Friday, April 13, 2007

Life in Hell with Joel Jessup: Wrapping up Hell Week!

Happy Friday the 13th everyone! As is usual, some twists and turns on everyone's fave non-Halloween creepy day. Ruth is still burning incense and chanting sutras in the desperate hope that we'll be able to get the server pass code and upload the final elements of the 'Secret TAIS project' I've been mouthing off about for MONTHS. Monday, people.

Thankfully, a treat with the trick. Joel Jessup, Mr. Hell writer and zombie plague survivor, has managed to beat his way back through the undead hordes, with the help of his trusty cricket bat. (yeah, bloody stereotype, but hey, I'm a 'Shawn' fan. Go see Hot Fuzz!) His first objective...firing us off a missive on the Mr. Hell writing experience. Go Joe!

"Mr Hell was actually the first animated show I worked on, when it was just a series proposal. My father had been friends with Dave Freedman (of Peafur Productions.-TDog) for years and I ended up doing bits of work for him. This was pre-university, and I remember at one point writing the proposal for a website for the show, despite having not actually been on the internet before. In the end what I designed was in fact impossible with the software of the time, and then Flash came along and lined up with my futuristic imaginings. "

"As Alan points out Serge was initially called Sammy and then, when I started work on it, Sidney. Originally he wasn’t French Canadian at all, which is funny because once he was it explained the whole psychotic gun-toting thing. (becuz his parents were murdered in front of him, not becuz he's Quebecois. I think. -Tdog) I originally didn’t have a clue about animation length and wrote roughly a half-an-hour synopsis for a 3 minute episode.

"Like everything in Mr Hell Serge worked best if we put him in different situations very vaguely connected with fashion rather than trying to do Pret A Slaughter every episode. Dave and Alan extensively rewrote my scripts and they were quite right to do so because in those days I could carve a good joke but I couldn't hit a plot if you painted one on the side of a barn."

"I did much of my Serge and sketch writing while at university so I spent long nights in Computer labs desperately writing parallel Serge scripts and essays. I got a 2:2. (?-Tdog) The weird, stupid energy in Serge is because I was weird and stupid and wrote the first drafts 30 minutes before they were due. "

"When I wasn’t trying to get educated I’d attend writer’s meetings in Peafur’s pokey London offices, where we’d basically have a round table evisceration of each other’s scripts, Simpsons style. For that reason my gags are sprinkled all throughout the series, as are other people gags in my work. "

"Because of being a poor student I never got a chance to visit the animation studios in Canada and I regret never getting a chance to. The animation has great character and although Flash is a lot more common now you can’t fault the design and the timing. There’s a great pleasure in sending a script off and then seeing it in amazing life a few months later, but I’d have liked to be a larger part of the process. Sometimes I wouldn’t even realise a particular sketch had been chosen for production until I saw it, like Booster Boy."

"Of course you probably want to hear the juicy stuff. (no, I wanna SEE the juicy stuff! - TDog) The sketches that even we blanched at ( I still think my National Anthrax Association sketch would have been funny), fights, the whole BBC situation, but because we were part funded by the government I signed the official secrets act and that stuff won’t be declassified until 2035."

"It’s weird to think it was about 10 years ago I first wrote anything for Mr Hell. I was once a child prodigy, now I’m just prodigiously childish. That’s life."

Can I get an Amen? Mr. Jessup is currently applying his 'weird, stupid energy' to the fine works of the Bros. McLeod, of Fuggy Fuggy fame. And the Mr. Hell Show is currently out on DVD. Why are you still sitting there reading this? Go! Buy! Like, NOW! Thanks to Joel for a great read. Next week, secrets abound! No, really. I freakin' mean it this time. Now go outside and play, dammit.

1 comment:

Joel said...

Thanks very much Neil! I should probably clarify that I'm not actually working on any of the Brothers Mcleod's animations, but am working with Myles Mcleod as a script-writer on Frankenstein's Cat, an upcoming kid's series that is, frankly, just as good as a piecemeal zombie cat show should be.
(A 2:2 is a degree rating in the UK. It's the second worst one you can get. Third, I suppose, if you include failing altogether...)