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“Ron the Zookeeper” with Darcy Prendergast

February 27th, 2010

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Aussie animator and director Darcy Prendergast’s film, “Ron the Zookeeper”, is featured this week on Cartoon Hangover. Finally, a quality stop-motion about panda masturbation.

Cartoon Hangover: Where did you study animation?

Darcy Prendergast: RMIT, Melbourne. That said, there was no clay animation class there at the time, so I was largely self taught. The ol’ trial and error… Errors-plural would be more fitting.

CH: Who are your favorite artists?

DP: Jim Henson, Jean Pierre Jeunet, Jeff Soto, Joe Sorren. I didn’t intentionally choose artists that all start with J. It just happened that way.

CH: I saw in another interview that Ron is based on your father who was a zookeeper. What does he think of your film?

DP: He absolutely loves it. I was shooting this film in my uncles Garage, and no one was more supportive than my old man. He’d bring down changes of clothes, meals… Everything. Mum hardly ever ventured down, and as such, really had no idea on the story. When she eventually saw it at its premiere, she left the cinema. Haha. She was ashamed to have raised me.

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CH: Annecy is a pretty prestigious film festival - were you at all surprised “Ron” was featured there?

DP: It was 2007 when it first screened there… Surprised? Yes and No. It’d been knocked back by every major festival in Australia. No one would screen it, but I had high hopes for Europe. Annecy was what I’d been aiming for all along, and when I got the email, man. I went crazy. Not this watered down, socially acceptable crazy either… It was pure, visceral, certified madness.

CH: What was used to make the “whacking off” noise?

DP: Haha! Lubricant and a beer bottle. My sound designer, Ben Matthews and I would take it in turns to insert a lubricant covered finger in and out of the bottle… The climax was made by spitting yogurt into our hands, microphone close by. God I love sound design.

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CH: Your most recent film, “News!” screened at Annecy ‘09 - on a scale of 1 to 10, how awesome did that make you feel?

DP: Oh! About 23. Thousand. If my liver could sustain the punishment it receives there, I’d like that festival to run all year round.

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CH: “Mary & Max” is one of my favorite pictures - can you tell us how you contributed to the film?

DP: Sure. Well I’ve been friends with Adam Elliot for about 7 years now. He used to give 17 year old me advice on the ways of clay back in the day. Adam originally got me on board as a model maker/ Assistant animator but as the film went on, he came to like my sculpting style. I was moved into a lead sculptor position, so I sculpted many of the characters you see on screen…

CH: Are you working on anything new you can tell us about?

DP: At this stage, Im not sure how much I can say. Boring I know… But I can say that I have a kids series in the works. Quite a departure from Ron the Zookeeper…

CH: What’s your favorite alcoholic beverage?

DP: Jameson, Cranberry and Lime. I could drink a thousand of those bad boys, and on a regular basis attempt to.

CH: What’s your favorite curse word?

DP: Well it’s a few words strung together, but ‘Pissed up slapper’ has got to be my favourite insult. My sister Paige and invented it (Yes creativity runs in the family)

CH: If someone were to do it “panda style” what would that entail?

DP: Sounds like a freaky dance move ;)

CH: Yeah… ‘dance’…

Thanks for the interview, Darcy! Brace yourself for “Ron the Zookeeper”, right here on Cartoon Hangover!

-Bailee DesRocher

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