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Immersed in Movies: Alfred Gimeno Talks Directing Disney’s New ‘7D’ Series

Immersed in Movies: Alfred Gimeno Talks Directing Disney's New '7D' Series

It’s about time the Seven Dwarfs got their own wacky animated TV series, and if The 7D (premiering July 7 at 10:00 am on Disney XD) has an Animaniacs-like vibe that’s because Tom Ruegger, Alfred Gimeno, and Sherri Stoner are involved as exec producer, director, and writer. They are joined by Fish Hooks creator Noah Z. Jones, who designed the characters. I spoke with Gimeno about 7D, which takes place in the storybook world of Jollywood, where the Dwarfs act like the Magnificent Seven in protecting Queen Delightful from Grim and Hildy Gloom. 

The voice cast, meanwhile, includes Kelly Osbourne as Hildy, Jess Harnell as husband Grim, Leigh-Allyn Baker as Queen Delightful, Bill Farmer as Doc, Maurice LaMarche as Grumpy, Kevin Michael Richardson as Happy, Dee Bradley Baker as Dopey, Scott Menville as Sneezy, Stephen Stanton as Sleepy, and Billy West as Bashful. They will be joined by Jay Leno and Whoopi Goldberg as the Crystal Ball and Magic Mirror.

“I came on to initially direct the first four test episodes and that expanded to 13,” Gimeno recalls. “It was originally a Flash production and the pilot was done in that technique. But they went for traditional 2D and it obviously adds so much in terms of production value. Flash can be design heavy, which meant a lot of detail had to go away or else we’d have people overseas jumping off of bridges.”
As is usually the case, all of the boards and pre-production were done at Disney, with animation made at Digital eMation in Korea and Toon City in the Philippines. Toon City, in particular, had a good grasp of the snappy timing, according to Gimeno.

Certainly judging by the initial two episodes, “The Long, Long Winter” and “Itsy Bitsy Spider Fighters” (directed by Charles Visser), there’s plenty of snappy and wacky fun. In the opener, the kingdom is magically frozen (but Gimeno insists they were not influenced at all by Frozen), and in the second Grim turns into a giant spider. Not surprisingly, the design of the dwarfs is very much what you’d expect today while still honing to familiar traits. The biggest problem seems to be accommodating as many of them as possible in each episode.

“These are not your familiar dwarfs, ” Gimeno admits. “I think grandpa would go, ‘Hey, I wasn’t thinkin’ they would look like that.’ But I do think they capture the essence of what the characters are suppose to be. You look at Grumpy and of course he’s scowling. And with Sleepy and Sneezy, there are small design cues to pick them out. It’s hard to get all seven of them in one episode, to be sure. So you have to pick and choose. It’s also hard to get a room full of guys without some pushing and shoving.”

Gimeno describes “The Long, Long Winter”  as a logistical nightmare, however, because there were so many elements to keep track of and because the snow sequences required an entire redesign with all of the dwarfs tied together as they ascend a mountain.  “It was just like herding cats,” he adds. 

The director particularly likes the purple and plaid-clad Glooms, and was pleasantly surprised at how effective Osbourne is. “I like the fun banter between the two of them. They have almost a brother and sister kind of dynamic. She skews more toward the newer sensibility and he’s in some kind of London Fog outfit and it’s a weird juxtaposition against this medieval, steampunky set up that we have. Hopefully their nose kissing thing will be something that all the kids will be imitating.”

Steampunk? Sure, when the Glooms have internal combustion devices and Doc’s inventions are primarily clock work-based (including a squirrel finding machine that’s been modified to find chickens. There’s even an upcoming episode, “Very Important Thingy,” in which Doc needs to get away from his noisy pals to finish a project. 

“What I like about this episode is there is a lot of Doc psychodrama.That was a fun facet to explore for Doc.”

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