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FireflyTranscript of first part of Joss Whedon Serenity Q&A in Australia - Spoilers
Saturday 17 September 2005, by Webmaster
(just for future refrence, cinema staff were roaming with mikes and cards numbered one and two for those asking questions) [Joss enters]
JOSS: Uh, someone was telling me that I’m in Australia? Im very excited about that. Can’t wait to wake up and realise it. I thank you guys very much for coming out. Im just going to start answering questions because I have nothing of interest to say that I haven’t already said on the screen. So if anyone has a question - now number two, number two!... You are number six [laughs].
Question: Hey Joss. You haven’t done the Matrix style, Im expecting one and two that they made, in the fourty million that it cost for this one... um.. how much fan support do you need for there to be a sequel?
JOSS: Um ALL of it [laughs]. They basically told us that if we made a little bit more that we spent - domestically speaking - and a good deal more than that globally, that the wheels would begin to turn. But its kind of a gray area, I can’t say anthing offically, but this movie did cost alot less than any of the movies that came out this summer. Obviously it didn’t have any of the big stars in it although I do believe it has the (sing-song) stars of the future (/sing song), and believe it or not, it didn’t have the same effects as most romantic comedies have now. So it doesn’t have that far to go, but then there are alot of people who have never, ever heard of it and would have no interest in seeing it, so its going to be a bit of an up-hill climb. It’ll be interesting to see what happens. I mean you guys, needless to say, have been amazing and you’ve not only convinced me, but Universal as well that this is really worth doing and really possible, and Im incredibly grateful for it. If infact we are the only people who see the film, well we had fun, didn’t we? (audience laughs) And well, thats something, isn’t it, you have the closure there, but hopefully we’ll get more people into the theatres than that. Its still a little unclear to me as to how, but I think "word of mouth" is our best friend. Unless the mouth didn’t like the movie, I’ve said it before, the mouth needs to be quiet.
Question: Hi Joss. There’s been alot of speculation on boards and things like that, now that everybody here has seen the film we can say, ’yes, Wash is dead’.
Questioner: Oh, Im sorry, you didn’t see it, you weren’t here—
JOSS: — I didn’t see the final cut so (laughs)
Questioner:: There’s been alot of speculation as to the reasons for Alan’s ’lack of sequel opportunity’ shall we say? Are you able to confirm or deny or speculate?
JOSS: I can do all of those things. I have always... *hated* Alan. He’s just not funny. Im looking for funny and he’s just not there for me. No, he is... the character if Wash - as some of you may have noticed - a corpse, but that is not because he is not going to be in the sequel. In fact, if there were a sequel I can say, without hesitation that he infact would be in it. And not in a cheesy twin brother way. I can’t stress that enough.
Question: I was wondering, God forbid, if there happened to be no sequels or return to the TV show, how and if you plan to reveal the secrets of Book, Inara, River’s past etc etc?
JOSS: I plan to get very drunk and go on the internet. Well, obviously the question is whats different about that? But in that case it would reveal some things that were true.
Question: Hi. I was just wondering why New Melbourne is full of nothing but fish.
JOSS: Um, I think youre asking the wrong person (laughs). But thank you. For your intererst. In... *fish*. (audience laughs) Hey guys, Im all alone up here, so.. you know... have your fun. Have at me
Question: Hi, I just wanted to ask what’s in Inara’s box (Audience laughs)
JOSS: You people are *soooo* classy!
Questioner: I was talking about—
JOSS: — I know what you were talking about. It was something... that was going to have an entire episode revolved around it, but since Firefly is no more there will not be that episode but in the off chance it might become useful in one of these imaginary sequels I and all of my ego like to think might happen, I will saying nothing. However, in my drunken internet spree it will be one of the things I will reveal.
Question: With regards to the editing of the film, how did your relationship with Lisa Lassek change, in terms of working relationship, how did that change from going from a series where youre [...] multiple episodes to which you had a feature and more time to work with her?
JOSS: Basically, Lisa has been my editor on Buffy, she edited the musical episode, and she went into Firefly as an associate producer and chief editor, shes been with the show from the very beginning, and when the show got cancelled, she’s one of the people along with the cast (as well as you guys) who kept me from throwing in the towel. When we started working on the movie together, its a much bigger job, its just more of the same for her in terms of staying on top of the visual effects - and I mean every single one of them, staying on top of the music and everything thats going on, coming in daily. We spent, ultimately, something like 10 to 11 months editing this film, as opposed to the eight of nine days we usually get [spotlight shines on Joss] — do you have anything thats less bright? And blinding? And less horrible? But it was basically the same, Lisa and I got out there and yelled at each other and made Lord of the Rings jokes and [...] til it was done. She is an *extraordinary* editor and alot of the stuff in this movie is the way she first showed it to me. She understands the footage and the way Im thinking about it better than anybody I’ve ever worked with. Really, quite amazing. Ummmm.... I don’t know who has the mic. Nobodies holding their numbers so this whole system is falling apart and I have this really really bright light in my eyes and I dunno, it might be aliens landing and taking me away and I don’t know whats going on, there was something about fish... Oh, here we go.
Question: Hi Joss. I think I’ll speak on behalf of everyone here tonight when we say thank you very much its fantastic. And I would also like to say you look marvelous in your very fine hat
JOSS: Thank you! Its slimming
Question: You don’t need help. Im surprised noone has brought this up unless I’ve missed talk on the boards, but why Wash? As a character, you know, why-why Wash? I mean, I just shrunk back into my seat and asked "Why?!" I mean —
JOSS: - I think you just answered your own question. Not for shock value, but for emotional value. What it would do to you emotionally. And for River and Mal, who are basically the crux of the film, still to be able to, you know call this a happy ending, there was no way I could just let people walk away. It wouldn’t be right for the movie and quite frankly— its me guys. But Wash is not only someone everybody loves, but he is somebody you wouldn’t think of as a fighter, youre not looking for him to go. So when he does, it means at that point, everybody is on the table. And thats what makes it exciting
Question: hi joss, um this is not and intelligent question. Very Happy i was wondering how do the dinosaurs stay on the dashboard when everybody else is strapped into their seats while serenity is going to crash?
JOSS: In The Future... (pause) many years from now... they have a thing... called Glue... or Glau.... errr i’m not actually sure how to pronounce it, but anyway it’s a sticky substance! Since we were actually shaking the bridge, we did have the bridge and the galley, the dining room as well, on rollers, we were actually shaking them about, they weren’t just Star Trek where they’re like [pretends he’s shaking about on his chair] somebody is over here [left] and somebody else is over here [right]. So uh, those dinosaurs were hanging in there man, i mean cos they’re PROFESSIONALS, they’re in SHOW BUSINESS! Not like Nathan... he didn’t know what was going on, he thinks it’s a sitcom. Those dinosaurs, they’ve been in showbiz for a while, i mean they’re old, they’re dinosaurs! They know the score, they’re stayin’ on, they know they fall off: no screentime! We’re not cuttin’ to the floor where they fell! They hold onto it!....with glue. [big laughs from the audience throughout!]
Question: i was wondering if, when you were writing the character of the operative, you ever regretted already using Jubal Early in the show?
JOSS:: The answer to that is basically yes. Well i didn’t regret it because you can’t regret what you’ve done. But i was sad that there was no way i could — if i has mike ruthers/my truthers?i would have had Jubal Early in the movie in a heartbeat. I mean Richard Brookes was AMAZING in that role and it was one of the most fun ones i ever wrote. But ultimately I was already bringing back nine people whoc knew eachother and i thought that ten was just pushing it! So you know, i had to create a new character and i love the operative, but in a completely different way than i love Jubal. Alot of people have compared them, but to me they’re very very different. Even though they’re very sort of contemplative guys, the operatives belief system and his.. well.. flaw.. i think are very different from Jubal’s and writing him was a very different kind of fun and of course i got to use Chiwetel who is pretty spectacular.
Question: How ya doin joss?
JOSS: well you know, it’s really bright. [reference to the super bright light used by the DVD people]
Question:: i was just wondering if there would ever be a chance of perhaps a continuation on the Angel storyline? Perhaps a movie or some other adventure?
JOSS: ... There may... I’d like to be able to say more than that but i’m still feeling out, i am making an effort to create something around certain charcters, one of them - as probably many of you know - being Spike. [spontaneous screams from audience!] But until somebody who owns or runs a large corporation with money agrees with my idea, all i can say is i’m trying!
Question: cos i definitely think it was cut short perhaps two years...
JOSS: I think so too, but i’m not bitter.... that’d be weird.. being all bitter Very Happy [laughs]
Question: with Summer and her stunts, i’ve heard that she did a very large proportion of the stuntwork herself, is that true? Were all those acrobatics and stunts coming from her ballerina time?
JOSS: What it stems from, and the answer is she did about 95% of it herself. there were a couple of wire flips and jumps whatnot too i think, that she didn’t do. apart from that it was all her and it’s not sped up, it’s not cgi’d, it’s not wired, it’s not anything, it’s just Summer. And it was basically nine months of fight camp and three months of intense rehearsal to use what she has as a ballerina, which is why i decided to make her a martial artist in the movie, because we had time to work that, to really work her body into the shape i wanted it because she’s an extroadinary athlete, but to use what she had but also to completely destroy it because ultimatley a martial artist theres a centre of balance, and the way they move and the rhythms are so totally different from a ballerina we had to sort of untrain her while we were using all her skills. so it took a really long time, but then when we got to shooting it was just a question of putting the camera behind the stuntman so you could tell that yes that’s her, yes she’s still going, yes she kicked that guy in the head. i mean she was just spectacular and every time we did a take and every set up we did, the eleventh take was faster than the first. She is a genuine athlete as well as being an extraordinary actress and she gave me the kind of footage you can’t buy, which is good because i didn’t have very much money! [laughs]
Question: Do you think you’ll write any more Serenity comics?
JOSS: We’ve been talking about it, the Serenity comics sold kinda well!! And i was really happy with the story and it was fun for me and Brad and the guys at Darkhorse generally. We plan to, but we’ve been so busy we haven’t gotten it off the ground yet. But i think no matter what happens we’ll probably go there again, that was really fun.
Question: If there are any other movies do we get to see old favourites like safFron and badger and so forth?
JOSS: i can’t say, you know i’d love to make a sweeping statement. the only sweeping statement i will make is that two people i plan to see again are Book and Wash, and not in the aforementioned cheesy way. But beyond that it would be wrong for me to say more because i haven’t actually WRITTEN it! i’m optimistic, but i’m not insane! So if it came to fruition thats something i would love to do, there are so many characters that i loved and so many actors i loved working with and brought so much to it and well.. Saffron... not hideous Wink But it has to be right for the film and it has to be right for the film within itself. Same way this movie had to be ultimately made for people who’d never seen the series even a sequel, you know it’s a fine line between making a film for everybody and just having a party for your friends and so if it’s right for the plot i’d be there in a heartbeat but if it’s not then it would be a disservice for me to do it, so i can’t say.
Question:: alot of your Buffy, Angel, Frey, particularly this, deals with alot of coming to terms with your duty as a human and your belief in that destiny. As i would regard you to be one of the most important contemporary artists that i can think of, what do you see as your destiny as fitting into that and the second part of the question is what’s Emma Frost like in real life?
JOSS: Emma Frost, well she comes on chilly, but she’s really actually icy. Actually what Emma Frost is like you’ll find out in the next sixe issues of the Astonishing X-Men but that won’t be coming out until next year. As far as that thing where i’m really important... that was really cool... and there was a question too wasn’t there? There’s no destiny ok? destiny is..... it’s like vampires, it’s useful to tell stories. But the first word you used ’Duty’ that actually has great resoncance, i do think is a point at which you sort of in your adult life (or when i’ve read about people who have adult lives!) you do realise you have to sort of step up and be more than just a person trying to fulfill their desires and live through the day, you have to sort of take your place in the world, and that IS what we’re talking about with Buffy and with this show, that moral responsibility not just to do what’s right but to do maybe a little bit more than that. it isn’t anybodies destiny, there is no such animal, that is what makes it so extraordinary when somebody actually does take it upon themselves to be more than they can. For me, you know, remember the part when i’m not an adult so i don’t have to worry about this stuff, but I’m definitely coming to a place as - i can’t believe i’m saying this - as an artist, where i’ve realised the dream of every artist which is to be heard. And that dream is thereupon followed by the nightmare of realising that once you’re heard, you actually have to understand what you’re trying to say. And be very careful what it is. For me it’s about being responsible about what i’m saying without losing the innate and incredibly important irresponsibility of a storyteller still going to the dark place, not just repeating myself and saying "oh this works, i’ll try this again." but going to the very dark place, the VERY dark place in my mind and finding where light can be found in that, because that is where the written story structures really come from, the polarity between what i am and going to what i believe i should be. And if i can put that into fiction, i think i can help alot of other people, you know, find that balance in themselves. * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * Question: I’ve got a specific question about Inara’s presence as a companion, just wondering if you included her as a companion because you needed some sex in the show, or because you like the subversion of stereotype that she presents, or because its a broader statement on legalising sex work?
JOSS: [pause] Yes. [laughter] Basically when I first, uh, was thinking of the show, Firefly, I was thinking of the ships whore, literally, in a very, sort of... I’ve said in a "Deadwood" sort of way, and people were like "See! Its been influenced by Deadwood" and I was like, "Guys, Deadwood was like 5 years after I made the show". But its you know, sorta down and dirty well what would they have with them that they would want? Well, Sex. And it was actually my wife who said, "Why don’t you go the other way with this, you know, and think more of a geisha, courtesan, someone whose really - and make her the most educated and respected person on the ship" and we were talking about, you know, the sex trade. I’ve actually just read a book for a very different project that I never finish called "Whores in History", and it was about whores when they were considered priestesses, and sex and the sex act was considered holy, and Whores when, you know, before men ran their profession, when, you know, it was considered a perfectly acceptable profession, and all the different societal norms and the times when it was really good for them, the times when it wasn’t, and how in the last century its become this abomination, because men took it over and turned it into this totally exploited experience. And I was trying to get away from this and what that has given us, which is a very pure [...tical?] notion of sex and how we react to it. But I wasn’t really thinking of doing that until my wife put that idea into my head, that I should persue that idea instead of the other and then of course, somebody wrote on the internet "well, what a typical... well, you know, what a typical adolecent boy fantasy". And I was "Well my-my wife isn’t really the... *typical* adolecent boy... I-I don’t think". And also sex, Im not gonna lie. I mean, you know, we’re talking about Morena Baccarin here, its not like she homely. And apparently, kids *love* sex nowadays so thats one of the things I have in the show.
Question: You kinda covered alot of it in the question about Inara’s box, but I was wondering with the demise of Firefly, you gotta have little bits and pieces you wanted to slot in to the characters you never got to, even with the [...] of sequels, can you tell us about any of them?
JOSS: Again, no, I hate to disappoint you, just in case they prove useful, it would be wrong for me to waste them by dissapating them all over the place. I’ve got to keep them close to my chest because as I learned, much to my surprise, every now and then, when you think you’re not gonna get to tell a story, you do. And so I have to hide them from you for a while. But if the movie fails, you’ll get to hear them all really soon, so lets get out there everybody and tell everybody that the movie sucks! [Laughter] Universal just rolled over in their sleep. Who’s up?
Question: Hi Joss. I was just wondering, a bit of a discrepency I might have noticed in the series and in the film. In the series, it is implied that River was smuggled *to* Simon in that chyrogenic box, yet in this movie we’ve seen him rescuing her. Is that just something you had to put in the plot to make it make sense to people who have never seen the series or did I just—
JOSS: — Man, I haven’t even noticed that [laughs]. It is the one place where I broke cannon, because I started to write the movie with people we have never met, breaking the material out, and I thought "My God, this is uninvolving" and realised I had to switch it for the movie to make it Simon himself who broke her out. So. My fan wank goes out as follows, he was lying about when he said other people broke her out, and I haven’t gotten why yet... Im working on it.
Question: Um yes. There is a kind of two-fold to it all. Is there uh [thing?] you have against Hawaiian shirts? And killing your characters with them? And actually, uh, who does actually win, Cavemen or Austronauts?
JOSS: Well, that debate, will never end. And you know, Fred felt that, uh, Cavemen win and that was the death of her [laughter and moans, lol] No, thats what she said on her deathbed, "Cavemen win" because she was being killed by an ancient evil. But if you look at this movie, I would say Cavemen win, but in a good way. Cos the astronauts have gotten pretty full of themselves. And cavemen have got to take them down a peg. Cavemen has got to represent. [... sorry, I didn’t get what he was saying here] I have nothing against people with Hawaiian shirts, I myself am a proud, Hawaiian shirt owner, Its just, uh, you know, if somebody has it on, I just wanna stick something in their chest [laugh]. I don’t know why. Its funny every time.
Question: Um, two part question cos Im greedy, this film talks about the sin of pride, do you ever feel that you get too proud of your work, and find it hard to take critism and at the same time —
JOSS: —What are you saying?
Question: And uh, whats your inspiration for writing?
JOSS: Uh, my inspiration for writing, is my bottomless pride. I just know that its going to be *so* good! Uh, no. Basically, uh, do I get too full of myself? Holy god yes. But I try to do it when Im alone, and when Im creating, when Im you know, in that space where everything seems magical, and exciting and its really fun, and so you do think "Oh, Im great and this is gonna be so cool" And then you try and temper it off and people read and hmmm... not so much. And you try to not go "But... didn’t you hear how Im great? I think, Mal is the person who really has the answer to that because, of course, pride is necessary. Sometimes, pig headedness is necessary especially when people are telling you that you couldn’t, shouldn’t and won’t get a movie of Firefly made. You have to have pride like you have never seen. And its useful and thats the whole point that Mal is making about the Operative’s idea of sin. It’s not necessarily sin, its just human behaviour that we have put into categories. Well this human behaviour, whats bad about it is whats also necessary. What’s good about people are both things. We were talking about it before, there are the dark and there are the light, you can’t just say be better and do the one thing, and get rid of all these other things within you and it will all work, that doesn’t give you good people. It gives you Zombies. And that is, I think very true, you have to have people have their moments of/and pride. Its a great thing to have because when you are truly have it, youre having it because of shame. Because you know the other thing. What its like *not* to come through, *not* to have done the right thing, not to have done your best. Cos when you do, you can take pride in it. Thats what we are, and thats what this movie is about. My inspiration for writing is that if I don’t, I go *insane*, I have to, its a drug. It’s my favourite thing. I have to tell a story, and I have to tell them all the time. There’s a story about that actually... but Im not gonna tell you.
Question: (Girl dressed as Kaylee): Hi. Um, firstly —
JOSS: Im getting on the ship!
Question: In the movie we finally got the backstory to the reavers, how they came about, when you compare this to what you had in the original firefly show, is that what you had always planned? That the reavers were the people who got drugged?
JOSS: Um, not always, but very early on, at the very beginning, I wanted to have savages, but I didn’t want to turn it into this racial thing, so I created the idea as [space savages?] that went to the edge of space and went *Ba-noo-noos* and decided to eat on each other. And that River was basically psychic and that’s why they were chasing her a few episodes in I was starting to let the thing sort of start to carry me, which is how this works, you create exactly as much as you need and while this is going on the rest sort of begins to roll up in your head and I uh, Oh, I thought of the Pax and what it did to the planet that River would have that knowledge, and that it would be that the Alliance created the reavers and it made perfect sense. It happened during the show, but it wasn’t the very first... it was after the pilot. But thats what you do with the show, you create exactly everything you need and absolutely nothing else, so you can go, Oh, waot a minute, this makes sense, they’ve met before, and you can play on that and you keep yourself open. But yeah, this is what we were going to do *with* the show, was take them to Miranda, and find out about all this. And I figured that out all around episode... five?
Question (same girl): Oh, and one thing, I cried through, like, the last half hour of the movie. [...] —
JOSS: Do you want me to tell you what happened?
Same girl: Can I have a hug?
JOSS: Give me some sugar... [hugs]... Im keeping my cool.
END PART ONE AUDIO