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Aaron Augenblick Talks ‘Golan the Insatiable’

Brooklyn’s Augenblick Studios takes on FOX’s new Sunday primetime animated series.

All images © 2015 Fox Broadcasting Company

A disconnected, troubled Goth girl (voiced by Aubrey Plaza) named Dylan lives in Old Grove, a small Minnesota town, with her Mom (played with the usual spot-on weirdness of the brilliant comedienne, Maria Bamford) and older sister. One day she stumbles upon a book of spells and summons for a beastly monster lord-of-sorts (Rob Riggle) to come to Old Grove and help her take over the world. Naturally, things don’t quite go as planned.

Created by Josh Miller, Golan the Insatiable is typical FOX animation fare: brash, saucy and sarcastic humor camouflaging a deeper family story about an adolescent trying to find her place at school and within her functionally dysfunctional single parent family. Nothing we haven’t seen already on The Simpsons, Family Guy and Bob’s Burgers (and just like those shows, Golan has already pissed off some sensitive Americans. The Parents Television Council deemed the show “toxic for children and families.”)

What does stand out though is the animation, which is much more adventurous and stylized than anything seen on the aforementioned shows. One of the main reasons for that nice little touch is that Golan is animated by Brooklyn’s Augenblick Studios.

The re-vamped show (which originally appeared as part of FOX’s late night Animation Domination High-Def block) recently debuted on FOX’s Sunday primetime line-up. After the debut, I had a chance to chat with Augenblick Studio’s head, Aaron Augenblick (Golden Age, Ugly Americans, Wonder Showzen), about his work on Golan the Insatiable.

Chris Robinson: How did your studio become involved with the show? Were you involved in the first season?

Aaron Augenblick: We weren't involved in Golan when it aired as shorts on ADHD. Friend's Night contacted us when they were green-lit to make the move to half-hour show on Fox Sunday Nights. Our studio has a history of adult half-hour cartoons [with satanic content], so our involvement helped ease the transition.

CR: I imagine you don't just take on any production so what appealed to you about Golan?

AA: They really wanted to push the animation farther than anything they'd done before, so we were excited to be involved. Dave Jesser & Matt Silverstein [the show-runners] wanted really traditional, wild animation for Golan. We talked about Kricfaluci, Tex Avery, all the greats. It was a ton of work, but a total blast. Plus, the scripts are hilarious.

CR: How much creative freedom have you had with the overall design of the show and how far is the current design/style from, say, your initial concepts?

AA: The design, scripts, and boards were all created at ADHD in LA. Their team is amazing. Augenblick Studios focused all of our energies on animation and composite. So any development in the look of the show is in the animation, acting, and movement.

CR: How long does it take to turn around each episode?

AA: We created 6 episodes in 8 months.

CR: Have you encountered any new challenges on Golan that you didn't encounter on previous TV work?

AA: Golan is a very dynamic show, with a lot of crazy angles, lighting, and blocking. It makes the animation challenging, but totally worth it. When everything comes together in the right way, it's thrilling.

CR: What's been the most pleasing part of the experience?

AA: As always, my favorite part of animation is collaborating with the talented crew here at the studio. They inspire me every day. Corny but true.

CR: This must be quite a boon for the studio? Have you had to hire extra people just for Golan?

AA: Not much bigger than past productions (like Ugly Americans). Roughly 30 artists. I try not to let productions get too overblown. I prefer to work with a small team of super-talented artists rather than a giant crew. Larger scale productions run faster and cheaper, but the artists become cogs in the machine. You lose the hand-made feel of cartoons that I love. Our artists work harder, but have more creative freedom. For better or worse, that's our system.

CR: That's quite a compliment that after the first episode aired there's already some nitwit calling for the show to be taken off the air.

AA: The Parents Television Council called us "The Worst Show on Television." That's very impressive. I mean, there are some really terrible shows out there. Have you seen that new show where they make people have sex in a box? [The Channel 4 show appropriately titled, Sex Box] Of all the garbage, Golan is the top of the heap.

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Golan the Insatiable runs Sunday nights at 9:30-10:00 p.m. ET/PT on Fox.

Chris Robinson's picture

A well-known figure in the world of independent animation, writer, author & curator Chris Robinson is the Artistic Director of the Ottawa International Animation Festival.

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