Mike: Well, Bryan had worked with Eric Coleman, the head of development at Nickelodeon, and we knew that Nickelodeon was looking for a [particular fantasy] kind of show, so we kind of took that directive and set about creating our own mythology. And we wanted to base it in Asian rather than European background, and use the elements; to use martial arts as kind of the basis for the magic in the show, even though we don't call it "magic," it is the supernatural element of the show.
Were you met with any skepticism early on into development for the program?
Bryan: Not at all, they loved it. We really thought it was a fresh change where we sort of focused on characters.
Where did you two guys travel, and with whom did you meet while researching the program?
Bryan: Well, early on we didn't travel much you know. We kind of just did our own research I guess, and creation. But yeah the show developed and we got it into production and we went to Korea, to work with the artists over there for the show.
Also you know we have a martial arts consultant to consult us on all of the bending. And then, Mike and I just recently went to China, where we took over one thousand photographs for, you know, architectural purposes.
So, you guys did do some on-site research out there?
Bryan: Yeah, you know, once we had a chance.... Honestly, making animation is so time consuming. We don't have a lot of time to get out there and just research; you've got to do a lot of it on the fly.
Yeah, early on.... Mike and I just bought dozens of books. You know, learning kung fu, hands-on, and not just copying stuff out of a movie, we really, really wanted to understand it. And you know, there's so much to learn, we're still researching, all of the really rich cultures and proud traditions, and so, we're just trying to pay homage.
That's great. Are there any particular Asian mythologies that you sourced for the backbone of the program? Or is it entirely original?
As with anything, there's this concept, or philosophical notions, that's just all floating out there, and that's what we kind of shaped a story in a world that we liked. And you know, it's more that as we go and find out that there are ancient things that are similar, but it is just part of that human experience I think.
Mike: Yeah, and the idea of the "avatar," is kind of based in Hinduism, so, the television series certainly has a basis in all of that [theology]. But you're right, we didn't even at the time know all of that [theological] stuff.... we knew what "avatar" meant, and we knew different kinds of it, but only after we created the show did we really see how important it was to these other cultures.
You know, we have this reincarnated being that returns to the Earth. You know, to restore balance and that kind of thing. Even just the idea of.... that, is in different mythologies....