Thoughts and illustrations on living on the autism spectrum.

Sunday, September 23, 2012

The Making of "We’re Invited to a Party"

By now, I hope you've all watched the Flummox & Friends pilot! If not, then go see it here. Today, we'll go behind the scenes of how my animated short got made. 

I was approached by Executive Producer Christa Dahlstrom around the end of last year about being involved, and I knew immediately I wanted to be a part of it. First, I needed to write a script. The idea came from the theme of the episode, which is a party. I decided to use Fuzzy and Dinky Doughnuts, and simply show two very different reactions to receiving a party invitation. 

The most challenging part was the ending. I had to answer the question, what actually works in overcoming a child’s resistance once they’ve put their foot down? This was where I had to do research. I ended up going to message boards to hear how actual parents had dealt with such a situation successfully. The strategies I found made it into the script. So when Dinky understands Fuzzy is uncomfortable about the party, he can first tell him, "That's okay." Then, he can offer him reasons for going without any pressure, so Fuzzy ultimately agrees to go.

After the script was approved, the next step was the drawings. Having never done animation before, I didn’t know how many drawings were needed, so I just did as many as I thought were necessary to show the level of detail. This ended up being 50 drawings. You can see some of them here, including a few that didn't make the final cut!

Around the same time, we started to talk about voices. I told Christa I had a strong interest in doing the voice of Fuzzy, since some of my favorite cartoons are voiced by their creators. It wasn't clear how we might do this, with our being on two different coasts. However, Christa found a way to make it happen! As with many other aspects of this project, she understood I had a vision for the final product and allowed me to follow that, for which I am very grateful.

So what we did was record my part in a studio local to me, and actor Perry Whittle recorded Dinky's part in California. I had also tape-recorded a “scratch track” with a friend reading Dinky’s part to demonstrate how it should sound. Some amusing discussions arose as we worked on the final takes. At one point I was giving very specific directions on the pronunciation of “Wooff.” It was not to be an actual dog bark, but a more literal, John Elder Robinson-esque utterance. That was a detail we had to get right.

From there, the drawings and audio went to animator Jed Bell to morph into action using Adobe After Effects. We went through a couple rounds of reviews to iron out the details like timing. Then sound effects were added, and we had our finished cartoon. I'm really pleased with how it turned out. 

People have asked what it’s like to see my characters animated. Keep in mind that Fuzzy and Dinky go back over 25 years to notebook paper doodles. (Have you read their origins? If not check them out here.) So for people to see them on the screen is mind-blowing, all the more so in the context of an important show like "Flummox and Friends."

Is there the possibility of more cartoons? I'd love to see "Flummox" get picked up and seen widely, and if so, I absolutely hope to do more animated shorts. The success of Flummox & Friends really depends on all of you demonstrating a demand. So if you want to see more, take this survey to share your feedback with the producers, and share the pilot with everyone you know. The first time was certainly a learning process, so given the opportunity, there's the potential for many more adventures of Fuzzy and friends!


  1. Matt, you know I adored your animation in the Flummox premiere. I hope to and can't wait to see more. You did such an amazing job and it was cool to hear your voice.

    I'm so glad that it was such a good process. I'm so glad you published this so we could all hear a little more about how it happened!

  2. Great job on the cartoon and voicing, it was cool to see Fuzzy on the big screen! My kid and I finally got around to seeing the pilot episode and both really liked it (he immediately said of Milo, "he's me" which was very cool). I thought it was also great to have the segment with the kids talking about their experiences of being a part of groups.

    I also hope the show continues, especially since my kid immediately connected with one of the characters as "just like me."

    - Hanne

    1. Thanks, Hanne. I liked the kids' segment too, it was like old-style Sesame Street!

    2. Yes, totally like old-style Sesame Street! I wondered why I loved it so much. Of course my kid also said the glasses-wearing kid in that segment was just like him too. Oh, also when I told him that the Fuzzy cartoon was created by someone with Asperger's too, he said "oh, wow!" :)


  3. Your animation is a masterpiece! It is truly inspiring to hear how much work and effort you put into each episode. You are an inspiration for me and I will definitely be following your Blog

    1. Thanks, that's nice of you to say! Also, welcome to all who arrived here from Stumbleupon.