In the past ten years, the FoF has had the privilege of meeting with and providing exclusive coverage for the biggest shows on TV. This past week the FoF sat down with Craig Titley who is an Executive Producer/Writer from the hit ABC show, Marvel Agents of S.HI.E.L.D.
Craig Titley is an American writer for film and TV. His work includes Cheaper by the Dozen, Scooby-Doo, The Cape and Executive Producer/Writer on Marvel Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. to name a few.
FoF- Craig, thank you for your time today.
CT – No problem, good to hear from you.
FoF- Congratulations on being picked up for Season 6. We had our fingers crossed the last time we saw you.
CT – Thank you! We were shooting episode 21 and we didn’t know what our future was then. We are excited to be back.
FoF – Season 6 won’t be out till 2019 and after the next Avengers film, correct?
CT – Yes, that seems to be the plan. Anything can change but from what we have heard and what has been said, we will air next summer after part two of the Infinity Wars. I guess whatever they are doing in that movie to clean up the Marvel universe a little bit, so we won’t have to worry about whatever it is they are planning.
FoF – Since Marvel has so many stories and characters in play across all mediums, how much interaction for storylines/story arcs from what the Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. team is wanting to do versus what you are able and that Marvel will approve?
CT – I think the interaction is more of a big picture thing. We obviously run the big picture items past them to make sure we aren’t stepping on anything. Then once the big picture is approved, the microbe of each episode there’s not as much communication as it’s usually contained within our own world and it doesn’t overlap as much on individual Avengers.
Quite frankly, it’s getting huge. There are so many Marvel movies now and so many shows, to try and connect every little dot becomes impossible. There is communication on the big arcs. Once everything is signed off on, we turn it over to our characters and their stories.
FoF – Has there been any discussion of trying to do a crossover with Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. and other Marvel shows on the different TV platforms today, or would it be a nightmare due to the logistics of those shows due to timing, shooting locations?
CT – I think you hit the nail on the head. The logistics in an ideal world would be awesome but practically impossible. There are always ongoing discussions about things like this. It just comes down to the reality of production, their schedules and all the TV shows and movies. If there were only three movies and two TV shows it might be possible but at this point one never knows. One could always hope; the stars could align, and magic could happen.
FoF- For the past five seasons, Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. has had some amazing guest stars. Does anyone standout and/or get to write for?
CT – To this day, for me it was Kyle MacLachlan. Kyle’s character was so much fun to write for, he was a little crazy a little touched. Kyle was a great actor to work with. Then Edward James Olmos, to write for because in the back of my mind I am going, So Say We All. He’s kind of a legend, Adama and going back to Blade Runner and his character Robert Gonazales on Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D..
The cane he used in Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. is the exact replica of the same cane he used as Gaff in Blade Runner. That’s a little Easter egg for you. Not too many people noticed that, but it is there if you go back and look.
FoF – Are there other hidden Easter eggs we might have missed over the past five seasons?
CT – I came on starting in season two, but we are constantly putting in little pop culture Easter eggs. For example, in season 3, episode 4,722 Hours, Elizabeth is stranded on the planet Maveth there is a flashback to these three astronauts. If you look at the astronauts’ nametags there’s three famous astronauts from movies. There’s S. Austin from Six Million Dollar Man, Charlton Heston’s character from Planet of the Apes and then an astronaut from 2001 A Space Odyssey. Love to throw in little nerdy things like that.
In episode five last season, the alias name that Hunter and Fitz use on the run are, Peltzer and Futterman from the movie Gremlins. Those are personal fun little things I like to do. Marvel Easter eggs, every once in a while, there’s a word thrown out that may be a reference to….
FoF – How important is fan interaction been to Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., whether it be at Wondercon, SDCC or social media?
CT – I think extremely important. We have such a wonderful almost rabid fanbase. It’s quite fun, there’s a lot of respect for them and they keep us on the air. They keep watching, they follow when our timeslot changes and the show changes and they are there. They love our show and they love our characters. So, it’s fun to meet them in person and hear what they like, their concerns and fears about the characters. I think it is important that way. Morale, it is a nice little validation to know we are touching people affecting them.
FoF – The writers have created these amazing characters that we couldn’t imagine any other actor bringing them to life.
CT – The cast really adores the characters that they play and have brought to life. It’s sort of a family vibe, the family or team vibe exists on set. Clark was Agent Coulson on set, the protective poppa bear for everybody in real life for the other actors and making sure the guest stars felt welcome. There’s a very thin line between the Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. and how they act and the cast of Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. and how they interact is very similar.
FoF – I was honored this past season to actually come visit the set of Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. which we haven’t talked about until now. We are excited to get to address it and chat about it. You see it on TV and see how grand it looks but when I was physically there I was in a kid in awe of the detail of everything.
The cast and crew were nothing short of amazing and very welcoming. I appreciated everyone taking time out of their schedule to say hi and introduce themselves. It was amazing to see that level of camaraderie between the cast and the crew.
CT – We were glad you to have you visit. It’s pretty special, all our guest stars are sad to leave when their time is up. Guests are welcomed like old friends and it’s pretty incredible and it’s all real and not fake. I guess some shows people may put on a front but for us it’s all sincere. This all flows downward from our showrunners to creators, Jed and Maurissa. They have that sort of welcoming personality as well and it has sort of infiltrated the whole vibe of the show of the set and crew.
FoF – I was lucky to be there when “the kiss” was shot. I was sitting with the crew adjacent to the actors but watching Chloe and Jeff Ward watching playback on the monitors to shortly be joined by Clark and Ming Na come over huddled around the monitors and seeing them all get giddy was extra special. It showed the love the actors have for one another.
CT – That was a fun day, this has been building for May and Coulson for quite some time. My favorite thing that I think you can see in the cut is, when Daisy comes around the corner and you see that look on her face. I don’t know if that was Daisy or that was Chloe in that moment (laughs). I still don’t know. Just that, what am I witnessing, she just nailed it and it was probably a little bit of both. You’re right, everyone was giddy and re-watching it and Kevin Tancharoen who directed that created this great operatic and cinematic movie moment. It’s not just a kiss in the way that it was shot, and the way Bear scored that moment. It really all just came together.
FoF – Have you mapped out season 6 or is that in the process of?
CT – Yes, we start mapping out/brainstorming what the next season will be toward the end of the previous season right before we all go out on our breaks. That way when we come in, we have a general idea of where it wants to go. We are knee-deep into it and Clark Gregg actually is directing the first episode and having him back that way. We are off and running. I can’t say much but you as a fan will like what we are doing, and we are having fun writing it and keeping the story going. The fear is you don’t want to ever feel like have run out of ideas and try and come up with something or phone it in. After season five when we didn’t know if we would be renewed, we had some ideas and had more stories to tell and we are all excited. I think our excitement translates onto the page and on the product that will keep the fans excited.
FoF – I must know, can I become a S.H.I.E.L.D. agent?
CT – (laughs) Yes, you must go through S.H.I.E.L.D. academy first and that takes four years, master all the necessary skills, then graduate from the academy and meet with Director Mackenzie and if the two of you guys hit it off and you are off to the races.
Thank you to Craig Titley for taking time out of his busy schedule to chat with the FoF and to Marvel and ABC for helping facilitate. Marvel Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. Season 6 returns to ABC in 2019.
Visit Marvel Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. on ABC here