here's the Outlander bits:
When you’re running a TV show, you have multiple episodes going in various stages. With Outlander, how many episodes do you tend to have in various stages of production, at any one time?
MOORE: It really varies, during the year. There was a point, during the summer, where I was literally working on all 16 episodes. I had delivered the first two episodes, but I needed to go back into them and make some additional cuts for international delivery. And then, there were five or eight episodes after that, that had been filmed and were still being edited, or music was being done, or the sound mix was incomplete, or we hadn’t added the visual effects. And then, there were shows that were still in preparation to be shot. And then, there were shows that were shooting. And then, there were shows that we were still writing. So, there was a period of a couple of weeks in the summer where I was working on all 16. But that’s the worst that it ever gets, when you’re literally juggling the entire season. Most of the time, you’re dealing with four to seven episodes, simultaneously. It’s all the ones that you’ve shot, the ones that you’re about to shoot, the one that’s shooting, and then the ones that are getting ready to shoot, so there’s always a range between four to seven.
How would you say the demands of Outlander compare to other shows that you’ve done, in the past?
MOORE: Well, it’s unique in my experience, in that we’re shooting in Scotland, and the writers’ room is in L.A. and post is in L.A. When we’re shooting, I commute to the UK, every three weeks or so, and that’s hard. That’s probably the toughest, physically, on me. It’s a much longer commute than I’ve ever had to deal with. And then, there are the challenges of this particular production. It’s not the kind of show that has standing sets. And your typical TV series, you’ve got your police station, your apartment, the hospital, the starship, or whatever it is, and you’re constantly going back to those sets and shooting, which saves you a lot of money and time. You can do that faster because you become really familiar with it and you become really good at it. And Outlander is a traveling show, so you’re constantly having to create new environments, new sets and new locations. With every episode, you just keep moving forward. So, instead of doing an ongoing series where you’re producing the same show and getting familiar with doing the same rhythm of work, over and over again, we’re almost doing 16 little mini-movies, and that’s hard. That takes a lot of time because you’re constantly having to scout, you’re constantly building, you’re constantly casting, and you’re constantly starting over the next week.
Well, congratulations on that because the show looks absolutely beautiful.
MOORE: Thank you. It’s a gorgeous show. It’s a gorgeous country. We have great DPs. It’s an amazing team. It’s a UK-based crew and staff, and they do amazing work. We have a tremendous cast. I’m really fortunate that I’ve been a part of really great shows. It’s been a really great thing to be a part of Battlestar Galactica. It was great to be a part of Star Trek. It’s great to be a part of Outlander. It’s just bigger than all of us, and you feel lucky.
The first season of Outlander is split in two, and you ended the first half on a cliffhanger. Was there much discussion about where you could leave that first half to keep people waiting in anticipation of the second half, but not have them be too angry that they don’t want to tune back in? Was it your decision where to leave it, or did the network also weigh in on that?
MOORE: I pitched it that way, pretty early on. Because we’re going from a book, that moment of Claire being held by Jack, and Jamie appearing in the window, as soon as I read it on the page, I was like, “Well, that’s a great cliffhanger,” and it happened to fall about mid-way through the book. It was a natural point. So, when we were putting the season together, I said, “Okay, in Episode 8, let’s say that that’s the cliffhanger,” and the network agreed. It was a done deal. It seemed obvious to all of us that that was the best. It literally was a cliffhanger moment and a good place to stop.
The wedding episode was such an intimate and very sexual episode. Did you have to do much negotiation on that, to push it as far as you did, or was that surprisingly smooth, as far as what you were able to do?
MOORE: There was no real issue with the network, whatsoever. Starz is a premium cable network and they pride themselves on pushing boundaries. They just said, “Go as far as you want to go. We’re not afraid of it. We want it to just work.” I just took the approach, with the director and the writer and the actors, and said, “Okay, this will be graphic, but I want it to feel authentic. I don’t want to do typical TV nonsense where you’ve got the big drape and the candle, and it’s soft-core porn. I want this to feel like two people having sex for the first time, in these circumstances. The first time they have sex, it ain’t gonna go so well. And the second time, it can be more charged. And then, it’s going to move to something more intimate.” I wanted a sense of truth to it, and I just kept emphasizing that we were going for reality. We weren’t going for romantic. I wanted it to feel real, and they delivered on that. It was a pleasure to cut the show and to mix it. I could watch the footage and go, “Yeah, this is good. This isn’t just prurient. It’s not just trying to put naked people on the screen. It’s actually about something. Each of these moments that we were having actors take their clothes off, has meaning to it. It actually does drive the story forward. It really is important to show this.”
Have you learned anything about the show, while writing it, that you didn’t realize before and that you want to apply to Season 2?
MOORE: Yeah. After you get a season under your belt, you learn a lot of lessons. It’s a much bigger challenge, logistically, in terms of production, than I think we anticipated, going into Season 1. We had to build a lot more than we anticipated, in terms of interiors. There were a lot of lessons of production to be learned. On the page, the biggest thing you learn on any TV show is how to write to your cast. You write the show at the beginning with certain voices in your head and you have a way that you think the characters will be, and then you have an actor go out there, and you start watching dailies and episodes. Then, you start realizing what they can do and what they can’t do, what they’re good at and what they’re not so good at, how they say things and what fits in their mouth, and you start tailoring the voice of the show to your cast. So, when you get into the second season, then you’re really up to speed on that. You have a lot of confidence that we all understand who these characters are.
When you know that you’re working on something with a built-in fan base, do you read any fan sites to see what the fans are happy, sad or mad about?
MOORE: Yeah, when episodes come on, I always do a quick pass through various fan sites and blogs and reviewers, to gauge and see what people are generally saying, but that’s about as far as it goes. I learned this lesson back at Star Trek, when the internet was still in its infancy, in a lot of ways. You quickly start realizing that you can get lost in it. No matter what it is, it’s still a tiny fraction of the audience because how many of us take the time to write about a TV show online, unless that’s your job. So, it’s already a fairly small fraction of the fan base that cares enough to write about it. They’re the most passionate and they pay the most attention to the show, but they’re also a fraction of the larger audience that’s watching it, week to week, so you can’t go completely by what the fans say. Also, their perspective is their perspective. It’s not a democracy. We just can’t open it up for a vote. You have to trust your own creative instincts and the story that you’re trying to tell, and hope that you get a positive reaction. So, I always look at the fan sites and I’m always interested in what they say, but it’s usually in terms of, “Wow, I hope they like this,” rather than, “Okay, I want to see what they’re after and change the show to tailor the message more for them, or to steer away from things they don’t like.”