Some of you may know that I'm a huge Torchwood fan so when I got the opportunity to interview the man behind the lens on their upcoming five-episode season titled "Children of the Earth," I was quite excited. Euros and I talked about the new season, the trials of location shooting, his involvement with the Doctor Who specials, and new Doctor Matt Smith. I also may have gotten his hopes up about people wearing costumes at this weekend's New York Comic Con. Fellow fanboys and fangirls, don't fail me!
How did you get involved with Torchwood: Children of the Earth?
Well, I've worked on quite a few episodes of Doctor Who and worked with Russell Davies and Julie Gardner who write and [executive produce] the shows. Julie came to me and she said that this season they wanted to create a mini-series of just five episodes and have just one story arcing over the episodes. They wanted just one director to kind of take charge and it seemed like such a fantastic opportunity to tell one story and develop these wonderful characters through amazing adventures over five hours of TV. And the idea that they're going to be [aired] over one week – as a director it feel like it's one epic, huge story.
As you've worked with Russell and Julie before, did the familiarity help with the preperation since you know what they're expecting in terms of visuals?
Um….yeah, and not just visuals, tone as well. I mean, [one thing about] Russell's writing that's wonderful is he combines a very human domestic world with a very grand, epic, sci-fi, kind of tragic genre. He makes these contradictorily elements a whole and having an affinity for that is invaluable for me as a director.
Did you have any input on the story and how it was going to play out?
They were very kind to me and I was invited to come along to all the early storyline meetings. We've actually got three writers on this season. There's Russell, who's written two and a half of the episodes and kind of showrunning it all, and we've got James Moran and John Fay who've also written some episodes. Kind of being part of that team and part of the storytelling early on was a brilliant opportunity for me.
Have you seen the trailer yet?
I have. You've seen it?
Oh, of course. A couple times. Because, you know, us nerds have to pick apart everything and see if we can catch any hints or details in the quick cuts.
It seems like there was a lot of outside shooting this time around. Did you run into a lot of problems?
Well, the weather in Wales is law unto itself so I think you can imagine blizzards and rainstorms and sometimes sunshine. You have to deal with everything that gets thrown at you. But I think we definitely wanted to tell a story about what would happen to people in the real world if a set of extraordinary circumstances were visited upon us and I think shooting in the streets of Cardiff, in the streets of London, the realism that that lends a story is really important to the story we want to tell.
It also seems as if there aren't so much as a lot of explosions but at least a couple big ones. Was that hard to shoot seeing as you were outside in the Cardiff and London?
Um…yeah…I mean, shooting in Cardiff we get an extraordinary amount of support from the authorities and the police and the counsel. They love the fact that we're shooting the show there and they're so accommodating in what they allow us to do. And when you're shooting some complicated, technical sequences like explosions or chases, you often do an awful amount of preparation for those. Support from the special effects people and the visual effects people, that's all there, so often the biggest set pieces are easier to do because you've got this extraordinary amount of support. It's often times the simpler things that catch you out. [But] I think they went well.
I'm sure you can't give away anything about the plot, any hints, though I'm probably going to ask you later…
…but going back to the trailer, is there any key moment that people might want to look at?
I think the very, very first moment of the story sets the tone for all five hours in this season. And it's the moment that every single child on the planet stands still and they start to chant, "We are coming." And from that moment I think we can expect something terrible and dark and demonic to come and wreak some havoc on humanity.
As it's kids that are in trouble, with adults at least there's a sense that they can take care of themselves. With this in mind, did that affect the way that you shoot scenes?
Um…I mean, it's drama and we always try to ramp up that sense of drama. For a viewer, the more dramatic and involving a story is the better. And I think you're absolutely right – kids in peril or kids behaving in a scary, spooky fashion is more scary than anything because it's that innocence. When it's corrupted or tainted it really touches a nerve and [I hope that's what] the series will do.
So what was it like working with our Torchwood Trio? Well, I assume that it's a trio and they didn't bring anyone else in to join the team.
In five episodes, we meet an awful lot of new characters. And nobody strictly speaking joins the team but lots of people all help and lots of characters hinder our [heroes]. [John Barrowman, Eve Myles, and Gareth David-Lloyd] have been on the show for two season before I joined so they know their roles inside out and I was relying on them really to tell me who their characters were. I was there to make sure that we're telling this story properly. And they're such good fun as well. They love it, they love working on the show and that makes my job a thousand times easier.
Were there any set shenanigans? Because I hear there can be some practical jokes flying around.
They are incorrigible. And my job as a director is to be the grown-up…well, I have to pretend to be the grown-up. There's always messing about but our schedules are killer. We're shooting an awful lot of minutes each day so [we sometimes need the relief].
You worked on a good handful of Doctor Who episodes before and I see from my research that you're set to work on some next season.
Yeah, well the next season is a strange one because there are five specials. One we've already done, the Christmas special, and there are another four to come and that'll take us up to David Tennant's departure when his Doctor regenerates into Matt Smith's Doctor.
Are you gonna be working on the specials or the season with Matt Smith?
I'm gonna be working on the specials. I'm gonna be directing the final two-parter which will be David becoming Matt so that'll be an adventure.
Have you met Matt yet?
No [but] I read stuff about him in the papers every day. There's such excitement about him taking over and I think the press are whipping themselves in a frenzy at the moment.
Especially because, in terms of familiarity in TV and film, he's relatively unknown. I'm sure he has a long theater resume but someone's always trying to dig up a piece of information. You know how the press can be. [laughs]
[laughs] But interestingly before David took over as the Doctor he'd done an awful lot of theater, very accomplished theater work, and he'd been in some series. He definitely wasn't a household name. Playing the Doctor is the kind of role that thrusts you in the limelight and brings you to the attention of the whole country.
And I think it'd be difficult to get sombody who's very well known to play the part because you don't really want to have those preconceived notions.
Yeah, I think that's right. I mean, interestingly in the first season of the new Doctor Who Christopher Eccleston played the Doctor and Chris was a very well-known actor before the part. But I guess that was different because it was the relaunch show so bringing some familiarity had advantages.
Yeah, it's that balance and knowing when to which way to go in that respect. So I see our time is about up. Is this your first Comic Con in America?
It is, yeah. What should I expect?
[laughs] Um…you should expect a lot of interesting costumes.
[laughs] I'll look forward to that.
You should also expect very detailed questions that might involve things you have no recollection about even though it's your own work.
You also might expect a slightly rowdy crowd depending. I don't know if you've ever been to any of the Who cons but it's a similar crowd. The interests are a little more varied but they're all pretty hardcore. It'll be a warm and lovely reception for you, they'll be very happy to see you.
Oh, that's fantastic. I'm very excited. The loyalty of the fans is something invaluable to the show's success. For that we're very grateful.
I'm sure they'll welcome you with open arms. And there might be a couple people dressed up like the Doctor and there might be a couple Captain Jacks running around out there. Hopefully you'll be able to see that level of commitment from the fans.
[laughs] That's fantastic, I'm looking forward to it.
So I'll let you go, thank you so much.
It was lovely, thank you.
Torchwood: Children of Earth airs this summer simultaneously on BBC and BBC America. For those going to New York Comic Con, there'll be a panel on Saturday, Feb. 7th at 4:15pm featuring Euros and Eve Myles (Gwen) followed by an autograph session at 6pm. For more sci-fi related news, check out Misfits of SciFi. You can also follow me on Twitter.