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Beast Animation working hard on 1 minute penisodes

26 maart 2009
Busy days at Beast Animation in Brussels: while supervising the dubbing of A Town Called Panic in Flemish, the Beast crew is producing a pilot for a mini series called Master Bator. In each episode a penis puppet comes to the rescue of princess vulva, held hostage by... a dildo.
In the beginning there was... a crazy idea. 'Before we had our own studio, Ben (Tesseur, ed.) and I wanted to do something on the side, just to have really good fun and to animate something without any restraints, not taking into account political correctness, animation 'do's and don'ts' etcetera...' says Steven De Beul. 'So we came up with short stories involving penis and dildo characters. Seven years ago I even made a public appeal on Studio Brussel (a national radio station for a younger audience, ed.) to collect used dildos, to see what kind of reaction it would trigger. But other ideas and projects came along, leaving Master Bator lingering in the back of our heads'. In the meantime, Steven, Ben and producer Pilar Torres Villodre have worked hard to put Beast Animation on the map, not only as a well-equipped animation studio but also as a production company. Last year they put a lot of effort into A Town Called Panic, a feature film based on the successful tv series by Vincent Patar and St├ęphane Aubier. The last two weeks of March Steven and Ben kept an eye on the dubbing process at Sonicville, where director Jan Eelen and his actor's crew were adding their comical talents to the Flemish version of the film. 'During the animation of A Town Called Panic we felt we should do something with Master Bator, to turn it into a valuable project, so we decided to make a pilot.' Letting the project linger all these years might turn out to be a master stroke, since the two can now combine their extensive experience with their enthusiasm from yesteryear. 'This pilot is a testcase, for more than the series alone', explains Steven. 'Right now, we have the time and the means to put some things to the test, also to question the way we are working. We use the pilot to experiment with new software, with a new camera, with new staff, and also to try out working in a low budget way. So other projects could benefit from taking this new approach and from making this pilot.' 'The format for Master Bator is simple: the penis character, Master Bator, is doing the housekeeping when he gets a call for help through his tv set. The princess (who looks like a woman's genitals) is kept hostage by Bator's nemesis, the dildo, and ends up being rescued by her hero. Obviously he always wins because he is able to shoot, unlike his opponent.' Every episode is a parody of famous movie scenes, music fragments or moments in history. In the pilot episode for instance Master Bator refers to Star Wars (with a dash of Ghostbusters). 'Everyone who caught a glimpse of it so far is enthusiast about it, of course that is encouraging', says Steven. Last year Pilar has explored the market for this kind of project at Cartoon Digital in Murcia (Spain). 'Digital platforms are looking for attractive content. Master Bator is not aimed at TV or the big screen, but at 'new' media players such as cell phones. In Belgium this market is very limited, but in Southern Europe, and even more in Japan, watching videos on your mobile phone is extremely popular. Short clips that put a smile on your face seem to be what people want to see on their way to work. So we are aiming at this growing international market. That is why we chose not to use dialogue, to keep it as universal as possible and to avoid translation issues etcetera.' Beast Animation will look for finance only in the private market and has not applied for public funding. On every single level, Beast is trying to reduce costs for this one minute series. 'The setting for the fight sequence is different every time, but we limit the work on it for each episode. In between shots we don't adapt the lighting because we plan every shot ahead and determine the lighting keeping in mind that we won't change it during shooting. This way we only limit ourselves slightly in the way we tell the story, but we don't give in to the quality of the images shot. Apart from sets and lighting, the animation itself is very cost effective because of the very simple form of the characters: there are no arms, let alone hands and fingers, to animate. The princess gets another wig depending on the situation.' To the animators at Beast, the quite realistic looking body parts/characters have become mere puppets. 'It took quite some research to get them right', says Steven. 'They needed a certain transparency. Pedri Animation of Holland took care of that.' The concept of Master Bator and the viral distribution of this type of mini series are aimed at both teenagers and young adults. The edgy humour and the atypical yet very recognisable characters should appeal to this broad audience, according to the makers: 'Younger people might not recognize every reference made and still find it funny in itself, while a slightly older audience will be able to enjoy an extra level of amusement referring to great moments in entertainment history. Anyway, we are organising a test screening with teenagers in the near future and we are very curious how they will respond'. LINKS Beast Animation Pedri A Town Called Panic Panique au village