In the past twelve years, the FoF has had the privilege of meeting with and providing exclusive coverage for the biggest shows on TV. Recently we were lucky to sit down again with with Craig Titley who is an Executive Producer/Writer from the hit ABC show, Marvel Agents of S.HI.E.L.D.
FoF- How are you doing with our new norm?
Craig- The new norm, it took me a while to get my sea legs. I posted online this funny thing. I’m a Sagittarius, not that I believe in all that stuff. It was like the two worst things for a Sagittarius, being told what to do and waiting (laughs). This is my nightmare of biblical proportions…
Once I got my sea legs and got to make the best of it. Try to be productive during the day but also my bucket list stuff. I never read, Stephen King’s IT or the Shining and somehow missed those for whatever. You know what, I have time and IT is 1200 pages and with the shutdown, I can read IT in less than a week.
As far as movie watching goes, I decided to backwards and not forwards during this time. It may be the comfort of nostalgia I’ve been rewatching old movies. Today, I got up and watched Blackboard Jungle, yesterday I watched High Noon. I’m going to rewatch movies I loved the first time around and rewatch them. I sure psychologically it has to do with the safety of nostalgia. Then staying productive as well.
Pitching a few TV shows that is now Zoom pitching, which I was very much against but then I had two TV projects to pitch that ended up being done via Zoom that went really well. I liked it actually, in the comfort of my home office. I didn’t have to drive somewhere. The balance of power was equal since you don’t have to show up at someone’s office. It puts everyone on equal footing and it’s more relaxed. I like this Zoom pitching.
I’m developing my first mobile app game. With some cool young developers out of Colorado called, Synaptis Games. This is a really sort of fun mobile game. It’s not very complicated, but bitingly satirical <South Parky>. Making fun of a certain part of the population. It’s very educational, I’m starting to teach myself this world. The first thing I did was call experts in the world. I played the Marvel card, saying I do TV and movies, can I pick your brain for a while. Whether it works or not, it’s been a great learning experience and I’m very proud of how it’s taking shape.
FoF- Tell us about your work with Tatiana DeMaria and your upcoming concert film with her?
Craig- It was the first time I ever produced or promoted a concert at the Whiskey, which has been a sort of mecca for me and my wife. Again, this was one of those things that I had no idea what I was doing and I called some experts and was able pull it off magnificently and we sold the thing out. Tatiana kicked ass.
What was touching to me was that I got a lot of love and support from the Agents of SHIELD family. The entire cast showed up, our camera department offered to get us a good deal on cameras and offered to film it. On top of producing the concert, I’m producing a concert film. Two of our DP’s and our crew members and our AD and various people jumped in. Somewhere in their past had shot concerts and offered to do it and dressed in black. They knew how to sneak around and not to be noticed. Our set makeup person put Tatiana’s makeup on beforehand. I just got a lot of love from the SHIELD family.
There is actually a Tatiana’s episode 2 connection we will talk about in a bit. It turned out well, she played a lot of new songs that she played at the show that haven’t been released. So, we won’t release the concert film till after they have been officially released. We’re hoping to release the Live at Whiskey concert film and maybe Live at the Whiskey vinyl album, that will film a couple of dreams of mine.
FoF- Do you think for the concert film, that this will have a physical release like Bluray or a digital release?
Craig- I’m not sure, these are all conversations we have had. SHIELD editors have stepped in have cut the film. We cut the hour and fifteen-minute show down to an hour. So, now it’s do we release the show or a documentary of the show including the backstage.
FoF- You worked on the NBC show, The Cape. The Cape was one of our favorite shows when it was on. I always felt it deserved more than one season.
Craig- Really, I loved it so much. I think it was ahead of its time. It was an expensive show to make. TV has changed a lot since then. It was initially a 13-episode order and only 10 were shot. There is a script for episode 11 that I wrote that we never shot. I wished we could have finished the first season.
FoF- Now I want to see episode 11….. With comic book movies and TV shows, do you think The Cape would have survived in today’s market?
Craig- I think if it were a new show announced now, I think people would look at it as oh something new not from Marvel or DC but still a comic book superhero show and let me check that out. I think we had such great characters and cast that I think we had great stories to tell. This could have been a streaming show or a network show that understands the superhero genre that’s better now and how to market it. I think if it came out now it would have been a big hit. That was my first TV job and they took a chance on me as a feature guy to work on this. It was a wonderful experience. The show’s creator Tom Wheeler I consider my TV mentor.
FoF- Is there anyone you’ve written for whether it’s TV or film that has a special meaning to you?
Craig- Edward James Olmos from Battlestar Galactica and Blade Runner and played Robert Gonzales on Marvel Agents of SHIELD. I still geek out and think I’m the luckiest guy in the world to get to do this. Percy Jackson was the tour de force just stars upon stars.
One of the things that just tickled me to death was during season 4 of SHIELD, I did an episode with Patton Oswalt where he played three different characters. One of whom was like a beat poet. The beat poet brother was the black sheep brother in a comedy club doing this sort of standup riff. I remember writing the script and being like writing standup comedy for Patton. So, I was going to writeup this thing and a general ballpark of what we are wanting to talk about, like anti-SHIELD and those kinds of things. I figured I will write this up surely it wouldn’t be good enough for him and will adlib. Patton did the damn thing pretty much word for word, he added a couple of things. I remember thinking, I just wrote stand up for Patton Oswalt.
Patton is in episode two of this season and was the second time I’ve gotten to work with him and that was a delight fort me.
FoF- What has Agents of SHIELD meant to you personally as well as professionally?
Craig- Personally, it was the best experience of my life. It was 100% best years of my life. I mark my life as before SHIELD, SHIELD and then after SHIELD. Before SHIELD those years were awesome but I didn’t realize how awesome those years could be. From summer 2014 through summer 2019 were the best years of my life. Friendships made that have endured, great creative experience, great professional experience and wonderful people, cast, crew and writers. We still have a text chain with all the writers and producers that is still going strong. This is a year after we have all seen each other. I’m still in touch with a great many people. I’m proud of it. I’m proud of the stories we got to tell. When we got season 7 and knew it was going to be the final season. We were like, let’s have fun and let’s make the final season a love poem to the show itself. The entire season is a love poem to itself and to the fans. I think the biggest fans of the show are those of us who are writing it. I’m one of the biggest fans of the show.
FoF- Tell us about your work on the animated series Star Wars The Clone Wars?
Craig- I was fortunate enough to have seen A New Hope first run in the theaters. In my office right behind me, the original 12 figures from Kenner. In a protective sealed unopened. The Clone Wars sort of came out of the blue. I had just gotten a call from my agent; they were looking for feature writers and write some episodes. When I did the Clone Wars, there wasn’t a writer’s room. We’d fly up there and they would give us our assignment and then go back and write it. The second time I went up, I sat in a room with George Lucas Dave Filoni, Drew Greenberg the story editor and Katherine who was the producer. I watched as George spitball ideas. They liked my ideas; I got a copy of my script back with George’s handwritten notes on it.
To Segway into SHIELD season 7, Drew wrote episode 9 and it’s an episode that (Level 7 access needed) directed.
Craig- Yes, (Level 7 access needed) directed episode 9. It might be my favorite SHIELD episode of all time. I can’t say anything about it yet other than it’s a complicated puzzle like episode and with (Level 7 access needed) directing for the first time, just crushed it. I can’t wait to see it again and I can’t wait for the whole world to see it. I still marvel at that script.
FoF- How did the Enver’s character from Agent Carter tie-in happen and what can fans expect?
Craig- We went back to the 20’s when SHIELD would have been formed and then we end up in the 50’s where we bump into Enver. It’s all about history and as you know Coulson is a history buff. Let’s put him on the greatest history journey and get to interact with origins. With season 7 is about time travel. When you commit to time travel you commit to a bunch of headaches. I think we managed to make it fun and avoid time travel plot holes. One of the best lines was to save SHIELD we have to save Hydra.
FoF- You wanted to share something about Brian Patrick Wade who had guested on SHIELD.
Craig- Brian Patrick Wade who played Carl Creel the Absorbing Man on SHIELD I hung out with and is just such a super nice guy and talented. Brian and a friend of his approached me about this project about this revolutionary hero who was a Portuguese slave. He was so instrumental in turning the tide. They wouldn’t have won the revolution without him. He was called the Virginia Giant. His partner, a man named Travis Bowman is a distant relative of this person. I wasn’t familiar with this. He got his freedom by fighting in the Revolutionary war. We are turning this into a miniseries. It will be about 10 episodes and be like Braveheart.
FoF- Do you have any mementos from your time on SHIELD?
Craig- Everyone has a totem in the writer’s room. I used to have a yard stick and I would pace around with it. So, when Edward James Olmos was on our show he walked with a cane. Now Chuck Bell our showrunner who is a huge movie nerd of Blade Runner. He had our prop department make the cane his character used in Blade Runner. So, when were done with the shoot, Jeff brought it into the office and gave it to Fletcher who was a walking stick guy. Fletcher preferred the yardstick and gave it to me, and it never left my hand. It’s a part of my body now. Even when I’m at home I walk with it. It’s my totem. This cane is an exact replica of his Blade runner cane. Even when I doom zoom pitches it’s in my hands.
FoF- With the launch of Disney+ is there a chance we could see a spinoff, reboot or even late renewal for Agents of SHIELD?
Craig- I honestly have no idea. As a fan and consumer, I would love too that. As a businessperson it seems like it would make sense. Seems like a no-brainer to me.
FoF- Was there any character you wanted to bring into SHIELD and couldn’t for whatever reason.
Craig- It’s silly, it’s like a running joke, Sasquatch (Walter Langkowski). Imagine Phil Coulson versus Sasquatch. For some reason I think of Phil Coulson as the modern day 6 Million Dollar man. I always wanted to have Phil’s dad show up and it be Lee Majors.
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.
FoF- Whether theatrical or television, do you have a dream project?
Craig- Yes, there are two very big TV shows, one is like a horror/supernatural story. Which I’ve always wanted to do. I can’t say too much more about it. There’s a streaming version and a network version. The streaming version is a little bit darker. The network version is a little more X-Filey…. It’s the same show tailored to each service.
The other is adventure books in the public domain. It’s epic in scale, it’s a dream project of mine. There will be more details on that as we get closer.
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 7 airs Wednesdays on ABC.
Visit Marvel Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. on ABC here