Ricky Gervais Gets Animated
Ricky Gervais' record-breaking podcasts have been turned into an animated series on HBO (Friday nights, 9:00-9:30 pm), animated by Wildbrain and produced by Media Rights Capital in association with Wildbrain. The Ricky Gervais Show is voiced by Gervais, his long-time collaborator Stephen Merchant and colleague and friend Karl Pilkington, whose offbeat musings inspire many of the episodes, including his suggestions for population control (women give birth shortly before dying); his thoughts on charity and excerpts from his journal, read by Stephen. Plus there are the merits of 20th century inventions and the regular feature, "Monkey News." Marge Dean (Back at the Barnyard, The Ren and Stimpy Show), supervising producer from Wildbrain, tells AWN about the making of The Ricky Gervais Show, whose sixth episode airs Friday.
* Note - after this article was posted, The Hollywood Reporter announced that HBO has renewed the show for a second season.
Bill Desowitz: What's the process like animating these podcasts?
Marge Dean: We took the podcasts and didn't re-record anything, so for somebody like me, a production person, this was a dream production -- we had no actors and no script. And so we were able to jump in right away. We talked to Ricky about the podcasts and how they were organized and basically he said he wanted to do them in order, starting with season one and making episode one the first episode of the series. That's because the storylines build and there are a lot of references to the podcasts.
BD: Have you made any alterations?
MD: All we did was trim them a bit, but he was particularly sensitive about taking out British references that the U.S. audience wouldn't get. And then we'd do a transcription of the cut dialogue and send that to Ricky and to HBO and get their notes on it. And with the transcription we would add animation beats for the whole 24 minutes of the episode and then send that off to everybody to get their notes. And that's essentially our script.
BD: And after that?
MD: Then we handed that off to the storyboard artists and, working with the director, they would board the whole thing out like a regular show, then we'd build an animatic and send that to Ricky and HBO and get notes and do the revisions and we'd lock out the animatic. Then it becomes more like a regular production: we do all our design, we animate this project completely in the U.S., in-house, in Sherman Oaks, using Flash and After Effects to composite.
BD: And how many on staff?
MD: At our peak, 60 to 65 people.
BD: And Craig Kellman directs and serves as art director?
MD: Yes, the style was very much from him, but it was conveyed by Ricky initially.
BD: And what style was that?