KamenConnection : Fans Interview with Steve Wang
First I would like to say to Steve Wang, Thank You so much for taking the time to answer these questions from us fans, we appreciate it a lot, and keep up the fantastic work!
This is my first Exclusive, and I'm very happy to have had other Fans as part of this Interview with Steve.
During filming of the episodes, were there any "Blooper Wheel" moments? Is it possible there could be bloopers on the DVDs?
“There were definitely a lot of bloopers on the shoot. as for including it on the DVD, I cannot be sure until there is a set date for the release and Adness decides what they want to include on the discs because it does involve going back into our archives and digging through them for it.”
Will you or your brother, Mike Wang, be appearing in any episode of Kamen Rider Dragon Knight? Or if you do another season, would you make an appearance, even as just an extra in the background?
“We do not appear in the first season, but you never know what we might do in the future.”
Who does the voice for the Visors - "Sword Vent"; "Guard Vent"; "Final Vent"..?
“It was a Ventaran voice actor whose name slips me at the moment... :)”
Were there any names created for Xaviax's Monsters or Minions, or any created just for fun?
“All the names of the monsters were the same as the original Ryuki show. because we never called them by name in Dragon Knight, we just referred to the Japanese version.”
Years ago, you Directed an episode of Saban's Power Rangers: Lost Galaxy - "The Rescue Mission", one of my favorite episodes of all time, how was your experience with that?
“I had a great time. Both the cast and crew was a total joy to work with and I got to work with my good friend Koichi Sakamoto again after a few years' break.
Overall, it was rather Chaotic. I had lost a major location for the space ship scenes a day before I had to shoot there. As you recall, most of the episode takes place on the ship. I had already done all my location prep. So I was given a new location and had to basically make things up as I shot.
I remember my first Assistant Director was pretty freaked out since he was the one that had to plan out the day. But I told him not to worry. I will always be a couple of shots ahead of him so he will know what to do. I also ran 2 units at the same time. Since there was no costumed ranger action in the episode, I ended up shooting all the action myself. I ran between sets to set up shots and shoot them. Oh, and the action scene where the creature attacks the rangers the first time and climbed all over the ceiling, I came up with that idea while I was driving to set that morning! Just made stuff up and shot it! It was good times although Chip Lynn was pretty upset with me because I didn't follow the script completely. At one point I asked him what a line was that I was shooting and his reply to me was, " Wow, you're actually using my dialogue?" sarcasm intended! Sorry about that Chip! I was having too much fun! LOL”
Well, first of all let me say that I love your work Mr. Wang, especially the Guyver movies. With Kamen Rider Dragon Knight and that one episode of Power Rangers, you've now worked in two very different, almost complete opposite worlds (movies / television). That being said, you commented in one interview about the difficulty of standards and how it affected the initial creation of the show. What have been the biggest problems or creative challenges you've personally faced working in the somewhat more restrictive world of television?
“One of the hardest challenges was to decide what was appropriate for kids of our demographic. Age 6-11. I am of the belief that most childrens programming talk down to kids and treat them like idiots. Growing up, I watched shows like Space Cruiser Yamato (Star Blazers) in the US, and Robotech. Those shows dealt with mature subject matters but were kid shows. They taught us how to care about people and to deal with the consequences of our action or inaction. It also had a profound effect on me as a fan of the genre. I wanted to bring that same experience I had into Kamen Rider and hopefully kids will be able to invest in characters they care about and suffer with them when they do and celebrate their triumphs with them.
One of the biggest obstacles we had to cross was how we dealt with violence in the show. Because it was an action show, there was a fine line we had to balance. Also we could not say things that were sexually suggestive, religious or derogatory like calling someone "Stupid". In episode 1 when the spider swipes at Kit and he seems to be saying something completely not what's coming out of his mouth, those were changes made to address the S&P notes. In the original version, he says," Geez..." but they were afraid it sounded too much like "Jesus", so we had to put a vocal effort there and that's why the lip sync is odd there. You will probably notice these things throughout the show because we had already locked most of the episodes before we had to work with S&P. In the future, these situations will be dealt with in the script stages so as to prevent these kind of problems before we shoot the shows.
Anyway, we learn a lot of the rules from working with Dana Cluverius of CW for Kids. She was very instrumental in helping us along the right path to pass standards and practices while respecting our creative vision. I heard a lot of nightmare stories from other producers of kids programming about S&P, but fortunately for us, we had a great experience on the show!”
As a director/writer/producer, what about Kamen Rider Dragon Knight are you most proud of? Is there any one thing in particular you wish you could have done differently?
“I am most proud of the fact that we were able to work at such a frantically fast pace to keep up with the production of such a creatively demanding show and that we were able to make a show that was mostly what we wanted to do. Because the show was independently financed and had a very challenging budget, we did not have a lot of time to shoot the show the way we wanted to. But despite all that, I think we all did a really solid job getting it done as best as we could. Mind you, we were all newbys to TV. I had some feature film experience and it helped in the shooting and post production of the show, but setting up a huge production machine that could run itself was a tremendous challenge, but we did it rather smoothly. All it took was not to sleep for a few years! LOL
As for something I wished I could have done differently? I wished we didn't have to do so much comedy. We had to follow some guidelines that were given to us because they were considered "tried and true" with kid shows and one of them was comedy relief. I didn't want there to be any comedy unless it fit the scene. So we started the show off rather "lite" just to set our bosses' minds at ease, and once they were comfortable that the show was going well, we started to sneak in darker elements and more intense dramatic scenes. Eventually they just let us do what we wanted because they saw that it was working. The last 10 episodes of the season is quite different from the first 10 episodes. LOL”
Is there anything on Kamen Rider Dragon Knight, like a monster, that's an original creation of yours? I ask because General Xaviax reminds me of the Guyver-Zoanoid from Guyver 2: Dark Hero.
“I designed General Xaviax's costume and both the dragon cycle and the wing cycle. Otherwise, all the other costumes and monsters were originally from Ryuki. The resemblence to Guyver zoanoid was intentional ( I designed that too, LOL) it was my homage to Yoshiki Takaya's Guyver because I'm still a big fan of that.”
Are there any other Japanese or Henshin Hero franchises you'd like to adapt or try to adapt into an American show? I know you're an Ultraman fan.
“I would love to someday do my version of Ultraman, that's the show that changed my life. I want to also do an adult version of Kamen Rider for the US. Some other shows I liked a lot were Kikaider, Spectreman, The mighty Inframan and a reboot of the Guyver franchise.”
As a fan of Kamen Rider and Japanese media in general, I just want to say that I think you, your brother, and the rest of the people who worked on Kamen Rider Dragon Knight have done a great job and really done the franchise justice. You GET IT, you know, and you're a fan. So it's nice to know someone like you is making this show. I know it was hard work, but what are the chances you'll come back to do another series?
“That totally depends on the success of the show and the toy sales. If it works and they ask us to come back, we would love to do another season. I have plans for the reintroduction Kamen Rider to the US and it involves "baby steps" I know some of the fans were disappointed and even upset that some of their favorite elements of Kamen riders were not used like the lack of posing before henshin. I can say this, if the show becomes successful and the general public starts to accept Kamen Rider not as a power ranger rip-off, but as a serious and more mature hero action show, then introducing those elements might be much easier. But I make no promises. The fans have to understand that posing before henshin is associated too much with power rangers and power rangers is aimed at a younger demographic than Kamen Rider. If our general audience thinks it's cheezy to pose, then it's bad for us. We have to aim not just for the fans but to the general public that we want to become fans.”
What other projects have you got going for you?
“My Brother, Nathan Long and I have been developing other action shows that we are pitching around town. I can't talk about them yet, but hopefully something will happen soon.”
Did you and the writing staff kick around any ideas for a substitute for "henshin"? I know that "Kamen Rider!" is what you went with, but I was just curious if you guys kicked any ideas around and if so what they were.
“Well, if anyone saw the leaked pre-show pilot, they saw "Kamen Rider Wing knight Initiate!" LOL that was an experiment and it proved to be a mouthful. We tried all different variation but it all sounded like something power rangers already did or would do.
I decided to just use Kamen Rider for 2 reasons, 1, because I wanted the name "Kamen Rider" to become a house hold name and any kid that wants to transform into one has to call out the name. and 2, because it worked out so well in Guyver and other Japanese shows in the past. It just made sense. By the way, to any fans that wanted to hear them say "henshin" honestly, just think about it. does it really make sense? I think some of the fans of the original show are too used to the cultural difference between the US and Japan. They don't realize that some of the things the Japanese shows do is still foreign to most Americans. Is it a bad thing? Not necessarily, but I DO have to take these things into consideration when re-imagining the show for an American audience.”
It took 116 days to film the 40 episodes of KRDK, but did you ever wish that it would have taken a little longer? The cast seems to have really enjoyed working with each other on set.
“Of course. I wish we had 200 days. I am use to shooting feature films and we have a little more time to make things a little extra special. Not saying we didn't do cool stuff in the show, but it would have been nicer had we had more time. Action and visual effects are very time consuming things to shoot.”
How difficult was it to fit in all 13 Riders into 40 episodes, since in Ryuki, the producers needed 50 episodes and a feature film to fit in all 13 Riders?
“It was very difficult indeed. Just ask Nathan Long who had the job of cataloging all the rider action footage and figuring out how we could use it. We pulled our hair out more times than I can remember trying to fit the pieces of the puzzle together. And because of the budget, we couldn't always shoot things to fill in the blanks the way we needed to. Personally, I felt 40 episodes was not enough to fully explore all the riders, but it really boiled down to too many Riders in one season. I think 6 riders would have been ideal, then no one would be short changed.”
As the series unfolds, I know that you and many of the other members of the crew of KRDK are hoping that the toy sales will help promote KRDK, but do you think that there is a chance that there will be other ways of promoting KRDK, like apparel, card game, etc.?
“If the show is successful, then all those products will come out. The vendors need to know that their merchandise will sell before they commit to licensing it. That's where good ratings will help.”
Aside from the fact that you had to make KRDK "child-safe" in American terms, what made you go with having a central villain in Xaviax instead of something else?
“One of the main reason we went with a central villain was because in our story he gets to play an assortment of characters to deceive the individual Riders, and as storytellers, that was very exciting to us. It allowed us to explore complicated emotions and situations that otherwise are not normally experienced in kid shows.”
After the first disaster in adapting a KR series (Saban's Masked Rider from 1995-1997), how nervous were you when you submitted the proposal to Toei for another adaptation of KR? Did you ever have any doubts that Toei would have refused the proposal?
“I watched an episode of Masked Rider and realized why Toei and Shotaro Ishinomori was so upset. I wasn't nervous that we couldn't have done a better job of making the show, but rather was nervous about being known as the second guy to mess up Kamen Rider in America! LOL”
I know that the pilot was leaked around 2006, but why was it pulled off? Why did you have to wait until 2008 to film the 40 episodes of KRDK that are currently airing? Also, why did you recast the parts of Kit Taylor and Maya Young? I mean, I like the current cast right now, but I'm curious as to why you had to recast those parts to Stephen and Yvonne.
“The pre-show pilot was pulled because it was not meant for the public to see. It was a really low budget test film to show Toei Studios that we could pull off the project here in the US. It served its purpose well.
We knew that Kamen Rider had a huge following and the fans are really hardcore. There were a lot of experimental ideas for the show that we toyed with, some we retained for the actual show and some we dropped. But because it was not the final show, we didn't want anyone, especially the hardcore fans to see it and talk badly about it. Any bad press that early in the project phase could potentially give our investors cold feet for funding the show.
The fans have to understand, as a filmmaker, we need the freedom try things and not fear repercussions from the public in order for us to see what worked and what didn't so we can make a better show in the long run. It was very difficult for us to determine what was the best tone and approach for the show, and without trying it and seeing the final results for ourselves, we would be taking a greater risk with the actual show.
Also, we started to develop the actual in January of 2007. We wrote the bible, the 40 episode outlines and the first 26 scripts by the time we started shooting in July. That alone was a monumental task for us. After we shot the first 4 episodes we had to temporarily shut down for a few months to sort out union problems and also we got into massive rewrites because we realized the plot was too complex. This caused us to constantly have to chase production with the new scripts for the rest of the shooting season. That also was super stressful! You just don't have time to slow down and think about anything. You just have to trust your judgment and do your best.
As for replacing the original cast, that decision came down from my bosses in Japan. We liked our original cast a lot but ultimately, we had to do what our financiers dictated and recast. In the end it was a win-win situation for us because we were also very happy with our final cast.”
How difficult was it to coordinate two different crews while on set? Because I know that the stunt people used in the fights were one team and the actors were on a different set. How were you able to keep up with what everyone was doing, amidst the chaos of running back and forth between the stunt people and the actors?
“Fortunately for us, Our action director Yuji Noguchi was a veteran of power rangers action and knew what he was doing. The only real coordination we needed to do is if we had to match screen directions in a scene so we would talk about that in the morning. Otherwise, He had total autonomy on set. as for actors's action. I directed all those scenes myself so I didn't have to worry about any coordinations there. The units basically ran themselves and we trusted our directors to do their jobs.”
How are the ratings? Are they good or bad for the show? And are both the ratings and the toys gonna determine the future of Kamen Rider in America or is it just the toys that will do that?
“The ratings are not too bad. We are 5th in our time slot, but could be better for sure. The toys will be out in June and we hope it will boost the ratings as well. The success of the toy sales and the show will determine whether there will be a second season or not.”
In Kamen Rider Decade, there's a Rider from the Ryuki Universe called Kamen Rider Abyss. I know all 40 episodes have been completed, but do you plan on using Abyss in some way for KRDK like being a toy exclusive or something?
“That's too soon to say.”
Will the cast of KRDK ever be in a special event or something like that in New York City?
“As far as I know, I was told they may appear at San Diego Comic con this year. also Stephen Lunsford and Matt Mullins were invited to the Toy Fair in New york last year. All promotions and events are planned by Adness or Bandai. I really have no involvement with that.”
Aside from Mexico, what other countries will KRDK be released in and when will they be released in those countries?
“I've been told that the show has sold in every territory around the world.”
Will all 40 episodes be released in a DVD box set?
“That is the plan.”
Other than the toys, will there also be KRDK posters, stickers, and notebooks for sale later on? If so, when will they be available?
“I believe that will be determined by the popularity of the show. But I know Adness would like that very much.”
What are your favorite tokusatsu shows aside from Kamen Rider? Do you also love the Metal Hero series?
“I loved the early super sentai shows in the 70's and 80's. I watched Gorenger in 1975 and loved it, since then, I watched bioman, changeman, etc... but not so much the newer stuff. I loved space sheriff Gavan, sharivan and the rest of the uchu keiji series. I'm good friends with Hiroshi Watari who played sharivan and spielvan. Some of my all time favorites is Ultraman, kikaider and Spectreman.”
What can you say about Kamen Rider Den-O? It is known for its comedy but it's a cool series.
“I watched a few episodes when it came out. Can't say I've seen enough to really have any concrete thoughts, but from what I have seen, I can say I'm not a fan of the comedy aspect of the show. It's a little too "kiddie" for me. I'm sure if I was a lot younger I would probably feel differently.”
After Kamen Rider Dragon Knight, which Heisei Kamen Rider series you want to adapt?
“That is too early to say.”
When you met Shotaro Ishinomori for the 1st time, what does it feel like?
“It was really cool. I was 21 at the time and was a huge fan of Kamen Rider and Kikaider so it was really cool to meet the creator. He had a movie attraction film playing at a local amusement park and had a limo take me there and walked me straight past the lines to see it. It was a really cool special effects packed film with visual effects by Brian Johnson (who did Empire Strikes Back). He also told me that I should play a Kamen Rider because I looked like one. LOL I have to find that photo I took with him. I hope I didn't lose it.”
Will there be any show replicated toys for sale? I mean, prop toys of the decks and belts and card readers like the ones they use in the show?
“I think Bandai has some planned.”
Is there any way that we as the public can do anything to contribute to raising the ratings, I mean advertise online or try to air commercials on the tv stations where we live? I just really want this show to get the credit it deserves.
“Buy the toys and tell everyone you know to do the same. Also if you know anyone who has a nielson box at home, tell them to watch the show. Of course word of mouth always help too so spread the word online!”
Do you have an official site, or a place where fans can contact you?
“I have a myspace site for my makeup effects work at www.myspace.com/stevewangfx”
Anything else you would like to say? Any SHOUT OUTS to your fans?
“Just want to thank everyone for supporting the show and spread the word. I hope in some way we were able to create a show that you will remember later in life as something special that had a positive impact on your lives like the way Starbalzers and Robotech had on mine!”
More Awesome Interviews
NERDSociety : Interview with Steve Wang (www.nerdsociety.com)
SciFiJapan : Interview with Steve Wang (www.scifijapan.com)
Interview with Steve Wang (YouTube)
*Feel free to post a comment(s) to Steve, thanks.
|From: ^^ ||hoi|
|Sent On: ||05/12/2011 02:35 AM|
|Message: ||i love the show nice to other show from japan|
|From: ^^ ||tou|
|Sent On: ||11/24/2009 04:22 AM|
|Message: ||I love this show compare to the Japanese version because the Japan version have to do with the rider war to see who the last one standing instead of teaming up against a bad guy. Keep up the good work!|
|From: ^^ ||DK09|
|Sent On: ||07/04/2009 06:37 PM|
|From: ^^ ||Dan Kuso|
|Sent On: ||06/11/2009 06:24 PM|
|Message: ||Love the show Steve, Kamen Rider Dragon Knight is great. I am buying the toys and watching the show.I know you say you are going to release the episodes on dvd, but I am worried about that not happening, or not all episodes on dvd. Anyway I just wanted to tell you that you still can\'t beat Power Rangers RPM episode DR. K. That episode is pure art and nothing in dragon knight so far can beat it.So keep going and maybe the Power Rangers RPM will give you an autograph for you little send up to them someday.|
|From: ^^ ||Jonathan|
|Sent On: ||05/28/2009 12:11 AM|
|Message: ||the show is awesome, I really hope you show all 40 episodes on cw4kids and if the dvd comes out I\'ll definitly buy it!|
|From: ^^ ||Huy|
|Sent On: ||05/27/2009 01:33 PM|
|Message: ||Not sure...he may be like Maya in being an ally to the Riders.|
|From: ^^ ||kamen rider fan|
|Sent On: ||05/27/2009 08:42 AM|
|Message: ||what trent do in kamen rider. because he know\'s kamen rider now.|
|From: ^^ ||Huy|
|Sent On: ||05/24/2009 11:50 PM|
|Message: ||That is only for the actual episodes to reveal...As for Wrath, I have a suspicion that he will be strong as well.|
|From: ^^ ||Jaime|
|Sent On: ||05/24/2009 02:27 PM|
|Message: ||will the kamen riders that got vented come back ?|
|From: ^^ ||Alfredo|
|Sent On: ||05/24/2009 02:20 PM|
|Message: ||In kamen rider ryuki the rider who looked like wrath was so strong will wrath be strong in KRDK ?|
|From: ^^ ||SONIC RANGER!!!|
|Sent On: ||05/22/2009 11:18 PM|
|Message: ||Dude, this show totally rocks my world. This show is no where in comparison at all to Disney\'s Power Rangers; as I am a true fan of both shows. However I believe that KRDK surpasses Power Rangers fully. It\'s like an action packed T.V. show for kids; but aiming more along the way for the older audiance. Also, I think that a more adult Kamen Rider show would be a possible idea for the future; no joke, I could see this happening someday. I will continue to support the Kamen Rider franchise in anyway possible; and collecting the action figures just released by Bandai, is just one step in doing so. Please keep the show alive for a few more or many seasons; and I\'ll continue to support this, one, of my all time favorite T.V. shows. You guys are doing such a SUPERSONICRIFIC job. Keep it up!|
|From: ^^ ||FaizuFan|
|Sent On: ||05/22/2009 10:53 PM|
|Message: ||Steve Wang answered my questions. I am so happy! And I loved his answers.
I bow to his extreme awesomeness, because he truly does get it and is thus awesome.|
|From: ^^ ||bbally|
|Sent On: ||05/21/2009 05:11 PM|
|Message: ||I do hope, the toys feel well enough for another season. I knew Steve and his brother Mike would do a proper US adaptation as proper despite the circumstances.|
|From: ^^ ||DragonKnight09|
|Sent On: ||05/21/2009 09:02 AM|
|Message: ||Sweet Interview, Adam and to everyone else who submitted questions to Steve. And Steve thank you so much for taking time to answer some of these questions :-) Amazing work for KamenRider Dragon Knight. Hope there\'s more seasons to come!|
|From: ^^ ||CHiCA Kosaka|
|Sent On: ||05/21/2009 08:08 AM|
|Message: ||Awesome interview!I wish I could\'ve submitted a question,though.Are you gonna do another interview? I am crossing my fingers for t-shirts! ~Love&kisses,CHiCA Kosaka|
|From: ^^ ||Huy|
|Sent On: ||05/21/2009 01:38 AM|
|Message: ||Sweet!!! These are some really great questions and answers! Great work with this interview, kc1000! ^_^|
|From: ^^ ||ViewtifulRidersProduction|
|Sent On: ||05/21/2009 12:55 AM|
|Message: ||wow a lot of info |