You are directing Ratzafratz!, as well as two other Frederator Random Cartoons, Bronk and Bongo and Ivan the Unbearable. Are there any different challenges to directing a short versus a series show?
GC: Working on the Random Cartoons has been a blast. My job is easy…the creators face the real challenge in making these shorts: introducing new characters, new worlds, and telling a story, all in just six minutes and forty seconds. The hardest thing I do is deciding whether to have a jelly donut or a bran muffin before production meetings.
Ratzafratz! is the only short you are directing being animated in flash. Is there any difference in directing flash and conventional 2D animation?
GC: One of the best parts of doing “Ratzafratz” is that, because it’s in Flash, it’s being animated right here in Hollywood. As a result, we get to sit with the animators, look over their shoulders, and drop donut crumbs on them. With conventional 2D, we have to ship the donut crumbs overseas, which isn’t nearly as creatively rewarding. I forgot, what was the question again?
What is your history as an animation producer and director?
GC: I’ve been lucky to work in animation for 22 years now. It’s the best gig I can imagine (well, other than riding a motorcyle on “CHPs,” but, that’s another story).
Phil Roman and Gary Conrad
I produced Howie Mandel’s cartoon series “Bobby’s World” at Film Roman, back when Howie still had hair, and I’ve been lucky to direct on many great series for Nickelodeon, including “The Fairly Oddparents” and “Danny Phantom.”
You have been friends with Karl Toerge for a long time. Did you know each other at CalArts?
GC: Our paths crossed at CalArts, but we really met when we worked together at Film Roman seventeen years ago. Yikes, has it been seventeen years? Uh, we were both six years old, and our parents drove us to work in the horse and buggy. Ah, good times.
Karl and Gary at Karaoke Night at Film Roman
You have also made some live action videos together over the years as well. Describe your favorite one?
GC: We made a parody of the documentary “Roger and Me,” in which Michael Moore went searching for Roger Smith of General Motors. Ours was called “Jim and Me,” and in it, Karl goes in search of Jim Davis, the creator of Garfield. While shooting it, Karl got thrown out of every studio gate in town. I think several Warners guards are still looking for him.
You have seen some of the Ratzafratz! animation at Six Point Harness. As an industry veteran, what do you think of the quality of what can be done on a computer?
GC: Flash is a remarkable program, and terrific work is being done with it. For “Ratzafratz,” it’s very much a throwback to the early days of TV animation. Karl did a beautiful job of designing Ratzafratz in a Jay Ward style, and Flash is really making it shine. Or flash. There’s a pun in there somewhere.
You and I have known each other since I was an associate producer on “Garfield” and “The Twisted Tales of Felix the Cat” at Film Roman. Do you remember me pitching show ideas to you and a room full of producer/directors?
GC: That was you? I thought you were Larry Wilcox. Now I’m sorry I begged you for a spot on CHPs. Please forgive me.
Do you think flash is going to become preeminent in animation production in the future?
GC: I don’t have a clue about the future of animation, frankly, I’m still amazed they can send pictures through the air. Whatever the tool used, though, great stories and characters will always be the most important thing. And, donuts, did I mention the donuts?
Karl and Gary discussing Ratzafratz! layouts.
What are you working on now?
GC: I’m currently working on a new series called “El Tigre.” It’s a funny, great-looking show, and working on it is great fun. It will debut sometime next year, and I’m already setting my TiVo for it. And for the Random Cartoons, too, of course. Uh, can I go now?
Urban, Squawk or Cyrus?
GC: I like them all equally.
- Jim Wyatt