Interview: Producer Rick Mischel Talks The TV Version of “Cloudy With A Chance of Meatballs” – Animation Scoop

Interview: Producer Rick Mischel Talks The TV Version of “Cloudy With A Chance of Meatballs”

Following two highly-successful feature films, Sony Pictures Animation has decided to turn its “Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs” franchise into a TV series. Producer Rick Mischel is one of the creative forces behind the show, which provides fans with the backstory of Flint, Sam and the wacky world of Swallow Falls.

Jackson Murphy: You were part of the executive team on 2013’s Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs 2. Were there a lot of discussions as you were making that film about doing a TV series?

Rick Mischel: I think it was in the back of our minds that this property would make a great television series. I think we were focused on the film for sure and making that film the best it could be. And once that film turned out so great, and the audience responded so positively, we thought, “Well, how could we continue this franchise and bring it to a whole new audience?” And that’s when we kind of said, “Let’s move ahead now on going into a television series”.

JM: And this series is actually a prequel to the movies. Was that part of the initial concept for the show?

RM: It really was. Almost from the beginning we thought a prequel would be ideal for television because the audience for television is really a 6 to 11-year-old demographic, in terms of animated television series. So we thought having a prequel with Flint and Sam around 15 years old – having those two at that age makes them aspirational characters for our audience, whereas if they were adults in the series, they might be too old in terms of being aspirational and hitting our demographic.

We kept Phil Lord and Chris Miller [the directors of the original film] involved as creative consultants on the show, and they helped maintain the integrity of the property and the comedy for the brand.

Rick Mischel

JM: There’s a really strong moment in the preview episode, which recently aired on Cartoon Network, where Sam admits she’s hesitant about starting-up a friendship with Flint because she moves a lot and hates saying goodbye to friends that she’s become very attached to. That’s very deep for an animated series for kids.

RM: Well, from the beginning, we said that this show has to be a comedy with strong, strong heart to it – strong emotional heart; strong emotional content. We wanted it to be funny. We wanted it to be a comedy. But we also wanted Sam and Flint’s friendship to be really strong and real. And they’re friends, and they fight sometimes, and they have disagreements. And they help each other, and sometimes they don’t.

We wanted it to be real, and we wanted it to have emotional content. We’ve got some great interpersonal relationships here between Flint and his dad, Tim. You see a lot of father-son stuff going on on our show. So, don’t get me wrong, this is an out-and-out comedy. This show is really really funny and there are a lot of laughs, and it’s in many ways great cartoon-making in an old-fashioned, Tex Avery kind of way. But it also tugs at the heartstrings a bit, and we’re very proud of that.

JM: And the animation is hand-drawn, like some of the “Cloudy” shorts and movie end credits sequences. Do you have more freedoms and fewer challenges by going with hand-drawn as opposed to CGI when it comes to these characters and stories?

RM: Yeah, I think we did. And that was also a decision we made early on – to go 2D rather than CG. It’s actually done in Harmony [animation software], the show, and we just felt that would give us more leeway in terms of action and comedic action. We wanted to achieve, budgetarily, there was more freedom with that. And as you’ll see when you see the show, once you start watching the show, you know you’re watching “Cloudy”. It doesn’t matter that it’s in 2D or CG: it really works on that fan level, and I think our audience will really relate to it. But it was the right way to go for television, and I think it really looks great.

DHX – their team managed to really capture, in terms of design – character design and set design and everything – to really evoke the movie, but to make this really a distinct world of its own in 2D. And it’s not easy to take a brand and make that happen – keep what fans love about it and take it into a new medium, and I have to say the team they put together did a great job.

JM: If there was a real FLDSMDFR, and any food could fall from the sky, what would you happen it would be?

RM: For me, that’s easy because I love great pizza. I’m a real pizza nut. I search out all the wood-burning ovens in Los Angeles to find the best pizza. So for me, that would be pizza. But of course, everybody has their own favorite food.

I should mention in this series that we have a whole new crop of inventions, almost on an episode-by-episode basis. We have new inventions that Flint comes up with. And I’m amazed that the writers really come up with these wild, crazy inventions. I think in one of our first episodes, we have this invention that tosses garbage to the dump in the middle of the ocean. There’s many many things like that on a daily basis that Flint comes-up with. You’ll see a lot of great inventions.

And you’ll even see some kind of interesting science in the show – very subtle. It’s definitely not overt, but it’s there. The writers were really able to capture so much humor, but also a little bit of science in there. It will make kids interested in science feel really good when they watch this show.

Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs: The Series debuts Monday March 6 @ 5:30pm ET on Cartoon Network.

Jackson Murphy

Jackson Murphy

Jackson Murphy is a movie critic and entertainment columnist. He is the creator of the website Lights-Camera-Jackson.com, and has made numerous appearances on television and radio.
Jackson Murphy
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