American Cinematographer - April 2017 - 28

I

A Dog's Life
By Kelly Brinker

When his son was born, Ryan Wiesbrock began thinking about the kind of
television they might watch together someday. And as head of development and
production for American Greetings Entertainment, the company responsible for the
creation of Care Bears and Strawberry
Shortcake, he was well positioned to act on
his creative musings. His goal was to "will
into existence" a show that embodied
everything he loved during his own childhood - cars, '80s hair-metal music, stopmotion animation and animals.
"When developing Buddy Thunderstruck, [a show about] a dog that races
semi-trucks," Wiesbrock says, "I really
wanted to capture the spirit of old car
shows like The Dukes of Hazzard and
Knight Rider and the Smokey and the
Bandit films. I believed that stop-motion
animation would be the best way to make
the vehicles, the car chases and all that crazy
driving feel more tangible. We shopped and
sold the series to Netflix, and then were
tasked with finding an animation studio for
the production."
As a longtime fan of Robot Chicken,
28

April 2017

television's longest-running stop-motion
series, Wiesbrock was excited to meet with
Stoopid Buddy Stoodios - a production
company formed in 2012 when John
Harvatine IV and Eric Towner's Buddy
System Studios joined forces with Seth
Green and Matthew Senreich at Stoopid
Monkey Productions. "We just seemed to
connect creatively and sensibility-wise, right
off the bat," Wiesbrock recalls.
Towner adds, "We took a look at the
images Ryan created and discussed the
concept and the humor of the show. It
seemed like the perfect fit, and it had
'Buddy' in the title."
Buddy Thunderstruck would not
only be the first children's series for Stoopid
Buddy Stoodios, but also the first originalcontent stop-motion animated series for
Netflix.
The series takes place in the small
town of Greasepit, where Buddy - with his
best friend, Darnell, by his side - embarks
upon high-speed adventures and enjoys the
perks of being a local celebrity. Each of the
12 episodes in the premiere season features
two 11-minute narratives, in which Buddy
often finds himself in a competitive situation
that challenges his ego - but in the end his
confidence remains intact.
American Cinematographer

Towner assumed the director's chair
for the first half of the season, with Harvatine co-directing the pilot and Harry Chaskin
and animation director Alex Kamer stepping
in to direct later episodes. Wiesbrock,
Towner and Harvatine agreed that the
comedy was "first and foremost," and that
the look of the show shouldn't be distracting. They did place fun "Easter eggs"
throughout the series, and even created the
town of Greasepit to pay homage to Wiesbrock's hometown in Illinois.
Wiesbrock and Thomas Krajewski,
the latter of whom wrote the pilot episode
and was head writer/story editor for the
series, "pushed the scripts to be as funny as
possible," Wiesbrock says. "[And] Stoopid
Buddy pushed things even further in the
voice records, boards, comedic timing,
animation and direction. They would
animate hilarious details that were never in
the script, almost improvising on set. There
was a spirit of 'going for it' and taking
creative chances on the stages that helped
make the show turn out great."
Audio recordings began in late October 2015; animatics were then designed,
with storyboards synced to the audio; and
cinematographer Aaron Wise was brought
in for the first animation test in January

Buddy Thunderstruck unit photography by Jenn Harrington, courtesy of Stoopid Buddy Stoodios and Netflix.

A truck-racing dog embarks upon high-speed adventures in the stop-motion animated series Buddy Thunderstruck.



Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of American Cinematographer - April 2017

Contents
American Cinematographer - April 2017 - Intro
American Cinematographer - April 2017 - Cover1
American Cinematographer - April 2017 - Cover2
American Cinematographer - April 2017 - 1
American Cinematographer - April 2017 - 2
American Cinematographer - April 2017 - Contents
American Cinematographer - April 2017 - 4
American Cinematographer - April 2017 - 5
American Cinematographer - April 2017 - 6
American Cinematographer - April 2017 - 7
American Cinematographer - April 2017 - 8
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American Cinematographer - April 2017 - 33
American Cinematographer - April 2017 - 34
American Cinematographer - April 2017 - 35
American Cinematographer - April 2017 - 35A
American Cinematographer - April 2017 - 35B
American Cinematographer - April 2017 - 36
American Cinematographer - April 2017 - 37
American Cinematographer - April 2017 - 38
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American Cinematographer - April 2017 - Cover3
American Cinematographer - April 2017 - Cover4
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