Sam Liu is the director for Justice League vs. The Fatal Five, one of the newest DC Animated films. Wonder Con 2019 in Anaheim, CA allowed fans, including myself, to watch the film before its digital/blue ray & dvd release date. Check out my full movie review here:
Sam Liu was on the panel along with the writers and voice actors for this film at Wonder Con. We got to enjoy the film as well as their interactions with fans. They were given the opportunity to ask questions. For those who are unfamiliar with his work, Liu has worked on other animated films such as, The Death of Superman, Reign of the Supermen, Suicide Squad: Hell To Pay, Teen Titans: The Judas Contract, and Batman: Gotham by Gaslight.
In our interview, we got to discuss the film and what the process is like. Liu talks about how legendary Bruce Timm’s style of characters is. Upon seeing the same voice actors and the similar design, fans of Justice League & Justice League: Unlimited, appreciate the nostalgic feeling. Although I appreciated seeing Batman (Kevin Conroy), Wonder Woman (Susan Eisenberg), and Superman (George Newbern) again; the whole film focuses does introduce and focus on newer characters to those who aren’t familiar with yet. In which, Liu expresses that this film explores mental health elements when it comes to superheroes in Jessica Cruz, a Green Lantern, and with Starboy. Along the rest of our interview, Liu also gives advice to those who are looking to work in the similar industry of making films.
Host: Machelle Noel here from GeekRockTV over at Wonder Con 2019. Joining me right now is director Sam Liu who’s here to promote, Justice League vs. The Fatal Five! Thank you so much- Wow. Something happened to my voice there, I don’t know what happened. This is what happens.
Sam: You’re excited about the movie!
Host: I know I’m so excited!… Great seeing you again. Oh golly. So how does this project compared to Reign of the Supermen? I’m just curious like based on the scope and all of that.
Sam: They’re… Uh.. R-Reign was difficult because uh, there was like a lot of things we have to tie up. And so it became just structurally very difficult. [Justice League vs. The Fatal Five] is a little simpler. But, I think it’s equally as big.
Sam: As far as like world encompassing.
Host: All right.
Sam: But, the thing that I love, I think that the most by this movie; is, the… the emotional, um… struggles that the heroes have to sort of overcome. I think um… when I first got the script, I was a little surprised that we actually sort of, you know, explore the mental health elements of the aspects of the heroes. When I started, you know when I was working through the scene’s… I was very moved by them actually.
Host: Yeah! I think Jessica has some anxiety problems and then… Star…boy has lost his medication, somewhere in the future.
Sam: Yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah. Yeah.
Host: And the time traveling.
Sam: Yeah, Jessica has like PTSD from um, a like a super violent event that happens in her past. And uh, yeah Starboy is somebody that’s here from the future; and, because he’s at a time now in our present, uh, he can’t get the medication he needs to deal with his… yeah.
Host: Interesting. Now the JLU um, trinity are back, how was it like working with Susan, and Kevin, and Paul again? I mean…
Sam: Yeah. It’s uh. It’s uh… It gave me chills. You know I mean I’ve said this in some of the other things too but it’s- but it literally did. I mean again like Kevin I’ve you know, I’ve worked with for a few other projects like that so, I’m taking for granted now. But, but Susan was I think the one that I; again, I got chills. I listened to her ADR paired [her voice recording] it on her image [Wonder Woman character] because you know, I didn’t work on the Justice League.
Host: Right. I’m curious how did that all that come about. Like, did you guys have a say on this? Or was this just kind of like, Hey! Let’s do a reunion party… or I mean?
Sam: You know it wasn’t intended to be a reunion party. It just sort of, it was just a matter of a happenstance, a little bit. You know? I don’t think Bruce wanted his style initially. But, just though happenstance but also sort of just a lot of us, we’re talking about, I think this would be great in your style because you know… it’s totally your kind of story. And… so yeah I mean that’s, that’s the unsexy kind of version of why it happened.
Host: Well speaking of Bruce, um we noticed that you guys are using the same Character models that Bruce swept up back from the classic TV show, and I’m really happy about that cause of the whole nostalgia thing. It’s nice to have that continuation of the story; but, what made you guys wanna go back to the old art style? Why did you guys wanted to go and continue on with that?
Sam: Um, again. The unsexy thing is just because of time. You know? Just because of… there’s a lot of his stuff already. You know; again, part of it is the, thing of like… it’s a story about legacy.
Sam: And I think that his style… it’s almost like a legendary style in my opinion. Or nostalgic style, you know? Um, so I think it lends itself to-it helps the story, you know. So, we were kinda pushing for it.
Host: Interesting. Now how does your storyboard artist creatively helped you as a director?
Sam: Oh, um. You know, the path to become a director is usually through storyboarding. So I sort of had to prove a lot to get to my position. The great thing about good storyboarder’s obviously is like, it’s a different take on how you would shoot a scene. You know, as a director, there’s so much work in so little time to do it. I just make sure that is the intent right? And is the editing, right? And all that kind of stuff. Do we get to the point as quickly? But also are we focusing on it as, the point is we need to. [Getting to the point of the story]. And so, as long as those things kind of work and I’m feeling something; then I’m like okay, it’s great. There are times where I’m just surprised. Like Wow. I never would have shooted that way; but, I’m feeling something right now. So, that’s the best kinda feeling. Obviously the worst is like, you’re like Awh! This is all over the place I can’t, I don’t even know, what are you shooting? What am I even looking at? Type of thing so, yeah.
Host: Yeah I feel like, yeah I got the shot. What advice do you have for folks who want to go into the animation industry? Should they focus more on the drawing side, or on the software side..?
Sam: Oh, kind of, again. Depends on the position that you’re looking for. Because I think designer’ s obviously, you need to know… good design. Simplification of design in, you know, its about the drawing. Character design is the same thing. But if you want to be a storyboard artist, I know it seems like it is, but it’s not necessarily 100% about the drawing. You have, you need to convey things like perspective, and you know emotion and acting. But it’s about storytelling. It’s about telling a story. That’s your number 1 job.
Host: Do you actually collaborate with international talents or collaborate with international studios?
Sam: Um, only if we sort of… have a partnering. Sometimes we have storyboards done by… Korea or some of the animation kind of stuff like that.
Host: Oh interesting! Now I heard that Batman is celebrating his 80th anniversary Birthday and we’ve been invited to the Wayne Manor, how are you planning to celebrate Sam? And what do you plan on cheering or toasting to him?
Sam: Um, I’m not gonna get into that. I’m gonna avoid that.
Host: We’ll keep it PG, family-friendly, don’t worry.
Sam: No, it’s nothing like that.
Host: I’m just teasing.
Danielle Bawit | Writing Contributor
B.A. | Media Studies | Cal State Univ – San Marcos
Hello! My name is Danielle Bawit. I attended MSJC- Mt. San Jacinto’s Community College and received two Associate’s for Communication and Liberal Arts. I am currently in my last semester at CSUSM-California State University San Marcos, and I will be receiving my Bachelor’s degree in Media Studies. I grew up with watching DC heroes on the screen, wrestling with my family, Disney movies and listening to Kpop. I have been always involved with my education by joining choir’s and becoming part of MSJC’s communications club as a Historian. I have promoted events for the club at my previous school, and I have promoted and volunteered for Khip-hop concerts. I aspire to one day work in the entertainment world while promoting artists and music. Additionally, I also hope to share written stories to people in my career due to my love for writing.| Instagram @Charice_Danielle| View My Articles
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