I always find it surprising when I recognize a name from one medium (say, comics) connected to a different medium (like, movies). It’s like some sort of weird version of Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon. Take Christopher Yost, for example. I “knew” him as the writer of Spider-Man and Scarlet Spider comics from a few years ago. In doing research for another article, Yost’s name popped up as the writer of the screenplay for Thor: The Dark World. I’d come across his name again, a short time later, as one of the writer’s on Marvel’s animated series, Avengers: Earth’s Mightest Heroes. A quick look at this IMdb page revealed just who deep into animated shows Yost really was. I reached out to him, to see if he’d be interested in answering some questions about his work. He quickly obliged…
Your friendly neighborhood jman: I think that you’re living every fanboys dream…writing comics, animated shows and comic based movies. Is it all as cracked up as it seems?
Christopher Yost: yeah, it’s pretty great – but at the same time, it’s a job with many of the same (or similar) challenges as any other job. But I wake up every morning and do something I love, it’s hard to beat. My commute’s not bad either, about ten steps from my home to my home office J
The culture is just in this sweet spot right now in that everything that’s coming out it seems was something I loved as a kid, be it Marvel, Star Wars, Ninja Turtles, etc. It’s fun, for sure.
jman: What’s the difference between writing for all three genres? Is there a different process in writing for each? Or is a script a script?
CY: Comic books are the most different to write for from a technical perspective, because you’re describing snapshots and moments, versus movement… but much the way a screenplay is a blueprint for other creative people to take and create, a comic script is much the same… it’s just that the comic artist is a director, cinematographer, set designer, costume designer, makeup artist, stunt coordinator etc all in one.
Animation has various technical requirements to, as far as number of characters, re-use of backgrounds, that kind of thing. Some shows like more direction in the scripts, more specific shots called out, that kind of thing. With feature screenplays, less so.
They’re all the same in that you’re dealing with story, and character and emotion. A story’s a story.
jman: Can you talk about Thor: Dark World at all? Was that your first movie script? How long did it take you to write it? What’s the approval process? When you’re writing a live action movie script, do you write it based on the characters themselves or do you write it based on the people playing the characters? In other words, does knowing Chris Hemsworth is playing Thor change how you write the character?
CY: I’d written a few spec screenplays, original ideas of my own to use as writing samples and –hopefully – to sell. Then I got into animation and ended up writing some 150 or so episodes of produced television. While working on an Avengers animated series, I was invited to join the Marvel Writers’ Program on the feature side, and there I wrote a couple of development scripts, ie movies they may or may not make. I can’t say which two comics I adapted, but they’re both favorites of mine and were a ton of fun to write. I’m still hopeful they’ll get greenlit at some point.
While doing that, I helped out a little bit on the first THOR movie in post production, and got a couple of scenes in the movie. Then in my second year in the program, was invited to help out on THOR 2 as well, and it proceeded from there.