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Interview with James Lee and Hania

Posted by TheInterviewer - May 28th, 2009


Interview No. 10

Interview By: @The-Great-One

Today we look at a married couple here on Newgrounds who work together on flash animations. They are a pair that have probably been overlooked by Newgrounds fans and I for one do not believe that is right at all. They have been won a Daily Feature award for their work on Popstar. They have also won the Daily 2nd Place award for Roller Coaster Junkie and Make Snacks not War. These two very talented individuals are @Hania and @JamesLee.


Q: I hope you understand that I prefer to use your names as Hania and James Lee to make it easier to ask certain questions throughout this interview since I am interviewing two people. I would also like separate answers from both of you unless you both agree on the same answer.


James: No Prob :)

Q: How did both of you find Newgrounds and why did you both join?


James: I don't really remember how I found it actually, I came accross it in 2000, about the same time I started learning Flash. At the time there was nothing else like it on the web. Coming here really inspired me to work harder at my Flash.

I joined up some time later, along with my cousin krazy-kenny, and we collaborated on animations, most of which were blammed :)

Hania: I came across it through James. When we first met, he showed me his flash animations on newgrounds and suggested that I upload my music so other flasherino's could use it. I'm glad I did as I see my music in other people's works (be it flash or remixes) and it's such a buzz!

Q: James - your first two flash submissions on Newgrounds were entitled Mah Animated Xmuss Card and Funky Bunny Breakdance. These were both holiday e-cards basically to send to someone. What was the process in creating these?


James: Actually, my first few submissions were blammed under a separate account, you can see my earlier work here http://jeffshowproductions.newgrounds.

com. They were called the Jeff Show, and they were deliberately lame. I don't think the 'deliberate' aspect of their lameness was very obvious though :P

With the e-cards, along with most of my early stuff, there was no process. I'd just load up Flash and just start animating. Half way through I'd decide to actually make it into an e-card. The vast majority of my old stuff was never finished, so I guess that was the benefit of creating a holiday card, having a deadline would force me to finish my work.

Those two animations were typical of my work at the time. I'd just lay down a soundtrack and see what ideas came to mind. It's a great, spontaneous process that I've kept with me up until now. Coming up with ideas out of thin air, and then putting it to paper can sometimes be difficult, so having a music track to work with really keeps the momentum rolling.

Q: You and Hania's first flash together would also be your first Daily Feature award. That is the flash entitled Popstar. I for one found the story of this flash not only hilarious, but honest. Can you both tell me the creation of this flash?


James: My job was pretty easy on this one. The story and themes were already layed out for me, so I just ran through the timeline, scrawling in some rough graphics as an animatic. We had most of the story plotted out in about 20 minutes, and from there I just ploughed through it. After a few years of learning the 'correct' way to do pre-production, my approach to animation in general had become quite rigid. It was great to return to my old methods and I re-learned some valuable lessons about keeping a spontaneous workflow.

Something we wanted to inject into the Flash was a good balance of music and visuals. Too many music videos rely too heavily on the music, and the visuals simply describe what the lyrics are already saying. We wanted the visuals to bring added meaning to the song.

We wrapped up the whole thing in about two weeks. Afterwards, we were really surprised at how smoothly and stress free the production went.

Q: Hania - on May 21, 2008 your song ~Roller Coaster Junkie~ would hit the Audio Portal and gain you much praise. On January 27, 2009 James had created a flash for your song entitled Roller Coaster Junkie. Where did the idea for this song come from and when did the idea of making a flash for it come into play?


Hania: In all honesty, I really LOVE roller coasters. I was home alone one night and wanted to amuse myself, so I wrote a jiggy little tune and sang about a roller coaster junkie; having thought up the lyrics in first-person. James is always looking for fun and quick little projects, so I offered up RCJ and he came up with the awesome animation.

Q: Hania - one of my favorite songs by you and I'm sure others will agree with me is ~Silver Memory~. Where did the idea of this song come from and will James be making a flash for it as well?


Hania: Thanks! Glad you like it :-) Silver Memory came from somewhere very deep inside. With the war that was (and still is) going on, I wanted to write a song that brought attention to all the innocent that die. I didn't want to point fingers or get too involved in the politics, so I wrote about a fictional planet in space being taken over by 'Invaders'. I thought I could make a subtle awareness of how it might be to witness the terrors that happen when two societies are at war. Strangely enough, the idea has grown into so much more - I'm writing a novel based around this planet with songs that coincide with the story line, giving the reader a new experience while they read the book. I can't say that James will create a flash for 'Silver Memory' but there are plans to make a flash for one of the songs I've created (and not yet released) for the Memory Planet Series.

Q: Your next collaboration would be that of Make Snacks not War. You stated it was for a competition. I want to know is how did you come up with this idea and what was the process that went into making the flash?


James: It was created for a Doritos Promotion, where the public were asked to create their own ad. We ran through a few ideas and just settled on the most off the wall (within reason :P) idea we could think of.

Really we just ran through as many ideas that we could think of, where the triangular shape of Doritos could be replaced with something else ( we had an idea for Dorito rocket ships, Doritos sailing boats, pyramids etc). I think we chose the spears idea, because we could make it 300-y, and we thought the idea of all the spears landing directly into their mouths was so stupid it could work.

We wanted it to be very epic and atmospheric, but there was too much detail to read on screen. We were limited to 29 seconds, so we had to throw out a lot of shots, and really reduce the amount of graphics on screen, so it could read easier. In the end we were glad because it ended up a lot punchier.

This was our first project were Hania's music would need to be underscored, to not distract from the core idea of the ad. Typically we create the soundtrack before the visuals, but this Flash was created in more of a standard fashion, with music created towards the end. It was an interesting learning experience and was quite new for us.

Because it needed to abide by TV guidelines, we had to be mindful of not pushing the envelope too far, and making it too 'edgy'. Luckily, we'd worked with Eric Gusky before on Tarboy, and not only did he do a great job on the acting, but he's a professional sound designer for radio advertising. He took care of the sound effects and gave advice on changes, based on his advertising experience.

Unfortunately the entire promotion was a complete failure. Technical issues meant (from the promoter end) that they didn't upload the ad until the last day of voting. We got no exposure and really had no chance of getting into the top ten.

We bitched and moaned for a couple of days but we moved on to a new project soon after. At the very least, we had a great time making it :)

Q: What can we of Newgrounds expect from Hania and James Lee within the future?


James: We're getting ready to release our big project (Tarboy) in the coming month or so. We've had it completed for about a year and a half, but have delayed putting it onto Newgrounds so that it could complete its festival run. Plus, it's kind of our baby, so I've been a bit too precious about releasing it without it packaged absolutely perfect. It took 8 months of our lives and it's hard to let go :P

I won't give away any story details, but it's a musically driven, sci-fi 'epic'. Hania produced an amazing score for it, and we've already got music and (some) of the script together for a sequel.

It's received a lot of great exposure so far, and we hope that the Newgrounds community will respond well to it. Soon after, we'll be putting out another film called 'Purged', which was an experimental project I completed in college.

Hania: Apart from Tarboy and Purged, we'll be putting up all our smaller projects as we complete them along the way. James and I are always working on something small and something big - allows us to have a fall back project to take our minds off the stress of the bigger project. So you should be expecting a short video clip (about 2 minutes in length) called 'Sudden' coming out soon-ish and various other short films here and there as we conjure them up from our brains.

Upon interviewing this married couple of Newgrounds. My only question now is. If these two can get together to bring forth some wonderful work. Could the same be said for Tom and April Fulp. Basically what I see is two people, one who enjoys music and one who enjoys art. Put them together and you have a story to tell.


Holy crap, I never thought there was such a duo on Newgrounds. Thanks for bringing these 2 to the spot light,

I have to agree with SimCorder. Newgrounds continues to impress me more and more as I discover new things about it and the people who contribute to the portal.