animator Eric Fogel

074 – DreamWorks Animator Eric Fogel

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Get another inside scoop of what it's like to work in Hollywood as Michael Jamin sits down and talks with Eric Fogel, a DreamWorks animator.

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Eric Fogel (00:00):
You gotta have, you know, there's, there are a couple of key ingredients, right? You, you gotta have the passion, right. For it, for the craft. You have to have the ability mm-hmm. <Affirmative> to have, to have the skills.

Michael Jamin (00:14):
But you didn't have the ability when you started. Right?

Eric Fogel (00:18):
I had some ability.

Michael Jamin (00:19):
Some ability. And

Eric Fogel (00:20):
I kind of, yeah. I mean, a lot of it is you, you have to immerse yourself and you have to just make things. And you have to learn as you make things. You can't, you know, you can watch YouTube videos all day long, but you gotta like, just get in it.

Michael Jamin (00:35):
You're listening to Screenwriters Need to hear this with Michael Jamin.

Michael Jamin (00:43):
Hey everyone, it's Michael Jamin. Welcome back to Screenwriters. Need to hear this. This is the podcast that it's not just for screenwriters. Cuz I, I have a special guest today. This is my friend and once collaborator Eric Fogel. And he, we were, we were debating like, how do I, how do I introduce him? Cuz he does so much. He's a writer, he's a director, he's an animator. He's now a dreamworks. And Eric Fogel's now gonna tell us is how, how, how all this works. He's gonna explain to me, Eric Fogel, thank you so much for being on the show. Say hi. Hello.

Eric Fogel (01:13):
Hello. Hello. Hello.

Michael Jamin (01:15):
You're not an actor though. That's the one thing you, that's the one credit you don't get.

Eric Fogel (01:19):
I do a little voice acting.

Michael Jamin (01:20):
Do you do, do

Eric Fogel (01:21):
You know I've done, yeah, I, yeah, I I actually got my SAG card. Yeah.

Michael Jamin (01:25):

Eric Fogel (01:27):
Little, little.

Michael Jamin (01:28):
So, so for everyone's listening, so Eric and I worked together years ago on a show called Glen Martin dds, which he cr co-created. And on that show, he was the he was one of the, he directed with me, directed the animation. He was in charge of all the designs, all the character designs. And then he had the misfortune of having to fly back and forth from Los Angeles to Toronto, like every week to oversee the animation focal. How did that, how, how did that all come about? How did, how did you sell that show? How did it come about that show?

Eric Fogel (02:01):
Man so yeah, I think I was, I was in town. I was, you know, I was living in New York at the time, and so I, I was I, I did a trip out here to, to LA to do like, around the meetings. And I was, I was in my I was up in my manager's office and the, the owner of the company, Gotham sh just kind of walked by and she goes, oh, yeah, he should meet Scoop,

Michael Jamin (02:31):

Eric Fogel (02:31):
And I'm like, what the fuck is a scoop? Can I say <laugh>? Is that all right?

Michael Jamin (02:37):
We all, we're all thinking of it.

Eric Fogel (02:38):
Yeah. Yeah. What's, what's a Scoop scoop?

Eric Fogel (02:43):
That was my, so that was my introduction. So yeah, we, we set up a meeting, I met with Scoop in LA on that same trip, I think it was my last meeting. And they had a script

Michael Jamin (02:55):
Just a, so Scoop was a, the nickname of one of the executive producers, or Michael Eisner's company.

Eric Fogel (02:59):
Scoop is a human. Yeah. He was, I guess running development for Michael Eisner's company, which was Tornante. Yeah, right. And they had, they had a script. They had like a version of a pilot that was written by Alex Berger. Right, right. And you know, it was still pretty rough at that time. It needed, needed some love. And, you know, there was no, there were no designs. You know, there was nothing there. But couple weeks later I met, I g I met with Michael Eisner in New York, and we sat down, we started talking about this project, and he had seen some stuff on my reel, and he saw some, some stop motion that I did, you know, I created Celebrity Death Match. So I think he was aware of, of that. But I, I did this other show called Star Val with a studio called Cup of Coffee in Toronto.

Michael Jamin (03:51):
I didn't realize that was Cuppa, but Wait, hold on. Was that, was, was what Network was surveillance on

Eric Fogel (03:56):

Michael Jamin (03:57):
E. So I wanna, I wanna slow this down. Yeah. I wanna interrupt you for a second. So celebrity Death Match was like a huge hit. I was on MTV for a couple seasons, right? Yeah. And it was a stop motion animation, and you were in charge, and you create, created that with custom and you were in charge of the a It was a big, it was like a big deal for like, I don't know, 10 minutes, but it was <laugh>.

Eric Fogel (04:17):
Yeah, no, we, we, we, we ran for Yeah. A couple years and, you know, close to a hundred episodes a lot.

Michael Jamin (04:23):
So, all right. But then, okay, so back it up and how, cuz you have a very unusual career because you kind of, you've carved a career for yourself that doesn't really, it doesn't even exist really. You know, not many people who do what you've done. Like, how, how did you start when you were a kid? Did you wanna, what did you wanna be?

Eric Fogel (04:41):
I, I knew I wanted to be in the film business in some way. I think, you know, when I was, you know, I was always drawing like little comic books when I was a kid. And these, these comic books were basically storyboards.

Michael Jamin (04:54):
Right. Eric is really good, talented artist. So that, I should mention that Illustra Illustrate. I don't know what you would call yourself. You're good though. Go on. You're okay.

Eric Fogel (05:03):
But by the time I was like, you know, in, in high school, I, I sort of learned that there was like, you could actually go to school to learn how to make films. Yeah. You know, like, there was such a thing. And, and I became aware of, you know, Y u and that, that sort of became my, you know, the thing that was driving me. I even before that, I started taking some film while I was still in high school. I took a couple film classes at, at school of Visual Arts, just taking college level classes there while, you know, still still a kid in high school and starting to like, figure out how to make, make films and, you know, put stuff together. And then I got

Michael Jamin (05:42):
Live, it wasn't stop motion, it wasn't animation, it was just film.

Eric Fogel (05:45):
It was live action. I was still, I was also experimenting, you know, I got, I got a super eight camera, so I was trying, I was trying some stop motion. I was doing like, hand drawn animation. I was just trying everything I want. I was just absorbing everything. Yeah. You know? And yeah. And then got accepted to NYU and in

Michael Jamin (06:05):
The film program.

Eric Fogel (06:06):
Film program. Okay. 19. Yeah. Graduated class of 91.

Michael Jamin (06:13):

Eric Fogel (06:13):
And, you know, I was pretty prolific there. Like they, I think they only required you to make, to finish like one film. And I ended up making four, finishing four films. Two were live action and two were animated. Right. And one of the animated films was this really violent like a post-apocalyptic thing. It was called The Mutilated. I've heard of

Michael Jamin (06:39):
It. Ok.

Eric Fogel (06:40):
That, yeah, there's actually a,

Michael Jamin (06:42):
Well, look, you gotta sell. Okay.

Eric Fogel (06:44):
Yeah. There's a mu later.

Michael Jamin (06:46):
That's from, and that was from a college?

Eric Fogel (06:48):
Yeah, this was my college. This was my college film. <Laugh> Mutilate. But the, so this film got got licensed to like a, an animated like a film festival

Michael Jamin (07:02):
Called, well, you, wait, you submitted it to a film festival. What do

Eric Fogel (07:04):
They They saw it, they saw it in the Y U Circuit. Okay. Cause premiered there. And then they reached out to me and they said, we wanna a license Mutilators to be, it was a Spike and Mike spike and Mike's Festival of Animation.

Michael Jamin (07:19):

Eric Fogel (07:20):

Michael Jamin (07:21):
So they paid you for

Eric Fogel (07:22):
It? They, they wrote me a check, and that was the first time, you know, someone was like, paying me to, to make a thing.

Michael Jamin (07:30):
And then what happened?

Eric Fogel (07:31):
So I said, all right, that, that worked well. I want to keep doing that. So I just kept making, making like little short films. And I, I licensed a couple more to, to those guys, to the Spike and Mike Festival. And they would do this thing where they would, they would option the film, but they would also give you like com like a little money to, to finish the film. Which was, which was pretty, you know, it's not a, not a great deal. But it was, at that time

Michael Jamin (07:59):
It was, these were like shorts, right?

Eric Fogel (08:01):
Yeah. Yeah. Just shorts. But, you know, you would send them, like, you could send them like a pencil test, and then they, they'd say like, here's a couple grand to finish it. And then, then they would like show it in their, their circuit.

Michael Jamin (08:15):
So, all right. So then, but you're okay, you're selling some stuff. It's got after college, you're not making a fortune. Yeah. You're, but you also have like a day job.

Eric Fogel (08:24):
I was I was hired. So I started working in a, in a small animation studio in New York, Uhhuh <affirmative> at that time. And I was learning, you know, just learning stuff. So one of the one of the directors at that studio he, he had a little problem with substance, substance abuse problem. Interesting. I'm not gonna mention any, any names, but he would, he would spend a lot of time just sleeping, sleeping it off. Yeah. And I, and he and I would, I would be animating his shots. And that's how I learned a lot of, a lot of stop motion. It was, it was like a stop motion studio. And I learned a lot. So

Michael Jamin (09:01):
You, so you're right. So this is before computer animation, really. You're just kind of you're drawing, you're basically cell by frame By frame.

Eric Fogel (09:07):
Yeah. Yeah. And just using like a big old Mitchell 35 millimeter camera, just frame one frame at a time.

Michael Jamin (09:14):
And then, okay, so you did that for a little bit, then what happened?

Eric Fogel (09:17):
So at, so at the same time, I'm still making these little short films eventually.

Michael Jamin (09:23):
What was the point of making these short films, though? They're not adding slide action

Eric Fogel (09:26):
To get a reel together. So, so you to have like a sample sample of your, your stuff. Right. So eventually this real end ends up on the desk at the president of MTV Animation.

Michael Jamin (09:40):
How, how did it wind up there?

Eric Fogel (09:42):
I don't know.

Michael Jamin (09:44):
<Laugh>, but this is a good point. Like, cuz you're just putting your work out there. Yeah. And it's gonna, and it's good. So it's making the rounds, right?

Eric Fogel (09:51):
Yeah. It's, well, it's, it's, it's making the rounds. I don't know if it's good, but PE people are, there's no, but if it

Michael Jamin (09:58):
Wasn't good, they wouldn't pass it along. I mean, that's the truth.

Eric Fogel (10:01):
Yeah. Well, it, it was something, you know, at that time, M T V was, you know, animation was brand new and they, they were looking, you know, they were just looking for weird shit. Yeah. You know, and they saw, they, you know, they probably saw this, this spike in Mike festival and, and you know, like liquid television was becoming a thing. Right, right. And so they were hungry for stuff and, you know, just weird stuff. Right. And I, you know, I had some weird stuff on my reel.

Michael Jamin (10:27):
Yeah, you did. Well, yeah. And so, okay, so then what happened?

Eric Fogel (10:31):
So they, so M T v made, made me a deal to option this mutilated.

Michael Jamin (10:37):
Okay. And

Eric Fogel (10:37):
The plan was to have the, the Mutilators character appear within the Beavis and Butthead show. Mm-Hmm. <affirmative>. And, and it would be like, it was gonna be like this thing that they were gonna watch on tv and it was gonna be this cool thing that they liked. Right. Kind of fit, fit with their, their thing. Yeah. And then something, something tragic happened there were, there were some kids out west somewhere who burned their family's trailer down. And they said they, they learned how to, like, about fire from Beavis and Butthead.

Michael Jamin (11:15):
Oh, I, I <laugh> At least it wasn't mutilated.

Eric Fogel (11:18):
No, no. But this created this whole wave, like this backlash. And all of a sudden MTV got scared and they said, oh, you know, we got, we can't, we have to be careful. And Mutilators was like violent. Yeah. Even though it was, it was sci-fi it was fantasy violence. It wasn't real. Yeah. But they were, they were just, they got cold feet. So I went to this meeting knowing that they were gonna shit can Mutilators and, and I had already set up like a little studio in my, in my house at, on Long Island, and I was like in production on this thing. So I was, I was nervous. Yeah. So I go to this meeting and, and Mike Judge is actually there. Mike Judge, the creator of Beavis and Butthead, he's, he's in this meeting and they're like, Eric, you know, we we're not, we can't go forward with Mutilators, but we, we like you, do you have anything else?

And I, I had this storyboard. I actually brought it to that meeting. And this, it was for this other thing that I had come up with about this guy with like a giant head and, and an alien that lived inside of this head. And it was like, about the symbiotic relationship Yeah. Between a guy, a guy, and an alien. And my judge, I just, I'll never forget this. He was kind of like hanging back and he was looking at my drawings and he was just laughing. Yeah. And these other two MTV execs were like, oh, Mike, Mike likes it. We should buy this. And they did <laugh> and,

Michael Jamin (12:44):
And Muo was that,

Eric Fogel (12:45):
That was called the Head. Right. And that was it was part of like, it was called MTV's Oddities.

Michael Jamin (12:51):
Uhhuh <affirmative>.

Eric Fogel (12:51):
And that was, I was like 24 or 25. And that was the first show that I ran as a creator.

Michael Jamin (12:58):
But this is the kind of, this speaks to which is so important. It's like you were making this stuff because you were making it, and you were, it wasn't like, it wasn't even like, you weren't trying to sell that you were just making, you had, you have to have stuff to have.

Eric Fogel (13:09):
I had an idea.

Michael Jamin (13:10):
Right. And you worked on it. You didn't wait to get paid on it. You worked on it.

Eric Fogel (13:14):

Michael Jamin (13:15):
Right. And so, and you were, you were right. Did you have a small staff on that show?

Eric Fogel (13:20):
Yeah, we had, you know, we had a full staff

Michael Jamin (13:23):
On that and now was at Outta New York.

Eric Fogel (13:26):
We, we did, we ran the, the show out of, yeah. Out of MTV Animation in Midtown Manhattan. Wow. You know, set up shop there. I wrote, and I wrote an and show around that show with a, I had a, a writing partner at that time. And yeah, we wrote all the episodes and it was, it was wonderful because it was like, it's not like now, like, it was like, they were hands off, like creatively. They were like, yeah, great. It's great. Just do it. Do it. Do what you want. Do what you want.

Michael Jamin (13:57):
Interesting. That's so interesting. Wow. And then, and then at what point was this? Is there, what point did you make a leap to LA? Or, or am I missing something in between?

Eric Fogel (14:05):
Yeah, so I, you know, I stuck it out. So after the head, I did Celebrity Death Match.

Michael Jamin (14:10):
Right. That was outta New York.

Eric Fogel (14:11):
And then, you know, I continued working at small studios in New York. MTV animation closed, like shortly after nine 11, they shuttered. And, you know, business in New York kind of started to dry up after nine 11.

Michael Jamin (14:27):
There wasn't, there was never even a lot of business in New York. But I didn't even, you know,

Eric Fogel (14:30):
You No, but there was, yeah, there was, you know, m there was M T V and then there was some small commercial studios there. And I continued working at some of those smaller studios. You know, and we, all our family was there, so Right. We were sort of resisting the, the, the big move to, to la And then finally in 2008 when Glen Martin happened, and we made the move.

Michael Jamin (14:54):
Right. With your whole family. Yes. And then you flew back to tra that was the tragic part. If you had only stayed in New York, <laugh>, your flight would've been so

Eric Fogel (15:02):
Much. Yeah. I was like, honey, here's, here's our house kids. There's, there's your rooms. I gotta go. You guys figure it out.

Michael Jamin (15:11):
Enjoy the sunshine.

Eric Fogel (15:13):
My, my wife's still, she, you know, she, she's still pissed at me. We, no, we love each other, but No, it was, it was a tough move. We didn't know anybody here in la. Right. You know, it was a big, it was a big, big adjustment. And yeah, it was bit a shock.

Michael Jamin (15:29):
What does she think of it now? Is she happy you're here or No,

Eric Fogel (15:31):
I think, yeah, we've, we've made our peace with it. You know, we still miss our family. Our families are still all back east. Yeah. but we, we feel like it was a good thing for our family, you know, for our kids.

Michael Jamin (15:44):
Oh, you think so? You think they're, they're probably getting ready for college now. Your kids?

Eric Fogel (15:48):
Oh, they're almost done.

Michael Jamin (15:50):
They're almost done with

Eric Fogel (15:50):
Cops. Well, one is, yeah. One our oldest is out. He's already graduated. And our, we have twin girls and they're graduating this this year.

Michael Jamin (15:57):
Oh God. We'll talk about that one. I know. Wonder what that's gonna happen. What happened there? Okay, so then, and then, alright. We did Glen Martin. And the thing about that is, so my partner and I were siber, we write these episodes. We come into your office and say, this is, this is the crazy that the craziest job you ever No, probably not. Cuz we would give you an assignment, like, this is the, what does this character look like in your head? Then you'd sketch a design and then we'd maybe give you notes or not. And then you'd run off. Then you'd fly to Toronto and they started a animated this thing. And you had to oversee every time there was a problem, we'd yell at you <laugh>. And, and then you'd have to fix

Eric Fogel (16:33):
It. Then I go yell at them and you'd

Michael Jamin (16:35):
Yell at them. And there was, yeah. There was always problems. It's always you know, because it's a, it's such a long process to, it took, you know, nine months to animate that show.

Eric Fogel (16:43):
That that show. I mean, there will never be another show like that. Right.

Michael Jamin (16:49):
Why do you feel that way?

Eric Fogel (16:50):
It was, I mean, just the concept was super ambitious, right? Yeah. You got, you got a family, you know, traveling from, from town to town every episode. Yeah. So every single episode you have to build a brand new world for this family to play in. Yeah. Right. That's a huge amount to build. And you have to build it all from scratch

Michael Jamin (17:16):
There. And there was a lot, we also did a lot of CGI on. We, not a lot. Some, you know, not,

Eric Fogel (17:21):
Not a lot.

Michael Jamin (17:22):
The mouses, the mouses, and also sometimes the backgrounds. Right. We would do

Eric Fogel (17:26):
We would do some green screen. We'd do green screen. But, but a lot of those, I mean, most of those sets were, were Yeah. Physical, practical, physical models.

Michael Jamin (17:36):
I have all, I still have my dolls, just so you know. They're all here.

Eric Fogel (17:40):
Oh, hey, wait, I

Michael Jamin (17:41):
Got one. You have more. I remember when you had, you had your dolls. I was like, how do I get a hand? How do I get my hand on someone? Focals Dolls <laugh>

Eric Fogel (17:48):

Michael Jamin (17:49):
How Steal your dog. Which one's that? What's, oh, wait, but is that, was that from Glen? What was he, what was that?

Eric Fogel (17:54):
That hok? Honk Hawks The Clown. The Killer Clown. That's

Michael Jamin (17:57):
Oh, we see What episode was that?

Eric Fogel (17:59):
I don't know. Sunshine. Fun, fun, fun. Bill Hawks.

Michael Jamin (18:02):
The Killer Clown did. There's so much about that show. I don't even remember.

Eric Fogel (18:04):
Remember who did The Voice?

Michael Jamin (18:07):

Eric Fogel (18:08):
Ty Burrell.

Michael Jamin (18:09):
That was Ty. Dude. We can you imagine We directed some amazing, amazing, remember we did, we directed Brian Cranston. Yep. When he was coming off break, he was doing Breaking

Eric Fogel (18:19):
Bad. Still doing it. Yeah. Yeah.

Michael Jamin (18:21):
And he loved it. He's like, this is great.

Eric Fogel (18:24):
<Laugh>. He was amazing. We almost, we almost had a spinoff

Michael Jamin (18:28):
With him. Yes. Hi. That's him over here. Yeah. That's

Eric Fogel (18:32):
Drake Stone.

Michael Jamin (18:34):
That was a bummer. That didn't happen.

Eric Fogel (18:36):

Michael Jamin (18:36):
Yep. Oh, well,

Eric Fogel (18:38):
But the cat, yeah. I, I mean we should talk about some of the other day players on that show because I mean

Michael Jamin (18:45):
Yeah, we, I mean it was amazing. The cat, we Every,

Eric Fogel (18:48):
Every day. Mel Brooks.

Michael Jamin (18:50):
Mel Brooks. Right.

Eric Fogel (18:51):
Billy Idol.

Michael Jamin (18:53):
Billy Idol. I don't remember Billy Idol.

Eric Fogel (18:55):
<Laugh>. He did a, he did the Christmas episode and he sang a song. He sang a

Michael Jamin (18:59):
Oh, right. Maybe it wasn't there. That I remember we had friend Drescher. Yeah. Remember were you there that

Eric Fogel (19:04):
Day? Yep.

Michael Jamin (19:05):
And we couldn't get her Remember? So, so Erica, we direct together, we'd whispered each other and it's not quite right. How did we get her to do, you know? And then I remember we finally walked up to her cuz she wasn't, the character wasn't quite white. And I was said, listen, can you do the nanny? She's like, oh sure. And then the <laugh> then she started basically doing the nanny.

Eric Fogel (19:23):
You want the nanny,

Michael Jamin (19:25):
You want the nanny. You kind of, you

Eric Fogel (19:26):
Want it, you

Michael Jamin (19:27):
Don't wanna ask. You wanna, you don't really wanna ask. You wanna get them there. Yeah. You know, I don't wanna insult her, but she was like, delight French. She was so sweet.

Eric Fogel (19:35):
Alison Jenny, she was great. She an Alexander.

Michael Jamin (19:38):

Eric Fogel (19:39):
George Decay.

Michael Jamin (19:40):

Eric Fogel (19:42):
My God. Fergie.

Michael Jamin (19:44):
Yep. Yep.

Eric Fogel (19:47):
I mean

Michael Jamin (19:47):
So much. Mc Hammer, we remember we had Mc Hammer

Eric Fogel (19:50):
Pen. Gillette

Michael Jamin (19:51):
Pen Gillette. I forgot. She's the what? A Oh my God.

Eric Fogel (19:54):
Was Jean Simmons.

Michael Jamin (19:57):
<Laugh>. Jean Simmons. Yeah. I remember that. <Laugh>. That was a day. And then, okay, so then once, once Glen Martin went down. Yeah. What happened to you then?

Eric Fogel (20:08):
<Laugh>? I don't know. What happened. So, you know, it was, that was a sort of a tricky time because I, I, I had to kind of reinvent myself. Did.

Michael Jamin (20:20):

Eric Fogel (20:20):
I was here in town. We did that show. That show was ama you know, it was an amazing experience, but nobody fucking saw it.

Michael Jamin (20:29):

Eric Fogel (20:29):

Michael Jamin (20:30):
And no one understood what you did on it either, because you create, you, you, you kind of invented a, you were a necessary incredibly important cog. But who, how do you describe, you know, how do you describe it to people? I, cause I'm even asking you, well, you were, you were one of the executive producers, but I'm almost like, well, what was your ion job? I mean, what, that was your job title, but it'd be, it'd be hard for me to describe what you did. Cause you did so much.

Eric Fogel (20:53):
Yeah. I mean, I guess on that show I was, I was more of a directing showrunner.

Michael Jamin (20:58):
Is that what you would call it?

Eric Fogel (20:59):
If you Yeah. Because, you know, I feel like there are some categories, right, with show like showrunners. So there are writing showrunners, which I consider like you and cber were like the writing showrunners. And I was on that show. More of a, the directing maybe

Michael Jamin (21:14):
Actually May in King of the Hill. I think they would call it a supervising director. Is that what you were

Eric Fogel (21:18):
Maybe. I mean, I don't

Michael Jamin (21:21):
Supervise all the directors,

Eric Fogel (21:22):
Basically. It's different. Yeah. I guess there's, they're different credits.

Michael Jamin (21:26):
Yeah. I re Yeah, it was hard. It was a hard, there was so much for you to oversee. It was crazy.

Eric Fogel (21:34):
Yeah. And it's, I mean, and, and I love that. Like, that's, for me, that's what I do. It's soup to nuts, just mm-hmm. <Affirmative> every, every piece of the production, I just, I I like to have a hand in holiday.

Michael Jamin (21:50):
Hey, it's Michael Jamin. If you like my videos and you want me to email them to you for free, join my watch list. Every Friday I send out my top three videos. These are for writers, actors, creative types. You can unsubscribe whenever you want. I'm not gonna spam you and it's absolutely free. Just go to

Michael Jamin (22:14):
So how did you reinvent yourself? Like what does that mean really?

Eric Fogel (22:17):
So I was here in town and after Glenn Martin, you know, there were, we had a, there were a couple things, but a couple things fell through. We were gonna do, there was another show mm-hmm. <Affirmative> that I, I was developing with to, and it was this was weird. But we, this we, we developed this show alongside BoJack. Right. So it was like Scoop was working on, on BoJack. And then we had this other project and we, we actually sold this other project to a network. We had like, like an a, an agree, like an accepted offer. And it looked like it was going forward until the head of the studio just decided, eh, didn't wanna do animation.

Michael Jamin (23:01):

Eric Fogel (23:02):
That happened. So that, that got killed. And so I had to find some, some work. I ended up directing a show at Nickelodeon and it was a CG show. Mm-Hmm. <affirmative>. So I wanted to, it was, it was more of a kids show. Right. And it was, you know, I wanted to have the experience of, of directing cg. Okay. So I did that for a few years and it's, you know, that, and then it, you, you sort of, there you, there's stepping stones and

Michael Jamin (23:31):
That's just a big learning curve though.

Eric Fogel (23:34):
There's, there is a learning curve for sure. And it was important to me to, to have,

Michael Jamin (23:39):
Because you didn't learn, you didn't study that in college. What did you know about it?

Eric Fogel (23:41):
They didn't have, they didn't have computer animation there. Right. So you just have to, the best way to, to learn is to just be immersed in it. Right. Just on the Jobb training. So I, I did, I got that experience and that, that experience led me to, to Dreamworks.

Michael Jamin (24:00):
Right. And how, and you've been at Dreamworks for six years. And what do you do, what are you doing at Dreamworks? Basically do, are you, do you have a studio deal with Dreamworks? Is that what it's

Michael Jamin (24:08):
Overall deal or something?

Eric Fogel (24:09):
They, I'm under contract. So right now it's kind of show to show.

Michael Jamin (24:15):
Alright. So you have a contract and they, they put you on whatever show they have going.

Eric Fogel (24:19):
Yeah, but they also were nice enough to keep me around. So they sort of put me on an overall deal. Cuz there was like a gap between shows. So that, that was very nice of them. Yeah. Keep me,

Michael Jamin (24:31):
They don't wanna lose you.

Eric Fogel (24:32):
I guess. They like me enough to keep me.

Michael Jamin (24:34):
It's so interesting cause I just had one of my previous guys, I may, I dunno if you know 'em, you probably don't. But John Abel and Glen Glen, they do all the kung They're the writers, the kung fu pander writers. They do a lot of dreamwork stuff.

Eric Fogel (24:45):
Yeah. Guys.

Michael Jamin (24:46):
Oh, you do, do you work with them?

Eric Fogel (24:48):
I haven't, but I'm familiar with them.

Michael Jamin (24:50):
So what exactly are you doing at Dreamworks then? We, as from jumping from show to show?

Eric Fogel (24:55):
Yeah. So they hired me initially, this is now almost six years to the day I started doing a show called Archibald's, next Big Thing. Mm-Hmm. <affirmative>, which was created by Mr. Tony Hale.

Michael Jamin (25:10):
Oh, he created, I know he's in it. I didn't know he created it.

Eric Fogel (25:12):
Created and voiced and was an, was an exec producer.

Michael Jamin (25:18):
And, and it's What network is that? Nickelodeon.

Eric Fogel (25:21):
That was so we started on Netflix. Okay. So we produced here at Dreamworks, we premiered on Netflix season one. And then season two we were on Peacock

Michael Jamin (25:34):
And Oh, is that, is there, is there a season three in the works or what?

Eric Fogel (25:37):
No, no. So the thing to know about animation these days is they don't order a a lot of episodes. It's, you know, the, it's, they've, especially on these streaming platforms.

Michael Jamin (25:48):
Oh, well that's the way it is for a live actually. Yeah. So what are you doing, se like 13 or something?

Eric Fogel (25:53):
We did two. So for Archibald we did two seasons and it was it was like 50. It ended up being like 50 half hours or fif 50. It's actually a hundred, a hundred episode. There are 11 minute episodes. So we did 111 minute episodes.

Michael Jamin (26:08):
That's actually, and are you, what are you, are you running the show? Are you running it? Are

Eric Fogel (26:11):
You So I so that on that show, I was, I was exec producing, I was a writer and I was, I was basically doing a little of everything. Same, same thing. Directing, writing, overseeing every aspect of it.

Michael Jamin (26:25):
But it's not like every writer, there's a writing staff on that show. Right.

Eric Fogel (26:29):
We, we had, we had a, a staff and we had a couple head writers who, and they, those guys were great. I love those guys. They had never run, run a show before.

Michael Jamin (26:39):
Uhhuh <affirmative>.

Eric Fogel (26:40):
So I felt like I could be helpful there, you know, just in the writer's room and, and just, it just sort of organically evolved to where, you know, I didn't expect to be so involved in, in the writing process on that show. It just, it just turned out like, it just was a natural,

Michael Jamin (26:57):
That's the whole thing. You have a very unusual career path in career because cuz you do so many things.

Eric Fogel (27:04):
Yeah. I mean, I don't, there's no rules for this. I'm just making this

Michael Jamin (27:07):
Up. Yeah. There's no rule. So, I mean, it's quite impressive because like, if I, I don't know what, what would, what, how would you advise? You must have kids come into you, Hey, how do I, how do I get to do what you do? Like what do you tell them?

Eric Fogel (27:23):
I mean you gotta have, you know, there's, there are a couple of key ingredients, right? You, you gotta have the passion,

Michael Jamin (27:31):

Eric Fogel (27:32):
For it, for the craft. You have to have the ability mm-hmm. <Affirmative> have to have the skills.

Michael Jamin (27:39):
But you didn't have the ability when you started. Right.

Eric Fogel (27:42):
I had some ability. Some

Michael Jamin (27:44):

Eric Fogel (27:44):
And I kinda, yeah. I mean a lot of it is you have to immerse yourself and you have to just make things and you have to learn as you make things. You can't, you know, you can watch YouTube videos all day long, but you gotta like just get in it. And now it's one, you know, we have, the technology has changed so much. It's made it so much easier. Mm-Hmm. <affirmative> to make things. Now

Michael Jamin (28:08):
With those like those animation program, I mean, do you do anything like that on the side for yourself? Like what? Or, or, I mean, you know, at home for anyone? I

Eric Fogel (28:17):
Don't have time for that. No. I these days. Yeah. I mean, I, I'm, you know, this, this job keeps, keeps me. But

Michael Jamin (28:24):
Let's say you had a side project that you just wanted to get off the ground. Yeah. You just pitched the idea.

Eric Fogel (28:29):
I could, yeah. I mean, I have put things together and I've made, yeah. I've been able to make little animations you know, for projects, original projects that I've pitched. And I'll, I'll put together a whole presentation. I'll do all the visuals. I'll edit it and, and put together Yeah. Like little proof of concepts, right? That yeah. That stuff is, yeah. I love doing

Michael Jamin (28:49):
That. And that's on your own, but that's on your own time.

Eric Fogel (28:51):
That is on my own time. Your

Michael Jamin (28:53):
Own with, with some program you have.

Eric Fogel (28:55):

Michael Jamin (28:56):
What's, what kind of program is this? What, what is it?

Eric Fogel (28:58):
I mean, I, you can, you can animate with Photoshop now. Oh. So that's, you know, that's, that's a thing. I, I use Sony movie Maker, which is this archaic system. I, I just, I'm really comfortable with it and I, I can use that to, to build projects and I can even animate on that thing.

Michael Jamin (29:16):
Are you doing any stop motion anymore?

Eric Fogel (29:18):
I haven't done stop motion in a long time.

Michael Jamin (29:20):
Because why the market part?

Eric Fogel (29:24):
You know, it's, it's just the, the right project hasn't really surfaced. And you know, I've, I've, I've pitched Project stop motion is a hard one to sell. People are afraid of it.

Michael Jamin (29:36):
Is it the look that's the, that's the criticism I get. They go that, here's the thing. Every, so I've been, I post a lot on social media and people will say, oh, I used to watch Glen Martin. And the, the phrase that comes back is that show is a fever dream. I was like, what's a fever dream? But everyone describes it as a fever dream. And what that

Eric Fogel (29:55):
Mean? Like, creepy. I

Michael Jamin (29:56):
Think it means like, like you were, they were in like, it felt like they were in an opium den, den <laugh> era.

Eric Fogel (30:03):
<Laugh>. What it felt like for me.

Michael Jamin (30:05):
What's that?

Eric Fogel (30:06):
It's what it felt like for me Felt like

Michael Jamin (30:07):
To, I mean, but it's like I, I, I don't know. There's something about like, I always like that format. Cause I always like this old bank and resting,

Eric Fogel (30:17):
Right. Bank ranking and back

Michael Jamin (30:18):
And best. Yeah. I always thought,

Eric Fogel (30:20):
Yeah. I mean, some people have got, I love, I've always loved the, the look of stop motion and you know, it's, there's something super charming and not just like, endearing about the, like the handcrafted aspect aspect of it. Right. Right. It's so cool. But

Michael Jamin (30:35):
Don't feel that way. I guess

Eric Fogel (30:36):
It's al it's always been the kind of like the redheaded stepchild of animation though, you know? Yeah. Always on. Always on the, on the fringes. And now, you know, it's hard enough to sell a show, any show. Right. Uhhuh <affirmative>. But it's in ama in the, in the animation industry, it feels like they're, they're only looking for, for CG animation these days. And there's just,

Michael Jamin (30:56):
Is that right? I mean, what, explain the different types of animation, because obviously there's, there's like, yeah. CG, like Shrek or something

Eric Fogel (31:03):

Michael Jamin (31:03):
<Affirmative> and then go on there actually different levels in terms of, you know, expense. What, how does that work?

Eric Fogel (31:11):
I mean, there, you know, there, so there there's like traditional hand drawn animation. But even that is all done mostly in computer these days. So there, there's no more like, hand painted cells. Right. But the actual movement, a lot of that stuff can still be done, done by hand.

Michael Jamin (31:29):

Eric Fogel (31:29):
<Affirmative>. And then, you know, you got stop motion, you got cg and there, there are worlds in between where, you know, stylistically they, they're, they're doing a lot of thing, you know, design wise, they're kind of blending the, all the techniques.

Michael Jamin (31:44):
But it must be in terms of like, when they tell you what the budget of the show is, that greatly determines how good it's gonna look in the, how the, you know, the animation.

Eric Fogel (31:52):
Right. It can, you know, so right now I'm working on Megamind, the, the sequel to the, to the 2010 film Megamind. Right. And that's gonna air later this year. And I can't say a lot about it cuz they haven't announced a lot about it. Right. But the quality the quality of the animation, the technology has improved so much. Mm-Hmm. <affirmative> that even, even on a, a smaller tier budget, you can still, the quality of the animations really it's really improved.

Michael Jamin (32:31):
Right. So, so when you sell a show or when they bring you on a show, are you asking these questions or it's like, ah, someone else, you know, in terms of like, how much money do we get to spend on?

Eric Fogel (32:42):
Well they, yeah. They tell me and then I have to figure out how to make the show.

Michael Jamin (32:47):
Right. They tell you. Right. And so where will you cut corners or something.

Eric Fogel (32:52):
Yeah. So, so that's where it gets challenging. And, and you have to become very, you know, creative and, and and problem solving to, to be able to deliver. Right. The show the show you want and the show that they want with within these, you know, what, what can sometimes be a very small sandbox.

Michael Jamin (33:10):

Eric Fogel (33:10):
You know,

Michael Jamin (33:11):
And then so what, so what are you, you know, what are your ambitions or future ambitions or, you know, what, what excites you coming up or what

Eric Fogel (33:20):
You know, I would, I'd love to expand the Sandbox <laugh> and be able to make a, make a leap into directing a feature would be really exciting. Oh really? Yeah.

Michael Jamin (33:31):
At at Dreamworks or, or any place really.

Eric Fogel (33:34):
Yeah. I mean I love it here. So I I would for sure love to direct a feature here. Right. But that, that would, you know, that would be a, a dream to, to be able to do that someday and, and to be able to, you know, spend three years, you know, focusing on, on like 90 minutes of content as opposed to, you know, hundreds of minutes of, of content to be able to like microfocus on that.

Michael Jamin (34:00):
It's so interesting cuz for me it's kind of other way around. Like, I, I, you know, I have to, I don't know. Cuz you get to every, every week you get, all right, here's something new. I have to live with something. But you're saying you, because you really wanna make the qual, you really want to spend time to make sure every frame is right.

Eric Fogel (34:17):
I would love, yeah, that would be, that would be a dream. Because in TV animation, you know, it's, it's like there's always this, this schedule. You're a slave to the schedule.

Michael Jamin (34:29):

Eric Fogel (34:29):
And you, you know. And so

Michael Jamin (34:31):
Are you, are you in the Glendale campus of Dreamwork? Is that where you are? Yeah. Are you there right now? Yeah, this is, this is really your,

Eric Fogel (34:38):
This is my office.

Michael Jamin (34:39):
This is your real office over at Dreamworks. People fa Okay. So you're okay. I don't even know if they with Covid if you're working from home or not.

Eric Fogel (34:47):
I still, yeah, I'm here a couple days a week.

Michael Jamin (34:50):
Uhhuh <affirmative>

Eric Fogel (34:50):
These days.

Michael Jamin (34:52):
And, and cuz this is your show. So you, well, are you working with writers? You know, how are you, how, how involved are you right now with Theri? Is there a writer's room or what

Eric Fogel (35:00):
Where, so the writing is, is wrapped on this show, but we were really fortunate because we got the two guys Brent Simons and Alan Schoolcraft, who wrote the original Megamind mm-hmm. <Affirmative> were brought, were brought in as, as eps to, to basically help Showrun and, and run the writer's room. So having those guys was, was a gift, you know, cuz they, they kind of, they invented Megamind. So,

Michael Jamin (35:30):
And this is all on the Dreamworks campus? The writer's?

Eric Fogel (35:32):
Yeah. We did the writing here. A lot of the, a lot of the, the create a lot of art on this show is done not in Toronto. It's a lot of it's done in Vancouver.

Michael Jamin (35:42):
Oh, are you, are you ma are you making the trip up there? Do

Eric Fogel (35:46):
You have to? I've been up there. I've been up there a couple of times. But we are, luckily, yeah, now that we've got, you know, zoom, it's, you know, I can do a lot of this right here. A lot of the work I can do right here.

Michael Jamin (35:58):
See, that's so wait, so, so they are, these subcontract, subcontracting out a lot of the animation at Dreamworks. I I kind of, it was under the impression they did it all themselves.

Eric Fogel (36:07):
They have always had partner studios, even like on the early features they, they were partnering with, with studios. So there's always been this sort of hybrid model on this particular show. Almost all of the, the, the art, the art side of it is, is outsourced on, on this show.

Michael Jamin (36:29):
Interesting. And then, and so they're actually, okay, so the animation houses are there. I mean, basically if you're an, so if you're an animator, it's interesting, there's different levels of animation, animators. This is all, and I've worked, I've worked in animation for many years. I still don't understand how it works. But but like, I remember like when we worked I worked at it wasn't Bento Box, it was whoever was doing King the Hill, Fort Bento. But Oh,

Eric Fogel (36:56):
I know who you're talking about.

Michael Jamin (36:57):
Yeah. I was, I'm forgetting, I'm blanking now. But they, the animators would've to come take tests. You would apply for a job of animator. Yeah. They'd give you a test, draw this frame or whatever, you know, is that how it still works there? Maybe stick

Eric Fogel (37:11):
Computer. Yeah, I mean there's always, you know, it's like anything else, right? You have to audition, right. Or things. And yeah, there are, there are definitely, there's a big kinda leap in terms of skill levels

Michael Jamin (37:26):

Eric Fogel (37:26):
Artists. Right. Because so much of art is like subjective.

Michael Jamin (37:31):
Yeah. It's so, it's so interesting. That's this career. But, and what about, I don't know, live action? Any interest getting back into doing more or? No,

Eric Fogel (37:40):
I would love to do some, some live action at some point. I, I've got like a horror movie that I would love to try to do one day. And you know, I, I'm, I'm such a huge like, horror sci-fi nut.

Michael Jamin (37:55):
Right. Are you, and are you pitching other shows as well? Or, or, you know, is how does it work in Dreamworks? So like, we have an idea, we have to show you're hired Fogal. I mean, is that what it is? Basically?

Eric Fogel (38:06):
They have, yeah. I mean they have a, an in-house development process. And when you're, when you're here, they, you know, there's like a, you have, there's a first look deal. So you, you, if you have an idea, you're sort of obligated to first.

Michael Jamin (38:21):

Eric Fogel (38:23):
And you know, the, so the industry's a little different right now cuz there's, they're not, you know, there aren't, there aren't a lot of shows being sold or bought right now <laugh>, because it's

Michael Jamin (38:35):
No kidding. Is that and is that the way, I didn't know if that's the way it is for animation as well.

Eric Fogel (38:40):
It is. So, you know, I'm very, very happy to be working on Megamind right now. <Laugh>.

Michael Jamin (38:46):
Yeah, right.

Eric Fogel (38:47):
This will keep me employed, you know, for the next year or so. But it's like, you know, it's like anything else. We, we work job to job and there's never any guarantee Nope. That you're gonna get hired again. You just, you know, it's all kind of on good faith.

Michael Jamin (39:02):
Are you working with the actors too? Directing actors as well?

Eric Fogel (39:05):
I'm directing all the voice actors on this show.

Michael Jamin (39:08):
You're the only director. Yeah. And, and then you're also supervising the animation, the, the

Eric Fogel (39:14):
All of it. Yeah, all

Michael Jamin (39:15):
Of that. Yep. Good for you, man. Carved out quite a little career for yourself.

Eric Fogel (39:20):
It's fun.

Michael Jamin (39:21):

Eric Fogel (39:21):
It's fun. Keeps me busy. But I, I do love it. I do.

Michael Jamin (39:25):
Do you have any other advice for anybody to, you know, what's, you know, trying to break in

Eric Fogel (39:31):
Other, I mean,

Michael Jamin (39:32):
Make more,

Eric Fogel (39:33):
You know, it's, you have to, I, it's a long time ago someone told me like, the recipe for, for a successful whatever show movie, whatever, you know, you find that, that thing that, that you love. You put, you put your, all your heart into that thing. And then, you know, you take what everyone else loves and, and it's kind of like where these two things come together that, that's kind of like your sweet spot, right? That's, that's your hit, that's your success. And so you gotta, you know, you gotta like focus in on what that thing is and, and put everything you have into it.

Michael Jamin (40:08):
I'm surprised they're not talking about bringing celebrity death mat back. That's gotta be next.

Eric Fogel (40:13):
There have been a few conversations over the years and there, there have been a couple of attempts to bring it back and we, we did. Yeah. I mean, it's, it's not dead, but <laugh>,

Michael Jamin (40:27):
Do they reach out to you or are you actively trying to sell that?

Eric Fogel (40:30):
I have. So I guess it's Viacom or Yeah, m t v. They, they own the rights to the show, but we, we have an agreement to, you know, if, if they want to bring it back, I'm, I'm attached to it. Right. And we've had, we've had some attempts and for whatever, well we, we did, we did get close. And then yes the studio that had made an offer, they went away.

Michael Jamin (41:00):
They went away

Eric Fogel (41:01):
As, as these things do. I'll, I'll tell you offline more about it, <laugh>.

Michael Jamin (41:05):
Alright. Like, when we put the animation, the, the ama the animation studio that made Glen Martin, we put 'em outta business <laugh>.

Eric Fogel (41:12):
They, they didn't stay in business long after that. <Laugh>. And it's Yeah. Funny because they, I, I don't know if they, at the time I, I'm not sure if they realized how, what, what a unique opportunity that show was for them.

Michael Jamin (41:26):
What do you mean by that?

Eric Fogel (41:28):
The, you know, I, again, like these shows, these stop,

Michael Jamin (41:32):
Like they, how many stop motion series have there been? Right, right. You know, they're few and far between. Right. That was the Yeah, that's another thing. There's only, they're one of the few people that actually could do it. And I don't, I don't even know what they were doing beforehand. It's Right. So when they went out of business, like there was like, what else are you gonna do? You know, they wanted be like, people aren't lining up. Yeah. Stop for stop motion shows. Right? There's only a handful. Yeah. Yeah. That's the, yeah. Anyway. Is there any way, is there, do you wanna promote anything? Do you want people to follow you anywhere? Is there anything we can do to help you help grow your brand? Eric Fogel. Violent <laugh>. You can find me. I'm on you can find me on Twitter. Death Match Guy, I think is my, my oh really?

Twitter handle. I'm verified there. What? Oh. But not on Instagram, just Twitter. I do a little Instagram. I'm not a huge social media person. Yeah. Well, we'll get you there for some weird reason. Yeah. Cause you're, cuz we're the same age. Anyway. All right, dude, I wanna thank you so much. Yeah. I, you've exposed me. I've learned something. Learned something about you and your craft. Yeah, because I, I even remember when we got hired, they said, yeah, we got this guy on, on Glen Martin. We have this guy Eric Fogel. I was like, what does he do? No one can explain it because we do everything. He's the guy. He's the glue, basically. That's what he he's the glue. Yeah. That's, that's it. Yeah. I'm the glue. Yeah. All right, man. Thank you so much. Thank you so much for, for joining me e. Excellent. that's it everyone. More good stuff next week. Go check out what Eric Fogel's up to. And he's a great guy. Thank you again so much for doing this, man. Don't go anywhere. All right, everyone, until next week.

Phil Hudson (43:18):
This has been an episode of Screenwriters. Need to Hear This with Michael Jamin and Phil Hudson. If you'd like to support this podcast, please consider subscribing, leaving a review and sharing this podcast with someone who needs to hear today's subject. For free daily screenwriting tips, follow Michael on Instagram, Facebook, and TikTok at @MichaelJaminWriter. You can follow me on Instagram, Facebook, and TikTok at @PhilAHudson. This episode was produced by Phil Hudson and edited by Dallas Crane. Until max time, keep riding.

Author Details
For the past 26 years, Michael Jamin has been a professional television writer/showrunner. His credits include King of the Hill, Beavis & Butthead, Wilfred, Maron, Just Shoot Me, Rules of Engagement, Brickleberry, Tacoma FD and many more.