When I recently interviewed writer-director Joss Whedon for Knowledge@Wharton, I asked whether he viewed the different media in which he works — film, television, online — as fundamentally different or as merely different distribution channels for similar content. Whedon replied that, while these media are connecting in ways that he finds “both fascinating and appalling,” you need to respect the format in which you’re working. Reacting against the current trend of “trying to make every story work on every platform,” Whedon stressed the importance of “absolutely respecting that the media are different.” As Whedon stated:
Sometimes you’re like, “Can you just make a frickin’ movie! Can it not be a franchise and a comic book and a bobblehead? Can the characters just matter?”
I had the opportunity to follow up with Whedon yesterday at a press event at New York Comic Con, and I asked him to contrast the different forms in which he has worked. Whedon responded:
[With] online, obviously, I don’t have quite the same money — but I kind of love that. It has the advantage of being home-brewed. But that means it doesn’t reach as wide an audience — yet.
[With] television, I have the opportunity to explore characters for, hopefully, years…and really get underneath and see what makes them tick. And then decide something else makes them tick. That’s really exciting.
And movies? Movies are just big. I mean, the thing about movies is you have to squeeze out a lot of that introspection and that subtlety. But, if you get it right, they’re this really concentrated dose of the story you want to tell, as opposed to spinning it out over years. And that can be just as exciting.
They all have their frustrations…but it’s just storytelling. And there’s nothing else I like more.
The original interview with Whedon is available at Knowledge@Wharton: “Joss Whedon’s Plan to Monetize Internet Content (Watch Out, Hollywood)”
Photos from Comic Con of Joss Whedon, along with “Battlestar Galactica” and “Dollhouse” star Tahmoh Penikett, are in my Flickr account.
4 thoughts on “Joss Whedon: Storytelling in Different Media”
So you had one question… and you DIDN’T ask him why he is so awesome?
I wasn’t necessarily going to watch Dollhouse, but I might now, just to see more Tahmoh Penikett.
Plenty of others — particularly audience members at the panel session — asked him variants of your question. So I decided to go a different way.
But, if we had more time, your question was next on my list!