A while ago, I was lucky enough to attend a panel featuring Bryan Fuller at the Lambda LitFest in LA. Bryan told us some interesting facts about his career as a screenwriter and showrunner, and shared some behind-the-scene stories of American Gods.
In my previous articles, I noted how special the Hannibal fandom is due to many factors. In this panel, Bryan also briefly mentioned his opinions on fan culture. One of the most fascinating aspects of pop culture is the conflict between fans and creators. As storytellers, showrunners sometimes find it challenging to keep the ownership of their characters and stories, and there were creators that openly spoke against fandom and fan re-makes. Bryan, however, is quite the opposite, as we all know.
He said his inspiration, as a showrunner, definitely came from the original works when adapting a previous work onto the TV screen. “Hannibal was definitely an adaptaion,” Bryan said, “I myself was a fan of the movies. All of the movies were great.” He paused and jokingly added, “except Hannibal Rising.”
According to Bryan, though Hannibal was inspired by the original novels, it soon marked its own path. I personally think it was the unconventional and confident exploration of its characters that made the show so special– a network TV show that dared to make courageous and thoughtful changes to the plot, that was not afraid of controversies, that won over the audience by not kissing their asses but rather staying truthful to itself.
Bryan said running Hannibal was really quite special. Even for him, it sometimes felt like the show took an unexpected turn. “Like one day I realized, ‘Oh we’re here. Might as well talk about love.'” The audience’s reaction to Hannigram was also quite unexpected, in a good way. “I wanted to explore non-physical male love– obsession that normally comes with romance,” he added. Later, Bryan also revealed that if we ever get another season (or SEASONS, let’s all pray), he wants to explore so much more of Margot and Alana’s relationship.
Since the airing of American Gods is approaching (the world premiere of the pilot received a massive amount of positive reviews at SXSW, by the way), Bryan Fuller shared some stories about this show. Bryan revealed that since Starz really wanted to “wow” the audience, they gave the team maximum freedom exploring unconventional things. A year of writing, 8 months of production, and 8 months of post production went into American Gods. During the post production of this series, he realized they’ve used more visual effects than Titanic. Since coloring and sound mixing are two of the most significant factors of this show, Bryan sat side by side with the post team in order to get the best final look of this show.
“Hannibal was easy, compared to American Gods,” Bryan laughed said.
He first met with Neil Gaiman right after they wrapped Hannibal Season 2. “At 7 a.m. we wrapped Hugh Dancy, and at 11 I found myself meeting with Neil Gaiman in a cafe, and we spent hours talking about immigration.”
During the production of American Gods, lots of things happened. Our world changed vastly (in a very shocking, sad way). Bryan said the team started the production thinking it was fiction, it was “what if,” but they soon noticed that the story they were creating suddenly became scarily serious and realistic in this depressing political environment nowadays. The story is now more relevant and important than ever.
As a big Gaiman fan, a Fullerverse fangirl, and a pretentious post major, I am so looking forward to American Gods! There is so much more to talk about when it comes to this show. Cast diversity and character representation are the next two things on my list, and hopefully I can beat my procrastination by the time of my next article.
(Thanks so much to Lambda LitFest and the wonderful hosts, Dave White and Alonso Duralde, for a great discussion. A shoutout to all the flower crowns spotted at the panel!)