The new Netflix drama, One Piece, is based on a franchise that consists of manga, films, anime, and video games. However, One Piece might never have come to fruition had it not been for Doctor Who and the involvement of one of the directors of Jodie Whittaker’s Thirteenth Doctor.
The director in question, Emma Sullivan who worked on Can You Hear Me? and The Haunting of Villa Diodati, was one of the people who was carefully selected to work on the project. She was considered thanks to her work on Doctor Who and later, The Watch, an adaptation of some of Terry Pratchett’s works. A lot of directors need experience directing fantasy projects thanks to streaming services like Netflix, and Doctor Who is no doubt a great place to gain that experience. Can You Hear Me? might not have been one of my favourites but visually, it looked amazing and The Haunting of Villa Diodati was fantastic, really utilising the horror elements and succeeding in making the Cybermen scary again, so it’s little wonder her work allowed her to be chosen.
“I guess I was in the running for it because I had done Doctor Who and The Watch, so I had done IP that’s fantasy before, but also, I had worked in Cape Town with a film in Africa, as well, which is where we shot it. So that brought me to it,”
Sullivan, like me, had never heard of One Piece, nor did she know of the huge cultural significance of the franchise; she admitted she was a little nervous about working on something that so many people seem to like but she’d never heard of. One Piece is about a rubber pirate and a group of other youngsters who are trying to make a name for themselves as the biggest pirates to ever sail the seven seas. Or something.
But it seems thanks to Doctor Who, this new Netflix series wouldn’t have got off the ground. Had Emma Sullivan never worked on the show, then given the incredibly careful selection process that Netflix undertook in selecting all the production crew for this series, to live up to the franchise so far, then it wouldn’t have come to television. After 60 years, Doctor Who can still influence pop culture!