Outlander Panel at New York Comic Con 2013

Ok, guys, so I was not allowed to video tape or take pictures at the panel tonight, but I do have full audio. However, since Starz has been gracious enough to invite us to their private event tomorrow afternoon, I am going to hold off on posting it here until we have their blessing. Last thing we need is to upset the nice PR people at Starz right at the beginning of this tv show process. I will do my best to summarize what was said from the copious notes I took, though. When I get the clearance, I’ll try to post the audio or at least a transcript here for you all.

There was a GREAT Outlander fan presence at the panel tonight. The whole room seemed to be screaming and cheering! So pleased. They started us off with a short video behind the scenes of the first couple days of filming. We heard Sam speak in Jamie’s native tongue (*shivers*) and witnessed horseback riding, gun shooting, and much sword fighting. (Btw, Sam’s hair is currently of a reddish persuasion). The video concluded with Sam and Caitriona addressing the comic con crowd and Sam calling her his Sassenach 😀 (sounds much prettier from his mouth than how I’ve been saying it in my head).

We were then treated to the glorious sight of Ron wearing a kilt as he climbed up to the panel table beside Ms. Gabaldon. Diana talked about the process of going from book to tv show briefly. She had sold the rights to Jim, who wanted to turn the book into a film. However, after several failed attempts, he decided to try it as a tv show, which is when Ron “eagerly snatched it up”.

Ron talked about how he had gone out to dinner with his wife and producing partner and that they were discussing what his next project should be post ‘Battlestar Galactica’ and ‘Caprica’, when the two realized they had both read Diana’s books. They then worked to convince Ron to read the first book and he reported that it was an “easy sell for [him]”.

He also talked about the appeal of the book, how there is this great relationship between Claire and Jamie, which isn’t a standard issue romance, and how Diana took her time in developing it. They both confessed to some concerns, though, when first starting to work together. Diana said she was wary, but had seen Ron’s work and liked it.

Here’s where some juicy info begins: Diana talked about the opening of the first book, how it starts out a little slow, but how that works for a book because the language will carry it. However, they have decided for the show to start it off with images of Claire working as a nurse in WWII (and Diana seemed very excited when describing the blood squirting we’ll see there). Later on, they mention that this was the very first scene they shot the first day of filming, and that now they’re working through the 1940’s.

The moderator asked Ron about his expectation levels going into the project. Ron reported that he figured it would be received well. The three of them (Ron, Diana, and Ron’s producing partner) met together at the beginning of the process to discuss all these details and concerns and to throw around some ideas and that this initial meeting helped to encourage them that this would work.

Ron encouraged fans that his process is to start with the book version first, and then see if an adaptation is needed for the purpose of filling out the story or offering another’s point of view. He said, again, though, that this book does not need to be reinvented. In fact, later on, he said that when the people at Starz read ‘Outlander’, they came back and told him to make the show for the fans, and to trust that those who haven’t read the book will like it, too. That never happens, guys, so be very, very excited!!

They showed us several different pieces of concept art surrounding Castle Leoch and Lallybroch. For Castle Leoch, they’ll be using the exterior of Castle Dune, but that shooting the scenes inside an actual castle would be very difficult, so those will likely be built on a sound stage instead. As for the building being used for Lallybroch, it is currently in disrepair, and they will need to rebuild the interior before they can film there. Diana assured fans that these concept images are very close to what she has actually been visualizing in her head, or are at least close enough for her liking.

When asked what she is most excited to see come from book to film, she immediately came back with a reply of “The wedding night, I expect”, setting the room in an uproar of laughter and blushing. Ron joked about cutting it, which led to even more laughter. Diana came back and said that she saw the audition tapes and got to see the actors do the conversation that immediately follows the scene we all have in mind and that it made her eager to see the part that comes before.

Another fan asked if her fandom has changed with the introduction of the tv show element. “There’s a heck of a lot more of you”, she replied, which was greeted with another round of laughter. When asked how he has been affected by the fandom, Ron replied, “I live with a fan. My job is not to screw up the book.”

He went on to point out for fans the difference between his project with ‘Battlestar Galactica’ and ‘Outlander’ because with the former, he went in with the intention of doing a reinvention, which is not the case with the latter. Diana said that she has read the first 6 scripts and has been very impressed, so far. Ron said his wife also reads the scripts since she is the co-costumer on the show.

He talked again about how there will be 16 episodes, each an hour long, and that these will cover the first book. He is not thinking beyond this to the second season yet, though he expressed a hope that that will be an issue he gets to tackle in the future.

The moderator was kind enough to summarize the next fan’s, a native Scot, comments as: “I’m from there. Don’t fuck it up.” Again, the room was in stitches.

We will see more of Black Jack in the show than we did in the book in order to make that same impression on the audience that he left on the readers. This may be the case with other characters, as well. However, it will all be from Claire; there will be no scenes without her present since the book is entirely from her point of view.The show will also include flashbacks to Claire and Frank’s marriage in order for the audience to understand why she is so insistent on returning home to him. Ron is aware that the audience’s reaction, otherwise, would be to not care enough about that relationship in the push for her to stay with Jamie instead.

Diana said she doesn’t know how many more books there will be, but that ‘Written In My Own Heart’s Blood’ will not be the last (to many cheers). Diana said she is also hopeful that, if all goes well, the show could result in a Lord John spinoff, as well.

And most importantly, when asked if we will fall in love with Jamie, as played by Sam, she replied with a hearty, ‘Yeah!’. In the first 5 seconds of his audition tape, she realized his photos didn’t do him justice, and in the next 5 seconds, Sam was gone and she was only seeing Jamie.

Well, ladies, I need to call it a night, as tomorrow is another, very long day, indeed. I will, hopefully, have more to report after the press event tomorrow from 1-4 pm, EST. Hope this tides you over ’til then!