Man, we love those guys over in Classical Animation. They do the weirdest stuff, and they tell a good story while they’re at it.
Ben Meinhardt, who was recently named a finalist for a Channel Frederator Award for his VFS films Binge and Purge and Dancing Animals in Love, developed and animated four shorts called Perfectland for MTV. They were released this week – coinciding with Earth Day – online and via MTV Mobile.
The Perfectland episodes are close cousins – direct continuations, even – to Ben’s VFS shorts, complete with off-kilter singalongs, a ridiculously-cute-but-disturbing aesthetic, and a menagerie of psychotic, vengeful mutant woodland creatures.
On top of all that, Ben enlisted the help of some fellow Classical Animation alumni to make it happen. He was kind enough to share the backstory.
How did Perfectland itself come about? Why the decision to expand upon Binge and Purge and Dancing Animals in Love?
Binge and Purge was in the Animation Block Party Film Festival in New York. Casey Safron produces that, and he had some contacts with MTV. It was originally his idea to pitch a series of shorts to them loosely based on my films, which we could use as a ‘proof of concept’. I came up with some rough concepts, Casey gave it to his contacts at MTV, and heard nothing for about four months.
Then suddenly we got a call for a more complete pitch package ASAP, so I stayed up that night and worked on some episode ideas last minute – four of them, because that is what fit on two 8.5 x 11 pages.
Sometimes I wonder what would have happened if I had squeezed 20 episode ideas on two pages. Anyway, they said, yes!
There’s obviously a pretty strong theme throughout these and your previous work – and the timing of the Perfectland release is no coincidence. Seriously – what do mutating animals mean to you?
I had no idea it was coming out on Earth Day, or at all, for that matter – they were made over a year ago – until days before it went online…
Working on something that concerns or interests you is a pretty good way to keep your motivation up and to try to make it as good as it can be. Something has to motivate you, ’cause this animation thing is a lot of work. (Eye twitch.)
I hope they don’t come across as too preachy. It’s more about just conveying a certain emotion. If the shorts feel ominous and negative… well, that’s how I feel out these issues sometimes.
But there is always one more berry left at the end. Sometimes. Or sometimes a flock of flying, parasitic tadpoles lay eggs into the brains of the entire human population. Who knows what will happen? Ahahahahaha… Wheeeee!
I recognize some other names from VFS in the Perfectland credits. How did they get involved?
Luckily, my friends are pretty talented, so they all help me with my films! For money, of course. From the school, Chinatsu Oyama, Nathan Keane, and Gabo Gedovius helped with the films. Gabo and I did most of the animation, Chinatsu did animation, builds, and backgrounds, and Nate helped with some animation and did many of the effects.
Hmm. Well, we shall see how Perfectland pans out. It’s sure not as riveting as all the other wonderful celebrity and ‘reality’ based content that MTV offers, but it’s possible they could want more episodes. Meanwhile, working at Global Mechanic on the PBS series Fetch! with Ruff Ruffman is paying the bills. I’m always threatening to make some other short films just for myself, but damn it’s hard when you don’t have a deadline.
If I am up to anything, you can probably find it on crazydeathmonkey.com.
Thanks, Ben. You can see the four Perfectland episodes – The Egg Factory, Harvest Time, Convenient Disposal, and Progress: As Promised – at think.mtv.com. Higher-res versions are available here, but only to U.S viewers.