July 07, 2011 6:28pm PT by Jethro Nededog
'Issues' First Look: Eric Stonestreet, Seth Green, Greg Grunberg Get Super Animated (Exclusive)
Crackle, Sony Pictures Entertainment’s multi-platform video entertainment network, premieres its new original series, Issues, on July 20. The six-episode series was co-created by Better with You star, Josh Cooke, and Wasted director Matt Oates.
It mixes live action and animation to tell the story of Dr. Ted -- played by Cooke -- a psychologist who deals with the far out neurosis of superheroes whose voices are provided by Eric Stonestreet (Modern Family), Seth Green (Buffy the Vampire Slayer, American Dad), Ron Livingston (Office Space), Greg Grunberg (Love Bites), Eddie Kaye Thomas (The Incredible Flame), and Rob Riggle (The Daily Show with Jon Stewart).
Watch The Hollywood Reporter’s exclusive peek at the series’ first trailer above and our Q&A with the creators below.
And if you have more questions about the series, it’s heading to San Diego Comic-Con on Friday, July 22 at 9:30 p.m. with a panel featuring Cooke, Oates, and Grunberg (with more participants still to be confirmed).
For more information on the series, visit its coming soon page at Crackle.com.
THR: How did the idea for Issues come about?
Josh Cooke: Matt came up with the basic concept of "superheroes in therapy" while he was in college, but the idea sat on the shelf for many years. Then about three years ago, I was over at his house and I asked him if he had any concepts for an Internet series that we could shoot ourselves with a fair amount of ease. He told me the concept and I loved it. We ended up writing two or three of the scripts that day, although pretty much all we kept were the characters and a few story elements. Funny thing is, Issues was in no way something we could shoot on our own or with any kind of ease – this mostly due to the animation. I'm not sure why, but we have a tendency to be interested in the most difficult ideas to execute.
THR: Do you have any fascinating or fun stories about shooting with the voice actors?
Matt Oates: Production was pretty rushed. We had a limited budget and a lot to shoot. But I would have to say the most fascinating aspect of production is the same one Robert Zemeckis talked about when shooting Who Framed Roger Rabbit? Basically, shooting a project where major characters are added in post-production is like filming an “Invisible Man” movie. We had fishing line closing doors and opening boxes; wires hovering lit cigarettes in the air. We even had a not-so-successful gag where the cushion on the couch was supposed to depress as one of the animated characters sat down. It didn’t work as well as it was designed, but you can see it a little in Episode 5: “The Nothing.”
Needless to say, the playbacks and initial transcoded Quicktimes looked pretty ridiculous. I can remember one of the execs from Sony calling me over to video village and playfully asking, “What the hell are we paying for here? You just spent the last two hours shooting an empty couch!”
Cooke: From my side, it was interesting having to act with a tennis ball. We had a great actor on set, Joe Hartzler, who did all of the heroes’ voices for us live. Later on we somehow managed to assemble this ridiculous cast of actors to do the final voices. Every one of them had fantastic improvs that Matt and I will most definitely take credit for. I think my favorite improvs were the phone call Rob Riggle (Captain Magnificent) makes at the end of his episode, and Eric Stonestreet (K9) declaring he's the "bees’ knees." All of the actors gave us such great material - trying to edit down to a few minutes was difficult.
THR: How long did it take to produce just one episode?
Oates: [It was] about seven weeks per episode. It may not seem like much, but considering the fact we’re only talking about 3-4 minutes an episode, that shakes out to a lot of time and effort from a lot of people. Also, to help us come in on budget I had to take on a lot of additional responsibilities (the editing, some of the compositing and FX work, and even some of the initial sound design). Needless to say, my wrists and fingers are still sore!