Friday, February 25, 2011


Mr. Meany and Mandy the Microbe discuss living with lady parts, and the mysteries of love.

A while back I read an interview with Garry Shandling, about his old, pre-Larry Sanders series, It's Garry Shandling's Show. It's Garry Shandling's Show was a very post-modern, very 1980s thing where Shandling constantly broke character to talk to the audience and comment on the episode's plot. In the interview, Shandling talked about what a great crutch that was for a novice screenwriter, how instead of having to figure out stuff like subtext and exposition you could just have a character turn to the camera and say, "Now I'm at the restaurant to meet my older brother, Mike. He's a wealthy heart surgeon and I've spent my whole life feeling like he looks down on me. I haven't seen him in a couple of years, so this could be pretty awkward."

When I read that, I could totally relate. The format of Inside Ursula Hitler's Head lets me get away with murder, I can just have my characters turn to the camera and tell you what happened last time and exactly how they feel about it. But sometimes I want to go a little deeper, to have the characters say one thing and mean another, or for them to not totally understand how they feel. That's how real people act, and it's something I'm struggling to learn how to portray.

I don't know how well I managed it in this episode. I'm not sure if it's clear what Meany and Mandy are saying without quite saying it, or if it just seems way too obvious and on-the-nose. This is one of those episodes that will probably seem embarrassing and clumsy in six months, but it's the best I can manage for right now. I'm learning as I go, and that means you get to watch me flail (or fail) sometimes.


Seven said...

You worry too much, Ursula. Sure, the territory that you've entered is a pretty well-worn trope, but that's because most of us can really relate to that. You heart aches when listening to Meany and Mandy, because they are both vulnerable, yet not wanting to fess up to that vulnerability.

And "the miracle of cheap-ass animation" really works for you here, because it creates a physical barrier to Mandy simply jumping Meany's bones on camera. The trap that she's in acquires multiple levels, and makes it all the more poignant.

And even if six months from now, this seems hokey and forced, I guarantee you that someone will stumble across this, and be able to immediately relate.

Well done. Very well done.

Ursula Hitler said...

Thanks again, the feedback is much appreciated. As I've said, sometimes it's really hard to tell when I'm on to something and when I've bungled it. I often feel like I'm asking this software to do more than any sane person could expect... I'm trying to wring drama out of these cartoon people who were designed to star in goofy little 35-second skits you send to your grandma.

The other day it occurred to me that if I've had over 25K views for one video (as I have) and then my later videos struggle to hit 1000 views, maybe I'm doing something wrong. It seems like a lot of people see one of my videos and then have no interest in seeing more. I'm trying not to obsess over that stuff, but I do feel like I need to change something to cultivate a larger audience. These cartoons are full of all this fetishy sex stuff, and it seems weird that it's still such a struggle to get people to watch 'em.

Anyhow, you're quite right, I'm over-angsting.

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