Great interview with Ben Edlund by Laura Prudom from TV Squad.
It's mainly about this week's episode but I've put the non-spoilery bits under the cut. Some wonderful stuff about his directing process.
I have to say I loled at his line "I used to a play a role-playing game called Dungeons and Dragons" o rly Ben? colour me not surprised ;D
Also - basically Cas is a projection of Ben ;D
Q: We've had the epic -- if unseen -- civil war in Heaven as the backdrop this season, with a more personal story for Sam (Jared Padalecki) and Dean (Jensen Ackles) at the forefront, will you be attempting to balance the two tones again, or focusing on a specific plot?
A: I think that every season our ideal is to create a sandwich and put Sam and Dean in the middle. [Laughs] So we'll probably do the same thing that we were trying to do originally -- there will be an overarching storyline. It's inevitable as time for them, from when they were first driving around and a ghost was a huge problem and a demon was an undeniable nightmare that they could barely contend with, and now, here they have to take out 12 angels or something and they're all, "Well, how exactly? Okay, let's go." They don't even hesitate.
I used to a play a role-playing game called Dungeons and Dragons, and that was about levels of experience; as you gained experience you were able to deal with much greater and far more kind of global creatures. They are the best hunters in the world, as they'd say, so, they have to hunt the biggest fish, as it were. But the other challenge is to try and make sure that you have a compelling story at the same time -- so we're back in the lab trying to put these atoms together again.
Q: Let's talk about Friday's episode. Did you specifically ask to direct an episode you'd written?
At the beginning of last year I made my desire [to direct] known, that I'd like to jump in at some point and do one. It just came about that it would be ... we plot out the directors first and kind of run with them before we know the story, because it's based on trying to make sure we schedule and already have a director locked in for each episode when we start. So I got slotted to do episode 20. Even before I knew what the story specifically was going to be, it had a 95 percent chance of being pretty dramatic, the last three episodes of the arc of the season are always going to be that way.
The big challenge for me is that my nature is more towards comedy, so I understand when a comedy thing is working; I know when I'm not bored in a comedy. So it was a better challenge for me, I think, to have to do something closer to full-on drama, because that's scarier territory, so, that was neat. But I knew very little about what the episode was going to be when I expressed my interest.
Q: At Paleyfest, the cast praised how hands-on you were as a director, being able to instruct them on their character motivation as well as the beats of the scene. How was the directing experience for you?
A: It was very frightening. [Laughs] Ultimately, it was really, really good. I think it did a lot of good things for me internally because it was just so right in terms of a challenge. It's a very, very specific show, in that it kind of works a miracle every week as a road movie -- I directed one time before, quite some time ago [the 'Angel' episode 'Smile Time'], and that was primarily on a soundstage. On 'Supernatural,' you go to a location and another location, and every week they do amazing things up there. You have to kind of hit the ground running and really start to look to the core of the story you're trying to tell. I don't view it exactly as compromise because you barely know what you're going up there to do, but you really need to be alive on your feet and thinking how every enhancement, how every challenge is going to impact the story when you get back to the editing room.
I'm glad I did it once. I think I'd like to do it more, I do plan to. But I'm like, wow, that was a golden punch in the face! [Laughs]
Q: How did your writing inform the choices you were making? Writing is such a personal process, and I know that some writer-directors become attached to whatever they put on paper and they don't necessarily want to change the script and have to roll with the punches that come when you're actually on set and behind schedule or over-budget. Did you find that dichotomy challenging?
I think if I had been directing someone else's script, it would have been much more difficult for me to drop lines or change lines or drop notions that I was holding dear, because it would have been me and an invisible other person in the room -- me trying to work with the vision of another [writer]. Here it was a much faster circuit to let go of things that were unnecessary or things that I knew weren't immediately crucial that hadn't been given thought or weren't fully blown out. I think the advantage, oddly, was that I was looser with the material than I would have been if it was someone else's script.
Q: You seem to end up writing many of the Castiel-centric episodes: 'The Third Man,' 'On the Head of a Pin,' is that by accident or design?
A: I mean, other people handle lots of the Cas (Misha Collins) stuff in the writer's room too, for sure -- it's in many hands. But ... he's a very trippy dude, he's an angel, he's from Heaven. And I tend to, in the room and in my scripts, be a little trippy [laughs]...
I think that overall, we get along well, myself and the character of Cas. But it's more like it develops between us -- the other writers, myself, and the character of Cas. When it's time for me to pitch a story or for us to start working on the story I'm going to write, I might say the word "Castiel" four times more than other people say it. [Laughs] That just lends itself to where we end up.
There's a couple of other interviews out with Ben today, although they tend to be more about spoilers for this weeks episode. You can find them listed here