Rock & Rule (Part 1)
Emru Townsend: What I really want to start with is the genesis of Rock & Rule. I know it was originally called Drats! And originally, I believe it was aimed for TV.
Clive Smith: No, it wasn't aimed for TV. It was called Drats! originally, but it was aimed at a much younger audience. We actually came up with this crazy idea about these cheese balls. And Angel, who is the lead female character, actually got changed into a guitar at one point. Do you remember that?
Anne Marie Bardwell: Yeah!
Clive Smith: It was much more of a sort of Grimm's fairy tale kind of a story. And then as it progressed it just got darker and darker and darker until we ended up with Rock & Rule.
But it was meant to be theatrical.
Clive Smith: Always, yeah. We'd done three or four or five half-hour television shows and we decided to go into the big leagues, you know? We jumped right in there, not knowing anything about what we were doing. It was actually a very interesting time for everyone, because we had never done this before.
Anne Marie Bardwell: Nobody had!
Clive Smith: We kind of made it up as we went along. As I said, we'd done two or three half-hour shows, so we kind of figured out how to do it. But jumping from a half-hour show to a feature film was much bigger than anybody had imagined.
And the way we did it was really amazing. I don't think you could do a film like that again today, economically or just practically. We were terribly impractical. That's probably what was one of the great things about it. Today, you wouldn't embark on anything like this until you'd written a script and you'd spent five years bouncing the script around from one person to another and we're getting it rewritten over here and rewritten over there and thrown away and then reinvented.
Anne Marie Bardwell: Bureaucrat it to death.
Clive Smith: Yes. You'd bureaucrat it to death. Exactly.
We didn't have a script, we had an idea. We had a concept, and we started to develop not just the writing, but on a parallel stream we started to develop characters and the animators themselves all contributed the development of the characters and the development of the story. We had a story pool. John [Halfpenny] was very much involved in story, Patrick [Loubert] kind of refereed these sessions, and Ken Stephenson, I think, was involved in it, and of course Peter Sauder was involved in it.
But story ideas would come up, we would write sequences that reflected this very rough concept, and those sequences then would be developed. We actually had acting classes. Sam Langevin, who was an actress, would do these classes. Bill Speers, who was animating Stretch, Anne Marie, and Frank [Nissen] and Charlie Bonifacio, [who were] animating the four lead characters, would all come together in these amazing acting sessions. Some of the things that would transpire from those sessions would then be fed back to the writing table, and the writers would sort of...
Anne Marie Bardwell: Chew it up.
Clive Smith: Chew it up, and incorporate or not incorporate and develop. And that's the way it went, it was a very organic process.