XENA MAGAZINE #18: Director Garth Maxwell interviewed

Garth Speaks Out on Xena and More...

I often wish we heard from the directors of the XENA episodes more, after all, they are the ones controlling things on our favourite. New Zealander Garth Maxwell has directed more episodes than most. He first worked on Hercules after main unit producer Chloe Smith brought him in. Maxwell had just made a horror film with Alexis Arquette called "Jack Be Nimble", and this got him the job of directing the HERC ep,Gladiator, one of the best early episodes, featuring the always excellent Tony Todd. After that, he got his first XENA job - directing Mortal Beloved and from there, more Xena episodes. When asked about his favourites, Maxwell said..

"I think the one that I enjoyed most was [season four`s] Devi," Maxwell affirms, "because it had the exoticness and fantasy of the Indian city. I think in total we had something like 100 Indian extras for that episode. They were just brilliant, and very aware of the whole process of filmmaking. India has such a large film making industry, and although all of our extras were from New Zealand, they all understood the process and were very keen and very forward. You could pan just about anywhere and get some great facial expressions."

Maxwell admits that he particularly enjoys directing the dramatic, effects heavy episodes. "I feel very comfortable doing the more dramatic stuff," he says "and I do like it, although I enjoy the comedy aspects of the shows I do as well because there is usually something in there that is pretty funny. I enjoy the things that have intensity and that you can really cook something up with. But I have no real preference. It`s amazing how much comedy you can introduce into very dark stories to give them a bit of light and shade. Things can get so intense on Xena if the story is about life and death, so a little comic relief is essential."

"I particularly enjoy the erotic scenes," Maxwell admits. "They have a charge and an underlying erotic interest that tends to work on every level for me, so I find them really rewarding to do. Xena always comes over as a very overtly sexual character, and Lucy always plays her with an underlying sense of danger. The show`s also about making bare flesh look very appealing. So that whole thing is fun."

Maxwell also has some extremely interesting things to say about himself and Renaissance Pictures attitude to his sexuality...

"I`m a gay person who`s out, and one of the real benefits of XENA is that it acknowledges that people have a range of sexualities; the shadings of Xena and Gabrielle`s relationship are made clear right at the outset. I have never had any problems working with Renaissance Pictures," he asserts, "and my sexual preference has never been an issue.

"They encourage you to be yourself. So we have a wide range of different kinds of people in very important production positions. There are lesbians, gays and heterosexuals, and its a really refreshing mix of talents. I have to applaud the company for being so clear in not letting it be an issue. It kind of gets stomped on if it ever is a problem, and I have never seen it evolve to be a real problem for anyone.

"So that`s a really delightful thing for someone like me, because if it was going to be a problem I would be making a fuss about it and probably get out of there. But the whole thing has been refreshingly together, and I think that is one of the company`s strong points. It`s a wonderfully modern stand that they are making. It breaks down boundaries in so many ways, and while this is only one of them, its an important one for me."

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