Interview No. 62
Interview By: @The-Great-One
Today's guest is certainly one that came out of nowhere when it comes to climbing up the ladder here on Newgrounds. His works have included that of One Wish Upon a Star and Mind Over Feet. His next few animations WWTCAGS!?!?!, Lost Heart, Found Danger, and The Shape of Love would be flash movies that would help him win The 2011 Newgrounds Tournament of Flash Artists. He is none other than Dave Bruno a.k.a. @ScaredyDave.
Q: How did you find Newgrounds and why did you join?
A: I found Newgrounds when I was about... I want to say 11 or 12? Me and my friends would always jump on here to watch all the funny videos. I never thought I would actually BE one of the front pagers, let alone have a video that would be viewed more than 50,000 times! I decided to join because I did TOFA last year on the Albino Black Sheep website, and I had heard that it was being moved here. I wasn't an avid user on ABS (joined that website too because my friend, Ryan Krzak, told me about TOFA.) but when I heard it was on Newgrounds I definitely wanted in. I had been meaning to make an account on here for years, I just never got around to it for whatever reason. I'm glad TOFA gave me the push, because it seems like alot of people have been finding me because of it!
Q: What effect does the Warner Bros. cartoons play on you?
A: When I was growing up, a product of the 90s, a majority of the cartons were Warner Bros cartoons. I would watch them all the time, Animaniacs, Tiny Toons, Freakazoid, you name it! I would have to say alot of the humor and wit of those shows kind of rubbed off on me, because I will constantly find myself acting like Buster Bunny or Yakko Warner whenever the opportunity arises. It wasn't until I started animating in College (around 2006) that I realized how gorgeously animated those shows were. It was also nice in College because alot of my teachers worked on these shows, like Ron Fleischer who directed the Wakko's United States episode. I try to take inspiration from them whenever I can, I usually have my box sets playing in the background whenever I animate.
Q: Your first flash submission to Newgrounds would be part of a different Tournament of Flash Artists, however this one would be on AlbinoBlackSheep.com. It is entitled Totaled. It is a story that most have probably seen and heard before, but the way you tell it is quite interesting. Where did the inspiration come from for this one?
A: A little bit of personal experience mixed with some of my favorite things. When I was younger, I would write all these "deep and slightly depressing" stories, partially because I watched alot of Anime when I was in High School and partially because I had severe depression that I actually took medication for (that fixed it, if you couldn't tell by my aloft mood!). While I had never actually had any horrible experiences with dating (particularly someone cheating on me.) I did know the pain of heartbreak from having someone break up with me before. I guess I just kind of channeled my old High School self and went from there. Other helpful influences would be Makoto Shinkai's masterpiece "Voices of a Distant Star" and Squaresoft's "Xenogears", which are both love stories involving Giant Mechs. Relating love to the robots having a fight just sort of came naturally to me after that, but I'm really not sure why.
Q: One Wish Upon a Star would be another entry in AlbinoBlackSheep.com's Tournament of Flash Artists. You have stated that the theme was "One Wish" in this round. When HappyHarry was here we talked about how some of his flash movies ended and he had this to say...
I guess I love anticlimaxes and antijokes, it's not that I'm setting out to gross out people, or even make them laugh necessarily (though that is a welcomed side effect), I really just want to surprise them with something crazy and I love playing on people's abilities to second guess an ending"
This seems apparent in "One Wish Upon a Star" would you agree with Harry's statement? Whatever your answer be could you tell us why?
A: I agree with Happy Harry (and love his work!) and with that entry I really did want to surprise the audience in a funny way, but I was actually aiming for that shocked expression, the one where you can see the "Holy Hell! That just happened!" look mixed with a smile because it was a hilarious shock. I do like to have that ending no one saw coming if I can have it simply because then maybe I've proven that I've done something original. If you can see the ending coming, chances are you may have seen something like it before, and while that can't always be helped, I at least try to strive for the original ending.
Q: Mind Over Feet is yet another entry into the AlbinoBlackSheep.com's Tournament of Flash Artists. What all can you tell us about this flash and did you win this TOFA?
A: "Totaled" was actually my Final Round piece for last year, and I actually didn't win with it (Zeurel beat me with his "Robo Western" animation, which totally deserved to win over "Totaled" as it was a much prettier and funner piece then mine.) but back to Mind Over Feet! This entry was really fun because the theme was "Make a Sequel to a TOFA piece of a previous year" so I went with my friend Ryan Krzak's animation from 2007 about "The Rise of a Legend". In his piece, this guy's wife gives birth to Bigfoot, and it shows him as a baby. Actually, that Polaroid in the first shot of Mind Over Feet is a screenshot from his original piece. His piece ended with the Hospital room however, so I decided to go further into the future. My intention was to make an overly dramatic movie trailer, so overly dramatic that it was comedic (and heck, it was about Bigfoot, that stuff is funny!). Originally I was going to actually have a moment where I sing, slightly like the end of the Disney Pocahontas trailers or something, but I ended up canning that because I... can't sing... and would need someone to write me the music, which I didn't have at the time.
Q: We now come to the start of Newgrounds Tournament of Flash Artists. We start your journey here with a little flash entitled WWTCAGS!?!?!, or for the full title "Who Wants To Create A Game Show!?!?!". The theme was to "Create a Game Show", all that leaves you with is to garner an idea and depending on the imagination, more or less inspiration. What all did you take into account when doing this flash and what problems did you run into?
A: Well, the idea came to me pretty much immediately and that was to take this movie that my friends made in High School and rewrite it and make it about game shows instead. In the original movie, called "Amateur Film", my friends were sitting in their room trying to brainstorm an idea of a movie they could make with what they had to work with (because their friend, who's my Twin Brother, Tom left.). They would shout out an idea, and then it would be a quick cut of why that would be a bad idea in practice. I thought it was pure genius, but I wasn't in it! So I got them all together and we recorded it and then I animated it. My big problems were length and lip syncing. I wrote it and we recorded a lot more to it than what actually got made (and if you go to my Facebook Fan Page, you can see the Director's Cut that has the deleted scenes mixed into in Storyboard form.) The animation felt rusty because I had actually taken a break from animating for about 5 months prior to that, so I had to get all my shakes out and such. It was a nice learning exercise though, because I figured out a little better how I like to approach lip syncing (although it wasn't until Sarthak! That I finally found how I like to do it.)
Q: My favorite by you has to be Lost Heart, Found Danger. The theme this time was "Lost and Found". There seems to be a lot going into this flash. One of the inspirations you have noted was a game called "Snatcher" and you have others to thank as well, so what was the process of this flash and how did all come together?
A: This was probably the hardest animation I made in the entire competition! I had always wanted to make a Noir animation, and I was in the middle of playing L.A. Noire so that just added to it. I figured Lost and Found was a perfect theme for this. I could have that Dangerous Dame and the Hard on the Bottle Cop and the "Noir Speak" as we called it. It was amazing how everything just fell into place for that entry. I had written one script, then my brother gave me a better idea for the ending, then my friend who's extremely into Noir translated the lines into Noir speak, then my voice actor friend's wanted in on the voices, and we asked my old Voice Acting for Animation teacher what he thought of the name (he has been in a lot of Radio Drama's and he was the main character's voice in that game Snatcher by Hideo Kojima.) and he said he loved it and that he'd be happy to help, so he became Vic Aces. The hard part was my end, which was the animation. I had an idea in my head for how I wanted everything to look, the characters would be certain colors because it'd represent their characters (Vic Aces is blue because he's the protagonist, Gigi was red because she was a Red Hot Devil, Mackey was Yellow because he was a coward, the Mugs were green with envy, Piper was a brown noser, you get the idea.) but the animation was tough because there was a lot of it to do. It had taken a little while for all that stuff to fall into place, so I really only had maybe about 2 weeks to get all that done. I believe the animation suffered thanks to this, but thankfully the atmosphere, story and voice acting made up for my shortcoming. I may do more with Vic Aces in the future because he was a big hit and I like the character, but I don't think it will be another animation. It MAY be a comic though, but we'll see.
Q: Sarthak The Unforgivable! would come next following the theme "Wrongfully Accused". This in a way kind of confuses me really, even though you think outside the box here, what is it that you were going for?
A: I just wanted to make a goofy story about this giant monster that goes to a Comic Book convention, but everyone just assumes he's another cosplayer. From there he does all these horrible things, but everyone just assumes he's just really into character. It's a classic "boys will be boys" cartoon, much like the old "Chicken Boo" shorts in the Animaniacs. Clearly Chicken Boo is a giant chicken, but everyone lets it slide because he has a mustache on which "hides his identity".
Q: Simple Tests is a hilarious flash submission. The theme would be "Divide by Zero" "That's Impossible". You have stated that "Donald Duck in Math Land" is an inspiration here, what other inspirations went into this and how much of each one?
A: Donald Duck in Math Land would have been an inspiration for a different idea I had with this, where all these number people get attacked by this horrible Division Monster and Zero steps up to plate, and the monster tries to divide zero but ends up killing itself. I ended up not going with that because I couldn't find a way to tell it in a short amount of time. Instead I went with the idea of impossibility, and I had recently had a bad experience with a job, so I thought I would incorporate that. Artists get a little screwed over in today's economy, so I figured I would channel that feeling into an animation, but make it funny and outrageous.
Q: The Shape of Love would be where this journey ends. What was the process you took into creating this flash and how does it feel to win The Tournament of Flash Artists here on Newgrounds?
A: It feels great! I basically sat down and had a brainstorming session with some of my friends. There was this one idea I actually wrote a majority of a script for that involved all my old drawings and ideas that never got fully fleshed out banding together, and then all the ideas I did finish calming them down and cleaning them up so that they would get finished and happy. That was my friend's Jason's idea, and while it would have been pretty cool to go back to some of the character's I hadn't animated in a while, I had a fear that it'd be too "inside jokey" and long. Instead I went with a simple idea I came up with which was two blobs in love and one changing himself to please his mate, but then letting it get out of hand. Luckily I came up with this idea really quick and storyboarded it to perfect timing. I then showed that storyboard to my friend Allen Cruz who I met in College, and he wrote the music for it while I started animation. I actually almost had a really dirty joke thrown in there but I decided to keep it cute and PG, this was when I actually wanted to throw sound effects in there too. It would basically sound like two balloons rubbing against each other whenever he would morph a part of his body, and the gag would have been him running up to a hot dog vendor, with all these signs that say things like "Giant Footlong Hot Dogs!" or something. He would turn to the camera, wink, you would hear the morphing sound effect but see nothing happen, and he would move on. High brow penis jokes for the win! But I decided against it. From animation I learned how to make the reflections, which I felt were important because they showed him looking only at what's INSIDE the mirror, not himself being reflected in it. It's the idea that the media and advertisements blind you into thinking you should be the perfect man or woman, but really you should just be happy with who you are. Winning the Tournament was probably the best thing that has happened to me all year, and I implore everyone who did it this year to do it again next year. TOFA is great practice and sort of like an experimental proving ground, I definitely improved my skills over the course of the past 6 months. I won not only the prize, but a better demo reel and a handle on Flash Animation.
Q: From the looks of things you are a tourney man. All of your flash submissions have been entered in The Tournament of Flash Artists Competitions. Why is this and will we see anything from you made just for the sake of creation?
A: Oh you may. Truth be told I only did 2 TOFA tournaments, and this will definitely be my last year doing so (Firstly because I can't enter next year even if I wanted to because I won this year and secondly because I really need to focus more on getting a job.) I have made quite a few things just for fun, and I may upload them soon.
Q: For those who wish to enter future contests based on a deadline or collabs with a deadline, what advice would you have for them?
A: Oh I have a lot of advice! First off, time management. Figure out a healthy way to look at your schedule and determine how to proceed from there. The way I do it is I mark every single time the camera changes angles a "scene", I then rate each scene on a difficulty scale of 0 to 5 (0 being a still frame and 5 being the hardest thing ever.) Then, based on how many scenes I have, I try to figure out a way to do them all without driving myself crazy (like say my assignment is due on day 10, and I have 20 scenes, I can do 2 scenes a day and finish on time.) This way you can figure out how long you can devote to each scene. I try to make it so that I have a scene a day, that way I can really polish the heck out of it and still have time to have a life that day. This isn't how everyone should do it, it's just how I do it. Secondly, "keep it simple stupid!". That's a famous quote, but I don't remember who from, but it holds true with deadlines. If you only have 4 weeks to make something, and you think of this feature length movie, it's not going to happen. Keep the ideas short and sweet, then you'll have enough time to polish it and really knock it out of the park. Thirdly, try and keep it universal. That doesn't mean make it generic, it just means try and make it have a message that everyone can relate to. I think the most obscure thing that I mentioned in any of my TOFA entries this year were Furries, and that's not super obscure. The more people that know what you're doing, the more people you have that will like what you're doing.
Q: Your storytelling comes from a lot of inspirations, would you say that inspiration is an important factor to animators and even writers when developing a story?
A: Oh definitely yes! It is key! You learn so much from what you absorb from other things. Before College, I had this art style that was very Anime and bland, I hated it. It wasn't until I got to College and took inspiration from my fellow peers that I finally got to a style that I liked and fit my personality. You can also pick up tips by studying works around you, like I learned how I should lip sync and shade my characters in Flash by watching the show Dan Vs. on the Hub. The easiest way to put it is "Inspiration is to art as studying is to taking tests. Sure, you can take the test without studying, but you'll probably do very poorly, whereas if you study, you'll probably get an A."
Q: When it comes to your animations and the themes given to you in these tournaments you tend to think outside the box a lot. This does make you quite the creative writer. So my question is this, is creative writing genetic, or can it be taught and learned?
A: Wow very interesting question! That's a tough one. I don't think creative writing is genetic, however I don't think it can be taught either. I think creative writing is something you gain as you're being raised. I was raised watching a lot of 90s cartoons and playing a lot of video games, which in turn sparked my imagination, so ever since I was young I had been making up interesting ideas. Of course, as you get older the ideas become more complete and refined, but I definitely think that there is an environmental factor that goes into creative writing. I also think I can chalk it up to the fact that I am also an artist and I like being original. I like telling the world "Hey! I'm Dave Bruno! And this is who I am!", so that may be an attribute to why I like thinking away from what the curve is doing.
Q: What can we expect from Dave Bruno in the future?
A: Well I think I'm gonna take a break from animating for a little bit (6 months straight with only 10 days off is a bit much for me!), but with the prize money I plan on buying a 21UX Cintiq. I'm still trying to get employed someone Full Time, so now that I have beefed up my animation demo reel, I'm going to go back and do some artwork to beef up my art portfolio, so you may see more artwork from me on NG in the future. I'm sure I'll break down and animate something again soon, but for now I want to focus on art and employment.
Dave Bruno truly is an amazing animator and Newgrounds is lucky to have him. A shame that he will be taking a break from animating for a while. I can certainly say though that upon his return here, he will be welcomed back with open arms. If you haven't congratulated Dave or seen any of his amazing works I suggest you do so.