Adam Savage Talks To Us About Taking A Deep Dive Into Science

first_img Syfy Axes ‘Krypton’ Superhero Series After 2 SeasonsRevisiting ‘Passions,’ the Craziest Soap Opera Ever Stay on target Adam Savage is a busy guy. Far busier than you might think for a guy who likes to tell people that he’s unemployed. Between spreading his love of making over at Tested, touring coast to coast to prove science is awesome, and shooting a cameo for The Expanse, Adam found time to record a series of podcasts for SYFY.It’s the network’s 25th anniversary this month, and a major milestone like that needs to be celebrated. Here’s a pretty good way to do that: sit Adam Savage down with 15 people who have shaped science fiction (and continue to shape it) into what it is today… and what the future of this genre might look like.SYFY lined up some amazing guests, including the legendary Frank Oz, DC Fontana, Neil Gaiman, and David X. Cohen. I was lucky enough to chat with Adam about the series — and his take on sci-fi.Where did the idea for the podcast come from? Is it something you’d been wanting to do? Did SYFY come to you about doing this?The answer is “both.” SYFY did come to me with the idea of doing this, they wanted 15 interviews to celebrate their 25th anniversary. Talking to some of the innovators that helped build this genre to what it is today, the people making it what it is currently, and, you know, what the future of this genre might look like.I love interviewing people. It’s not my normal gig, it’s outside my wheelhouse, so I find it both terrifying and exhilarating. And because I’m not always super comfortable doing it I seek to do it as often as possible. It expands me to do it, and I love the process of finding that genuine conversation… even if it’s someone I don’t know… and finding that common ground to talk about stuff.Award-winning author Neil GaimanWhat makes this podcast different than what you do over at Tested?If you leave me to my own devices to interview any random person, it turns out that I always want to talk about the same thing… which is how do you build a large aesthetic and creative enterprise and run it with integrity? So I’m interested in that from everybody from Jeff Bezos to Guillermo Del Toro to, you know… a chocolatier. I’m fascinated by the infrastructure of creativity. It’s a constant conversation in my head, and I like that free-ranging conversation.SYFY [gave me] a much more specific task here, which was, over 15 interviews, to take a deep look at a very specific set of genres — science fiction, horror, fantasy — in books, television, and movies, and how they really affected our culture.In some ways that makes it a lot easier, because you have a very specific field to cover. And yet, throughout these interviews we ranged very far and wide. It’s absolutely delightful to hear Neil Gaiman tell stories about his first meeting with someone like Alan Moore and how that affected the way he writes and the way he interacts with fans.Puppeteer, actor, and filmmaker Frank OzAre there moments where you let yourself slip into being a fan during the process?In the actual interview […] I’m a pro, and yes, it’s totally surreal. You know, Frank Oz is actually a friend of mine, and yet it’s still hard for me not to geek out when he makes a Yoda joke at dinner.You’ve worked with both Doug Chiang and John Knoll on the Star Wars prequels. Sitting down with them again must have been a lot of fun?Absolutely delightful. I spent five and a half years at Industrial Light and Magic, from the late 90s to the early 00s and the professional and the personal interactions I had with both John Knoll and Doug Chiang were super rewarding, and the projects we worked on were so much fun. It was delightful to come back to it from the perspective of distance and talk through the passions and pitfalls of the stories that they’ve been telling.And also… they’re both deep geeks. You know, that was also the other lovely thing. I don’t necessarily think that geek or nerd is a marginalized community anymore. I think you scratch the surface of anyone, you’re going to find weird passions and strange proclivities, and I love talking about those. In the case of this podcast, you know… it was always coming back to the genre. The science fiction, the fantasy, the horror.Your interview “mission,” does that come from the environment you grew up in… with your father being an artist?Yes, you’re absolutely right. And it comes from having made Mythbusters for 14 years. It’s hard work to scale up creativity. It’s hard work to do it alone. It’s hard work to be in a shop and try and make a piece of art that has honesty in and of itself when you’re all alone, and it’s you and the canvas. Or it’s you and the workbench.But to gather ten people, or in MythBusters’ case 20 people to make a television show, or in the case of a movie 150 people who spend a year making something… scaling up is very difficult. And yeah, watching my dad navigate in his career and the ways in which he did it well and the ways he didn’t — the ways in which I’ve done it well, the ways in which I haven’t — it’s a fascinating exploration to me.Because it feels like when something beautiful happens like Blade Runner with someone as brilliant as Ridley Scott at the helm and you realize he’s commandeering a team of hundreds of artisans — everybody from Sidney down to the person spraying paint on a taxi cab on the set — they’re all involved in telling a story. And when that story is a great story it’s an amazing occurrence.That echoes comments you’ve made before about model making, about the importance of every detail and the maker being able to tell the story about every one of those details.That’s exactly true. And in the same way that a CEO’s mission is to align the people in their company to the same goal, an artist’s job, a showrunner’s job, a director’s job, a writer’s job is to gather people to their cause and give them a singular vision. And yet that doesn’t work unless everybody is participating in that vision. And yeah, it requires storytellers all the way down.What was it that attracted you to science fiction as a young fan?I was born in the 60s, grew up in the 70s, came of age in the 80s… and I grew up on a steady diet of syndicated Mission: Impossible and and Star Trek and The Amazing Spider Man. Japanese monster movies and Hammer Films. And James Bond. And for me, the moment I saw Star Wars, it expanded what I thought was… I was going to say it expanded what I thought was possible, but it’s not like I was sitting there at ten years old and thinking “I want more sophisticated stories about a lived-in universe.”But when I saw Star Trek, I certainly fantasy role played with my friends as characters from Star Trek because of the cool ship they had… and they did cool stuff. But when I saw Star Wars I wanted to live in that world. Right away. The drive to be part of that creative universe that George Lucas created was so powerful, so immediate that… yeah, that really drew me in.And even after I have been a deep fan of really wonderfully realized visions of alternative worlds.DC Fontana, one of the creative forces behind Star TrekSo did that color the response you gave at SDCC, when John Hodgman asked you to if — to save humanity — you’d choose to wipe Star Trek or Star Wars from history? (he chose Star Trek)Let me explain the context of that answer… I’m at this panel with some of my favorite people in the world — Hodgman, Aisha Tyler, John Barrowman, Orlando Jones, Charlie Jane Anders… and I get a question like that. I think to myself, I think like a producer. Not what is the true answer, what is the most interesting and provocative answer I can give to pump energy into this high-energy group and see what happens?So my answer, which was we should eliminate Star Trek because it gives people a utopic vision of the world is pretty much the opposite of what I think. And yet I have this affection for the dystopia of Star Wars that can never quite be matched by my passionate love of Star Trek. Because I agree with Star Trek’s mission of a positive and humanist view of humanity.In that context, I was trying to be “the villain that Gotham needed.”You were also once asked which would win, the Millennium Falcon or the Enterprise.I said I would take the Enterprise, right?You did, absolutely.Yeah, yeah… it’s like a battleship against a PT boat. And don’t get me wrong, there’s no place… if you could zap me into an alternate reality right now I would choose the Millennium Falcon hands down, right now. Again, as an aesthetic experience, as an emotional experience. If I had to survive, I would go to the Enterprise.Knowing that, and knowing that Adam is also a huge fan of Lego, I asked if he was pre-ordering himself the new 7,541 piece UCS Millennium Falcon. “Not only that, but I’m trying to figure out a way to make the build take less than three days with multiple people so that we can cover some sort of insane speed build on, ” he told me.We’re looking forward to seeing that, and to binging on all 15 of his SYFY interviews. Check them out over on the SYFY website.Let us know what you like about Geek by taking our survey.last_img