Grandma's Cats Take Another Stab with Season 2!
Whether it’s the terror reigning over the innocent mice community at the hands of Lucifer in Cinderella, the misleading theatrics of Si & Am in The Lady and the Tramp, or the never-ending hunt prompted by Sylvester of Looney Tunes, one thing is certain - cartoons and mischievous felines have been a match made in heaven since the beginning of time.
That’s why when it came time for Psyop’s own devilish duo to hit the cartoon scene, we had to approach the process with fresh eyes. Upon the Season 2 finale of Grandma’s Cats Are Trying to Kill Her! we decided to look back to the beginnings of our first ever original series and talk about the journey through creating seventeen quirky, side-stitch-inducing episodes.
Of course, there is never creation without a few key elements so we went straight to their sources. Here is what the visionary minds of Grandma’s Cats had to say on inspiration, humor, Season 2, and future plans for the series, hosted by DreamworksTV.
When did your involvement with Grandma’s Cats initially begin?
Russ McGarry (writer): I came on to write after the initial episode was completed. I - quite luckily - was mentioned by a friend who was then working at Psyop when she heard they were looking for an animation writer. I’d just come off of two seasons on a Disney XD cartoon when I was contacted. I loved the premise and pilot so much, I was immediately hooked!"
Ido Yehimovitz (designer): I got on board sometime after the show was picked up by Dreamworks, still in pre-production. I was already working on some other Psyop projects with Amanda Miller (Grandma’s Cats EP) so she had me take a shot at doing some concepts for this show they were cooking up which was potentially up my alley. Just by the show’s title, I realized this was a Love-At-First-Sight situation and had to get involved with it as much as I could. Fortunately, I ended up designing most of it!"
- Early character concept art for Lucas, Grandma and the cats!
As we all know, a lot usually changes between those initial stages/looks and the final product. How true was that for Grandma’s Cats and in what ways were the changes most monumental?
Vin James (animation director): The look was already nailed (and it was great) when we were approached by Amanda, and it was one of the main reasons we got involved. It just looked so good!
RM: I only know of the AMAZING look that was already established. Although, I do know a lot about the large backstory as to WHY Grandma’s cats want to kill her. Maybe in Season 3, we tap a bit into it... Fingers crossed for Season 3?
IY: There has been a lot of exploration and adjustments in regard to how the show would look; taking the animation method and the amount of time it takes to produce it into consideration. It went from being very painterly and rough into a completely flat and minimal, UPA Animation-style, look. I believe we were able to find the perfect middle ground between those.
How is Season 2 different from Season 1?
VJ: On the animation front, Season 2 didn’t really change that much, but the stories got crazier which was fun. Sharks in the pool, alien spaceships, jungle in the backyard, and cats dressed up as wrestlers… funny stuff.
RM: From a writing angle, we really had to stretch some muscles to make sure the scenarios got crazier and crazier, yet still fit the tone of Season 1. You’ll see in Season 2 that there are more, uh, “creative ways” the cats try to off Grandma. There’s one particular episode that we step out of the format BIG TIME and it’s absolutely, insanely fun!
IY: Not once did I find myself staring at prop lists and scripts wondering “Can we really pull this one off?” I’m happy to say that we did.
Any big struggles that come to mind when thinking back to the production of this project?
VJ: There were really no big struggles! And seeing that we work out of the UK which is about 6000 miles away and an eight hour time difference, it is a miracle… or just great communication.
RM: On my end, it was dreaming up the different methods the cats would use. I live in Portland, Oregon, so Amanda Miller and I would oftentimes find ourselves on the phone, hashing out concepts. By the way, Amanda not only was in charge of most (if not all) of the production, but she also was an fantastic writing collaborator!
Were there any personal aspects of your own lives that you pulled inspiration from for the story, characters or look? What was the brainstorming for all of the creativity like?
RM: Definitely. In my mind, I always staged the action in scripts to take place in my own Grandma’s house, which was on the Southside of Chicago and man, the designers/animators really nailed it! If you listen to a few scattered episodes, I also made Grandma super-proud of her awful puns, which is directly taken from memories of my uncle’s joking while growing up.
IY: Since I’m not based in the US, there were times where i actually had to ask for cultural clarifications to be able to nail down things like atmosphere and small details.
Speaking of inspiration, any cartoons or other forms of media that you looked to when weaving together Season 2?
IY: When approaching the environments and prop work for the show, I drew a lot of inspiration from the great adventure games from the 90s. Games like Day of the Tentacle, the Monkey Island series and Sam & Max Hit The Road always had a great shape, language and style to them that I really wanted to have in the show. I think some of the concept art could be used to make our own Grandma’s Cats game. (Can we make one, Amanda [Miller, EP]??)
What do you expect the audience to enjoy most about this season?
RM: As I mentioned, stuff goes one hundred percent to crazy-town in Season 2. The animation/directorial choices are spot-on, which really sells the stuff that I wrote in a bigger, badder way than I could have ever conceived myself.
Are we talking Season 3 yet? (only if you can divulge, of course…)
VJ: We’d love to work on more Grandma’s Cats! I’m sure there are still hundreds of ways they could kill her and cook it up.
Anything you'd like to leave us with until we chat again upon a Season 3 (high hopes!) debut?
RM: Only that I absolutely loved working on this series. There was a lot of freedom for us to explore, which I’d like to thank Dreamworks for providing. Again, I’m 1,000 miles away from Psyop, so I’ve pretty much been a satellite, but I never once felt far-removed, thanks to the spectacular team who made this all happen. Did I mention fingers crossed for a Season 3?!"
IY: This show has been a product of love and I think it shows. Thank you Psyop, for having me on this and thank you Amanda and Producer Sunny Sattari for making this satellite crew feel like a very close family. Did we say let's make Season 3 already...?
VJ: There can’t be many better jobs for an animator to work on. It’s funny, it looks good, and only 2 minutes long! Heaven.
Don’t believe anyone could cook up that many ways to kill Grandma? Check it out for yourself, with both Season 1 & 2 on the Verizon Wireless Go90 platform now!