Harvey Entertainment Takes Control
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HK: Quality will always make it I think.

RM: That’s right.

HK: Are you really looking to position Harvey as a family entertainment company, or is it, "Yes, we are going for family entertainment with our classic characters, but with our new characters who knows? Maybe they’ll be edgier prime time type properties."

RM: We stay true to the family tradition. If we were going to venture outside of that we wouldn’t do it under the Harvey label.

A sample of Mainframe's handy work. © Harvey Entertainment.

HK: You have made several direct-to-videos that have performed well. Casper, A Spirited Beginningsold over 3 million units worldwide. But, I get the feeling that Casper’s Haunted Christmas, isn’t just another of a string of videos. I have a feeling that this is in fact a sort of turning point for the company?

RM: It really is. It is the first Casper movie that this company has produced itself. It really represents that turn from being a licensor to a producer. It is our property and it is our movie, soup to nuts. We found the writers; we worked on the script; we found the studio, Mainframe Entertainment, to do the production; we found the recording artist to record the Casper theme, Randy Travis. It is our production and that’s big for a company. It is the first one that we will own and control all rights to. It is our lead property when we go into the international market. We can now sell a very successful franchise property. The other thing that makes it different is that it is all computer animated. It is the first Casper movie that is computer animated so that is a real turning point for Casper.

HK: How did Harvey come to the decision of joining forces with Mainframe and approaching this version of Casper using all CGI vs. 2D? This is quite a daring move.

RM: We did that for a number of reasons. One we felt that there was a new found popularity in computer animated movies. Toy Story 1and 2, Antz, A Bug’s Lifehave all been very well received by kids. They like the medium. The second reason was we knew we were going to have to go out and compete with our other direct to videos because we don’t distribute the other two Casper videos — Saban and Fox do. So we wanted to create something that was different and new and distinctive from the live-action movies. This was a way to do that.

HK: Mainframe is great. Congratulations on working with them.

RM: They have been terrific. They have been a great, great partner to have on this production. They really have been very supportive. They’ve done everything on time. I have nothing but good things to say about them.

There’s Christmas spirit in every room of the house. © Harvey Entertainment.

HK: You touched on this, but how does this video specifically play into Harvey’s long term business goals?

RM: It helps us when we go into the international marketplace and the distribution marketplace. We now have a product that commands the buyer’s interest. We have our library of the classic Harvey cartoons called Harvey Toons, which is 65 half-hours that we are selling internationally for the first time. Casper is a brand new product. It is ours and is something we can be proud of and publicize and really use to help in our other distribution efforts.

HK: Which markets will you be attending?

RM: NATPE, MIP, MIPCOM — all the television markets.

HK: I think that Harvey has a real advantage because you are a smaller company, with resources, but you can really focus on the project, keep the budget in check, make sure all your departments are working for it — as opposed to a bigger company where sometimes the projects don’t turn out as well, despite the resources, due to a wide number of different initiatives.

RM: We are very focused on maintaining our level of quality. It is very important to us. We never take too much on that would affect anything else we would do. Very careful on that. We would rather have fewer things on our development slate and devote more of our time and effort to making those things really great product.

HK: I have been sitting here for three years, getting Harvey press releases, and it is interesting to have watched the company evolve to the point where the company is doing its own production. It is great to see a company say, "This is our goal," and in a course of time, actually do it. A lot of companies don’t get there.

RM: Well, thank you! We certainly have great assets for the animation community so you will be seeing a lot more product coming out in the next three years in computer, 2D and Internet animation.

Heather Kenyon is editor in chief ofAnimation World Magazine.

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