Jellystone is your home away from home, a place where bears and cavemen roam. It’s a town where everyone from the sharks to the cats are busy going about their crazy business… until something goes wrong.
The series will delight children with a taste for off-the-wall comedy and imaginative flights of fancy. And the Jellystone townsfolk will be familiar to some parents and grandparents – they come from the Hanna-Barbera library of classic cartoons, including The Yogi Bear Show, The Huckleberry Hound Show, The Quick Draw McGraw Show and many more that ran from the late 1950s to the 1970s.
Series executive producer C.H. Greenblatt takes us inside how he and his team breathed new life into these characters, and put Jellystone on the map…
Behind the scenes with C.H. Greenblatt
How did you go about reviving these characters?
Years ago, I had mentioned to the executives at Warner Brothers, “Hey, if you guys ever do Hanna-Barbera stuff, I would love to get a crack at doing any of the characters.” So, they brought me in and said, “Would you like to try to develop a shorts programme with the whole library, just to modernise them? Whatever you want to do.” So, it really was just thinking about what I would do with all the characters if I was approaching this as a brand-new show? What elements do I want in there personally, and what do I think would be relevant to kids today? And the weird thing is that people remember the character more than they remember the cartoons. Everyone loves the old characters, but they don't say they love the old cartoons.”
How did you update the characters to reflect the modern world?
Part of the modernisation for me is just giving them a little more depth, and thinking of them as more-rounded characters. If you look at the old cartoons, they're 1-dimensional in a lot of ways, and that's part of why they think they've endured so long. They're a funny voice, they're a great design, they’re a catchphrase. Yogi Bear is hungry and wants to go get a picnic basket. Modernisation is not about saying, “Oh, they're using cellphones,” it’s more about who they are as people and how they interact. It’s about saying, “Who are these people? How do I think of them as funny humans? A modern character has flaws, they have insecurities, they have desires, they have wants. Otherwise, I'm just remaking the old show, and I didn’t want to. Just go watch the old shows, they exist. They're wonderful. They're there.
Talk a bit to us about the choices around the animation style.
We do everything with computers, but all the design work is still hand-drawn in Photoshop, and the goal was to make it look as hand-drawn as possible. I like things that look imperfect, I like things where you can see the line work, you can see the overdraws, you can see the texture of the line. But we do use digital animation. It's just trying to find that balance between using modern tools, but giving it sort of a handcrafted feel, as much as we can on a TV budget.
Where are your animation teams?
We split it between two studios, one is in the Philippines. That's Snipple. And then the other studio is called Cheeky Little and they're in Australia.
From the ideas pitch to getting on screen, how long does it take to get an episode out?
It takes us about nine months, roughly, to make one 11-minute episode. We start a new one every week so they're all overlapped. So, it really takes almost a year before we have a full, deliverable episode to hand on to the network.
Who’s your audience?
Whenever I make a show, I write it for the adult me. And to all the people on the show, I say, “Entertain yourselves, but just make it appropriate for kids”. That's the key, make it something that a parent could sit and watch and they don't feel weird showing it to their kids.
Do you have a particular favourite episode or scene?
1 of the biggest surprises for me was the Huckleberry Hound turning into Sailor Moon transformation episode (episode 7b, Face of The Town), because I didn't see that coming when our board artists pitched that. I just about died laughing. I love it when people on the show surprise me with stuff. And 1 of my top favourite moments would be how the anime episode turned out (episode 10b, A Town Video: Welcome To Jellystone). We recorded actual Japanese actors (for dubbing dialogue) and our animation team overseas went nuts because they loved it.
Watch Jellystone S1, Mondays-Fridays on Cartoon Network (DStv channel 301) at 15:15
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