Back in 2009, a webseries slipped onto the internet that took the whimsical beatdown action of Nintendo's Super Smash Bros series and twisted it into a dark tale of fallen heroes and a world going under. Ekeing by on donations and, about halfway through its ten-episode run, support from The Escapist
, There Will Be Brawl
told an impressive, fan-made tale over the course of 2009.
To be honest, I hadn't even realized it'd been so long since the series wrapped, but the recent release of Super Smash Land
reminded me that I'd been a bit confused by some of the later episodes the first time through, so I decided to give the series another watch-through, and found myself wondering just what the cast and crew had gotten up to since TWBB finished. So, I went ahead and asked.
Over the course of this week, I'll be posting interviews I held with some of the minds and bodies responsible for Brawl. Initially, the idea was that this week would've arrived after a week had passed for every playable character featured in the SSB games, including those cut from the roster between Melee and Brawl, but as I mentioned, I kind of forgot just how long it'd been. Given that I didn't feel like sitting on these until the anniversary of the series' closure, you get the goods now.
For my first interview, I felt I may as well go straight to the source. Zach Grafton
was responsible for the series' writing, and to a great extent for the very concept itself. While he spent most of his time behind the scenes, he does make a cameo as a Toad in one of the bar scenes, as any self-respecting attention whore might do. My questions follow, in bold, with his answers in standard text.
Given that most game-inspired webseries tend to go the comedy route, what inspired you to take a darker, more serious-business angle with There Will Be Brawl?
This all came out of my desire to tell a legitimate mystery story with Kirby as Hannibal Lecter. Which I humbly submit is among the finest ideas in all of human history. We also thought the gritty style would make it easy to film. We were wrong... and we paid the price.
What scene or idea proved most difficult to translate from script to screen, and why?
If I were answering honestly, I would have to cite nearly the entire series. The scope of the show was so ludicrously out of bounds with our budget it caused trouble pretty much all the time. It ruined lives and destroyed families. It took so many man hours to create this stuff, even our incredible team was beset with problems you could never expect. Even simple communication would break down once in a while. Once we had roped in a violinist who ended up being sent to the wrong location at the wrong time for the wrong scene. So that was hilarious.
I loved Olimar's capsule/den/whatever the heck it was. What'd you guys use for that, or did you have to build something?
The spaceship was our friends' Shing and Jason's Burning Man vehicle! Shing also made our Pikmin. Check out her little guy, Marlowe the Monster, here
. Was there much, or any, ad-libbing on anyone's part that was kept in the final version, or scenes that were added due to suggestions by the actors?
I'm sure there were some good ones, especially in the Lakitu segments. I remember Toadsworth saying he coached a youth basketball team on the weekends and expressing his adoration for "young men getting fit!" A lot of our cast was on loan from ACME Improv, so they were all hilarious. The fight choreographer suggested the line "There won't be a melee. There will be a brawl." That was so dumb we had to keep it. Though I gotta admit, I was a little anal retentive about dialogue because there was once a slight, so slight, ad-lib by one of our phenomenal actors that caused all sorts of trouble on the forums. It seemed to indicate that a certain character was the murderer and the entire house of cards almost toppled!
What have you been up to since There Will Be Brawl wrapped? Any plans to grace the interbutts with more wonderment that's been stewing in your brain, game-related or otherwise?
Absolutely! Matt (Mercer, who played Ganondorf and directed the series)
and I are working on a new show that is the best thing ever, and individually we both have a number of different projects in development so please fill the universe with positive energy for us.
Are there any character cameos you wanted to wedge into the series that you couldn't justify or get around to?
We were going to do the Arwings! Then we decided not to be idiots. I am proud to say we managed to have each of Brawl's Assist Trophies mentioned in either the main show or the Lakitu news clips. Tell me a story, if it won't leave you legally liable, about something funny or exciting that happened off-camera.
I'm sure there are a ton of great stories, but that violinist incident was really the funniest thing in the world to me. We felt really bad, so we couldn't bring ourselves to tell her it was a mistake... so we just sort of let her play her violin. In a totallty random scene. Good times. We've learned a lot about communicating since then.
I'm aware you've done some conventions in the past, and there was that ad for the last MAGfest towards the end of Brawl's run that was brilliant. Any cons you're looking forward to as of this interview?
I wish. I am devoting all my time to writing and developing so hopefully soon I'll have something to promote.
What kind of games do you prefer to play, or recall fondly from your childhood?
Alas, I don't play many games nowadays. The old Final Fantasy games were a particular stepping stone in my development as a young human. Silent Hill is one of my favorite things in the world. Suikoden 2 is the boss of all games.
If there were another game or franchise you could give the webseries treatment, with a budget a bit higher than "change dug out of our collective couches," what would game would you like to do, and what sort of treatment would you give it?
I would do something hilarious with Game of Thrones. A buddy comedy where Jaqen H'gar, the Red Viper, and Hodor have to share an apartment. And Tyrion and Bronn are partners on the force. One's a playboy, the other's a family man!
Do you actually play any of the Smash Bros games, and if so, what are your favorite character and stage, and why?
I wish I had time to play it still. The best characters are the Ice Climbers and the best stage is the first Game and Watch stage from Melee where you would get hit once and immediately explode. I'm now officially the only two people who have ever given either of those answers.
One last question. Marry/fuck/kill: Toad, Toadette, Toadsworth?
I think Toadsworth would make a nice husband, and let's face it, the Mushroom Kingdom needs to reform its marriage laws. Toadette has a well developed color scheme so that's pretty hot. Toad is replaceable, there's like a million of him, sorry buddy.
And there you go. As the week carries on, I'll be bringing perspectives from the entire spectrum of performers and creative minds behind Brawl, from headliners to supporting roles, to give you a peek behind the scenes of one of my favorite game-inspired webshows ever. If you've never seen There Will Be Brawl before, do yourself a favor watch it now, either via the show's main page
, or The Escapist's archives
. If I could bring myself to speak in absolutes, I'd guarantee you won't come away disappointed.
LOOK WHO CAME: