Earlier this year, this note appeared in our inbox:
I love what you folks do by animating historical interviews. I have two extensive interviews I’ve done — one with Martin Scorsese when Goodfellas was released, and one with Bill Murray in 1990 — that would lend themselves well to what you are doing. They are currently on cassette tape. If you have an interest, let me know and i will get them to you. Regards, T.J. English
Yes! I met up with T.J. here in Manhattan and heard about his remarkable career in journalism and all the books he’s written on organized crime, the mob, and the underworld. He loved the idea of archival journalism that drives Blank on Blank. He handed me an envelope with two cassette tapes. On them: his interview with Bill Murray from 1988 and the one he did with Martin Scorsese a few years later. We sent them off to be digitized. Once the digital files of the analog recordings arrived, we got the interviews transcribed. Then we could get to work.
The Bill Murray interview struck me immediately because it was such a casual conversation that the two guys had. They were kicking back at his house talking about movies, his career, and the ups and downs that come along in life. We put together a script with a mix of vintage Murray humor and some poignant reflections. It is always tough to decide what can fit into the animated version of each episode. Thankfully we add bonus cuts to the podcast version of the episode and post more outtakes on the episode page (like scoop on SNL, getting into a figth with Chevy Chase, drinking with Hunter S. Thompson, etc.).
Director/Animator Pat Smith got started on the character design. Note: these are early, preliminary sketches as he worked on hitting the right note for the episode.
For the score, we steered towards Django Reinhardt-inspired music and Ethiopian jazz touches. It felt like Bill Murray for some reason.
Once the script was locked and the audio was mixed, we started work on the storyboard animatic. What comes first are Pat Smith’s brainstorm sketches, as he reads the script:
Here are some sketches from our version of a storyboard that we set to the audio interview mix:
Here you can see how a storyboard scene becomes the real thing:
And that’s the back story to making: Bill Murray on Acting Obnoxious. The episodes are created in Adobe Flash and After Effects.