Blog

More Questions and Answers!

It’s been a long while since I’ve answered some questions, so I thought I’d tackle a few…

Mark writes: Hi David. I thought the line you gave Kevin costner and the way he acted it in man of steel trailer #2 was really excellent. Thought it successfully showed a father who just wants to protect his son… possibly at the expense of others. I like what you did. That stood out more than anything to me. Kudos.

DSG: Mark, so glad you liked Kevin in the film.  The scenes with Jonathan Kent were the ones that were nearest and dearest to my heart.

Craig writes: My wife and I are huge fans and we can’t wait until our 1 year old son gets a little older so we can share your DC films with him. I know you probably can’t comment at the moment, but I hope the rumors lighting up the internet about you and Mr. Nolan’s involvement with WB and the DCU are true. If so, I hope you convince Mr. Nolan to dust off that Flash script and move forward with it, Flash fans have been waiting too long!!!!:) Keep it up, your work is truly appreciated.

DSG: Craig, thanks for your kind words.  As for my own sons, I’m waiting until they are about 9 or so to view the Batman films.  I showed my 6 year-old stepson Man of Steel and he liked it — but it was still a little intense.  Regarding future DC films — the fact that Man of Steel opened to strong numbers bodes well for the future.

Jeff writes:  I’ve noticed a recent trend of writing, in regards to the protagonist and the antagonist, where the antagonist is often written in a more thrilling, enigmatic, and entertaining way than the protagonist. This, in some ways, has led to a stronger interest in the ‘villains’ of a movie than the ‘heroes’. With Superman, a principled, classic symbol of heroism, how are you going to be able to keep an interest in the character when, by making an interesting antagonist, you can draw an audience away from the hero, and have them side with a villain? Do you think ‘Man Of Steel’ will get audiences booing the bad guy, and rooting for the hero again?

DSG: Well, Jeff, Man of Steel just opened — what do you think about the depiction of Zod?  I tried to portray him as an antagonist and not a villain — meaning he doesn’t think of himself as a bad guy.  He thinks he’s trying to revive his race.  I wanted to portray him in at least a somewhat sympathetic light, but also make him frightening.  That said, I hope the audience ends up rooting for Superman.

Chris writes:  I was wondering, have your tattoos ever caused you issues in your profession? I’m a twenty year old student studying film production in the South of England. I get a lot of judgment for my skin, and was wondering if you ever struggled with that kind of prejudice professionally? Another question I have is, was there ever a single point in your life or place that you travelled that you felt defined you as a person (or filmmaker)?

DSG: Chris, fortunately, I’ve never had any problems because of my tattoos.  But then, Hollywood is a fairly liberal environment and tattoos are a lot more socially acceptable these days.  In terms of travel — I’ve been to quite a few places.  Tibet made a big impression on me and, in fact, a lot of those experiences ended up funneling directly into the Bhutan sequence for the League of Shadows in Batman Begins.  The mountainside village and temple were even based on some of my own personal photos.

Joe writes:  Did you have any say in casting Cavill as Superman? Was there anything you wanted to do that the studio wouldn’t allow? Would you be interested in doing a sequel to MOS?

DSG: Joe – I saw the screen test of Cavill, just like everyone else involved with the film.  It was pretty much unanimous.  And fortunately, the studio was very receptive to the script.  Zack, Chris, and myself were given a lot of creative freedom.  And yes, I would love to do a MOS sequel.  It was the best experience of my career.  

Klinton writes:  Hello, I would like to ask based on the facts gathered on Superman’s feats, who would actually beat who in a fight. Superman or Goku from DragonballZ?

DSG: Dude, Superman.  Come on.  No contest.

Nathan writes:  Hey David, love your work on The Dark Knight Trilogy along with some of your other work and am really looking forward to Man of Steel. My question is do you have any plans to work with Chris and Jonah on other projects at some point in the future? Also would a Catwoman movie with Anne Hathaway interest you?

DSG: Nathan, I don’t have any immediate plans — but I’ve done four films with Chris and two with Jonah, so I wouldn’t be surprised if we end up collaborating on something in the future.  In terms of a Catwoman spin-off — probably not.  Chris wanted DKR to be the definitive “end” of that trilogy.  So we want to respect that.

Gabe writes:  I’m a big fan of your work and I am shivering in anticipation every day for Man of Steel. I am wondering what you thought of Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance. I enjoyed it as a fun movie, but as a writer I know you could do much better. Also, I’m reading your original script and it is light years ahead of the stuff that you are credited with. I’m wondering if you are planning on maybe directing a third one for a final shot at Ghost Rider and how you would bring him to the level that he deserves. In other words, how would Ghost Rider have looked had you been in charge or more involved?

DSG: Gabe, I have to be honest.  I hated Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance.  It was based on an old draft of mine, but I had nothing to do with the production and ended up being rewritten by the directors.  No offense to them — they are great visual stylists — but it just didn’t represent the original script I’d written. Ultimately, I refused to participate in press or the DVD extras because I was unhappy with the finished product.  

Alex writes:  What is your concept on justice and why do you think vengeance is wrong? Isn’t vengeance part of justice? Of balancing the needs of the victim, of the society and the criminal? On Batman Begins, the main characters (Rachel and Bruce) share a concept that vengeance isn’t justice. That vengeance involves hatred from the victim that clouds their judgement. Basically, justice = good and vengeance = bad . But why? Something that causes this much hate shouldn’t be worthy of vengeance? Why go through the corrupt system of justice so that criminals can run free? I agree that the league of shadows way of purging a city sacrificing innocents for the greater good is wrong, but i know why it’s wrong. I don’t know why their views on vengeance is wrong though. This is something i have always wondered, and I know this probably will never make it to you, but at least tried.

DSG: Alex, for my mind, justice is an attempt to be impartial, without infecting the act with your own, personal desires.  To that end, for justice to be effective, if probably has to be doled out by someone other than the victim or someone close to the victim — because they can’t be impartial.  It’s an open debate as to whether or not Batman engages in justice or vengeance. Some would argue that everything he’s doing is really just a way for him to take vengeance on his parents’ killer.

Jonathan writes:  I know not too much can be said about Warner Bros’ supposed plans for a DC equivalent of a cinematic universe. Instead, I’ll ask this: can you imagine Man of Steel and Nolan’s Dark Knight Trilogy existing in the same world?

DSG: Jonathan, Zack and I have both gone on record — Chris’ Dark Knight does not exist in the Man of Steel universe.  But Zack has left the door open for another Bruce Wayne to possibly enter one day…

Allison writes:  Hello David, My name is Allison. Im 15 years old and Im always into demonic things like your very own movie, The Unborn. I recently watched this movie last night and it was great. It left me hanging. I got the idea, as soon as I was done watching it with my step-mother, that you should make an Unborn 2.  We, as an audience that were left hanging and wanting more after viewing, would think it would be a phenomenal film for the lovers of paranormal.  I hope you take this in to consideration. If you do not, then all I can say is I’m just an individual putting her ideas out there hoping someone will listen or make a change.

DSG: Hey, Allison.  Glad you liked Unborn.  I had fun with it and Odette was wonderful to work with.  That said, I don’t think we’ll be doing a sequel.  The film was very successful, but I always intended it to be a single film.

Jonah writes:  Mr. Goyer, I have a question. I always fall apart in the outline stage! Can you give very practical tips for just getting through and finishing a story? And maybe some tips for self discipline? Thank you very much!

DSG: Hey, Jonah — I think I wrote a blog post on tips for beginning writers.  The main thing is to finish an outline before you write the script.  And when you are writing the script, don’t rewrite the first act before you finish.  Just get a draft done — even if you think it’s not very good.  And THEN, when you have a whole draft, you’ll be in a better position to be more objective and start rewriting.

Kent writes:  My parents lived in France in the late 1970s and saw Superman: the Motion Picture (dubbed in French) which made them homesick. The wide open plains of Kansas (actually Canada I believe), and it stuck with them. They adopted me in 1983 and named me after the Kent family. Superman has been a part of my life for thirty years now and it all came together today when my family and I went to the theater in D-Box, sat down and enjoyed Superman on the big screen together for the first time. Thank you so much for writing this script, making it so much about family, about the adopted nature of Clark Kent/Kal-El and what it means to choose your family. My mom teared up at Pa Kent’s death. Anyway onto a more nerdy note, thanks for making Carol Ferris a character in Man of Steel and thereby making a Green Lantern reboot by force. I didn’t like the Green Lantern film (and not for lack of trying) and by making Carrie Ferris a character you’ve forced DC into a weird position, one I really appreciate. I don’t know how many fans are noticing this little nod, but I did right away. Anyway thank you again and I can’t wait to see what the DC Universe and you have in store for us fans. I’ve loved your work for years. Also Da Vinci’s Demons kicks ass.

DSG: Kent – wow.  What am amazing story and journey for you and your family.  I’m glad the film resonated for you. 

Luke writes:  I am sure you get hundreds of emails on here from people all around the world and I hope this one gets to you. I have been a huge fan of Superman since I was a child and I wanted to say thank you for making me believe a man can fly again. Man Of Steel got released in the U.K today and I watched it twice. I was going to watch it three times but after two I was emotionally drained! I had tears of joy and sadness and I was on the edge of my seat for the whole screening! I believe in thanking people for a job well done, and even though you may not read this email, I wanted to express my appreciation for what I experienced today. Seeing my hero on the big screen was a wonderful experience and I know I wasn’t the only one in the who enjoyed it. The theater was filled with people gasping, laughing and cheering and made the day even more special. I am sure you are a very busy man and I will leave you to continue with your work, I just wanted to say thank you.

DSG: Luke, I did get your email and it made me smile.  So glad you enjoyed the film.  Honestly, I wrote the Superman film that I was dying to see — since I was a little kid reading DC and Marvel comic books. People like you are the reason I do what I do.

Jake writes:  David, Huge fan. I asked a question about WB using MoS as a potential set-up for a Justice League film a few months ago. I was honored that you actually answered my question and gave an honest answer (saying it was too soon to discuss). I thank for you answering and, as I sit waiting to see MoS for myself, reading your comments about a possible JL film makes me happy. Hopefully this takes place. Thanks in advance. Like I said, I’m a big fan.

DSG: Jake – I’ll say this, based on the initial reception of Man of Steel, I think the possibilities for Justice League just got a little brighter.

Rory writes:  Hey David Hope your well. Wish you would get off your ass and quit writing such awesome shows and maybe come back to Canada to direct something so I could work with you again.

DSG: Rory – I’ll be back up to Canada at some point, I’m sure.  Just need to rest a little after the Man of Steel and Da Vinci onslaught these last few months. 

Navin writes:  Dear Mr Goyer, Thank you for being such an inspiration. When you say ‘I still feel insecure about my work, at times. I still wonder if I’ve done enough. I suppose that feeling will never really go away.’ – it inspires me to go further as a filmmaker and it evokes a realisation that no matter who we are, we all share the same fears, hopes and dreams. It’s what grounds us and retains us to our humanity whilst we dream and write about heroes, their tragedies and feats that we aspire to.

DSG: Navin – Everybody experiences insecurity and doubt, especially us creative types.  Anyone that denies that isn’t being honest with themselves.  Every time I sit down to begin a new project, I wonder whether or not I’ll find the muse again.

Hind writes:  Hello Mr. Goyer. My name is Hind. I’m french. I don’t speak english very well, so I’m sending you this short message.  Just know that you make me happy. «The Invisible» is the film that made me want to make films. I have one wish in my life, it’s to have the same career as your own. I’m one of your biggest fan.  I’m 18. Your sold your first script at age 25. I still have time on my hands, so I tell you in 10 years, 15 years, 30 years… Thank you again for everything.

DSG: Hind – You managed just fine with your English.  Glad you enjoyed The Invisible – that’s a film of mine that is often overlooked.  

Phillip writes:  I just wanted to say Mr. Goyer, that your work is really REALLY awesome. I just watched Man of Steel last night, and I have to say it is probably hands down, the best Superman movie to date. I would also like to really thank you for being a really big inspiration to me. Ever since I first watched Batman Begins all those years ago, I got the idea in my head that I could write, and write movies none the less. You know, over the course of the past few years, I have written a few things nothing major just some little stuff for college, but that doesn’t mean I don’t think about writing or even just conceptual ideas and such. Really, thank you again for giving me the drive to do what I want to do. Thank you for the really well written movies you bring, and most of all, thank you for knowing how to take iconic characters and treat them with such high respect.

DSG: Phillip – thank you for your gracious words.  I started out just like you, admiring Walter Hill, Lawrence Kasdan, George Lucus, and many more.

Judy writes:  I had the nostalgic urge to look up people I had once known.  I was saddened to read on Wikipedia that you had been attacked while growing up in Ann Arbor for being Jewish and “killing Christ.” Where and by whom did this happen? I must say that I never encountered such direct hostility and didn’t know it existed in our purportedly liberal town.

DSG: Judy, hello to a fellow Ann Arborite.  Although our hometown was pretty liberal, I did experience some anti-semitism, sadly.  And yeah, I definitely felt some hostility from the aforementioned group in high school.

Annette writes: Dear David, I graduated with you in 1984 from Huron High School. I still live in Ann Arbor, am married (to the man you met at the reunion) and now have 3 boys. They all attend Ann Arbor Public Schools with one already at Huron and they love many of your movies, TV shows and video games. I love to tell them that you and I went to high school together. I use you as an example that an education from the Ann Arbor Public Schools, dreams and hard work can build a successful life. I’ve certainly used your name many times as my boys have grown. I want to thank you for that and congratulate you on your success.

DSG: Annette, nice to hear from a fellow Huron grad.  I am definitely a product of public school education.  I didn’t know anyone in the film business when I set my sights on screenwriting — so if I can do it, I suppose anyone can, right?  But yes, I definitely worked my butt off.

Scott writes:  David, This is Scott, I remember sitting at your kitchen table with Geoff, playing D&D. I remember the artwork you made in your room, and just about anything you could get your hands on.  . Just a few weeks ago, I realized, that behind almost all of the movies I REALLY enjoy… stands you.  I wanted to thank you… for pursuing your dream. It’s made a part of my life great.

DSG: Thanks, Scott.  Another Ann Arborite.  Yeah, this is me — writing Blade and Batman and Superman films.  Who would’ve guessed?  Haven’t played D&D for a LONG time.

——

That’s all for now!  And a shout out to Sam Park and the former Lenkov writers group as well as Alec Friedman…

Man of Steel Premieres

Just got back from the New York and London premieres of Man of Steel.  London was insane.  Had to include this awesome fan…

 

FOUR QUESTIONS

Been a while since I’ve posted something.  Tomorrow is Passover, for those of you out there subscribing to the Jewish faith.  At my house (wayward Jews that we are), we tend to celebrate it on the Sunday before.

I used to hate Passover as a kid.  I found it boring.  But my kids love it.  They get into the Twelve Plagues (we actually bring out rubber frogs and locusts and the like).  They are seriously into Elijah, a prophet.  During the Seder, you’re supposed to set a place for him, pour a cup of wine, and leave the door open for him.  When the kids aren’t looking, we drink the wine.  Elijah’s a friendly ghost.  Kind of like leaving cookies out for Santa Claus.  My 3 year-old once threatened to have Elijah beat me up because I wouldn’t let him play with his trains.

In any event, in honor of Passover, I’m starting a new feature modeled after the Four Questions, which the youngest attendee at any given Passover seder is supposed to ask.

I’ll start with Tom Riley, who plays Leonardo Da Vinci in our upcoming show.  We had dinner after our first block of filming at a local Italian place in Swansea called Gallinis.  Tom is a gracious and incredibly hard-working guy.  I’m excited about Da Vinci’s Demons if, for no other reason, than Tom and the rest of our wonderful cast are going to get significantly more exposure after it airs.

So here goes.  Four questions about acting (with a few rambling detours along the way):

DSG: When did you know you know you wanted to be an actor?

TR: Really young – crazy young.  Like four. I went out to join like a little drama club.  I kept demanding to my parents that I wanted to do it.  It was called…“The Roundabout” I think it was called.  

DSG: And at what point were you making a living acting?

TR: Straight off.  My first job, I was still at drama school, and I took over for a guy that had to leave the production – this play in the West End.  And it was two days before the technical rehearsal and I came in to bat for him.  He came to see it, and he was very gracious afterwards.  Very cool guy.  But um, yeah that was my first job.  Just sort of happened.

DSG: Now, a couple of things I was curious about – well one is, do you think there’s a qualitative difference in the way British actors approach their craft as opposed to Americans?

TR: I’ve worked with American stage actors on Broadway, I’ve worked in American sitcoms.  Americans – and actually it’s great, ‘cause it’s similar to the way you direct – they come with confidence.  With an attitude of like “Well, we’re going to fucking try this, and if it doesn’t work, then we’ll learn as we go and we’ll pick ourselves up again.”  And you can get some amazing results that way.

DSG: And you can also flame out spectacularly.

TR: Yeah.  You can do.  But hopefully you’ll have someone to say “You’re going way too big,” there’s someone there to steer the ship and it doesn’t matter how fast you come out of the harbor.  Whereas Brits tend to go, “We’re going to be tentative…” I think they do a lot of thinking, and then they dip their toes in.  “Does this work?  Does this work?”  And I think part of the reason is because we’re finding our feet and aren’t prepared to just say; “This is what it is.”  Whereas Americans are just – confident.  

TR: What I try to do is prep to the point where you know the part inside out, and then forget it the minute you’re on set.  So you get there, you see whatever the other actors are doing, you see how the shape of the scene is being directed, and then you hope that whatever you’ve prepped, there’re remnants, but you just let it go.

DSG: I thought it was interesting that the scenes you’ve struggled with the most when we were shooting, were the scenes that you’d auditioned.  The ones where you had prepared the most.  Why is that?

TR: You’re right – it’s because we’ve prepped so hard to show every facet of what you can do in a room.  In one scene.  And then you get to that scene and of course that scene’s part of a tapestry.  And if you’re making it too big, then it doesn’t work.  Allan (Corduner) had a similar reaction yesterday.  He was like “This was my audition scene!”

DSG: I remember hearing about that.  British actors, I think, tend to approach acting more like a craft as opposed to an art.  And I’ve always approached writing and directing as a craft, which is not to say that the craft can’t be artistic, but…

TR: What do you see as the distinction between craft and art?

DSG:  When I think of “craft,” I think a craftsman.  Like a woodworker, who takes a lot of pride and specificity in getting it right.  And I guess I’ve always approached writing and directing as, “This is a craft, and I’m going to try to be the best I can possibly be at it and take my ego out of it.” Whereas I think American actors and directors sometimes act like “I’m an “artist” with a capital “A”, so look out…”

TR: I think using art and the idea of being an artist is sometimes just an excuse for behaving in a way because you aren’t sure of what you’re doing.  You’re insecure.