Steven S. DeKnight served as the executive producer/show runner on the first season of Netflix’s DAREDEVIL, now streaming. He also created Starz’s four-season drama SPARTACUS, after working as a writer/producer on series including DOLLHOUSE, SMALLVILLE, BUFFY THE VAMPIRE SLAYER and ANGEL. DAREDEVIL was originally developed from the Marvel comics by Drew Goddard, but DeKnight came aboard when Goddard went to work on THE MARTIAN. For Season 2, DeKnight remains as an executive producer on DAREDEVIL, but he’s handed over the reins to Marco Ramirez and Doug Petrie in order to work on a film project.
ASSIGNMENT X: What is your movie project?
STEVEN S. DeKNIGHT: I can’t say. I wish I could, but I’m sworn to secrecy.
AX: Can you compare your experiences as a producer starting up DAREDEVIL and starting up SPARTACUS?
DeKNIGHT: Our first pilot for DAREDEVIL worked a lot better than our pilot for SPARTACUS. So it’s a completely different experience. And literally, within that first week, I think eighty percent of the audience had watched all thirteen. And it was great to have that kind of very fast response.
AX: Does having all the episodes go up at the same time, where people can watch them all one after the other if they want, allow you to clear out some narrative real estate, where you don’t have to recap so much in the dialogue in each succeeding episode?
DeKNIGHT: Yes, absolutely. That was one of the things that we discovered early on, is that you don’t have to spend a lot of time at the top of the next episode to reset everything. Really, we found that every four or five episodes, we would do a state of the union, just a little one, to catch people up. There’s a big one in Episode Nine where the plot is so complicated, we wanted one scene where they all had to get together and say, “This, that, what about this, what’s going on here?” Just to help remind the audience and remind ourselves of where we were going.
AX: Do you decide where that state of the union should go within the story on the basis of you personally feeling, “All right, now I need a map to figure out what’s happening”?
DeKNIGHT: Oh, yeah, absolutely. In fact, when we were doing that scene, one of the notes from Netflix was, “Where’s all this going? How does all this connect?” And we had loose ideas, but then we spent two days in the room, saying, “Okay, this here, there, there, this goes over here,” which leads you to say, “Okay, this is where we’re heading for the finale.”
AX: How did you feel about the way SPARTACUS wrapped up? Were you happy with that?
DeKNIGHT: Oh, very happy. Very happy. The SPARTACUS finale, that final episode, is something that I’m extremely proud about, and still shocked we were able to pull off. Because when I turned in the script, the first thing I said to [fellow SPARTACUS executive producer] Rob Tapert was, “We’re never going to be able to shoot this, it’s gigantic.” But [director] Rick Jacobson did an amazing job.
AX: Were any of the techniques used in SPARTACUS, those New Zealand Sam Raimi/Rob Tapert methods of production, useful on DAREDEVIL, or did you just go with a whole different style?
DeKNIGHT: You know, it was a completely different style, especially on the action side. What I decided is that I didn’t want to do the Phantom camera, the super-slow-mo, but that we would do what I would call “normal” slow motion, which goes up to about ninety frames a second, or a hundred and twenty, but not to slow things down as much as we did on SPARTACUS, and really to go for a much faster, brutal kind of THE RAID style in the action.
AX: What would you most like people to know about DAREDEVIL?
DeKNIGHT: [laughs] That it’s a great show that you should watch. And if you’re not into the whole superhero thing, I think you will still really like DAREDEVIL, because first and foremost, we wanted to make a crackling crime drama.
This interview was conducted during Netflix’s portion of the most recent Television Critics Association press tour.
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Article:Exclusive Interview: DAREDEVIL showrunner Steven S. DeKnight on Season 1 of the Marvel / Netflix series