| Backstage - Bruce Timm Interview
ARTIST-ANIMATOR BRUCE TIMM DISCUSSES “WONDER WOMAN,” THE
NEXT DC UNIVERSE ANIMATED ORIGINAL MOVIE
Ground-breaking animation legend Bruce Timm heads
an impressive cast and crew as producer of “Wonder
Woman,” the next entry in the popular series of DC
Universe animated original PG-13 movies due from Warner
Premiere, DC Comics and Warner Bros. Animation on March
3, 2009. Warner Home Video will distribute the all-new
film, which will also be available OnDemand and
Pay-Per-View as well as available for download day and
date, March 3, 2009.
Fans in the greater Gotham
area will have a chance to see the premiere of “Wonder
Woman” at New York ComicCon on Friday, February 6 in the
IGN Theatre at The Javits Center. Timm will lead the
post-premiere panel and also be available for autographs
during a midday signing session on Saturday, February 7.
Timm is the creative force behind many of Warner
Bros. Animation’s greatest modern-day successes, driving
DC Comics’ most recognized super heroes to new heights
of popularity as the focal point of television series
and made-for-DVD films. Timm’s current mission has been
as producer of the DC Universe animated original movies,
and the first three – “Superman Doomsday,” “Justice
League: The New Frontier” and “Batman Gotham Knight” –
have met with both critical raves and consumer success.
The three-time Emmy Award winner stole a few
moments from his work on the next DC Universe film to
discuss the evolution of the made-for-DVD movies, Lauren
Montgomery’s rise to stardom, his 20-year working
collaboration with Andrea Romano, and Wonder Woman’s
QUESTION: What progression have you seen
through the first four films in the DC Universe animated
original movies series?
BRUCE TIMM: The thing I
like most about this whole ongoing project is that each
of these movies really does have a different, unique
feel. It would have been very, very easy and frankly a
lot simpler and cost effective to stay in that TV series
design style and world view. But each of these movies
really does have a unique feel – in the design, the
score, the cast, even the title sequences. We’ve been
able to expand creatively and that makes these
QUESTION: You’re known for
revolutionizing the animated look of DC characters in
several landmark TV series. What was the thought process
behind the character design in this film?
TIMM: We didn’t want to do anything that even remotely
looked like what we have done with Wonder Woman on
Justice League. She presents a challenge because she
needs to be drop-dead gorgeous, but also very, very
strong both physically and emotionally. She’s a powerful
presence and we had to find that balance between
athleticism and glamour.
really took the lead on the design of Wonder Woman
herself, and I think she came up with a very unique
approach. It’s not like anything you've seen from the
comics, though we did look at a lot of the comics for
inspiration. We liked the George Perez version and Adam
Hughes' version, and all points in between. But there
are a lot of the things that Adam and George brought to
the character that were so specific and detail-oriented
that they wouldn't necessarily translate to animation.
We wanted to keep the number of lines down to a minimum
– to create a relatively simple and straight-forward
design. It was quite a challenge, but I think the design
Lauren came up with is exactly what it needs to be.
QUESTION: Were there any specific design elements
you wanted to include?
BRUCE TIMM: A character
like Wonder Woman is so iconic and yet, over the course
of her history, there have been lots of subtle changes.
We couldn't stray too far from the comic book look, but
you do have a certain amount of leeway in terms of how
you interpret those elements for animation. It sounds
really insignificant, but one of the things that we
specifically liked about Adam Hughes' most recent take
on Wonder Woman was that he gave her kind of baggy boots
– instead of those super tight go-go boot-type things.
They kind of flare out at the bottom and they’re flats,
not heels. That made her more athletic – it kind of
planted her and gave her a solidity that we really
liked. It’s a minor change, but it had an effect on her
QUESTION: What sets Wonder Woman apart
from the first three DCU films and prior incarnations of
BRUCE TIMM: One of the things that
really intrigued us the most about the whole Wonder
Woman mythology is the actual mythology of it. Her
character has distinct roots in classic Greek mythology,
so we really played that up. The movie actually starts
with a fairly long, epic battle that takes place in
ancient times. It’s swords and sorcery, die-hard Amazon
warriors versus monsters and barbarians. We worked hard
to establish the character design, the costume details,
the weaponry design and the background styling and I
think, within the first 30 seconds of watching the
movie, you're going to think, “Wow, this doesn't look
anything like we've done before.” It’s noticeably a
quantum leap away from the first three movies.
Beyond the mythology, Wonder Woman gets to play with
several dichotomies. It’s Amazon culture versus man's
world; ancient mythological times versus the
contemporary world; and, of course, all the male and
female issues. All of those conflict themes run
throughout the entire movie – in the script and visually
– and I think it all comes together and gels unlike
anything we've ever done.
QUESTION: How did
Lauren Montgomery earn the opportunity to sit in the
BRUCE TIMM: Lauren is one of
the fastest rising artists I’ve ever worked with. When
we first started working with her on Justice League, she
really hit the ground running. She was still relatively
inexperienced – she’d only had a couple of jobs in
animation at that point – and even today I seem to
forget that she’s actually still quite young. But on
Justice League, we could see she had a lot of potential
and her stuff was really good. Every time she would turn
in a new storyboard, we'd be like, “Wow, who did this?
This is really good.” And every month, she just kept
topping herself. She was really paying attention and
obviously on this really fast-tracked learning curve –
she was teaching herself, absorbing everything around
her. She was this sponge, sucking up all of our
perspectives and developing her own unique
sensibilities. Within a really short period of time, she
became our best storyboard artist. Those are the people
we recruit to become directors.
What does Lauren Montgomery bring specifically to Wonder
BRUCE TIMM: Just from a purely practical
standpoint, having her as a director means that I don’t
have to worry about things. I know she’s looking at the
storyboards – and I know she’s going to catch all the
little things and fix them. If a storyboard isn’t up to
speed with the caliber of the rest of the film, she's
going to stay late and re-draw it herself – and plus it
and to make it a thousand times better.
smart and very detail-oriented, and very well-rounded in
terms of her areas of expertise. That was important on
this film. Some directors are really, really good at
directing action, but they don’t really care so much
about the drama, other directors are the exact opposite.
Lauren is excellent at both. She knows how to push the
envelope on an action scene, and she’s probably the best
director of acting that I’ve ever work with. She’s the
QUESTION: Can you give an
example of Lauren Montgomery’s expertise in directing
BRUCE TIMM: We rely on our
storyboard artists to really inject acting into the
storyboard drawings as a key for the overseas animators.
We’re blessed with really, really excellent vocal
performances on these films, but you need a very good
storyboard artist to act out the character's motions and
emotions in simple drawings.
There's a short
sequence in Superman Doomsday where, after Superman has
died, Lois Lane goes to meet Martha Kent for the first
time. It’s a very simple, subtle scene – just two women
meeting and commiserating with each other over the loss
of Superman. It's shot very simply with two-shots and
close-ups. The thing that makes this scene so powerful
is the very clear emotion on the character's faces, and
that was the sequence Lauren storyboarded. When you look
at it on the screen, it’s as though we got really good
actresses giving performances charged with emotion in
their specific facial expressions and body language.
Ultimately, it was Lauren’s storyboard and direction
that really brought that scene to life.
QUESTION: Can you define the greatness that is Andrea
BRUCE TIMM: What can I say about Andrea
that I haven’t said a zillion times before? She's
brilliant. It’s actually tough for me to even compare
because I’ve been blessed with Andrea on every single
project that I’ve done as a producer since 1990.
She knows me so well that half the time I don’t even
have to give notes during a recording because she’s
already anticipated what I’m going to say. And if do
have to say something, I barely get half the sentence
out before she finishes the sentence for me.
main aspect of Andrea’s job is that she needs to get
performances out of the actors that the producers and
directors want. It has to fit our vision of the scene
and the film. As dialogue is written on the page, you
could have 30 different line readings of any individual
line – it really depends on what else is happening in
the scene or the intent of that specific line of
dialogue. But Andrea has an obvious natural instinct for
the meaning of the line. Most importantly, she knows how
to translate that information into actor-ese to get that
performance. She can put our thoughts into words so that
the actors can understand where she's coming from and
what’s needed for the scene. Simply put, she’s great.
QUESTION: Andrea Romano’s resume speaks for itself.
Does she have a virtue we don’t normally hear about?
BRUCE TIMM: I’ll tell you this – one of the things I
love about Andrea is that she’s fast. She just cuts
right to the chase, never goes down blind alleys, and
she physically talks fast. It’s funny because when I
first started working with her, I didn’t think I was
going to be able to keep up. She's just so full of
energy, it’s like she must’ve been main lining Red Bull
before every session. But that’s great for me, because
I’m very ADD myself. She doesn’t equivocate, she’s just
right to the point – attack, attack, attack, get it
done. For me, that’s perfect.
the film’s official website at
Princess Diana and Steve Trevor don’t exactly hit it off
in their initial meeting in “Wonder Wonder,” the all-new
DC Universe animated original movie set for distribution
March 3, 2009 by Warner Home Video.
Queen Hippolyta and
Artemis prepare for battle with Ares’ villainous forces
in “Wonder Wonder,” the all-new DC Universe animated
original movie set for distribution March 3, 2009 by
Warner Home Video.
Emmy Award winner and animation legend Bruce Timm is the
producer of “Wonder Wonder,” the all-new DC Universe
animated original movie set for distribution March 3,
2009 by Warner Home Video.
for the images:
"Wonder Woman" (c) Warner Bros. Ent
Inc. "Wonder Woman" and all related characters and
elements are trademarks of and (c) DC Comics. All Rights
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