Exclusive Interview with David Bartis - Part 2


Welcome back to Part 2 of our interview with David Bartis the Executive Producer of he new Knight Rider movie airing on February 17th.

You can read part one here and learn about the backstory of this Knight Rider project - or continue on to hear more from our interview.

KRO: The partnership with Ford brought a lot of attention. What can we expect from them in terms of promoting the show?

BARTIS: Ford has been a great partner on our project. In addition to working with us on the KITT side of things, they are also a marketing and promotions partner. The new KITT (was) at the Detroit Auto Show and will definitely appear in print advertising for both the show and the brand.

KRO: So with the new KITT, from what we have seen the interior dash seems to be pretty stock. Is there a plan to do more of a high tech interior?

BARTIS: You'll see that the interior is modified, it is not the stock interior. It has panels in it that will reveal accessories and technologies. when you look at the most advanced technology consumers have access to now - it doesn't involve alots of dials and gages and moving parts. You look at the iPhone and you go - thats the coolest phone out there. It's just a flat screen that you can touch and access anything. So the iPhone interface was actually a big inspiration for the way the interior of this car would look because its very simple, it's very streamlined, it's very clean. It doesn't make sense to build something that looks like the inside of the millenium falcon cause that's not high tech anymore.

There is no buttons, there is no moving parts anymore. It's all about how clean and simple. I think people will get it when they see it. Having a lot of high tech equipment mounted in the car didn't seem to make sense.

KRO: Is there anything like a voice modulator like KITT used to have?

BARTIS: Yea there is a very cool interface for KITT's voice thats a little more advanced then the bars going up and down.

KRO: How do you think the technology of KITT still keeps current when you have shows like 24 has things like instant satellite access. It takes them 4 times longer than it would probably take KITT to access it, but there are shows with similar technologies now. How can you keep knight rider fresh with this type of competition now a days?

BARTIS: That is a really good question, cause its the challenge we talk about all the time. If we are lucky enough to go to series thats the kind of thing that we will roll out slowly. I'd love to see that each episode reveals a new ability of the car a new technological capability. Right now we don't give you a big list - We just show you how the car works when it needs to do something. When it needs to do a blind pass on a curved road with cars coming at it you can see how it links up to satellites get an overhead view of the road ahead of it and be the path in a way that prevents it from being followed by another car. You see the technology evolve in the intencity of a moment instead of someone saything that this car can do this this and this and this. We will parse it out as we need it, but we've been online looking at nano technology at morphing technology. We've looked at stuff real car companies are doing. We've been working with Ford on this project and they actually have a technology that they've introduced in the cars this year called Sync which allow you to give voice commands to your cars GPS, your cars music system all kinds of things, and thats as advanced as the original KITT was. So it's a challenge to figure out what is coming down the road that feels real that cars actually can't do.

KRO: Thats a challenge that they had as the series went on is that they had to keep reinventing and revealing new features as production cars became more advanced. It is an issue some people are having saying "the new KITT doesn't do this this and this" - but there were four seasons of the original series and what KITT did in the pilot original was small to what he could do at the end.

BARTIS: there is something just fundimentally cool about fast cars. We've done really good with the action work in this show and I think people will find it incredibly satisfying to see the stunt work and the action and scenes that we have created for the show and that is a big part of it. A big part of the original, was seeing that car perform unlike a regular car - high speed turns, and crashes - we've got some incredible crashes in this show. It doesn't sound exciting when you talk about it - but when you see a car crash into something at 60 mph it is really exciting.

KRO: So there is stuff like the Molecular Bonded Shell to repel bullets and such.

BARTIS: I think people will be very happy with what they see.

KRO: We've also been hearing alot about the 'attack KITT' - and KITTs original goal was to preserve human life so the nomenclature of attack KITT is kind of weird.

BARTIS: It's not attack KITT, it's just our label for the version of the car, that morphs into a more high performance vehicle, more than the standard version of KITT. it's a faster version, it's really down to the ground, it's built for speed. "Attack" doesn't mean that it was built to harm people, attack means that its in a definsive mode.

KRO: The original series was very one man and his car making a difference. This version seems more ensemble based. How does knight rider make that transition to handling more characters, or will it?

BARTIS: Our pilot covers a lot of ground and needs to fulfill a number of functions (like any pilot), so it doesn't look completely like a typical episode of what a new series would look like. At the heart of our show, it is still about one man and his car (cool guy / cool car). But we also have a very talented group of Actors around our lead(s). It will help us dimensionalize the show and give us more ways into stories. I don't think the audience is going to be content with "Mission of the Week" kind of episodes. The structure of our ensemble gives us the ability to also explore the personal side of characters stories and tell more emotionally driven stories.

KRO: From what we've seen, the cast and crew seem to have bonded very quickly.

BARTIS: It's a really good group of people who have a fantastic work ethic. Its been nothing but a pleasure on the set. Everybody has been very supportive of each oher and even hang out after work is over. Except KITT. KITTs a little aloof.

KRO: What about Justin's injury? How is he doing and did this rescheduling help you have more time to shoot anything?

BARTIS: Justin is doing really well. We saw him this morning and he was walking without a limp. We have to be careful because he was lucky to not have torn any ligaments, but if i happens again, he will definitely need surgery and that will take months to recover from. He'll probably do fewer of his own stunts and we'll be extra careful to protect his knee.

It actually didn't get us any more time because we still have an airdate that hasn't moved.

KRO: The original was well known for its stunts. What have you learned from movies like the Bourne trilogy to bring Knight Rider's stunts into the future.

BARTIS: The bar for stunts is really high now. The audience demands a level of reality that requires more and more planning and use of effects in new ways. Effects are more hidden then ever before, but they're still there. They really want to see how things could happen, so there tend to be fewer cuts and more realistic looking stunts. This is one of the reasons we stated away from he Turbo Boost / jumping stuns. They just don't feel as real in today's world.

KRO: We have the confirmation of Hasselhoff appearing, but what about the original KITT?

BARTIS: Yes, the Hoff is in the show. The original KITT is there as well, but you'll have to look really carefully to see it.

KRO: How's the response been from the dailies/editing room?

BARTIS: We're loving the dailies. Its looking great and playing like a really fun ride.

cage on kitt

KRO: What is the ratio of special effects that are CGI vs Paractial?

BARTIS: Haven't figured this out yet, but I know we have over 300 EFX shots in he show. Most you wont notice. The ones you will, will be impressive.

There is a lot of great practical stunt work with the cars because we figured out how to shoot the actors in the actual cars on location using a driver who is not in the vehicle, but sitting in a pod attached to the top of the car. This gives us the ability to get great looking car work done with our leads without having to shoot it all green-screen in a studio. We also get fantastic reactions from them when we're really going full speed during chase scenes and they are truly in the moment.

KRO: have you heard anything on how the process will work that decides if a full season is approved once it airs?

BARTIS: No. Right now, we're most concerned about the writers strike.

KRO: Do you hope to stay on with the show if it goes to series?

BARTIS: Absolutely.

KRO: Do you think the plots of potential future episodes would get away from the mission of the week, everything is back to normal in an hour? Will there be more overarching storylines?

BARTIS: It will be a combination. Some story elements will arc over a season (like the relationships), but the "mission" elements of the story will resolve episodically.

KRO: Do you have any plans to reinventing any continuity to suit your story lines? (Charles Graimen is the creator of KITT - yet we've never heard of him.)

BARTIS: Possibly.

KRO: If it does go to series do you think you'll try and acknowledge any more classic Knight Rider? ( Such as Bonnie or April or any of the villians like KARR or Garthe. )

BARTIS: Possibly.

KRO: We have a strong international base, any idea when they might see the film?

BARTIS: I'm pretty sure NBC/Universal has been selling it in tv markets all over the world.

Our deepest thanks go out to David Bartis for sparing some of his valuable time to answer our questions, and also to NBC Publicity for arranging the interview. Also thank Michael Pajaro at Knight Rider Movie, Paul at Knight Rider Archive, and author Joe Huth for their help with bouncing question ideas.

We'll be back soon with our interview with Sydney Tamiia Poitier who plays FBI agent Carrie Rivai.