Joined: 07 Mar 2007
|Posted: Wed Mar 07, 2007 11:27 pm Post subject: My own interview with Brooke.
|Yep, that's right. I did an interview with Brooke. Whether he remembers it or not is beyond me, but it did happen. At least, I hope it did. Otherwise, I can't explain the e-mails saved in my Hotmail account (which blows, by the way). Anyway, since this interview might not be published in my school newspaper as I had planned, I decided to post it here, both to get critique on my ability to carry out interviews and let you guys read about things you've probably already known about for quite a while. It'll be copy-pasta from here on out, though I'll be fixing strange errors that Hotmail slipped into the e-mails when I got replies. Sorry if some of it doesn't make sense.
Also, I'd like to personally apologize to Brooke if I came off as an asshole at any given point in time and that the article might not be getting published so word can get out about Broken Saints. I'd also like to apologize in advance to you guys if I just seem like an asshole in general. I'm sorry! >_<
EDIT: Fixed the quote coding and stuff. Let me know if anything else is wrong with the article.
And there you have it. My interview. Questions? Comments? Flames? I also accept death threats. [/bad cash register joke]
|Interview (conducted on January 4th, 2007) wrote: |
|Zachary Duarte: Hello again, though you may not remember me. I was wondering if you'd be willing to do an interview for an article in my high school's newspaper. We'll have to do it by e-mail since we're in seperate countries, but I'd very much appreciate it. I'll even scan a copy of the article for you to read if you want.
Brooke Burgess: Gladly - thanks for thinking of me!
ZD: Huzzah! I'd try to riverdance, but I'm also pulling a second all-nighter to write a report about Ernest Hemingway. It's a day late and I'm only a little more than halfway done. Anyway, first question!
Your success isn't exactly the same level as Tom Cruise, but Broken Saints seems to be doing quite well for itself. I've been seeing it in a lot of DVD stores lately and there's even a video game in development for it. Broken Saints also tells its story in a unique way. Did you try using more traditional medias and just find that it didn't work out or was it your initial belief that you should try something different? Also, has it ever worried you that the 'cinematic novel' way of storytelling might have given Broken Saints some superficial success?
BB: Hey there - I'll do my best to answer these as they come, but life's demands will often get in the way...so, uhhhh, try to be patient
As far as the medium goes, it was a multi-faceted reasoning that brought about the 'cinematic literature' presentation.
First - yes, I wanted to do something unique, and something that paid clear homage to graphic novels I adored (Sandman, Watchmen, etc), as well as film directors I admired (David Lynch, Stanley Kubrick, Terry Gilliam, etc). By fusing together the sensibilities of these different forms, we were able to not only present our story in a unique way, but also show very clear ties to the inspirational material that fanned our creative fires for so long!
Second - it was also clearly a matter of what was FEASIBLE, given our very limited budget and talents. Andrew was a self-taught artist that was only beginning to work in the digital realm. Ian was well-versed in a landslide of software, but had only begun to play with Flash. And I had written plays, shorts, and cinemas/dialogue for videogames, but this was my first attempt at long-form storytelling. There was NO way we could've raised the capital to leverage traditional mediums (TV, film, games, etc), and still maintain creative control - the religious themes alone would've sandbagged the production from a mainstream perspective. Flash - and the Web itself - offered incredible freedom, and allowed us to produce an ongoing serial story relatively affordably (the original series, which we worked on for free, had hard costs under 50K).
As for the style generating early 'superficial success' - or not being taken 'seriously' - I think that the series came along at a time when people were hungry for something deeper in regards to online entertainment. Even if some folks viewed BS as a momentary 'flash in the pan' (please pardon the pun), we knew in our hearts that the series had substance over style. In the end, it will be the story - and the energies dedicated to creating the story - that will be remembered in the years to come...not the superficial aspects.
ZD: 50K as in $50,000? Canadian or US? Either way, that's a pretty incredible feat. Alright, next few questions.
How long had you been fiddling with the plans for Broken Saints before production actually got started?
Which have you found easier to write? The longform storytelling of Broken Saints or the dialogue and cinema of video games? Writing for video games seems much more difficult, given the radical differences some video games may present in the plot due to the interactive aspect, especially when such choices made by the player must come to the same conclusion for the plot. Making multiple scenarios all naturally flow towards the same end must be a brain teaser sometimes.
Also, have you, Ian, and/or Andrew ever had some regrets as to how some of the story is written or characters are designed? Working on something for a period of over three years, you've really had to press hard in order to finish such an ambitious project. In addition, you weren't even making money at the time.
BB: 50,000 Canadian - again, only for the original online Flash version. The DVD version cost $500K (essentially 10 times as much for actors, surround sound, new art and effects, special features, etc).
I started contemplating creating an epic story that explored my personal relationship with technology and spirituality several years before Broken Saints - originally, I was going to write an autobiographical novel that simply followed my thoughts and travels...but I just didn't feel that idea was sophisticated enough. In 1999, I left my producer job at Electronic Arts Canada to go traveling in the South Pacific - and it was there that the format for Saints started coming together in my head. By the time I returned in the summer of 2000, I was ready to press forward with Andrew and Ian on the series and do some art and tech tests.
Games is actually a much easier medium to write for, as the plots and characterizations are sadly not that deep - it's just mainstream stuff for a mass audience. So whether I was writing for a Japanese war sim' or a snowboarding game or a James Bond adventure, the projects were simple enough (and usually really short on 'plot' in the overall design) that the writing wasn't exactly a challenge. BS was much harder, as I was obsessed with the characters and plot being smart, deep, consistent, and emotionally profound.
I think that we all have SOME creative regrets; personally, I would've loved to have explored Shandala's relationships with Raimi/Kami/Oran once they all came together - maybe have two or three chapters where she reacts to the weirdness of the modern Western world, and we really get a sense of how different/special she really is. As well, there were a few plot points in the overall story that we simply didn't have time to dive into more deeply or explore ( I speak about a bunch of these things specifically in the DVD commentaries). And yes...there are even a few chapters I wish I could rewrite or tweak to make stronger...but hindsight is 20/20. I know that Ian and Andrew are the same with wishing to improve the old work, which is why we revamped so much of the art for the DVD (Andrew and Ian updated at least HALF of the 12hr series!). It's just too bad that we couldn't do the whole thing...
ZD: Given that you weren't able to add the content you wanted to so the series was fleshed out a bit more (on one of the DVD extras, you even mentioned that you were running out of money, correct?), will people see this extra content in the upcoming video game? If not, will you ever launch a part of your website to showcase the "what ifs" that were left out to give fans a deeper look?
BB: If a videogame, comic book, or live-action version (TV) happens, then yes - that is absolutely part of the plan. I really want to expand upon all of the characters and situations, as well as aspects of Lear's/Palmer's plan. I'd also like to showcase a clearer sense of chronology in future versions of BS - I may personally know how much time passed over the series, but many folks have asked that particular question! But most importantly, anything I can add to make the saints (and sinners) deeper and more 'human', the better. Let's see more of Raimi's life at the office, and his relationship with Sandra. Let's see more of Oran's life BEFORE his visions hit, so we can get a better sense of his war-torn life. Let's explore Kami's relationship with his community, and his Buddhist past. And let's see Shandala awed and confused by the weird Western ways, once she's 'free' and united with the Saints before the end!
ZD: Do you have any humorous or troubling fan reactions? By picking four different cultures of the world, you're taking a big risk of offending some people who might think you stereotype the cultures. It seems that you picked Oran's ethnic and social background to emphasize the differences between the Saints, but have you ever felt troubled by the way people react?
BB: Okay - quickies here:
1) I had a fan's MOM start a very suggestive email exchange with me, which spiraled out of control. Essentially, she ended up flying across the country to sit on my doorstep at midnight, drunk out of her mind, and loudly proclaimed that we were 'meant to be together'. Sighhhhhhhh. And the police didn't help much.
2) A strange fundamentalist Christian organization posted a web story a few years ago, asking its members to pray for our souls, because we were caught in the Devil's grip of blasphemy and heresy.
3) A fan from Pakistan got VERY angry after he saw a particular chapter that he felt held extreme disrespect to Islam. Let's just say we won't be staying at his house anytime soon...
ZD: Lastly, what can we expect from the members of the BS crew in the future aside from the video game? You've mentioned on the website's blog that BS has opened up some opportunities. Any chance we see your names on a silverscreen or television set in the near future?
BB: That's the plan! Tobias is working on a film soundtrack currently. Ian is doing effects and editing for feature films and TV in Vancouver. Andrew is doing concept art and getting comic book offers. And I'm currently plugging away at a couple of higher-profile projects that I'm slowly getting ready to announce...stay tuned!
ZD: How deeply involved is the crew with the video game's production? Do you ever intend to return to the realm of video games? It would be nice if someone finally gave the video game industry the kick in the ass it seems to need as of late (People getting shot over PS3s? Yeesh! I'm a fan [of the PS2], but that's nuts!).
BB: IF the videogame gets made, then we'll ALL be involved to a great degree...that's part of the 'deal'. Andrew NEEDS to be a part of the art team (concept art at the very least). Ian NEEDS to have input on effects, menus, and editing. Tobias NEEDS to do the score. And I NEED to supervise the writing/plot, the overall design, and the creative direction of the title. The current design is really strong, and just needs the right publisher 'fit'...so again, fingers crossed!
As far as personally returning to games? I've had several offers...but I just didn't care for the content enough to invest the time and creative energy. Money's just not that important to me. But I honestly believe in the 'never say never' maxim - if the idea's compelling, and the timeframe and budget make sense, then I'd take the plunge