Kirby Buckets is
an ambitious new live action/animation comedy making its series debut tonight
on Disney XD (8pm EST/5pm PST). Created by Gabe Snyder & Mike Alber
(Supah Ninjas), the show introduces us to
the vivid imagination of 13-year-old Kirby Buckets, who dreams of becoming a
famous animator like his idol, Mac MacCallister. With his two best friends,
Kirby navigates his eccentric town of Forest Hills where the trio usually find
themselves trying to get out of a various predicaments. Along the way, Kirby is
joined by his animated characters, each with their own vibrant personality that
only he and viewers can see.
I spoke to Executive
Producer Kristofor Brown (Beavis and Butt-head, Drillbit Taylor) about the
How did you get
involved with Kirby Buckets?
Disney knew they wanted to do a show about a boy who wanted
to be an animator – a show that could combine live action and animation. Mike Alber and Gabe Snyder had a good take on
it and Disney hired them to write the pilot. Their pilot as filmed with a
different cast, different showrunner and for various reasons it didn’t go to
series. But Disney believed in the idea – and Mike and Gabe as writers. They were asked to write a second pilot – and
this is where I came in.
I read the second pilot and Disney was interested in my take
on it – creatively and as a potential show runner. I felt I had a really clear
handle on what needed to be done, and how to approach the animation. We had a
great meeting and I ended up joining Mike and Gabe in rewriting the script and casting
Tell me about the
animation of the show.
From the very start I knew I wanted to bring Titmouse into
it. I had a history with Chris Prynowski – from my Beavis and Butt-head days – and
trusted his sensibility and his style. And Chris, as soon as he read the pilot,
said he had an animator who would be great for this, Freddy Cristy (Animation Character Designs
and Supervision). I sat down with Freddy and watched some of his short films,
we talked about the show – the tone and style – and it seemed we had a really
good match. Along with Ben Kalina as our animation producer, we had the
beginnings of our team.
designs seem both wildly creative and yet, look like a teenager might have
actually have drawn them. A talented teenager, I might add.
Character design was the next step. Without giving Freddy too much
direction, I wanted to see what he would come up with on his own. The first
character we attacked was Kirby’s drawings of his sister – as Dawnzilla. He sent
me various ghouls and monsters that looked like his sister, some looked like
slugs, some looked like demons. We began defining the look we were after. It’s
supposed to look like an insulting picture of what his sister used to look
like, with braces and headgear. We decided we needed visual cue to tie it
together. We came up with stripes on their clothing. The first time you see
live action Dawn transforming into “Dawnzilla” she’s wearing stripes and her
cartoon version is too.
Tell me about
the other cartoon characters.
Mike, Gabe and myself had a ball brainstorming the other characters – like
Dr. Gutpunch, a doctor who’s prescription for everything is to punch you.
Octo-tasche – because mustaches are pretty funny – is a guy who has eight
strands of a mustache that can operate independently. Scrunch Face is miserable
character who complains about everything; and Tri-Butt, a three butt-cheeked
character, who instantly appeals to the 13-year old boy in all of us. What we
love about Tri-Butt is his sense of superiority. Instead of being a freak and
feeling ashamed, he’s very proud of himself. He likes the fact that he’s
different and unique.
animation is in an episode?
We average about two and a half minutes per episode. It’s a single camera
show, shot like a movie – with no laugh track. The animation represents what
Kirby is thinking and his imagination. His point of view. The cartoons provide
color-commentary for all the situations he gets into.
We write animation beats into the script. We have to shoot plates with
our live action actors with a green screen behind them, then lift the actor and
the green screen to get the background plate. One other note – we shoot in a
building that used to be a Disney film warehouse. They moved all the cans of
film out and the structure was converted into a sound stage. I take it as a
good omen – we are inspired every day by the presence – or former presence – of
Disney classics in the air.
Here’s an exclusive clip from the debut episode: