Today’s Twitter Q&A was with Matt Roberts, head writer for the STARZ production of Diana Gabaldon’s Outlander. We learned yesterday in a Q&A with producer Maril Davis that Matt Roberts was the one who originally gave her the books to read with the idea of possibly doing a TV treatment; he says he’s a big fan of the books and has read them many times.
Roberts wrote episodes for Caprica and Hellcats in 2010 and 2011.
The Q&A was peppered with comments from Diana Gabaldon herself! Those comments are highlighted here. There were many comments with each answer, which I have not reproduced (with the exception of Diana’s), so if you’d like to read the entire Q&A, search @TheMattBRoberts on Twitter. All of the photos were taken by Matt and are from his Twitter account.
Q Are you the person to thank for starting this Outlander production?
A I recommended the books to Maril Davis who then told Ron they had to do them as a series.
Q Can I kiss you?
Q Which part of the book are you most looking forward on seeing on screen?
A There are too many. I get excited when I see almost every scene come to life.
Q Have you worked with Ron and Maril on other projects?
A Yes. Caprica; and Ron and I developed a pilot for ABC two years ago.
Q (Maril) said it was you who got her to read Outlander. Did you have filming in mind all along? How did you get turned on to it?
A My first job in the biz was as a reader. The production company assigned me the book. I read the rest on my own.
DIANA Not even gonna ask what your reader report said! With luck, convinced them it’s not possible to make a two-hour movie of that book… still sweating over narrow escapes!
A It was 40 pages long. I gave it a huge Recommend!
DIANA LOVE your script for the series, btw! Really well-done, and a lovely adaptation.
A Thank you thank you thank you. That means so much to me.
Q When do you expect to have an air date?
A Not sure yet.
Q Personal question – did you always know you would be a writer?
A Yes. But I had a few jobs before actually getting to do it for a living.
Q Do you have a favorite lens you like to use for the daily shots you post? I am thinking of getting a wide angle prime…
A FujiFilm x100s has a fixed lens. It’s the only camera I brought with me to Scotland.
Q What attracted you to Outlander?
A The adventure, history, the setting, the characters.
DIANA What? Not the sex and violence?
A Those too!
Q Are you more careful with this script because of the rabid fan following than you might have been with other material?
A I’m a fan too.
Q Do you have a favorite Outlander character?
Q Are there lots of fun bloopers while filming? Saving those for possible DVD extras? Seems like the Outlander crew is fun…
A Lots of outtakes.
Q You obviously have an extremely creative mind. How long have you been doing photography and do you see stories in your shots?
A My father was a photographer. Gave me my 1st camera at 5 years old. I try to tell a story in every shot.
Q Your shots are beautiful. You should really do the coffee table book.
A I’m thinking about it because of all of you. Thank you.
Q Did you start off as an English major?
Q Do you write knowing that there could be tech challenges or do you just leave it up to production to figure out “how to”?
A Writers and production work hand in hand. It’s an ongoing process with every script.
Q How do you decide what to include in the show from the book?
A We are breaking down the book by chapters and then parse it out over 16 episodes.
Q How long does Sam spend in makeup getting his back scarred up?
A A few hours.
Q What’s been the most difficult thing to deal with for this production?
A Time and light. We need more of both.
DIANA Not the best time of year in Scotland for light-hours – but amazing light when there is any!
Q Does everybody get into the teasing and laughing on set? We know Sam and Caitriona do.
A We work hard but we do have fun. You have to when you spend 10-12 hours a day with people.
Q Have you been up to Inverness/Culloden? Will you be filming in the Highlands too?
A Yes we have film in the Highlands.
Q You read the other books in the series?
A All of them. The first 3 many times.
Q Does knowing what happens in the next books affect the way you are writing/filming now? More perspective?
A Absolutely. When you know where you’re going you don’t accidentally kill off a major character.
Q Will you rely on flashbacks for scenes that are relayed after the fact? Or show scenes firsthand as they happen instead?
A You’ll have to watch to find out.
Q What’s the biggest surprise to date?
A That I’m living the dream.
Q What did you think when Sam/Cait did their first scene together?
Q Did you have the beard before the profile pic or after?
A Have had the VanDyke for many years.
Q To the fan in you… Have you started writing the other seasons in your head or on paper?
A I’ve pictured these books on screen for 13 years.. so yes.
Q How many people do research to get all the period info – clothes, food, etc.? The details are what make the books great!
A We have a few people working hard behind the scenes. All experts in their fields.
Q What’s been your favorite place to visit in Scotland so far? Not in reference to shooting, not looking for spoilers.
A The east coast is amazing.
Q What is one of your personal favorite things or places about Scotland?
A The people are just as amazing as the scenery.
Q Is there anything in the books that will need to be left out because it’s not possible to translate to screen?
A Yes, unfortunately.
Q Does your family know that you have the best job EVER?!? This has the potential to be EPIC!
A My mother is pretty proud.
Q Will you be writing the guide “how to pitch STARZ series Outlander to your male friends?” Because apparently I suck at it.
A If YOU watch THEY will come.
Q How are you getting on with the driving now? Are you used to roundabouts?
A Verra well thanks.
Q Emotions in Diana’s book are intense. Do you think they are translating to the visual medium well?
A I do. And it looks amazing.
Q Can you pick up the scenes to write, or are they assigned? If assigned, with which criteria?
A Each writer writes their own script.
Q When season 2 is greenlighted, any chance the Culloden battle scenes will film on the actual battlefield?
A Knock on wood hope we get a second season.
Q Have you been to Scotland before?
A No. First trip. Love it.
Q What’s harder to write? Sci Fi or Historical Fiction?
A Both have their difficulties. You have to obey the laws that are set.
Q As a photographer, are you also taking behind-the-scenes shots that we’ll be able to see later on? Stills and such?
Q Thank you. We are very excited at what we have seen so far. How is props, equipment and everyone holding up to the weather?
A Scots are a tough lot.
Q Will you be making any comic con appearances?
A Haven’t been asked yet.
Q Are you usually around during the filming? In case dialogue isn’t working to make it better?
A On set all day.
Q When do you write?
A Mostly in the early AM.
Q Is there an Outlander character you can relate to the most?
Q What episodes have you worked on? How many writers are on the project?
A I’ve just written my second script and we have 5 writers total.
Q What is your absolute favorite thing about being a part of Outlander?
A A million times you say that would make a great series. I hit the lotto with Outlander. I thought it and it came true.
Q Will we see Outlander with a shaky camera like Battlestar Galactica or still camera? Thanks for answering?
A You’ll see a wee bit of that.
Q Have you had an aha moment when you realized the production was becoming what you envisioned? What was it?
A Jamie and Claire standing next to each other the first time.
Q Is it ever a custom for a writer to write for one character only? So the POV is consistent?
A Not usually no.
Q Has your perspective/perception of the books changed since you started adapting it for the screen?
A Love them even more now.
Q Do you find the book easier or harder to put to screen than you thought it would be?
A It’s harder. But it’ll be the better for it. Trust me this is going to be worth all the hardship.
Q Do you pass your script to the Gaelic coach to make dialogue sound more Scottish or do the actors do that?
A We have a dialect coach.
Q What has been the most impressive historical site you have visited in Scotland?
A Sterling Castle.
Q Do you actually like the sound of bagpipes now?
A Always have. But now even more.
Q What do you miss about the US? What do you love most about Scotland?
A Turkey sandwiches. Steak pie.
Q How many days/hours a week are you ‘at work’ on Outlander? How many years are you committed/contracted to this project?
A About 12 hours a day.
Q Is there anything us as fans can do to assist in the success of these series besides getting cable?
A Get Outlander_Starz and watch watch watch!
Q Have you ever worn that mask (from his Twitter profile picture) to a party?
A No, I just wear my face.