Additional Potential Storylines
“There’s lots of great material from the comic book and this show would have to go on 20 years to get to all of it. I think the Tyrese character is someone that we’re interested in introducing at some point. We still have Morgan and Duane out there from the pilot. There are new characters that will be original to the series, not coming straight form the comic book. I think Seasons 1 and 2 have been prologue and now it feels like we’re hitting the ground running. Season 3 resets the show in terms of what I really hope it can be.”
On The Pacing of Season 2 and Season 3 and Whether the Change Was an Indictment of Frank Darabont’s approach to Season 2
“No-no-no-no. We respect everything that Frank has done. We would not be here if it wasn’t for Frank Darabont. We owe him a great debt. I think his contribution to the show has been incalculable. Frank also wondered if we had pacing issues in the first half of the season, if there were enough stories to carry us on the farm for an entire season. That was a question that we wrestled with as writers at the beginning of season 2.
That being said, you know, it’s my intention that the show picked up the pace, you know. You look at those last three episodes, but I’m also very proud of the episodes that came before that. I’m proud of the pacing and the mid-season finale. I’m proud of the pacing of “Triggerfinger” and “Nebraska.”
You know, I thought that “Nebraska,” which did not have a lot of zombie action, had a very, very compelling last scene with Michael Raymond James. We will continue to have fast-paced episodes. We will continue to have slower-paced episodes. You know, the episode in which Dale was killed was a little more thoughtful. There was some more debate and I think we had a terrific ending there.
So week-by-week we want to keep throwing curve balls at the audience, you know, and so that you sit down and you never know what kind of episode you’re going to get. We are constantly playing with people’s expectations because that’s what horror movies do.
The minute that you know exactly what you’re getting at the beginning of an episode, I think it becomes less scary and less entertaining. So I’ll just say this. Next year we’re just throwing curve ball after curve ball. That’s the goal.”
Our episodes (in the second half of Season 2) have been better crafted as having a beginning, middle and hopefully having a great punch at the end. That’s something that’s important to The Walking Dead. We’ve cracked it. I’m very happy of the storytelling and density of these episodes. Now that we know what a very successful episode feels like wit’s something we’re going to keep working on.
We still will have slower episodes. We still will have character-focused episodes. This is a story about characters we care about. The pacing for season 3 feels like a freight train.
The Season 3 Writing Staff
“Robert Kirkman is obviously there and we’ve brought back Evan Riley who is just fantastic. Scott Gimple is brilliant. Angela Kang, immensely, you know, also brilliant. And we’ve added two writers: Sang Kyu Kim, he’s a writer I’ve worked with on Crash and Hawthorne. I just love working with him and Nichole Beattie, who comes out of the David Milch (Deadwood) camp and just recently did Prime Suspect and she was also on Rubicon, and so they’ve been terrific additions.
Let me also announce this, that we’ll have Frank Renzulli, who was one of the original writers on The Sopranos will be doing an episode for us in the first half of the season. So I have not announced that yet but Frank Renzulli who worked with me on Crash and is just, I think, one of the best writers out there really has a very, very exciting and pretty scary episode to write. So he’s working with us, too, so we’re looking for him to do that freelance.”
Whether Stephen King and Joe Hill Are Still Guest-Writing An Episode
“Not as far as I know. No, that was I believe Frank’s connection, so I haven’t approached those fellows.”
Difference in killing characters off in comics vs. TV
“We’re not afraid to kill off characters. In the past six episodes we’ll have more deaths than episodes. We’re on a good killing spree here. But you have to build to it. We want to have it land emotionally for the audience, for our characters and move it forward. Robert is a little more immediate. We can’t necessarily do that. We need to build to it and make sure it propels a story out of it. That ‘s part of the process of TV. It’s all story based we don’t really have other concerns. I know that fans have their favorites but we’re really focused the most exciting, surprising, compelling, emotionally rewarding story we can. That’s paramount and when we’re working season 3 arc and putting it forward to AMC. They’re very surprised but everyone’s agreed that this is the best story possible. We’re story-driven here.”
The Pressure of Writing Season Premieres & Building An Audience After Season 2
“Well, let me say this. You know, that kind of pressure of bringing in new audience exists for every TV writer who writes a season premiere. That’s a particular skill where you have to catch up the new audience, giving them a point of access. In a way the season premiere has to be like a pilot for that new season. So there are certain things that have to be worked in. In a way, hopefully that’s elegantly done, that it’s not clunky, that it doesn’t feel like exposition. That’s what I’m working on now and I think we have a pretty exciting plan to do that. And, you know, people just have to jump in. We’re not spoon-feeding the audience next season. Let’s say that.
We have been criticized for being too slow, for taking our time. You see the kind of pace that we like. You know, I’m not saying that we won’t have slow scenes. I’m not saying that we won’t have dialogue. But we’re going to have a break neck pace. We’re going to have deep character moments and people are going to have to catch up with the show. You know, there are a lot of fan questions that we are interested in having things happen off screen and then people say, ‘Wait, how did this happen, how did that happen?’
We think our audience is very intelligent. We think our fans are dedicated and we really, really want to make it a satisfying experience. So I think people, again, by keeping the story telling simple, by not having a very complicated mythology, allows us to give people an access point for Season 3.”
The Nature of Story Leaks and Preserving The Element of Surprise
We want to really improve that. Leaks have been a problem and that is something that we take very seriously and also just the huge amount of attention that the show has — gets has been new territory for me. So we actually internally have a security task force led by Gale Anne Hurd and Robert Kirkman’s on that and Scott Gimple, who’s very computer savvy. AMC takes this stuff very seriously.
We try to see where leaks are coming from and if they’re accurate or they’re not and then trying to get stuff taken down and it’s really like, you know, trying to sweep back the ocean. We’re looking at our entire production process moving forward and, you know, we’re really going to have to adapt procedures that I have not had to adapt on other shows. Trust me, nobody cared about leaks on Crash or Hawthorne, that wasn’t my problem there. But I know Lost had issues like this and there have been a number of shows. I guess JJ (Abrams) has had stuff in the past. So that’s something that we’re feeling our way through and taking seriously, especially moving forward.
Favorite Season 2 Moments as a Writer
It’s not a holy shit moment, but you know what I think is really a wonderful scene that just kind of came out is where in “Better Angels,” Rick hands Carl the gun says, “I wish I had something more profound to say, my father was good like that.” And he hands him the gun.
We do have a lot of holy shit moments but that is a scene that shows that this show has heart. I know a lot of people are asking for flashbacks and are we going to learn something about the characters? Rick’s opening up about his past there and that his son is not going to have the kind of life that he had. So that was kind of an intricate scene that was really beautifully photographed by Ron Schmidt and Guy Ferland, and well acted by Chandler and Andy.
I love any of the Hershel stuff. I really love writing that character. I think Evan Riley did a phenomenal job with the Michael Raymond James scene that just blew me away. You know, I didn’t touch a word there. Evan just really knew how to write that. Angela Kang with the jury scene where Dale is saying isn’t anyone going to stand with me? You know, it’s these little heart breaking moments that make me love the show the way I do.
The big scary moments are fun. But I know they’re coming, so I kind of forget about the impact that they’ll have on the audience. But those little heart breaking moments where Dale or (Andrea) decides to stand with Dale, those break my heart every time I see them, so and it makes me love those characters more.
Will There Be Exclusive Web Content For Season 3
Yes, Greg Nicotero and his co-writer were just awarded a WGA award for their webisodes. So that team is beginning to write that material and Greg is going to direct that as well.
Mapping out Beyond
I wrote on paper what I wanted season three to be and what characters we were introducing, what storylines, what did you feel like, inspirations and all that. I shared that with the writing staff to think about over the holidays. Things starting to evolve and it got 1000 times better. That document does bring us into season four and I talked with Robert about what would be the series finale. Yes we are making this up as we go along, we’re stitching beads together, but Robert hope the show never ends like the comic and go on for 30 years. I don’t know if that’s plausible but I do have a feeling of where the show ends. I’m excited to tell the story. We know the entire arc of season three almost beat-by-beat and pushing it to season four I have ideas, and skipping ahead to the end of the series, I have very strong ideas. But I’m also open to the other writers, producers and AMC contributing to that. I’m sure what will eventually be shot and filmed and aired will be very different and I’m looking forward to working with everyone.
Whew! That should give you plenty to talk about until October when Season 3 of The Walking Dead returns. Check back with BuzzFocus as we will continue to stay on top of castings, news, and interviews related to The Walking Dead. Share your thoughts below.