Interview with Jen McGowan for HBO Max’s ‘Titans’

We at Infamous Horrors were fortunate enough to speak with Jen McGowan(Rust Creek) who got to direct two episodes of the hit HBO Max series Titans based off the DC Comics. We talk about how cool it was to deal with the characters and how horror centric this season has been.

Hey Jen- Thank you so much for joining us.

First off how did you get involved with Titans and in tv work in general?

Well I am very lucky to have Agents and Managers who get me onto shows that I love. So this opportunity came from my reps. I interviewed and I guess they liked me.

In general, TV took me many years to break into. I can’t speak to everyone’s experience but I found it to be a really closed shop that was inaccessible to me without personal contacts or representation. I was very lucky to have been chosen to participate in a program called WeForShe that worked to help female Directors from other mediums (ie feature films, music videos, commercials, etc) get their first job in TV. A wonderful woman and fellow Director, May Lou Belli, mentored me during that program and I indeed booked my first job with their help. That was after I had directed two pretty successful indie films by the way. Like I said, hard nut to crack.

What character arcs were you looking forward to the most to explore with your episodes?

You know, one thing that was really wonderful about my two episodes (405 & 406) is they both had some great material for all of the characters. I think Conor/Super Boy’s arc is especially interesting this season and I got to do some really cool stuff that was a part of it. Gar/Beast Boy also has some neat threads of things started to unwind.

I was also really excited to get to work with all of the women. And multiple women in the same scene at the same time.  Pretty sure we should get some Bechdel street cred there! 

The characters are so genuine and rich in detail, how was the cast with welcoming your vision?
I fucking love the whole cast. They were extremely collaborative and super fun to work with. Not sure if fans know but Ryan Potter, who plays Gar/Beast Boy, even wrote an episode this season. That’s how much they all love this show and I think that love is what comes through in their performances.

It’s always a challenge to keep the humanity in sci-fi and super hero stuff, to ground these huge characters in something real, emotional, accessible. But that challenge is also what makes it fun. That’s one thing I love about Titans. It does that.

And credit goes to the Showrunner and Producing Director. They gave me the space and support to try some cool stuff as well as room for emotional moments.  And in tv if those two people don’t like your edit they can go in and change whatever they like. It’s their show. I’m very proud so far to have not ever gotten deeply re-cut. Maybe a line or two changes or a scene moves to another place but that’s usually about it. Thank the tv gods!  🙂

Did you geek out over any sequences you got to film? Rather it be the heavy horror elements in this season or the action sequences?

Dude I geek out over everything. That’s one reason I’m really drawn to genre. I love the craft of directing. I love the visual tricks and in camera magic we get to and honestly have to do in genre. Whether that be the precise timing & misdirection required for a great jump scare or the texture of the blood of a certain injury. I love it! Give to all to me!!!

Have you officially got the comic book bug? And if so what comic book series or arcs would you like to adapt?

I have definitely caught the comic bug. Although I am a novice so don’t really know the answer to your second question. In comic-based material I’m looking for what I’m always looking for – a great story, interesting characters, a perspective I can get behind and opportunities for some epic visuals.

With all the characters in Titans, who do you think would make for a great origin story or spin off?

I loved the Starfire/Blackfire relationship and storyline. And Anna Diop is phenomenal. So I’d really love to see a Koriand’r show.

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