Alice here! Every month I’m going to be interviewing some of my favorite geek talents from my favorite procrastination website; YouTube. The first interview is with the very Talented Chris Burns, the actor who portrays Hawkeye from the absolutely hilarious “Avengers Assemble!” series. If “The Office” and Marvel comics could have a love child, it would look something like this series. If you have not seen their series until now, you’re welcome. You can’t hit subscribe fast enough.
Alice: What was the inspiration for creating Avengers Assemble! Other then the actual Avengers comics?
Chris Burns: Brian Godleski, who plays Tony Stark on the show, is a writer and an old friend and collaborator of mine. Brian had written some new sketch comedy material and sent me a sketch with the Avengers talking about Healthcare Reform. Being a huge comic book fan I loved the concept and told Brian I wanted to produce it and that we should consider doing it as a web series rather than a one off, so we started looking at the current political and social climate to see what we could pull from for material.
That’s how the Oil Spill episode was born based on the crisis in the Gulf of Mexico, Immigration was based on the laws in Arizona, etc. We don’t always go with social satire. Sometimes we just take an absurd situation and run with that like the Hulk driving a carpool with the rest of the Avengers in rush hour traffic. I mean, who would let that guy drive? So we try to have fun creating socially relevant satire while giving absurdly humanizing dimension to fans about their favorite characters.
Alice: From script to final product, how long does it generally take to create an episode?
Chris: The completion of any given episode varies upon the complexity of the script. The first four episodes, all of the Avengers are sitting in Avengers Tower discussing their course of action on a given topic or crisis so the mechanics in shooting those episodes aren’t as difficult as say Carpool where we actually had car mounts and were filming while driving in live traffic.
To give you an idea for the first four episodes from start to finish, once we had a shooting script we would shoot two episodes in a day. Then our Editor who also plays Thor, Matt Cornwell, will put together a rough edit for Brian, Matt, and Myself and the Director of the episode to look at and discuss tweaks, etc.
From that point it usually takes another week or two to finalize. So it can be anywhere from 4-5 weeks from shooting to final product, and I have to remind you, no one is getting paid for this work so it is all after hours of people’s normal jobs and lives so we have a very dedicated team who makes the show work, both Cast and Crew alike.
A: How does the writing process work? Do ideas come up as a group?
C: The way the writing process works for episodes is that Brian will either send me a new script he’s come up with, or we’ll kick around some ideas or concepts then he’ll write up a 1st draft of a script. From there, he and I will kick it back and forth to each other making tweaks and revisions or rewrites and then when we both agree it’s in the shape for shooting, we green light it.
On occasion, someone will come up with an idea and suggest it to Brian or myself and we’ll explore that further. A great example of this is with the Ms. Marvel’s Day off, which the Director Ruckus Skye came to me and wanted to shoot Carol doing everyday things, but give it a unique feel by shooting it on 8mm film stock. It turned out great and the fans seem to love it.
A:Is there a significant amount of improv?
C: We try to keep to the script as much as possible, but if the actor’s contributions make the material better through some ad-libbed lines or improv, Brian and I are all for it. Just like we have to reign in the cast at times,the two of us have to be reeled back in from adding lines too much ourselves as well. For me it’s more of not adding curse words, but as you can see, they slip in there from time to time.
A: What would you consider your favorite episode?
C: I’d have to say my favorite episode has to be Office Romance. Hawkeye giving love advice…come on, what’s not to love.
A: The show has a good production level, what sort of equipment is the crew using?
C: I’d say 80% of the cast and crew are involved in the Film and Television business in some capacity so the gear we use is what you’d see on most film sets. The exception to that is what we’re using for cameras. We’ve been using the 5d and 7d Canons. They are great cameras.
A: Has this series generated any sort of attention from Marvel comics?
C: Not yet.
A: What is your advice for others interested in doing fan films?
C: Know your source material, know your source material, know your source material. Have fun, don’t be afraid to take chances, but don’t talk down to your audience or treat them like they’re stupid. They are fans just like you are, so make something that would make you say “Holy shit! That was amazing” with out your ego being involved.
A: What sort of goodies do we have to look forward to in season 2?
C: Season 2 sees the Avengers dealing with a host of new issues such as air travel, the Economy crunch, being on foreign soil, possibly the tragic loss of an Avenger, and the team as they look to the future.
Stay tuned for my next Youtube Gem! If you have any you’d like to share, suggest it in the comments below! And until then, here are some links for the Avengers Assemble! Series.
Now it’s MY turn to say it, Avengers Assemble!