Directed by Lluis Sanchez Jorge and produced by Bes Animation’s Jessica Hopcraft, who co-wrote the scripts with Sanchez Jorge, “The Jan & Rai Show” is one of the buzzed-up projects being pitched at this year’s Annecy Fest Mifa market. Variety talked to Sanchez Jorge and Hopcraft on the eve of Annecy.
How would you describe the show?
Hopcraft: The Jan and Rai Show is about a determined adventurer whose quest is hijacked when she must accept the help of two squabbling brothers and their lazy dog.
How did you come up with this idea and characters’ names?
Sanchez Jorge: The idea came up from the earth in a bubble. The characters names blew in through the window and we picked them as they flew past.
Can you describe the protagonist?
Hopcraft: Indiana Jones if he were a teenage girl.
How did you and Lluis come to collaborate on the show?
Hopcraft: I was brought in during the development stage and our senses of humor and imagination seem to work in sync. Lluis would have an idea for a weird new character or scenario and I would turn it into an episode idea and we would work it out together. We are lucky that the collaboration process is really smooth and super fun for us.
What are some of the hardest aspects about putting together an animated show?
Hopcraft: Time & money. Is that a boring answer? It takes such a long time to get things done which can only be made easier with more people which relies on more money. I think Lluis wishes he could just bunker down and make the whole series but we calculated that would take about 20 years. Haha
Why did you decide on an animated show? Had either of you worked on animated work before?
Hopcraft: Lluis is an animator and I work for Bogan Animation Studio so that’s what we both do, that’s our wheelhouse for sure. I can’t imagine working in anything else. I really love animation.
How did you decide on the type of animation? How did you choose an animator or designer?
Hopcraft: It’s all Lluis, it’s his style, design and animation. He did everything, so it was just a matter of his coming to Bruce our company director with some characters and they started to nut out a concept. No-one else has worked on the design/animation aspect of it.
How will audience be able to identify with the main character?
Hopcraft: I personally love her. She is someone who is wholly capable and determined but has to deal with a real obstacle with Jan & Rai in tow. What she soon realises is that a little bit of chaos, spontaneity and company on her journey makes things a lot more fun.
What are some animated shows that inspired your style and content?
Hopcraft: I love anything weird and silly. The 90’s Nickelodeon stuff is particularly close to my heart. “Angry Beavers,” “Cat Dog,” “Rocko’s Modern Life,” “Aaaah! Real Monsters,” “Rugrats.” My little brother and I used to mimic the Angry Beavers talking style when we were kids. We thought we were hilarious. I think it’s important kids today still see those shows, they’re fantastic and hold up so well. New stuff, I love “Regular Show” and “Rick & Morty.” Oh, and I almost forgot “Spongebob.” “Spongebob” is everything.
Sanchez Jorge: There are so many to name… “The Rocky and Bullwinkle Show,” “Ren & Stimpy,” “Betty Boop,” “Mighty Mouse,” “Popeye, Tex Avery cartoons, the “Beany and Cecil” show, UPA animation. and the list could go on. Also non’animated shows from Buster Keaton, Mighty Boosh, Black Books, “Seinfeld” among others.
Can you give me a brief bios?
Hopcraft: I studied screenwriting and I always wanted to make cartoons. I did a placement with an animation production company and realised I really enjoyed that side of things. Then I got a job at Bogan around two-and-a-half-years ago and I work as a production coordinator, writer and on development. It’s really great understanding the process inside out and it really helps the writing process. I really love my job and the company I work with because they pride themselves on creating interesting, beautiful and funny projects and what’s better than that?
Sanchez Jorge: I left high school in 1996 and moved to Valencia, Spain, where I made a living in the fine arts but I loved animation so much I taught myself to animate, I then become a cartoonist/illustrator making artwork for international rock ‘n’ roll bands. I’ve slowly shifted away from that and now mostly work as a freelance animator/cartoonist.
Are you working on any other projects in the near future?
Hopcraft: We have a lot of things going on at Bogan and we are moving into pre-production on a series called “Kitty is Not a Cat” towards the end of the year, which is super-exciting.
Sanchez Jorge: I have a couple of ideas floating around my head but at the moment I’m mainly focusing on ‘The Jan & Rai Show.’
What are your plans for “The Jan & Rai Show”?
Hopcraft: We really would love to get someone on board to help us progress into series. We have had funding from the ACTF (the Australian Children’s Television Foundation) to create the teaser, pilot script and and bible, plus we have over 30 episode ideas under our belt with the scope for many more. Ideally, we want to steam forward on writing and production, I believe the world needs “The Jan & Rai Show.”
Anything you’d like audiences to know about yourself or the show that I haven’t asked about?
Hopcraft: In the teaser I am the voice of Jan and 3 out of 4 of The Bearded Ladies. I’m not sure I’m any good but it was really fun.
Sanchez Jorge: I’d like the audience to know that it’s never too late… run!