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Interview - Brandon Vietti

First off, describe your role and subsequent duties on Superman/Doomsday in as much detail as possible.

I directed the first third of the movie, which concludes at the end of the Doomsday fight. Bruce (Timm) and I went over the script he had written with Duane (Capizzi) and talked over ideas. Then I worked with a group of storyboard artists to turn the words on the page into pictures for the screen. My job was to establish the tone and characters of the story and make sure the visuals were as dramatic and dynamic as possible to match or enhance the action of the script.

Coming off fresh from The Batman, how different is it to work on a project like Superman/Doomsday (a PG-13 movie with looser restrictions) than The Batman (A TV-Y7, Saturday morning cartoon). Describe the pros and cons of each.

Obviously Saturday morning shows have to be a little lighter in tone. They're designed for a younger audience, they're supposed to be fun and so that's what we focus on as we make shows like The Batman. Doomsday tells the story of the death of Superman and the dramatic repercussions that follow. I don't think that's the kind of "fun" that kids are tuning in for on Saturday morning. But I know older audiences will appreciate it because that kind of story allows for a deeper and more rewarding exploration of the characters they already know and love from the Saturday morning toons they watched as kids. These more adult oriented stories take characters to a new level and the audience along with them.

Personally, I loved working on a more mature story like Doomsday. I'm really happy DC and Warner Brothers have taken the step in that direction. I hope Doomsday and New Frontier are embraced by the fans so that we can do more stories like this in the future.

You've also directed The Batman Versus Dracula, another DTV. Did the experience on that movie prep you for Superman/Doomsday? Explain.

The Batman vs. Dracula was my first experience working in a movie length format. Planning seventy-something minutes of story is much more difficult than planning twenty-something minutes for TV plus commercial breaks. Pacing can be a real challenge in longer formats but it helped to have a pro like Batman's Supervising Producer/Director Mike Goguen to guide us through the process and work out the kinks in pacing. I learned a lot from the experience and it did help me out with planning Doomsday.

What was it like to work with Bruce Timm again? If I recall correctly, you were a storyboard artist on The New Batman/Superman Adventures, which was also your first job, correct?

Yes. Bruce hired me about 10 years ago. Since I was a new guy just learning the ropes back then I didn't get to work with Bruce directly too much as he was busy overseeing the entire production. I worked more closely with Director Butch Lukic and Art Director Glen Murakami. But they would often teach me by pushing Bruce's storyboards and designs in front of me to study.

Now it's 10 years later and I finally get to work with Bruce directly. And I'm still learning from the man. He has included me and my Doomsday co-director, Lauren Montgomery, on every aspect of the production. From the early storyboard animatics to the final edit, he's taken the time to offer advice and teach us his theories on storytelling, art direction, and editing. Working with Bruce is always an education.

Now, looking back on that and where you are now, what is it like to be directing an adaptation of DC's best-selling graphic novel? There must be a teeny bit of pressure there, right? Explain.

Oh yeah, there's some pressure. I remember when the Doomsday story was first published. There was a huge buzz in the press about it and the story really had an impact on people whether they were avid comic book readers or not. Telling the story of the death of one of the world's most iconic characters is a heavy responsibility. But at the same time we all had a blast drawing out the story. Everybody on the crew brought their best game to the table knowing the importance of this movie. Pound for pound, this was the most talented crew I've ever seen assembled for a project and it was an honor to be a part of it!

Anything you want to tease for the fans on Superman/Doomsday?

I'll just say I love the script that Bruce and Duane put together because they found a way to maintain core elements from the comic while weaving in new elements to make the story feel brand new. I think fans will be pleased with the final result.

Keeping on the Superman subject, you're joining Legion of Super-Heroes this year. Can you describe your role in that series?

We actually just wrapped pre-production on season two of Legion in which I directed 8 of 13 episodes. As I write this, we're editing the animation as it's coming in from Korea and it's looking fantastic! After The Batman and Doomsday, it was great to land on a fun, team show where everybody has crazy super powers. It was a nice change of pace. Plus I'm happy to get to work with Producer James Tucker who also helped train me back on The New Batman/Superman Adventures.

Before jumping to LOSH, you were apart of the The Batman team, playing a part in the fourth season of the series, which some call the fan-friendly series. Do you have any thoughts on the fourth season and how it compares to the previous three?

With any series there is progression and I think The Batman's fourth season is an example of that. It built on what was established from previous seasons and brought in new elements to keep it feeling fresh and new.

We thought season four might be the last so Producers Mike Goguen and Jeff Matsuda and Story Editor Michael Jelenic and myself all wanted to have a sense of closure to the final episode just in case it was the very last. I thought the Justice League ending served well to show how far Bruce/Batman had grown from the first season. His concerns and sense of responsibility had grown beyond Gotham and he was now accepting the help of others in his mission. Thankfully a fifth season was picked up and now we'll get to see some long awaited team ups that expand out of the JL ending from season four. I've been peeking at some of the work that The Batman crew has been doing this season and it looks awesome!

Do you have a personal favorite episode from The Batman?

It's so hard to just pick one. So I'll cheat and pick three. Two favorites out of the 19 episodes I directed are "A Matter of Family" (Robin's origin episode) and "Gotham's Ultimate Criminal Mastermind." I also loved "The Laughing Bat."

So, what can fans expect in Legion of Superheroes, this season (aside from two Supermans)? Anything to whet their appetite?

Well, the new Superman, Kell-El, was a lot of fun to work with and I think fans are going to like him a lot. We have some great stories from James and Story Editor Michael Jelenic that really push the growth of some the favorite characters like Lightning Lad, Timber Wolf, and Brainiac 5. And the addition of Imperiex in to the Legion universe brings a whole new level of action unseen in season one! So I can't wait to tune in to the message boards to see what everybody thinks of the new season.
 

The World’s Finest would like to thank Brandon Vietti for his participation in this Q & A.