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Gotham – Interview with Bruno Heller and Danny Cannon

By Travis
In Interviews
July 4, 2014
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IGN TV: Batman has such a long history. Going into this, does that make it daunting, exciting or both that there’s been so many iterations of this character beforehand? Do you ultimately just have to say, “Well, this is our spin on it”?

Danny Cannon: Exactly. It was daunting at first, because you’re following three masterpieces. So I settled with the fact that — what we talked about when we first pitched this was, “20 years before Batman.” A world that’s starting to see a corrupt city rotting from the inside. It reminded us of New York in the late ’70s and early ’80s. That was our first meeting, and we kind of spring-boarded off of that. Luckily, that’s uncharted territory. Hopefully in the atmospherics of Gotham we created a romantic, gothic, Dickensian kind of world.

Bruno Heller: It’s the best work he’s ever done – [to Cannon] I hope you don’t find that offensive! — really, because that vision had been in his head that long. That’s the great thing about the material; it’s in everyone’s head. It’s the real mythic popular culture. So we’re really just tapping into a great stream of good stuff. So yeah, it’s daunting, but it’s also nothing but gold that dig you up when you get into it.

Cannon: Absolutely. It reminds me of a band like The Rolling Stones. Should you never play their songs? That’s the world to me. It’s that rich. If it were music, it’d be The Rolling Stones. It would be The Beatles. It’s that great a franchise. I just hope we play their songs well.

IGN: There’s a great big cast of characters with Jim Gordon as the focal point. As we go forward, will we sort of hit upon them at different points? Should we assume they all won’t be in every episode?

Heller: Yeah, yeah. And there’s still a lot of characters, as you know, to be introduced. I mean, a lot of the technical job is, again, it’s getting back to why it’s such a great world to live in. There are so many stories to tell, so many great characters. If you don’t see the character that you love in that episode, you’ll see it him in the next one — because it’s a tapestry. We have to tell so many different stories. The fun of it is in finding the storyline you like, but then there’s a lot of other stuff going on.

IGN: Even the visuals of Gotham itself, the city, are very open to interpretation, if you look at just Burton, Schumacher and Nolan, much less the comic books and animated versions and whatnot. How much did you discuss how you wanted the city itself to look, given you could go towards that more surreal version, versus something like Nolan where it looked like Chicago, basically?

Cannon: Right, a lot. I had to find a visual effects company that shared the same vision, because I didn’t want to keep going over — and I did, in CoSA. They’re a wonderful bunch of guys who really helped me. I drew a lot. It’s the first pilot I’ve ever sat down with a production designer and drawn again, which I really appreciated. But the main thing was for it to be real. I didn’t want any CG anything. So it had to be real, and that meant real weather, a real visceral experience of the place. So we were constantly using steam, rain… So I think that was the important thing, was that it should be seamless. I did a helicopter shoot, with very much in mind the drawings. I bent some rules in New York and got the shots I needed. Then all we had to do was take away pieces of buildings and add a few others, and we stole from real pictures, real reference material: cathedrals, gothic buildings, London, Paris, Barcelona — and that’s all in there. So that means Gotham is a hodgepodge of so many great cities.

Read the full interview @ IGN

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