Can you share with us your journey into Cinematic development?
I started out making short films with my brother--we had basically done some various videos for hire so we could earn enough money to buy a nice camera, which we did, on credit--a Panasonic that cost about $6000 in 2007, which is hilarious because these days you have a better camera on your phone. Anyway on the strength of those films and a reel I cut together I was lucky enough to be hired at Telltale Games as a Cinematic Artist, working on adventure games starting with Back to the Future: The Game in 2010. From there I worked on several projects, but it was The Walking Dead: Season 1 that really changed my life. I shot and edited a lot of iconic scenes, and I was trusted to co-direct the final episode, No Time Left, in 2012. The game won lots of Game of the Year awards and really put Telltale on the map. It was a very "right place, right time" situation, with a group of very talented people firing on all cylinders. When I left Telltale in 2017, I moved to London to join Rocksteady Studios on Suicide Squad Kill the Justice League as the Cinematic Director. It was a great team and a fun project, and I learned Unreal Engine and Motion Capture systems, spending nearly 5 years helping bring that story to life.
What drew you to this GI Joe Snake Eyes Project and Atomic Arcade?
Snake eyes was my favorite character in anything growing up; I had the Snake Eyes sunglasses, which I wore everywhere, and he was always the center of the GI Joe stories I would make up playing in my grandmom's garden (and getting yelled out for trampling the eggplants!). Somewhere in my house I still have the cut out file card from my Snake Eyes figure, which my mother spent 2 years trying to find for me. I was using it as a bookmark for the longest time, but I think I left it in a book I never finished...Suffice it to say, I'm really excited to bring this character that meant to so much to me as a kid back into the limelight. Atomic really wants to do right by the character, and that's very exciting to me. Everyone here seems to have some kind of history of loving GI Joe. Plus ninjas in general are just awesome!
As the Cinematic Director where are you and the Atomic team drawing inspiration from for the GI Joe Snake Eyes game?
There are a lot of influences, from Japanese cinema like Lone Wolf and Cub or Kurosawa films (my favorite is Throne of Blood), to movies I loved as a kid, like Revenge of the Ninja. For the military side, funny enough the main influence for me is probably the Metal Gear Solid series (though I doubt we'll have very long cutscenes given that Snake Eyes doesn't speak), but I also grew up watching and loving James Cameron movies, as well as First Blood, man what an awesome movie. Films like Three Days of the Condor, Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy, and The Spy Who Came In From the Cold, all gave me an appreciation of spy cinema as well. I love all kinds of movies and generally try to draw influences from what makes sense for the scenes and characters. The Atomic team as a whole has a real love for GI Joe and the lore of it. We want to be respectful of what's come before while trying to update the franchise and breathe some new life into it. You definitely have not seen GI Joe like this before!
What are some of your favorite Cinematics in games that have made a lasting impression on you?
As I mentioned I really love Metal Gear Solid! Even though it can be a little much sometimes, I think the bar set especially by the scenes in Metal Gear Solid 2 was astronomically high, to the point where it still holds up for the most part. Also they don't all technically count as "cinematics," but the cutscenes in old LucasArts games are a huge favorite of mine; I used to replay the games and make save files right before they'd fire off so I could rewatch them, especially Sam & Max Hit the Road and Full Throttle (my keychain is actually a Corley Motors logo).
Joe or Cobra?
Joe, though Cobra's vehicles are much cooler. I have kept a Cobra Stinger jeep in my possession since I was 7 years old just because I can't bear to part with it, it looks so awesome. Maybe I'm secretly a Cobra agent, I don't know.
Following that up, what GI Joe character would you be if you could be anyone?
I think this is self-evident given my answers already, but Snake Eyes. If he's already taken, I'd probably pick the jetpack version of General Hawk.
What are some of the things (no spoilers) in the new GI Joe Snake Eyes game you?
I'm excited to make a game that takes GI Joe universe seriously enough to hopefully affect people's perception of the franchise--it's got so much awesome, made-for-games stuff in it! Getting to play as Snake Eyes, a combination of ninja and commando, is such a ripe space to play in, and I think it'll offer some very unique gameplay experiences. I'm also really, really excited about some of the set piece moments we're planning--it's like being a kid again, back in my grandmom's vegetable patch, only so much better because you can bring your imagination to life in a way you can only dream about as a kid.