The Walking Dead heads sit down at YouTube’s Space LA
Last night, YouTube’s Space LA hosted a fireside chat with Robert Kirkman and David Alpert. The talk was moderated by Clarke Wolfe of the Nerdist and Collider Video.
There will be no talk of Glenn, or as he was referred to after an audience question, “redacted.” So, we’re stuck coming up with our own Glenn “truther” conspiracies until Sunday, because Robert Kirkman wouldn’t throw us a bone (or a brain). Also, there was no talk of the current season or speculation about what comes next.
What Alpert and Kirkman were really there to talk about was their company Skybound Entertainment that has now expanded its platform from TV and comics to include digital. For Kirkman, digital offers more leeway and creative freedom to stretch the boundaries of what content is. Alpert is excited about the endless ways that you can tell stories in a digital format. Skybound Entertainment’s mission is to tell stories that haven’t been told before, and now that they have expanded into the digital realm, the future is limitless.
Kirkman and Alpert also shared valuable advice with aspiring content creators about maintaining ownership over their creative property. Skybound was formed during the production of The Walking Dead, and it was important to the producing partners that the creator (Kirkman) was able to retain his voice in all platforms. Between the comic, the show, the video game and toys, Kirkman was able to maintain his creative autonomy in all aspects of his creation, but he also partnered with people that he could trust and respected his vision. Alpert advised aspiring creators to remember that while creative control is important, you can’t forget that this is a business. Getting content out there is about finding the right balance and hitting the market at the right time. Don’t keep your creation to yourself, don’t be precious or you could miss out on getting your work out there.
Nothing is more fun or adorable than watching Robert Kirkman gleefully talk about all the characters that he has killed in the comics and the show.
In 2016, Kirkman’s comic Outcast will premiere on Cinemax. Alpert and Kirkman are excited about their new show, and think that fans of The Walking Dead will enjoy it. This leads to talk of branding, and how Outcast, while still a horror show is very different from The Walking Dead, and how fans will react to that. Alpert says that the fans are incredibly important to them, but they don’t get to direct the sort of material that they create. Kirkman promises that Outcast will be darker, moodier and more violent (they’re taking advantage of all the envelope pushing perks that premium cable has to offer).
The discussion then turned to Kirkman and Alpert’s decision to make AMC their home. At the time, AMC was only averaging 2.5 million viewers for its critically acclaimed series Mad Men and Breaking Bad, but their annual Fearfest movie marathon got 5 million viewers: executives knew that they had the audience for a horror series, but they needed the right property. That logic, plus a gore reel, was all Alpert and Kirkman needed to know that they had found the right partners for their show. That famous scene in the pilot where Rick shoots the little girl zombie in the head was actually a way to test AMC executives to see if they were sincere about letting Kirkman have the freedom to mirror the extreme violence of the comic. It worked, and the rest is history.
Robert Kirkman and David Alpert are truly great examples of what a successful and respectful creative and business partnership can and should be. This may not have been the talk that everyone in the audience was expecting but it was timely and important for anyone involved in digital content creation, and the struggles that creators face in not just getting their work out there, but being able to maintain their vision.
Skybound Entertainment and Robert Kirkman partnered with YouTube’s Space LA to host a screenwriting workshop for YouTube creators to write a Halloween short film. Here is the trailer for the eight short films based on the prompt, “What Happened Here?”