“After 9 years, I finally understood what people wanted to see.”
YouTube is home to a lot of well-thought out, informative content made by people who are purely driven by creativity. Please stop laughing, I promise you it’s there. If you doubt me, look no further than the channel of one Josh Snares, a prominent Australian WhoTuber best known for a feature-length documentary about the missing episodes of classic Doctor Who. In addition to making such high quality content, including his own reconstruction-style 1st Doctor episode with an original story, he’s also quite approachable. Before I started writing articles here, I sent him an email asking about the process he goes through for the different animations and reconstructions he’s made, and he’s given some good advice that I’ve used in various projects since. After spending a good amount of time working up the courage to reach out to him again, he was more than happy to give an interview for Who Back When. This is what he had to say:
C: So to start, how long have you been making videos for YouTube?
J: I’ve been making videos ever since I was a kid. Doing dodgy animations on PowerPoint, and recording short films with my friends on a webcam!
I made my first channel when I was 13, until some people from school found it. One of the students convinced a teacher to screen one of my videos in class, despite me begging them not to. It was mortifying, so I took down the whole channel.
Then a few years later, I started making Doctor Who fan films, which were DREADFUL!
It wasn’t until the beginning of 2019 when I started making a proper effort to “do YouTube.”
I started making informational videos, starting with my Missing Episodes series, and after 9 years, I finally understood what people wanted to see.
C: How did you first get into Doctor Who?
J: I first started watching it in 2009. I started watching Torchwood first, at the request of my Mum. It was her subtle way of saying “we’re know you’re not straight, and we’re okay with that”
Eventually, I was convinced by my friends to try Doctor Who. I thought it was for nerds, so avoided it for a while. Eventually, I watched Age of Steel, and thought it was the worst thing I ever saw.
I must have been bored, because I ended up watching all of Tennant’s seasons, and fell in love with it.
C: What draws you to the 1st Doctor in particular?
J: William Hartnell’s portrayal appeals to me in a few different ways.
I’ve always loved the grandfather role he played. The idea of running away in a silly old police box, to explore the universe with his granddaughter is such a beautiful concept. I lost my grandfather when I was 13, so I was quite young, so I don’t have too many memories of him. But I remember him talking to himself, and laughing away. He had strong beliefs in the rights of workers, and I think The Doctor reminds me of him. Maybe that’s silly, I don’t know.
He can be firm, but he’s also very kind. He’s hilarious, but can also command attention. He’s like no other actor who came to play the role. His Doctor is truly unique, and is the true reason the show found success, and is still going after all these years.
C: Do you have a favorite companion?
J: This changes all the time. I don’t really think I have a definitive ‘favourite’
I have preferences concerning which Doctor. I usually say Steven for the First Doctor, and Tegan for the Fifth Doctor, for example.
But I don’t really have a solid favourite! Maybe Donna Noble? Ask me next week, and it’ll be someone different!
C: If you were able to bring any one missing serial back to the BBC archives, which would it be and why?
J: Easy! The Daleks’ Master Plan.
Mainly because it’s just brilliant and entertaining television. Also, it’s length! It’s essentially a mini-series within itself.
I think that’s how they’d advertise it nowadays. It’d be event television! 12 episodes of Daleks! What a concept.
Imagine Jodie against The Daleks’ most ultimate plot to destroy the universe. Friends will die, and the universe will change forever. Magical stuff!
C: What were some sources of information that you used when making your documentary about missing episodes?
J: Oh there were so many, it was a while ago. Some of these I may not have used for that project, but have used them.
Shannon Sullivans blog, The Destruction of Time Missing Episodes blog, various issues of Doctor Who Magazine, BroaDWcast, Nothing At The End of the Lane (I think), and Missing Believed Wiped for a few excerpts.
I’m sure there were many more, there were a lot of things I read. It’s been a while, sorry!
C: What is the process like for the reconstructions/animations you’ve made?
J: This changes depending on each animation, but I’ll try and keep it simple!
I will generally watch the Loose Cannon reconstruction to refresh my memory, then I’ll start gathering resources:
– Camera script
– On-set photographs
– Telesnaps (if they exist)
– Set plans (if they exist)
– Episodes where characters are wearing similar outfits
Once I’ve gathered all the photographic material, it’s endlessly photoshopping each screengrab or photo to make it the cleanest it will look, and removing backgrounds. Nowadays, I upscale these also. This is generally the longest task.
Then, we head into Adobe Premiere, and it’s just adding layers upon layers, and colour correcting until it looks right. Animating frames when it feels appropriate, and generally aiming to add as many shots as possible.
My goal is to make the reconstruction as entertaining as possible, whilst trying to keep as accurate as I can.
It’s a long process, and sadly, I don’t like many of the ones I’ve made! I’m happy others have found enjoyment from them. For me, it’s just a hobby. I kind of like The Daleks’ Master Plan Episode 8: Volcano – but still not 100% happy with it.
C: Are there any noteworthy differences when you animate a scene from a Big Finish audio?
J: Big Finish animation is a lot tougher.
Unlike missing episodes, where there is usually screenshots or images of characters in costume, that doesn’t exist in Big Finish.
Finding image references for Steven Taylor is a lot easier than Charlotte Pollard, for example. Many voice actors for Big Finish only do audio, and not film work.
So, when you’re animating something like Spare Parts, there are 10-odd characters with no reference. You’re also missing set design! It’s a lot of guess work.
C: My favorite thing you’ve made would have to be The Core of Destruction. What inspired you to make it?
J: Oh that’s an obscure one! It didn’t get much attention, but thank you for your kind words.
I think the idea came about years ago, when I was listening to a Big Finish audio, and thought “I’d LOVE if Big Finish did Loose Cannon style reconstructions to go along with it.”
So instead of violating Big Finishs’ copyright, I decided to make my own audio, and reconstruction on top!
Aaron Vanderkley was so lovely, and learnt a Peter Purves impersonation in a matter of weeks! He was way closer to Steven than I was to the First Doctor, the talented so-and-so!
But yeah, it was really fun. I love writing The Doctor and Steven arguing, and Dalek dialogue. I wanted it to feel really “60s”, but a bit pacier. I think the second episode is a bit more exciting.
C: Oh no way! That wouldn’t happen to be the Aaron Vanderkley who made an adaptation of Resistance for the 50th anniversary, would it? I actually wrote an article about that not too long ago, he’s a really talented filmmaker. But I digress. What sort of Doctor Who media do you prefer aside from the TV show? (books, audio dramas, etc.)
J: Yes it was! He’s brilliant, I adore Aaron. That’s how I first stumbled upon his work.
I guess I would say audio? But my attention span is shocking, and find it difficult to understand what’s going on. I like the smaller cast audios, with character driven plots.
I like to learn more about established companions, rather than meet a new character that happened to be Sara Kingdoms half cousin twice removed or something ridiculous like that.
(I just made up that Sara Kingdom thing, hope it didnt actually happen! If it did, sorry Big Finish!)
C: Are there any upcoming projects you’re working on that you’d like to promote?
J: I’m currently doing a reconstruction of The Savages, and slowly working on a few informational Doctor Who videos, but they’re in super early days of development.
I took a little break, but I’m definitely coming back.
C: Some people outside of the UK may have found it a bit harder than those in it to get access to Doctor Who stuff in the past. Would you say you’ve had similar experiences living in Australia?
J: Oh it’s a nightmare! What I’ve learnt is: if you want it, you have to pay double and wait twice as long for it to arrive.
I always laugh when I see someone from the UK post a picture of their Season 14 Boxset with the caption “Finally!” and it only was released two days ago!
I’m lucky to get mine 4 weeks after it’s release date!
In the end of the day, it’s a First World Problem, but they don’t make it easy to get merchandise here. I’m sure there is a very good reason for it, but it does get annoying.
I’ve heard the US have it worse though!
C: Eh, nothing I can’t find online. If you became showrunner, what would you do with Doctor Who?
J: I’d cancel it.
No, I don’t know, honestly. The problem is, every year I change my mind about what I’d do. I’m a firm believer in that television changes constantly, and what feels relevant today, won’t feel relevant tomorrow.
I think television should react to what’s around it, but tell stories that are eternal.
I think the tone would be Star Trek: The Next Generation, but more fun.
The Doctor is eternal, and what does that mean for their memory? Surely they couldn’t remember everyone. What if they bumped into Nyssa? Would The Doctor remember who they were? What would the current companion think of that? Would every moment they travel with them be meaningless to The Doctor?
Either way, this show has a long life ahead of it, as long as people are willing to find interesting ways to tell new stories. The show can be anything.
C: What are your thoughts on the recently announced multimedia story, The Time Lord Victorious?
J: Not enough information has really been released to pique my interest as of yet, but there are a lot of very talented people involved, so I’m sure it’ll be just lovely.
The Time Lord Victorious character was something that intrigued me as an Edgy Teenager, but not sure if it will at the ripe age of 25! But, who knows? It seems very ambitious, and I respect that.
C: Are there any notable fan-made productions that you enjoy?
J: I adore Sheda 2 by Phoenix Smith so much. His sense of humour, and his cutting satire, is so enjoyable to watch. It’s a Doctor Who parody but filled with love, and also a jab at fan films as well. Not to sound art-school-wanky, but it’s a great example of anti-art and dadaism at it’s best, which i ADORE.
I also love Dalek 63:88, aka themindrobber, who does what I do, but 100x better. So much talent, so much research, really quality stuff.
There are so many talented creators out there, and I enjoy the ones who are either having so much fun with it, or just love film making in general.
C: Have you been able to meet a lot of people who have contributed to the show in some way? If so, who were you most excited to meet?
J: Honestly, I’m a bit of recluse. I hate large crowds, so I avoid conventions!
I went to a very small convention known as Lords of Time 3, where I met Katy Manning. She was so lovely and inviting. I didn’t have much money then, so spent everything I had on a photo and two autographs.
I got Frazer Hines autograph, and he could tell how nervous I was, and told me a lovely story about taking it. I was speechless!
The second autograph was not the happiest of experiences. They were on the phone the whole time, and their assistant asked me what my name was, they wrote it, and I was shoved on my way. Didn’t even get eye contact.
It was quite upsetting at the time. Nowadays, it’s not a big deal, they were probably just tired! But I threw away the autograph.
C: If you were given the choice of any other franchise to have a crossover with Doctor Who, what would it be and why?
J: That’s a good one! The X-Files? That’d be crazy.
I’d like something so ridiculous, but they just happen to make it brilliant. Doctor Who meets Desperate Housewives. How would that work? How would you make THAT good television?
I love to see writers given challenges like that, and somehow striking gold.
But let’s be honest, it’d end up like Dimensions in Time…
Josh is one of the main people I go to for Doctor Who videos, and it was sincerely a pleasure talking to him. I can’t wait to see what he uploads next!
Do you wield a Sonic Quill? We're calling all Whovian Scribes who have a voice and are keen to get their ideas out there. Perhaps you write Doctor Who Fan Fiction, essays on the most obscure facets of the Whoniverse, or maybe you want to review the local stage adaptation of 'Blink'. Either way, if you'd like to join the ranks of our WBW Correspondents, get in touch and we'll chat.
Subscribe to us on iTunes now! We're dropping a new episode every week (pretty much), reviewing Classic Who, New Who and all kinds of bonus stuff from spin-offs and conventions to Doctor Who comic books.
Lovely! Snares is a legend!