Lauren Montgomery moved from the storyboard department on television shows like Ben 10 and the 2002 He-Man and the Masters of the Universe series, to directing feature animated titles for visionary producer-animator Bruce Timm. Since teaming with Timm she’s had a hand at directing the 2009 releases of Wonder Woman and Green Lantern: First Flight, and has co-directed Justice League: Crisis on Two Earths (with Sam Liu) and Superman: Doomsday (with Timm and Brandon Vietti).
Criticize This!: How did you get into animation?
Lauren Montgomery: It was something I always wanted to do ever since I was little and learned you could actually make cartoons for a living.
CT!: Was the path to working in the business difficult?
LM: I went to college for animation and majored in it and it just so happened that my teacher for my storyboarding class was also a working professional. He gave me my first job and that’s how I got started in animation.
CT!: Were you a fan of the DC Universe when you were growing up?
LM: I was but my fandom was not from the comics but was from the Bruce Timm’s Batman: The Animated Series. That was my first in-depth experience with Batman. I knew who Batman and Superman were but I learned a great deal more about them from watching the cartoons after school and that’s what made me like the characters so much.
CT!: What are the biggest challenges in making a film like this?
LM: We unfortunately don’t get a huge amount of time to work on these. You get a script and immediately start storyboarding, and you’re storyboarding while you’re doing design so you don’t even have final design when you’re trying to stage the whole thing. Unlike an episodic series these things are three times as long as a normal television episode and you have to do them in a similar amount of time.
CT!: I haven’t seen too many female directors working in animation. Why do you think that is?
LM: I get that question a lot. Not a lot of women grow up watching cartoons. I always complain that I want to work on a girl show and I hear ‘girls don’t watch cartoons’ and ‘girls don’t buy toys’. I guess, according to the statistics, maybe there’s just not a whole lot of interest in this industry for women and that’s why you don’t see a lot of women in it. There’s no judgment against us… that we’re not boys and we’re not in the boys club.
CT!: Any plans to get into live-action directing?
LM: I’ve always loved animation and it’s what I want to do. I wouldn’t mind taking a stab at [live-action] but I would definitely be doing all my storyboards.
CT!: What are your thoughts on doing a 3-D animated Batman or Superman film for the home market?
LM: I think 3-D works better for live-action and CG content. With 2-D animated films like the ones we do it’s harder. For it to actually be three-dimensional we’d have to animate everything twice from different angles and it doesn’t make a lot of sense budget wise. If we started making them in CG like the Pixar films, then yeah, we could go 3-D with it.
CT!: How is Superman/Batman: Apocalypse different than other animated features you’ve directed?
LM: It’s got a lot of good action but the real heart of the film is the character moments and the relationship between Batman, Superman, and Supergirl, who is kind of the new kid in this film. Watching her growth and her story, it has a lot of emotion to it and a lot of appeal.
CT!: What are you working on next?
LM: There’s a Green Lantern: Emerald Knights film coming out next that I worked on and then after that it’s Batman: Year One.
CT!: Can you tell us more about Green Lantern: Emerald Knights?
LM: It’s setup like Batman: Gotham Knights where it’s little vignettes and really focuses on the Green Lantern core. You get to learn about some of the lesser known characters which is always enjoyable for me because I like exploring new characters we haven’t dealt with too much before.
CT!: And how is Batman: Year One going?
LM: It’s based on the Frank Miller comic which a lot of people are familiar with. It’s a personal favourite of Bruce Timm’s as well and he was very excited to do it. There’s a lot of stuff in it that you’ve seen in the live-action films because Christopher Nolan even got a lot of his [Batman Begins and The Dark Knight] elements from the Year One comic. You can expect to see it pretty true to the original content.
CT!: Any other superhero you would love to direct?
LM: I would love to do Aquaman or Black Canary… I’d even love to do the Wonder Twins because I think they are so ridiculous that it would be fun.