-action stuff, in order to keep it from getting too stale.

As far as my previous directing, there are things that Iíve leaned on a bit in the past that donít work stylistically for this show, so Iíve been forced to pick up a few new tricks, which is always good from an artistic growth perspective.

WF: If I recall, "The Rise of the Blue Beetle" isn't the first premiere episode you've directed. You also directed the Legion of Super Heroes episode "Man of Tomorrow." What was your experience like working on a more light-hearted Superman series, and how does that James Tucker series differ from this one?

Legion was fun for me just because it was the Legion of Superheroes, who Iíve liked since they guest-starred in Justice League of America #147 (yes, I did have to look that up). That was a trickier premiere to direct simply because it was originally written as a two-part episode but got compressed into one episode, so a lot of it had to be cut.

As far as differences between the two series, Batmanís been a little easier in that thereís more of an established basis for animating Batman. I know it seems at first like weíre veering pretty far from whatís been done before, but at least we have that as a foundation to build from, whereas with Legion we had to make up a lot from scratch.

WF: You've also worked on Justice League: The New Frontier, Justice League, and Teen Titans, other DC Animation properties. Why do you think DC Comics has been so successful in translating their properties from page to screen?

I think it boils down to the characters Ė some of them have lasted almost 70 years through various permutations and are still instantly recognized worldwide, so there must be something to them that people respond to.

WF: And now, to swing this back to Batman: The Brave and The Bold, after "The Rise of the Blue Beetle," what other episodes will we see you directing this season?

I donít think I can give out too many specific details, except to say that I will be directing every third episode, and seem to have randomly landed a lot of episodes with Green Arrow. Down the road, there will be a Bat-Mite episode written by Paul Dini that Iím really looking forward to, and after that, an episode that has an element I have wanted to do since season three of Teen Titans.

WF: Outside of Batman: The Brave and The Bold, what other projects are you currently working on?

Iím afraid that Batman hasnít left me a lot of time for other projects (heís very demanding). That might change now that the second season (or at least my part in it) is coming to a close, but thereís nothing specific mapped out yet.

WF: Any final words on Batman: The Brave and The Bold - or specifically, any final words on "The Rise of the Blue Beetle" - as we head toward the premiere?

Hopefully, the show will speak for itself Ė everybody, please check it out!

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