At the beginning of 2011, I decided to put up a blog where I would interview professional from the television and film industries, but most of all people that had an impact on my life. One of the first persons that immediately came to my mind was American writer Flint Dille, whose work in the eighties had a great influence on my writing career. Since we had been in contact before, Flint agreed fast to be the first interviewee. Not only was he available, but his generosity did transform the interview in something much bigger than what I had expected. It is with great pleasure that I present to you this very first interview.

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David Martel: “Some people my age will remember Flint Dille (Which is pronounced “Dill-ee”) as a staff writer and story editor who worked at Sunbow Productions in the eighties. Since then, you have been involved with numerous animated televisions shows, hit videogames, online worlds, comic books and feature films, as a writer, consultant, designer and producer. You own and run the company GZP (Ground Zero Productions) and the Bureau of Film and Games (www.filmandgames.com), with John Zuur Platten, which provides intellectual property creation and management for the film and game industries”.

Flint Dille: “Yeah. It’s been an interesting ride. It all more or less adds up to what I’m doing now, which is Transmedia, or what I like to refer to as Transformedia, because the idea is that each different medium should add something to the property or franchise that the other mediums don’t bring. And yeah, now I’m working on movies, games, comics and a non-fiction book. The most recent incarnation is professor at UCLA, teaching a class in Alternate Reality Games”.

DM: “Back in the eighties, you have worked on great shows such as G.I.Joe, The Transformers, Inhumanoid and Visionaries. Did you have any favourite franchise?”

FD: “I liked them all for different reasons, but to be honest I looked at them as kind of a shared universe. Kind of like the moves are now, the “NEST”team in Transformers could almost be the Joe Team. We had characters that wandered between them. “Joe” was the easiest. Transformers was the most complex. Inhumanoids was the wildest. I re-watched it. Crazy stuff. Visionaries was probably the best animated and executed of all the shows, simply because it was near the end of that run and we really had our game down.”

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DM: “Is there one (or more) episode in particular that you are really proud of or that you were thrilled to write?”

FD: “All of them had their wonderful qualities. The Inhumanoids mini-series was written while I was quitting smoking and mostly in nicotine withdrawls and has a spacy, angry, frenetic quality that I like. “The Gamesmaster” was a G.I.Joe episode that I wrote in 24 hours up at the Dungeons & Dragons mansion. A lot of the middle episodes of Visionaries were written in this magical haze where characters really did kind of come to life on their own while I was writing. Then there’s the lost draft of the Transformers movie, “The Secret of Cybertron” that I’d love to read again.”

DM: “You mentioned that Transformers was the most complex to write. How was that so?”

FD: “Well, there were so many of them. And at first I used to worry about scale — how can a cassette talk to a constructicon. I stopped worrying about that pretty fast. How do you buff the mythology (all the cybertron stuff)? Can we have a resource other than energon? Machines can’t die, so what are we worried about? What is the essence of the characters, then? Of course, I finally parked all of those concerns and just started hammering them out. No time to contemplate. We had to get a show out every week. It worked out. Oh yeah, and where do the humans fit in? And what about other types of aliens. Loved having them meet other aliens? You get the idea.”

DM: “I didn’t think of Transformers that way… To me it was a great action series with good guy and villains… They just happened to be trucks, cars and aircrafts, which was already fantastic! I didn’t think about the other concerns.”

FD: “Yeah. Once I started thinking that way, it got a lot easier for me, too.”

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DM: “Rumor has it that the looks and the name of the G.I.Joe character codenamed “Flint” were based on yourself. Is this true? How did that happen?”

FD: “I don’t know if he really was or not. When they hired me, they said, ‘hey, we named a character after you, you’ve got to take the job.’ I think he was there before I was, though they were well aware of me. Its one of those ‘print the legend’ kinds of things. One thing that is for sure that once I was on the show, his role in the “Joeteam was dramatically upgraded.”

DM: “From what you can remember of the show, what do you think would be the biggest difference or resemblance between this character’s personality and yours? Apart form the fact that you are real and he’s not, of course!”

FD: “Flint is who we would all want to be. He’s a Spec Ops commando. I always thought of him as British, though we didn’t voice him that way. He’s an idealized version of me. Very, very idealized.”

DM: “Not much is known about Flint Dille, the man. So, firstly, could you please talk a bit about your personal background? Did you have any role model growing up as a child? How did you happen to choose writing as a career path?”

FD: “Interesting question. No, I didn’t really have a role model growing up. I mean, my dad was great, ran a newspaper syndicate, but I remember him telling me that he didn’t think that business would be around in 20 years, so I knew I wasn’t going to be doing that. The weird thing is that most of my role models were fictional characters. TV characters. In a strange way, being a writer is a lot like being a TV private eye.”

DM: “Could you give examples of fictional characters that you took as role models?”

FD: “Yeah. For some reason, Jack Kelly and James Garner in Maverick gave me a sense of what I wanted being grown up to feel like. Who didn’t want to be Sean Connery in Bond? I always figured I’d have a job like Dick Van Dyke in his show. Kind of do. Always liked the way private eyes functioned. There’s a reason screenwriters write them so well. It is kind of a similar life. You get a call. You go to an office. Somebody sends you out on a case. You go. The case never leads where you think it will. And I got all my political ideas from John Wayne in the Alamo.”

DM: “Personally, I didn’t really grow up with James Bond movies, but I liked the character. Being an 80’s child, the “Joes” and the “Autobots” were part of my childhood models. I was a big fan of these series… Since they are often idealized, I think it’s normal to see cartoon characters have an influence on kids.”

FD: “Well, it all comes full circle on Bond and G.I.Joe. Steve Gerber and I (and I think Buzz Dixon) always thought of G.I. Joe as a Bond movie with a whole lot of characters. The action and extreme sports were all very Bond. The gadgets. You never stray far from your childhood when you’re writing fantasy. At least that’s my theory.”

DM: “How did you happen to choose writing as a career path?”

FD: “I got out of Berkeley with a degree in Ancient History and Classical Rhetoric and had no idea what I was going to do with my life. Had a lost year, well, a couple of lost years after college, and went to film school. However, did write my first novel in that period. It was a Fraternity House murder mystery. Never got published, but it was a lot of fun doing it, so I decided I’d pursue that path for a while.”

“After grad school I was hired by Joe Ruby (one of the creators of Scoobie Doo) to write animation. Discovered that I had a knack for it. Around that time, I met Gary Gygax (Creator of Dungeons & Dragons) and started working on games so the path was pretty well set.”

DM: “What did you do prior to writing for television and how did you land at Sunbow Productions?”

FD: “Had a disastrous experience working at Lucasfilm, working on a show called Droids. Got done with that and Steve Gerber called and asked me if I wanted to edit some G.I. Joes. Sure. “Joe” was easy. Second nature. That lead to becoming a producer at Sunbow.”

Read: An interview with successful writer Flint Dille (Part 2)

Read: An interview with successful writer Flint Dille (Part 3)

I do not own the rights to the current pictures

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