Eric Fogel Interview
Eric is executive Producer of Glenn Martin, DDS
Interview Series with: Kelly Witaker (October 14, 2010)
Today I had the pleasure of interviewing Eric Fogel, Executive Producer of Nickelodeon’s quirky family sitcom – Glenn Martin, DDS. Coming into its second season, the humor of the show coupled with its attention to detail by continually creating new worlds for the family to visit keep it fresh and entertaining. Here’s what Eric had to say…
Kelly: Congratulations on your second season of Glenn Martin, DDS. With the show’s success, what do you attribute its broad appeal to (both kids and adults)?
Eric: I think “the look” of the show sets it apart from others. I don’t think there is anything else that looks like Glenn Martin on TV. So if you’re just surfing around, you’re going to stop to see what it is. We have always set out to have a broad comedic style. There is physical comedy for kids and some grown-up jokes too.
Kelly: What made you decide to use the medium of Stop Motion for this show?
Eric: I have always loved the medium. Michael Eisner had the show idea and really responded to the look of stop motion. He had seen my work, so we discussed the details and went from there.
Kelly: What do you look for when creating a character in terms of style, design and development?
Eric: I designed all of the main characters for the show. It was interesting for me to create characters that were unique, funny and iconic. I started with Glenn Martin; the main character, giving him a gigantic head which would give him a unique and interesting silhouette - then building the rest of the family from there. I went down the line creating unique looks for them, while giving them some similarities because they are related. The characters needed to be fun and relatable, something people would want to look at. I always start with pencil drawings, then onto color renderings. We then sculpt in clay, and finally cast the puppet.
Kelly: What types of puppets are these characters (build-up, molded latex, replacement, ball & socket)?
Eric: The puppets are a combination of things. They are mainly cast resin heads with silicone bodies. We use replacement heads with eyebrows and eyeballs that are moveable. Replacements heads are also used in extremes to really make them pop. We use digital mouths and push the puppets subtle expressions using After Effects.
Kelly: Are all of the models and props made “in-house”?
Eric: All of the animation and creation are done in the Cuppa Coffee Studios in Toronto, Canada. From character sculpting through clothing fabrication by hand, to props, vehicles and buildings - all aspects are handled under one roof.
Kelly: On average, how long does it take for your team to shoot the 22 minutes of program content?
Eric: From script to final delivery, each episode takes about 8 months. The animation takes around 5-6 weeks per episode with each animator shooting approximately 8-12 seconds per day (mind you there are roughly 40 different stages up and running on any given day).
Kelly: As the creator of Celebrity Deathmatch (1998), do you find any similarities in your approach to this show?
Eric: These are two very different shows. I’d say the one similarity is that I enjoy broad physical comedy, obviously with Celebrity Deathmatch I was able to explore that; whereas, with Glenn Martin it is to a lesser degree, but I try to sneak it in where I can. Glenn Martin is story and character driven. We usually start with the situation then layer in the gags.
Kelly: What do you feel are important attributes for upcoming artists interested in Stop Motion?
Eric: I would say two things; you have to have a unique vision and the ability to tell a good story.
Kelly: Beyond your BA in Film and Television, were there any key elements in your “stop motion education”?
Eric: Stop Motion is such a unique form of animation, and of all the forms it is the one that really requires such a hands on approach. There is no better way than just doing it. Because you are working in this miniature scale, you have to understand how the camera will see it. You learn through repetition.
Kelly: What projects have you been most proud of and what has been your biggest challenge?
Eric: One of the projects that I am most proud of is a student film called “Mutilator”. It was really one of the first short animated films that I ever did (It was almost an experiment for me to see if I could do it). I remember being discouraged by one of my professors over content – but that actually fueled me to finish the film. I felt if I could get a reaction like that, maybe there was something there. (*Note: this film received an Award of Excellence in Animation) It was later picked up for distribution while I was still in school, so it was the first film that got me work. I do feel proud that I finished that film and didn’t quit on it. It actually helped kick off my animation career.
I think Glenn Martin is a challenging show mostly because of the scope of it. Every episode of this show is sort of like a twenty two minute movie. Because it is a family traveling from place to place, you have to create a new world populated with new characters for every episode. That is an incredible amount of things to build. It is definitely ambitious.
Kelly: Any final words?
Eric: Yes, keep Stop Motion alive. It is a beautiful art form and there are still so many stories that haven’t been told in that medium. Don’t get discouraged and keep producing awesome clay movies.
Kelly: Well thank you Eric for the behind the scenes look at Glenn Martin, DDS. We look forward to following the Martin family on their adventures in the future.