Last week, an interview featuring The Witcher producer Tomek Baginski was published on Festiwal Fantastyki Pyrkon’s YouTube channel. Though it was held in Polish, our Polish team members were able to translate the interview and uncover an interesting detail about author Andrzej Sapkowski’s role in the show.
Back before season one was released on Netflix, showrunner Lauren Hissrich and Sapkowski himself both claimed that the author prefers to distance himself from the series, providing Hissrich and her team full creative freedom. While this is still true, it seems the dynamic has changed ever so slightly, as the author now requests to be updated on the story before each season drops.
He wants to be informed about what is happening so there are no surprises
Baginski explained the working relationship in the aforementioned interview. “It was a bit tricky during the COVID year. Because before the pandemic, I tried to go to Łódź quite often and meet Sapkowski and I think I will come back to that. But we try to keep Sapkowski quite well informed about what is happening because he is the most important person in this whole universe.“
The interviewing journalist then asked if there is any back and forth with Sapkowski, if the author provides his opinion or makes any suggestions after he learns what is planned. “In this respect, Andrzej strongly believes in the freedom and autonomy of people who adapt his stories, so he’d rather give us freedom. He wants to be informed about what is happening so that there are no surprises and he must be informed from the formal point of view. But he gives us a lot of freedom and that’s very cool.“
This is a rather different take than what we heard before season one was released. Back then, showrunner Lauren Hissrich explained that the author does not want to have prior knowledge before watching the episodes himself. “Sapkowski doesn’t want to see ingredients to the soup,” Hissrich explained in MCM Comic Con two years ago. “He wants to taste the soup. He has access to the scripts and dailies but doesn’t want to see them.” Whether that means that Sapkowski changed his mind after watching the first season isn’t quite clear.
Besides his working relationship with Sapkowski, Baginski also explained that the team behind The Witcher is learning and improving with every new production from the main show to spinoffs.
“I have the impression that this team that we assembled has [become more synchronized] and that this will be visible in the second season, and it will be even more visible in the next productions that there is a growing understanding for this world as a whole.
These stories will be more and more interesting and entertaining. I hope that even our critics, if they don’t like something, will turn a blind eye to it because our productions [in the Witcher world] will deliver moments that they do like as well.” (i.e. if they didn’t like Nightmare of the Wolf, they might like Season 2 or Blood Origin)
“It’s not like every single Witcher production will be aimed at everyone. I have no illusions about that. There is no way to create something that everyone will like, but you can build several different things to suit different groups. And the world created by Sapkowski allows it, because what I liked about him from the very beginning was the meta-level of the venture.
As we enter the fifth volume of the saga, it is clearly written that what we read may not have been true. That these four earlier volumes are a story with different versions, different sides, different ways of telling it. There is a fantastic opening in one of the chapters where we have an Elven version of a fairy tale and a human version of that fairy tale, and these are two versions of the same story that are radically different, someone else is bad and someone else is good and they have quite the opposite meaning.”
It’s interesting to learn that Sapkowski is a bit more involved in the show than we originally believed, but he still doesn’t take an active role in the production. As Sapkowski has said himself in an interview with Fantastyka magazine before season one: “Creators of adaptations of literary works for other media have the right to be sovereign creators, with an unrestricted right to creative freedom. In the particular case of this adaptation, their ideas can be different than mine. And even when some of their ideas are different than mine, so what? My books are not the Bible.“
We hope to hear more from both Baginski and Sapkowski regarding The Witcher Season 2 that will release on December 17, 2021.