Q&A: The Walking Dead’s Frank Darabont and Robert Kirkman

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Do you use the comic book as a storyboard?

FD:  Not too much, but sometimes in a real sense we do. This stuff filters in to your brain, I was actually shocked. Once I finished shooting the pilot, I was putting it together. I went back to the comic book, and I realized my God, I really did pull a lot of visual ideas out of it. I wasn’t like I was on the set saying, “Okay we have to get this.” But boy it really sank in there. There’s some really iconic shots you’ll see. Just go back to reference the work that these guys did on the pages, and you’ll see it in there.

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One of the benefits of television is character development because you have more time. Is this one of the reasons you did this as a series?

FD: I guess the simple answer is yeah. I don’t know how one would do these as a series of features films.

With features I feel like they would get so blown out of scale, out of proportion. That’s all the features seem to want to be anymore. They’re spending 200 million dollars on board game movies: Is that actually necessary?

I like that the series is really being true to the comic book in the sense of its intimacy, its focus on the characters. I like that every story doesn’t have to turn into a big action scene. The sort of quiet focus on intense storytelling is very reflective of what Robert has done in the comic books. It’s not too blown out of proportion. This is not to put anybody down or to slam anybody, but I Am Legend is a good example of what I’m talking about. It’s one of the most quiet focused little brilliant books of all time and by the they put it on the screen, it’s this gigantic huge thing with these huge action sequences. Okay… I guess that works.

You had great success adapting material film, with people being happy with both versions. What is it that you look for when you adapt material?

FD:  I always say I don’t want to adapt anything I don’t love, and when I love it, I want to be as true to it as possible. Even when things change because it’s a different language, I want to be as true to the spirit of what I’m adapting. I think that’s why say people who love Shawshank Redemption feel like I did right by the original material. I never want to throw out the spirit of the material or the intent of what the author brought to it. That has always been my philosophy up to now; I guess it’s served me well enough so far. I guess? I hope? You tell me sir…

RK: I think you did a very good job! I couldn’t be happier.

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