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"But you, Rosenberg...you REALLY got under my skin."
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August 29 2010

Joss Whedon takes the stage at the Sydney Opera House. By all accounts, tonight's "Joss Whedon: From Buffy to Dr Horrible, Infinity & Beyond" event went down a storm. Reports hopefully to follow soon.

Yes, it was brilliant and to top it off the awesome Will Anderson was the interviewer.
some quotes "My first idea for Buffy was Rhonda the immortal waitress. Would that I were kidding"
Joss was amazing. He spoke of all of his writing coming from a "dark place," the feeling of being helpless, and devising characters to rescue him...and he said that, ultimately, the opposite of helplessness for him is respect. He also said that the cancellation of Firefly taught him the true meaning of grief...that episodes and stories that are fully fledged in his head will never be lived by those characters.

He was absolutely gracious at the after party...allowing fans, who at the prospect of his leaving, finally overcame their awe and reticence, to overwhelm him with last minute photo and autograph requests.
"I want my characters to love me so much until I become them"
Joss should come to the pacific NW and do a talk all about him. We need you up here, Joss! Oh hey, there's always the Emerald City Comic Con every March. There could be an Avengers panel or something.

Looks like Australia had a really awesome time. Lucky bastards. ;)
Excellent! Reports please?
I must say I got my own photograph at the last minute came out blurry though still awesome though

[ edited by Crypto on 2010-08-29 12:23 ]
Joss: Amy Ackner should have her own show, Hell, Amy Ackner should have her own country ...

Will Anderson: Well we don't have a leader at the moment.
One great moment was when Joss was asked if he would like to apologise for the current vampire trend.. Twilight etc.., he said that it was all Anne Rice's fault, he just read "Interview with a vampire" and to top it off the next questioner got up and said
Hi Joss My Name is Bella.
He also said that the villain of the Avengers is top secret and that the actors he was talking to he was very excited about but unfortunately couldn't share the excitement.
As expected, but nevertheless more than I anticipated, the evening was hilarious, insightful and just plain fun. Oh, and that Joss kid? An added bonus. Okay, so right down to the nitty-gritty details.

Joss' entrance was every kind of awesome: Wil Anderson - who was genuinely funny, engaging and looked extremely at ease next to Joss - introduced the purple man, who emerged from behind the curtains to the Buffy theme, smoke, multi-coloured lights and huge applause and cheers from the audience.

The format differed somewhat from the Melbourne Writers Festival going by reports yesterday. Joss spoke about how these interviews/Q&A sessions often followed a linear pattern and that they'd broached many of the same topics time and time again, so he would try to deviate from the trends. Having said that, he then went on to take the stage by himself for while, discussing the reasons why he writes, referring to the "dark place" of "need and pain" that will always characterise and inform his work. He also said that he will always write about helplessness, given that the past few days have allowed him to really reflect on why he writes.

His talk centred on his life - how he'd never really had a male role model and was "scared" and "alone" as a youth - mutually exclusive as they were. The relationships that stood out for him were those with his mother and stepsister, both of them females. He talked about his avatars as outlets and spoke particularly about Buffy as, in essence, himself - something he hadn't realised throughout the series' run and until quite recently (in the past few days) - emphasising that he wrote her to "save" himself. He has enormous respect for his characters and despite their trials and tribulations, he will always try to find a way to save them because of that respect. What moved me the most was that Joss understood that you can write for the sake of writing, but it needs to come from that "dark place" within - that stories are inextricably linked with helplessness and pain.

Following that came the Q&A with Wil, the host, who was evidently comfortable with interviewing Jossir and who was himself a huge Buffy fan. I can't remember many details from this segment, but I do recall conversation going on about "dick and balls" as a potential future comic. That said, Joss dropped quite a few F-bombs today. Having been asked about the aftermath of the cancellation of Firefly and whether possible storylines plagued him everyday, he responded, "Are you f-ing kidding me?" There was also some talk about the Avengers - Joss discussed the necessity of balance when it comes to such a huge cast. However, he wasn't at liberty to reveal anything about the villains in the film when asked, saying only that he was very excited about them and the actors in talks for the roles.

The Q&A from the audience was generally okay. There was one that stood out for me about Joss' self-proclaimed "shitty episodes". When asked about how and when he and the writers realised that the episodes would "suck", he referenced "The Thin Dead Line" from Angel and the ridiculousness of the police zombies. He also glibbed about Buffy S6 having really been porn.

Overall, Joss was funny, humble and honest, and it was an incredible experience at a beautiful venue. He was obviously at ease, lying on the couch at one point and later jump-hugging Wil when he left the stage. The audience questions were not as probing as I thought they could have been, but that's the way it goes, I guess. That said, I had a ball and Joss was as entertaining and engaging as ever.

[ edited by cardea on 2010-08-29 11:15 ]
Sydney and Melbourne get all the fun. What about Perth?! We'll treat you right Joss, just ask Christopher Judge and Corin Nemec, they were here today. Chris liked it so much he even took his shirt off! Not that you have to do that... I'm totally fine with you having your shirt on the whole time if it means you're here at all!
Joss talked about how he use to hate that people always thought he was the guy that will kill people off all the time in his shows, he said "do the statistics I don't kill that many characters off and when I was going to direct Glee people were like "Oh he's directing Glee, who's he going to kill?" and I'm like "I'm not the grim reaper people.... oh and Principal Figgins"
He mentioned that he had an alternate ending for Buffy written where Tara came back to life and it was going to be well earned however at the time they couldn't get Amber and he mentioned he was quite disappointed about that.
He also said that Goners may still see the light of day after the 12 years it's going to take to produce the Avengers.

When asked about the changes in tone from season 2 in Angel and Dollhouse specifically, he talked about how they hadn't known how to go about writing for Angel, that it was initially going to be episodic and not serialised, as evidenced by season one. He also said that Angel was difficult to write because you always knew him as the hero. As for Dollhouse, they'd known it would end and that's the direction in which it was heading towards the end of season one with the series finale being a dark, haunting tribute to the future of the Dollhouse. But then they got renewed, and the stories had to keep coming.
Man, I love that Joss has been thinking about these things. In my mind Buffy had always been the character joss wishes he was, and Xander how he presents himself instead.
Good reports folks. Keep 'em coming. :)
Thank you, cardea.

[ edited by Madhatter on 2010-08-29 11:45 ]
An audience member asked him which character in Dr. Horrible Joss was, to which he replied that he identified with Billy. When talking about "strong women characters" in Dr. Horrible, he said that he felt guilty having not created a female character with at least one memorable line/quotation to be imprinted on the Penny shirt. Joss said that as a "feminist" and "artist", he felt that he'd failed in that sense, but he wasn't completely serious about his shame.

@Madhatter, you're welcome!

[ edited by cardea on 2010-08-29 11:43 ]
The Dick and balls reference went like this:

Joss: I loved all the arts very much, theatre and film were vying for attention at one time probably going to college at the best film school in America sort of tipped that scale but I drew constantly, when I was twelve I was precocious and extremely talented and you know I still draw exactly like that, like a very talented 12 year old, because I am the laziest person alive I have no follow through it's a real problem for me as I get just good enough at something for me to go HEY... and I stop. cause it might be hard ... except for writing.

Will Anderson: I drew a lot of dick and balls when I was a kid, never really made that into a career, I've got to be honest

Joss: Could be a comic. "Come on Balls, Gotta go"

Will: Dick's the superhero and Balls is the sidekick

Joss: "Here we come".

Will: "Stop or I'll shoot"

Joss (to the audience): You did come here to see me imitate Balls right?

[ edited by Crypto on 2010-08-29 15:22 ]
That's interesting, I've always thought Penny was a strong character. Still do.
Will Anderson: Has it ever been frustrating to you that the fans seem to really understand your work better than sometimes network executives do... it seems that every time you write a new show everyone gets together and goes ohhh great which network executive are we going to have to send a f..ing petition to this time?

(Huge cheer from audience)

Joss:... WELL... monkeys understand my work better than network executives do (imitates a monkey...) "I get it" I love that. A lot of good monkey fic..
You know, all I can say is at least it's not the other way around, where network executives say "THIS IS GREAT" and the fans are like "What is this s^&t?" I'll take what I get. It would be nice, I'll admit, if I could put things up with a little more confidence that they will exist, but at the same time, that absolute terror usually makes the work a little better. When you know the wolf's at the door you better make a good episode great one... because "they're right outside!!!"

[ edited by Crypto on 2010-08-29 12:49 ]
On writing Avengers:

Joss: It's a very similar problem to Serenity. Writing Serenity was exhausting, I mean 10 characters and they all know each other and they don't have an origin and I just gotta dive the audience right in and I'LL NEVER DO THAT AGAIN.. (sigh)

[ edited by Crypto on 2010-08-29 12:18 ]
cardea: He also said that Goners may still see the light of day after the 12 years it's going to take to produce the Avengers.

; > He may well be joshing us - or not - but we ain't going nowhere. We can wait those *gulp* dozen or so years. ; >. We are a small, motley crew but obviously a tenacious & stubborn bunch to be waiting after all these years. (And I think that's the first time Joss has mentioned Goners in over a year so, you know, huzzah...)

Thanks for the reports, one and all - this one sounds like it was an especially good Jossy-session. For the record, he has mentioned the Buffy-as-himself notion before, because I remember thinking at the time "but of course - she represents his anima."

I look forward to a vid or audio of this, perhaps, if we're lucky.


ETF: mostly typos and stuff. It's very late for moi.

[ edited by QuoterGal on 2010-08-29 12:24 ]
Joss on writing a Broadway show or an opera.

Joss: Right now those plans are pipe dreams... but it's a really good pipe. (laughter) I'm desperate to do something like that,
I never seem to give myself time, it is excruciating for me, it's very difficult. I love it, but, it is the hardest thing and putting anything up on Broadway or anything like that is ridiculously hard. Soooo what I've found is, if I write a musical, what I like to do is put it on the... internet... and... then put it on Broadway.

My brother Jed wants to very much put Dr Horrible on Broadway, I want to make a sequel, we've managed to do neither. You know, I've thought about it, and even though the rights issues would be nuts, Buffy, really would make an amazing musical (Big Cheer) but err... I have had new ideas too.
Crypto & Cardea are doing great summations of what was talked about. I'm very glad I flew down for the show. Wondering if he'll be around WorldCon later this week (Dollhouse up for a Hugo with a split 3 way Dr Who & Flash Forward competition).

Today was good mix of existing shows & creative process (the Dark Place) chat. Was too shy too consider asking a question (so close to no.1 mike).
Crypto - are you getting that word-for-word from your notes? or from a tape? (Inquiring minds would like to know if such a tape exists... ; > )

Thanks for your attention to detail, in any event...
on the Vampire films and shows today

Audience member: How much influence do you think you've had on the recent surge of vampire stuff and is there anything you would like to apologise for? (Laughter and applause)

Joss: I think.. I haven't really watched these shows, I do think that, you know, we were something they followed, but, at the end of the day I ain't taking this heat, Anne Rice is taking this heat.. (Laughter and applause) I read Interview when I was fifteen and that changed some S*&t, Okay. So she's the one who made them modern and romantic, So blame her... I'm Blameless.. Unless the shows are good and if the shows are good then.. totally me man, they just come from me. (Laughter)

Audience member: Hi, My name's Bella and... (Audience cracks up)

[ edited by Crypto on 2010-08-29 15:19 ]
QuoterGal Notes, but of course.. very detailed notes. I write fast ;p
On the satire of the Hollywood process in "Commentary" the Musical

Joss: When you don't have time to have meaning just be mean (laughter)
It just got so silly, the commentary itself.
We're cynical ugly people, I'm not going to lie, especially Nathan.

(Laughter)

Nathan only requested two things about his song

One, that it be in a slightly higher range than he was singing in the show and
Two that it be called "Better than Neil". (Laughter)

[ edited by Crypto on 2010-08-29 13:54 ]
Also, Joss said in all seriousness that he has the best fans :)
Hee, hee! Joss knows the same, cardea :)
Joss was awesome, of course. Wil Anderson wasn't too bad either - I loved him suggesting Amy Acker should be Australia's Prime Minister, since we don't really have one right now. :D Joss: "She'll treat you well" (probably not verbatim).

My favourite thing Joss said was about himself: he's a literary transvestite. *still laughing*

Great write-ups from cardea & Crypto. I shall come back to this page often just to relive the brilliance.
I was also there, and it was dark where I was, so I only have headline notes. Thanks Crypto. :)

And IIRC it's "... She will rule you justly." :D

[ edited by Craig Oxbrow on 2010-08-29 15:39 ]
Re: Vampires and Anne Rice, I saw James Marsters at a Q & A this weekend and he said that Joss had specifically not wanted any Anne Rice vampires in Buffy but then he saw how well received Spike was and gave in.
Cardea and Crypto, thanks so much.
With all due respect, if he had a fully formed, well earned idea that would have brought Tara back to Willow, and it was the end of the season anyway, did he need Amber? You couldn't have just shown Willow staring into an opening door or something and had the audience understand?

/armchair showrunner.
Thank you so much, far-flung correspondents Crypto, azhippieinoz, Cardea and Braeden Fireheart! (Hope I didn't miss anyone.)

To the Dark Place of Need and Pain! Hip hip . . .
Found another report at a blog called "The Concrete Midden" by P.M. Newton: Joss Whedon and writing from “the dark place".

"Monkeys understand his work better than Network executives, but terror of cancellation makes the work better."

I get the first part of that ; >, but the second - really? I mean, to use a analogy that I think is applicable, I know that an awareness of death can make life itself feel richer and more poignant, but terror?

I think abject fear blunts sensitivity and blocks vitality and movement and creativity and enjoyment. I'm sure he knows his own process better than I do, but I'm finding that a little hard to accept... and I thought impending doom made Dollhouse feel a bit rushed and chaotic at the end. But then maybe the life/death analogy doesn't hold - and then also I am one of those people that "Time's winged chariots" does not usually stimulate to higher creative planes.

"Returning to talking about character he insists that it’s vital that he respect all his characters. Good guys and bad guys and, when you respect your characters – the greatest act of disrespect is killing one of them. 'I want them to overcome danger,' he says."

I thought that was very interesting. Very.

And I love all that stuff about finding your own dark place to write from...i f you want to write truly moving material from your most profound self, you do have to dig deep and poke around in there. This has always helped me understand why so many writers actually dread the writing process - because to get the good stuff moving, they know they're gonna have to go there first.

This was some of the writer-y stuff I was hoping to hear from Joss this trip, and I'm so glad he shifted the presentation format a bit to make room for these kinds of musings.


ETF: the usual typos.

[ edited by QuoterGal on 2010-08-29 20:08 ]
Is that an exact quote re: Goners, or a paraphrase? I'd like to add it to the FREE GONERS site.
Thanks for the write-ups. Sounds like an amazing evening.
on Goners.

Joss: Goners was typical of my career, I wrote it, was very excited by it, had a lot of heat, sold it... INTO THE VAULT NEVER TO BE SEEN.. Yeah, I was talking about that when Serenity was going up because I was going to make it at Universal, but, err that didn't really happen did it? Not really sure what to say about it, It's about a young woman with "special powers" (Laughter) and she gathers a group of people with "special powers" they conflict, in the end they work together (Laughter) Wait a minute I do suck... (Laughter) wow, it's weird to realise that in this room, (Laughter) No it probably was as closer to myself, what I've been describing of myself today, as anything I've written because the lead character Mia is painfully shy and very much alone and it's a movie that is all about being alone, which is ultimately the thing which I'm writing about too all the time, and it's also a horror/action/super awesome/thing. It may not be dead, It may not be entirely dead the producers that were attached to it still are attached to it emotionally and the regime at Universal has changed and I actually met with them recently and they were saying "You know you'll be finished with the Avengers in ten or twelve years so why don't we revisit this" So keep your fingers crossed.(Laughter)

[ edited by Crypto on 2010-08-29 21:11 ]
Wow, Crypto - that is super-mondo-chunky and more than he's said about Goners in one sitting in a month of Sundays and a dog's age.

Holy Urban Underbelly!!
Surprisingly there was nothing said about Cabin in the Woods and only a small amount about Dollhouse..
How long was the keynote? I keep thinking it was an hour but all of this awesome sounds like it was much longer.
The whole thing went for an 1 hour 40 mins, Joss spoke for about 1/2 an hour then Will interviewed him for about 1/2 an hour followed by Q&A which went 20 mins over time.

[ edited by Crypto on 2010-08-29 21:34 ]
Thank you those who were there for your Superstar reporting!! I got really pleasurable shivers reading some of that.
Thanks for all the reports, they were a great read.
Surprisingly there was nothing said about Cabin in the Woods and only a small amount about Dollhouse..


Not much of a surprise to me.

;)
Now if only Joss would visit the UK...
Goners Lives! Sorta! YAY!
Thank you, thank you, thank you for all of your reportage! This is some of what I was hoping for from the writer's conference.

You know some day, far in the future, when Joss is taking a much needed break after his second Tony award winning musical (which he wrote and produced between top grossing films) and feels like he needs something to do because his long running hit tv series is on summer hiatus, I hope he writes a book or records some video where he talks about what he's learned about writing. I think he'd make a great teacher.
Wow - Lots of cool quotes, thanks to everyone who's reported up thread.

Crypto - It reads like you've transcribed exactly what he's said, verbatim - 'I write fast' doesn't quite cover it. You must have the best shorthand ever or a near photographic memory, either way I am very impressed and rather jealous. Thanks for sharing!
Had a friend go to MWF talk (it was scheduled as 1 hr keynote) & it was much more on the writing/creative side (when home with comp will hunt the blog link). Sydney format worked really well & oh yeah totally relate re writing & needing the dark place.
eleven years three hundred sixty four days...
Don't mind me. Just counting down to Goners.

Seriously wish he hadn't said all that. I mean, I'm excited for The Avengers, really. But Goners sounds way more awesome.
But Goners sounds way more awesome.

Patiences, jcs. The stories will come in their good time. Remember, several of us are still awaiting "Fray".
But there's no Fray script sitting, written, and consigned to development hell at a studio that will neither greenlight it nor let it go. ;)
This sounds like it was an amazing time, I am jealous that I couldn't be there.
Sends hugs to Joss for his lonely and fearful times.
I was at both Melb and Syd [thought I would make the most of his visit!] and Sydney was definitely more what I was hoping for.

I got good video of the first part of Sydney when it was just him speaking which I'll put online once I can figure out how...

It was all everyone has said up there and better!

And by the way, his Goners comment really did sound more serious than just a tease...

C
Thank you, b!X. You know, there're better uses of salt. ;)
Thank you to all of you who reported on Joss's event. It sounds great, as it would be, of course.

I'm so happy about his Goners comments, even if we do have to wait twelve years - as long as there is other Joss stuff in between!!
I have a bunch of videos from this to upload to Youtube shortly, and plenty of tales to tell. Glad I asked a question (the Amy Acker one), though my mind went completely blank when I got up there.
I have a bunch of videos from this to upload to Youtube shortly, and plenty of tales to tell. Glad I asked a question (the Amy Acker one), though my mind went completely blank when I got up there.


Ahh, so that was you, ThorpeWithoutShrimp! *waves* I would have gone up to ask a question but I was too timid and would probably have become inarticulate for a while. Looking forward to the videos.

And you're welcome all, glad to be of assistance :)
I was also there and Joss was very entertaining and gracious.

That being said, Joss jumping into Wil's arms for a bear-hug at the very end will always remain a fond memory of the day.
A million thanks to everyone for the awesome reportage. A new addition to my favorite Joss quotes .... "monkeys understand my work better than network executives do" :_)

And how cool is it that he prefers that state of affairs to the other way around? (the fans not getting it).
Well...I had a bloody ball! Was lovely to see Joss again :)Altho I did enjoy our time at the pub last visit better.
Can't believe how long that took - finally finished uploading the clips! Not sure if anyone will really see them now but I'll leave them here in case anyone comes across this in the future.

Playlist of all 14 clips.
My question about Amy Acker.

Not much I can really add now to what's already been written here (great summaries cardea and Crypto) but I remember making sure I wrote down that Joss sees the "adolescent girl with superpowers" as his avatar. Also that he is a literary transvestite - but not a real one ("With these hips?!").

All up it was a fantastic afternoon. I usually find Wil Anderson a bit annoying on TV but he was actually pretty good, knew what he was talking about and had some pretty good one-liners at points.

I do wish the questions had been a little more specific, but I can't really talk because I forgot everything I wanted to ask as soon as I stood up to the microphone.
ThorpeWithoutShrimp, THANK YOU for your video! (I did a little chair dancing in celebration.) I have been sitting here with fingers crossed, hoping that someone would link and load. After three days, they were feeling a bit kinked. They thank you as well.

I really do appreciate all the transposing work everyone upthread did too, but there is nothing quite like getting to experience the inflection, pauses, and context myself. It makes it all resonate so much better. Halfway around the world and a day away, and still I have access to first hand news coverage from our guerrilla reporters. :D Whedonites are the greatest. God(s) bless the internet.
Like BreathesStory said:
Halfway around the world and a day away, and still I have access to first hand news coverage from our guerrilla reporters. :D


Thanks! Found this today, still awe-struck to be able to virtually travel-halfway-across-the-globe and drink coffee at home at the same time... ;-)))

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