Yes, that was me.
Welcome to the Two-Headed Cop production blog!
I’m the director, Derek Friesenborg, and over the next year or so I’ll be giving you the inside skinny on our progress as we create this complex, almost half-hour animated short. Currently, we are still in pre-production, but are nearing the start of animation. The film has almost thirty unique character designs, of which we have about twenty finished. So far those have been translated into thirteen models, and the first few finished rigs are about to roll off our assembly line, ready to be animated.
The main character, Two-Headed Cop, has, as you may have surmised, two heads. One Asian, one Caucasian, both named Ray. As part of this intro I thought it would be cool to include some early designs for C-Ray and A-Ray, as we’ve come to call them. (Or him. Either way.)
These were created by our star designer, Anna Wilkenfeld.
You can find more non-2HC related drawings from Anna at her deviantArt page here: http://adoradora.deviantart.com/gallery/
She’s awesome! Or the bee’s knees, as it were.
More on how this whole shebang got started in the next post.
Thanks for tuning in,
The idea for this short originated almost twenty years ago when I was a senior at RISD. My good friend Brian Ormiston and I conceived of it as an entry to a Hanna-Barbera shorts contest called “What A Cartoon!”.
The way it worked was that they’d pick out about fifty pitches they liked, and hire the creators to direct the films in-house. For a young wanna-be animator/film-maker it was a great way to get your film made at a studio and (hopefully) establish yourself, and for Hanna-Barbera it was a great way to find tons of fresh new possible ideas for animated series.
Unfortunately, 2HC didn’t make the cut, but a producer from Hanna-Barbera happened to visit our school around that time and was kind enough to listen to our pitch. She liked it and suggested we contact her if we ever came to Los Angeles.
After graduating we did move to Los Angeles, and we reconnected with the development team at Hanna-Barbara, who encouraged us to develop the idea further as a TV series. We spent a few months doing storyboards and character designs and meeting agents and pitching to person after person at Hanna-Barbera (including then-president Fred Seibert), but after a while, it all just kinda fizzled. Ultimately they said it just wasn’t right for them.
I remember be really disappointing at the time. I had gone from being on the brink of having my own animated series - right out of college - to simply being unemployed. Or, at least, underemployed. I did have a brief stint as a movie extra, and can actually be seen in both “Forrest Gump” (an Oscar winner!) and “Threesome” (not so much.)
After a while Brian and I made our way into the animation industry and have worked in it ever since. Over the years we kept coming back to Two-Headed Cop when we had time, and eventually we had a completely polished pitch bible and a script for a half-hour pilot, but we both were still pretty immersed in our respective jobs, and for years it sat dormant.
Eventually, I came to believe that the best way to create Two-Headed Cop was to simply make it ourselves. To take the pilot script and treat it as a standalone film, and focus our efforts on completing it and getting it seen at festivals and whatever other venue made sense. I just wanted to make the damn thing, and I felt confident that we could with the knowledge we had and the talent we had access to.
What made it actually happen was the confluence of three things:
1) After almost nine years at Sony Imageworks, I decided I no longer wanted to work there, and quit.
2) My friend Kevin Freeman started what is effectively an online animation studio called animationrigs.com (http://www.animationrigs.com, and now also known as Straight Diesel Studios), streamlining the process by which filmmakers can take their designs and turn them into animatable character rigs.
3) I decided that I’d rather buy this film than buy a house.
Since then I’ve been working with a small team of talented people to bring Two-Headed Cop to life. And so far I’m really happy with the results.
You can check out some of Brian’s awesome illustration work here: http://brianormiston.com/ and here: http://brianormiston.blogspot.com/
When we created a pitch bible for “Two-Headed Cop”, back when the intention was to make it a television series, the first two-page spread you saw was what we called the “Flavor” page. It’s a collage of stills from some great animated shorts from the ‘40s combined with shots from some super cool film noirs. (Or films noir?) I loved looking at it because it’s essentially a great visual representation of the mixture we want, both visually and thematically.
It’s amazing how well they go together.
The live-action stills are from these movies:
- The Killing
- Raw Deal
- The Big Combo
- Out of the Past
- The Asphalt Jungle
- Touch of Evil
If you haven’t seen any of these, check ‘em out, they’re all fantastic. Also, The Killing was directed by my fave, Stanley Kubrick, and features one of my favorite actors, Sterling Hayden. I command you to watch it!
Some of the animated stills are from the Fleischer Studios’ Superman films, which are stunning in their luxuriousness, especially for the time. You can actually find some of these on YouTube. Again, you’ve been commanded.
The rest are, of course, classic Warner Brothers.