Here’s an update for those of you who followed our Third Annual Animation Magazine Pitch Party. For those unfamiliar with the event, the Pitch Party is an opportunity to advertise new show ideas in the pages of the magazine and compete for the chance to pitch to influential people in the industry. While our distinguished panel of judges chose Chris Leathers’ My Annoying Little Brother, the Animation Magazine staff pick was Mike Reeping’s A Guy, a Cat, a Fish and a Movie, a very funny film review/spoof show that you can now watch online.
We at the magazine were already big fans of Reeping’s animated series, Justin T. Nick of Time!, which he has been self-distributing on DVD through his Squirrels Ink Prods. at www.jtnickoftime.com. The continuing time-travel adventures of a dorky hero, his sexy ninja love interest, a fast-talking fish and a gun-slinging mirror built up a small, but dedicated, fanbase online but didn’t find much success beyond that.
"After working on [that series] for several years, I was getting restless and quite honestly fed up with all the rejection letters," says Reeping. "So, in the spring of 2004, my brother, Tom, and I decided to develop a live-action movie review show that would be geared toward a late-teen/adult audience. We never had the time to really work on this but the idea stuck in my head."
Reeping, a rather prolific independent animator, turned to what he knows best and began developing an animated review show. "I figured I love movies and I love animation, so why not?" he recalls. "But this time around, I was going to make the series I wanted to do and not care what’s marketable to whom and all that crap."
What emerged was a very unusual review show hosted by a dopey slacker, his smart-alecky pet fish and his shabbily constructed robotic cat. While the characters are fun to watch, the real draw is the animated treatment Hollywood blockbusters get at Reeping’s hands.
When you have a movie review show you have to have some kind of rating system, but the thumbs up/thumbs down method was taken and using stars lacked originality as well. Reeping recalls, "My brother was the one who said, ‘Ya know what’s always funny to me? Things getting slammed against a wall.’" And that’s how the Ratings Wall came into existence. "To this day, I still get a lot of emails saying how much they loved the Texas Chainsaw Massacre review because of the Ratings Wall. So thanks, Tom."
The years Reeping spent working on Justin made the actual production of A Guy, a Cat, a Fish and a Movie a fairly easy task. "I knew what I could do with what I had, so now I can really play around creatively without worrying about technical stuff," he tells us. For the animation, he uses Adobe Photoshop to do his drawing and compositing and puts everything together in a freeware video-editing program called Stoik VideoMan. "I’m sure there are a ton of better programs out there, but I see no reason why you can’t go from point A to point C by pretty much making up your own point B."
The pilot was almost complete when Reeping heard about the Animation Magazine Pitch Party. "I was psyched to do this but stuck between which series to submit–the one I’d worked on for years, or this new one I’ve worked on for about 3 weeks." Says Reeping. "I knew it would be a ton of exposure and I was nervous as hell wondering if I’d sent the right one. Well, I pretty much had a heart attack when I’d found it won first place in the Staff Pick category. I called everyone I know at about 1 a.m. It was a damn good day."
Energized by the recognition, Reeping began busting out reviews and developed a website for the series. He says the site has logged a good number of hits and has received feedback from all over the world with absolutely no advertising. One episode he got a lot of comments on features an inspired spoof of The Matrix Revolutions. At present, Reeping is working on landing a TV deal.
You can check out The Matrix Revolutions review and several others at www.guyfishcatmovie.com.