August 23, 2016

‘The Killing Joke’ Director, Sam Liu, Talks How it’s Like Working with Bruce Timm

Welcome back to another one of our series of interviews from this year’s San Diego Comic-con, where we sat with the cast and crew of  DC Animated’s latest film, Batman: The Killing Joke. In this interview, we spoke with Sam Liu, the director of the film and discussed how it was like working with the legendary Bruce Timm.


Sam Liu

Q: Were you a fan of the original [Killing Joke], did it sort of resinate with you in a way?

Sam Liu: I appreciate the story for what it was. I was really young when it came out and I read it. When the people at Warner Bros. weren’t sure if this was an interesting enough, in itself, to tell because it’s almost like a philosophical psychological debate between two legendary nemesis and unless you are a fan, you’re not going to get the impact. And so with them writing a prologue, I kind of feel like, coverage wise as far as the audience is concerned, it helps ease people into their world a little bit. It defines Barbra [Gordon] a little bit more. He get to see her relationship with Batman and what she’s going through. I think the added stuff even though it may be…I’m curious to see how people react to it. It’s hard to please fans but I think it was a smart move and a good move.

Q: How did you approach co-directing with Bruce [Timm]?

Sam Liu: The directing thing is kind of a strange thing because I’m more like a studio director in the sense of an old school kind of way. It’s like I work on multiple projects and the producer is the one that sort of comes with the idea of what they want. And I work with the producer but I build it for the first time. The top of the panel you go through it together and help shape the pre-stuff but I go away and work with a team of people and I show him what I’ve come up with and he basically likes it or doesn’t like it. We’ve worked together for quite some time that I think we know each other pretty well that he trusts me to build it to a certain point, then he just goes in and tweaks it. So again, that’s where the titles come into view because he’s more of the producer but it’s not like we sat together and put it all together. It’s like he came with the idea. As far as this is the blueprint of how we are going to do it and then I go in and build it, basically. And then he kind of comes in later and sort of looks at it, we sort of massage together. Obviously him giving me like ‘I think this works, I don’t think this works or oh, that’s great or that totally sucks’.

Q: So when you say you’ve built it, did you do the storyboarding for this particular project?

Sam Liu: I worked with a team of assorted artists and depending on talent level, I either do a lot of re-boarding or little re-boarding.

Q: Did that work out as intended, when you look back on the project?

Sam Liu: It depends on – it’s like a casting of actors. Some people are better at certain things, there’s some people that are better at fighting, there’s some people better at acting, there’s some people that are really great at drawing. Recently in my crew of people, they are a little bit young and I sort of have to re-do a lot of their work. But again, it comes in circles. There’s times where it’s great and easy, there’s other times where it’s just – I wish I can clone me cause I don’t have enough time.

Q: Working with Bruce Timm, were you a fan of DC Animated beforehand? And how has it influenced you as a director and an artist?

Sam Liu: Bruce was maybe the person that made me like DC. I was never a DC guy when I collected comics, I was always a Marvel guy. Watching ‘Batman: The Animated Series’, that sort of was what made me interested in the DC stuff. – I’m very cerebral so this can go in a long kind of way, which no one would be interested in but it’s stranger because I think when you do stuff, you’re either very cerebral or you’re very intuitive, so I’m very cerebral and Bruce is very intuitive. So in the beginning it was difficult, our communication, because I was trying to quantify why he would do things or why he wouldn’t do things, but he does things not necessarily out of reason. He does things just because it feels a certain way. I’ve worked at Marvel before and different studios and Bruce is really super-talented. When I was working with Marvel, I was using the exact same team as I’m working with now, as far as storyboard artists and stuff like that, but the product that comes out under Bruce is way more polished than Marvel is. I’ve learned a lot from especially with directing and stuff like that. But we fight a little bit, he’s a little more old school, I’m a little bit more new school in certain ways. It’s a collaborative. I’ve seen him evolve as well. He talks about ‘Batman: The Animated Series’ and how slow it is, he can’t even look at it now because he thinks it’s too slow.


About the Author

Chris Salce
Chris Salce
I'm a pop culture fanatic based out of Southern California. My collection of comics and pop culture memorabilia would even impress The Collector. When I'm not busy writing about pop culture news, doing film reviews or interviewing celebs, my brother and I work on a comic book called Blood-RED (And yes, that was a cheap plug). I have a certificate of completion for a children’s storybook writing program.


Opening scene

5 of the Most Thrilling Opening Sequences Ever!

There can be little doubt that the opening sequence is possibly one of the most crucial moments in a picture. It often sets the tone for what is to come, and rarely fools the audience into thinking that they are watching a feat...
by Lee Skavydis

Batman - the telltale series

Telltale Games Brings Batman to The Nintendo Switch

This unique take on Batman is a great way to introduce Nintendo fans to Telltale's style of storytelling and will also be nice for returning fans to be able to experience the game on a console they can take with them everywhere.
by Sean McAloon

justice league

6 ‘Justice League’ Clips Reveal Steppenwolf

Now that 'Justice League' is nearly within reach, the the film's final marketing push is in full effect.
by Taylor Salan


justice league

42 New ‘Justice League’ Images Give us our Best Look Yet

Check out this brand-new batch of 42 images from 'Justice League'!
by Taylor Salan


‘Justice League’ are All in with Posters Galore

Warner Bros. is definitely all in with marketing when it comes to their DC films. In past films we see a heavy load of trailers, toys and even some posters but none as big as this, which will be their biggest film yet and we a...
by Chris Salce


%d bloggers like this: