Interview with Ben Jones and John C. Reilly of "Stone Quackers" on FX - Primetime TV Show Articles From The TV MegaSite

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By Suzanne

Interview with Ben Jones and John C. Reilly of "Stone Quackers" on FX 2/24/15

I was supposed to be at this call, but I was very sick and couldn't make it. It's disappointing because John C. Reilly is such a great actor. I watched a few episodes of the show, and it's a pretty cute, funny show. Their "Twin Peaks" and "Blue Velvet" spoof was awesome. Reilly plays the bumbling Officer Barry.

Final Transcript
FX NETWORK: Stone Quackers
February 24, 2015/12:00 p.m. PST

Kristy Silvernail, FX Networks / Senior Manager, Media Relations
John C. Reilly, Executive Producer / ďOfficer BarryĒ, Stone Quackers
Ben Jones, Creator, Stone Quackers


Moderator: Ladies and gentlemen, thank you for standing by. Welcome to the Stone Quackers conference call. At this time, all participants are in a listen-only mode. Later, we will be having a question and answer session. (Operator instructions.) And, as a reminder the conference is being recorded.

I would now like to turn the conference over to our host, Miss Kristy Silvernail. Please, go ahead.

Kristy: Hello, everyone, and welcome to the Stone Quackers conference call with Executive Producer, John C. Reilly, who also voices the role of ďOfficer Barry,Ē and Creator, Ben Jones. Iíd like to thank everyone for joining us today. Weíre really excited to have you here, and remind you that this call is for print purposes only, no audio may be used.

Stone Quackers airs as part of Animation Domination, FXXís late night animation programming block, which airs Thursdays at midnight. With that said, letís go ahead and take our first question.

Moderator: Thank you. And, our first question comes from the line of Diana Price with Please, go ahead. Your line is open.

Diana: Alright. Thanks for joining us to today and doing the call, guys.

John: My pleasure.

Ben: My pleasure, too.

Diana: I never, ever thought Iíd see a version of Blue Velvet in cartoon form, soóor even use those two words together in the same sentence. So, how did you guys get the idea to, kind of, do a show based on that?

Ben: Well, the Family Guy, they led off one of their seasons with their parody of Star Wars, which is definitely, culturally and creatively important to them, and I asked the Quackers, ďWhat was a movie that inspires usóthat we might want to celebrate?Ē And, that was certainly one of them. Itís an important movie for me, yes, creatively and spiritually, maybe.

Diana: Do you think you might do any more David Lynch covers or maybe you could even get him to guest star and voice a character?

Ben: I would hope so. Yes, or I donít even think heís a real person. To me, heís definitely more of a deity or a God. Maybe John has a better, more realisticó

John: No, heís also a guru of mine. I practice transcendental meditation and heís a big proponent of that, so heís a big inspiration in a lot of ways. Heís literally a guru to me, even though Iíve never met him.

Ben: Yes, absolutely.

Diana: Alright. Thanks, guys.

Moderator: Thank you. Next, weíll go to the line of Rob Owen with the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. Please, go ahead.

Rob: Hi. I was wondering, for Johnówhat was it about this project and working with Ben, in particular, that made you want to get involved?

John: I was actually first exposed to Ben through his artwork. I saw a show that my friend, Mike Diamond, curated at MOCA, and his piece was my favorite piece of the whole show. And, then it turns out we had a mutual friend, Eric Wareheim, and Eric just had nothing but great things to say about Ben. And, then I went in and met with everyone, and he was a delightful chat, and Whit [Thomas] and Clay [Tatum] were also very charming, funny guys, and we quickly just started telling stories about our childhood and juvenile delinquency. It just seemed like a really inspiring, fun thing to do.

But, to tell you the truth, like, actually the first thing I saw of Benówhat was the thing called? Chromeóthat first short you did that was the prequel to Problem Solverz?

Ben: We had Neon Knome. That was a good one.

John: Neon Knomeóthatís it. So, I saw Neon Knome, and myself, and a lot of my friends were obsessed with that for a long time. I just thought it was this mysterious thing created by some weirdo somewhere, and then that was true, but it also turned out that Ben had done a lot of other things andóanyway, so I was already a big fan.

So, when this came my way, I thought, wow, I must be a cool person to be asked by such a cool person to do such a cool project.

Rob: Okay. Thank you very much.

Moderator: Thank you. Next, weíll go to the line of Annasita Donagoda with Mike the Fanboy. Please, go ahead. Your line is open.

Annasita: Hi. Thank you so much for your time, guys. So, my questionó what makes Stone Quackers stand out from the rest of the animations out there, like currently on TV?

Ben: Thatís a good question. Yes, I mean, well thereís lots of great things about how we make this. First off, we make it with a very small team, itís like three or four people drawing it for the designs, and then ten people animating it, and that makes it a very different creative experience, making it. And, I think the end product, you can kind of tell itís a little bit more like, maybe experimental isnít a good word, but itís more an artistic project than a kind of commodity or a product of like a big studio, and so I think that kind of makes it a little bit more crafted and a little bit more unique, more like a Wes Anderson film and less like aóI donít know, Charlieís Angels 2, or something, which are both great films but aó

Yes. Thatís one of the things as to why itís different than other shows.

John: I donít have a huge awareness of the other animation on TV other than, say The Simpsons or something, but what I can say, what I think it has going for it is, I can tell from the creative process that improvisation is embraced, and used which gives it a real kind of spark of excitement and originality, and itís really, itís also very personal, these stories.

For the most part, or at least the characters come from the real lives of Whit and Clay. And also I think having Benís perspective as an artist is different, and I donít know, itís different than just trying to please people with a cartoon. Itís moreóthere seems to be more depth to the expression, and certainly visually itís pretty unique.

Ben: Yes. Iíve just tried to create a world for the characters to kind of explore and inhabit. Yes, and thatís been, I think thatís a much different process than some other shows, and I think itís really fun for us to kind of work in that zone.

Annasita: Awesome. Thank you so much.

Moderator: Thank you. And, next weíll go to the line of Mallory Delchamp with Please go ahead.

Mallory: Hey guys. How are we doing?

John: Good.

Ben: Good.

Mallory: Good. I just want to thank you so much.

John: So, whatís your next question?

Mallory: Yes.

John: Thatís one, you only get two. So, this is your follow-up now.

Mallory: Okay. This is for John. In Stone Quackers, you play ďOfficer Barry.Ē Can you describe your character, and can you tell us what your favorite episode has been so far?

John: Well, who asked that question?

Mallory: Iím Mallory.

John: Oh, I thought you said, like you read it from a fan or something. Well, you could read the description in the press release for the description of my character, but yes, heís a police officer in the community that Whit and Clay live in. I havenít really seen any of the full episodes, yet, but my favorite one to make was probably, I donít know. I mean, my favorite interactions on the shows have beenóoh, I know, my favoriteó I think the favorite one I did was the last one which may have not have aired yet, which is where the boys try to teach me to be a tougher guy.

Ben: Yes.

John: They teach me not to be someone who gets their beak busted, which is a euphemism for getting his balls busted. In Stone Quackers, itís getting your beak busted by your cohorts. So, that was pretty fun, and I also liked reallyóI really liked working with Heather Lawless, who plays ďDottieĒ in the show. Sheís really, really funny, and we do a lot of ridiculous romantic interactions in the show. I hope that answers your question.

Mallory: Perfect. Thank you.

John: Everything else you can find in the press release, Iím sure.

Mallory: Thank you.

Moderator: Okay. Thank you. Next, weíll go to the line of Gonzo Green with Please, go ahead.

Gonzo: Hey, guys. How you doing?

John: Good, thanks.

Ben: Good.

Gonzo: So, John, forówhatís different about recording a series like Stone Quackers compared to recording something like, Wreck-It Ralph, a film?

John: Theyíre pretty similar, in my experience. In terms ofówhat I like about doing voice-over, in general, is that youíre never fighting the sun. When youíre doing films, youíre always fighting either the clock or the sun or youíre always desperate when this kind of scramble to get what youíre trying to get in as quickly as you can. But with animation, the voice recording is always moving faster than the animators can move, so you have the luxury of exploring and improvising and goofing around.

I guess one difference between Wreck-It Ralph and this was these are episodes, so the story arc is, you knowó

Gonzo: Yes.

John: It takes place within one session as opposed to Wreck-It Ralph, which was months of getting that arc complete. But honestly, I felt really lucky, and I was very careful before I agreed to do this, that it would feel similar to my experience on Wreck-It Ralph because I got really spoiled on that, by that director. He gave me a lot of freedom, and it was just fun to be together, and I quickly realized meeting Ben and these guys that this would also be a fun hang. Thatís pretty much my criteria at this point for everything in my career. It has to be a fun hang or itís really not worth it.

Gonzo: And, an unrelated follow-up because I donít know when else Iíll get the opportunity to ask you this. Are we ever going to get Step Brothers 2?

John: Next question.

Gonzo: Oh, no.

John: Iíll do a press junket about that, pal.

Gonzo: Thank you.

Moderator: Thank you. (Operator instructions.) Weíll go to the line of Angela Dawson with Front Row Features. Please go ahead.

Angela: Hi, John and Ben.

John: Hi.

Ben: Hi.

Angela: I wanted to ask you about your role as executive producer on this. What does that mean you have to do?

John: It means I get more money.

Angela: Awesome.

John: I make money off the actual creative people involved in the show. Itís like all executive producers; itís really just an empty title by which I can direct money towards my bank account.

Ben: No. We did this one episode with the Doobie Brothers, and it was a song from the Doobie Brothers, and we choreographed this whole animation dance routine to it, and then someone made a horrible decision to save money, and swap a sound alike in for that moment and I madeóI donít know how or why I would show that to John and he just raised a red flag, thankfully, and I think that it was a great role for him to play, which is just calling bull**** on this, sometimes bad decisions. Itís been super helpful to have this kind of guru for our community to be in the creative process just saying like, ďF*** that, go for it.Ē Thatís my dream executive producer.

John: So, I have to give an actual answer. I thought I could just give a smart*** answer. I donít know what he thinks is so funny. Ah, yes, you know Iím kidding. At this point, like, Iím finding this terrible thing happening where Iím the oldest person in the room when I go out to a movie set or any creative endeavor, so I guess with age and experience comes good advice, sometimes, andó

Ben: Yes.

John: So, yes. Just slowly embracing that part where you can help people do what theyíre trying to do just by sticking your name on it.

Angela: With the target of this being kind of older kids or adults, basically, watching this at midnight, do you feel like you have a little more freedom in terms of what you say? Obviously, you can kind of go to places and say things that you wouldnít have been able to say, like in Wreck-It Ralph. I mean, this does seem more like the target that would have been a fan of Talladega Nights or Step Brothers, or one of those.

John: Well, I donít think because itís on at midnight means anything these days. You make something, the whole worldís going to see it, and I canít tell you how many times a nine or ten-year old has come up to me and said, ďI love Step Brothers, and that part when you say like, ďF*** this shit.Ē Itís kind of startling like you can try to guide your material towards a certain age group or audience, but in fact, itís just out there, and I think the kind of anarchic fun spirit of this show really appeals to a lot of different people, but I never try to feel constrained.

The only constraint, I donít really try to edit myself in terms of like content. What edits you is the character, like ďRalphĒ wouldnít swear, whatever. He wouldnít do stuff that was like R-rated because heís not like an R-rated character. You know what I mean? He was sort of an innocentóso I didnít feel constrained, like oh, I canít say this, I canít say that. I was just honoring who he was.

Angela: Okay. Well, thanks a lot.

John: My pleasure.

Moderator: Thank you. Next, weíll go to the line of Preston Barta with Fresh Fiction. Please go ahead. Your line is open.

Preston: Hello, guys. How are you today?

Ben: Good.

Preston: Good. John, I was curious if you had any say in what your character would look like or did you leave it all to Ben and the animators to do that?

John: No. I didnít really. I mean, they all look like ducks, so I mean, so I didnít try to change that. I think we did have like a brief conversation Ben, about likeó

Ben: Yes.

John: I was like really, youíre going to put curly hair on the duck? Okay, I honestly donít remember. I just have so much respect for Ben as an artist that I just was like, whatever. Iím going to be delighted by whatever it is, so I put myself in his hands regarding that.

Ben: Yes.

John: Did you try to make him look like me, Ben?

Preston: Ben, could youó

Ben: I remember inventing this language as a whole, like what the eyes, and the nose, and the mouth, and the hair would function globally in the universe, but when it comes down to characters, much like improv or a joke, that stuff just kind of happens, and you can tweak it in the moment. But I donít think thereís that much of a precise discussion in terms of any of the design, itís more these overall rules. Thatís a little nerdy, but the truth.

Preston: Well, thank you guys so much.

John: Thank you.

Moderator: Thank you. Next, weíll go to the follow-up from Gonzo Green with Please go ahead.

Gonzo: Hey again, guys.

John: You, again.

Gonzo: So, Benó

John: You did ask a follow-up, it was Step Brothers. You burned your [indiscernible].

Ben: Yes. What the [indiscernible]?

Gonzo: This is myóI got back in line. This is totally fair.

John: Alright.

Gonzo: So, Ben, being on FX with Stone Quackers, is there anything different? In the past, youíve worked withóyouíve had shows on FOX or Cartoon Network. Is there anything different with dealing with FXX, with getting notes, or with content that you can or cannot air, or any sort of influence they have?

Ben: Yes. I mean, I think the main difference, so to speak, or the main important amazing insane thing is that weíre on after The Simpsons, and thatís like telling a young David Letterman that heís going to be on after Johnny Carson. We have this amazing opportunity, and I just canít even imagine that weíre expanding on what theyíve done as a cultural force, and not only just as a visual thing, so thatís what this affords us. In terms of the specifics, like, yes, again, I donítóI canít remember day-to-day on anything. I canít even remember if we asked John if it was okay to make him have a big beak, and chest hair, but yes, this is just aboutóyou turn on, kids are watching The Simpsons, and then all of a sudden they see a bunch of ducks. Thatís what FXX is all about, and itís an amazing opportunity.

Gonzo: Is there anything that you wanted to do with this show that you didnít get to do with any of the other shows you worked on in the past?

Ben: Regrets. No, I thinkóthatís a great question. Good questions, BubbleBlabber.

Gonzo: Thank you.

Ben: This isóno, I donítóyes, itís hard for meóthereís a great documentary by Errol Morris about the, I think itís called The Fog of War. It just talks about making decisions in the heat of the moment, and Iím definitely in The Fog of War right now. So itís hard for me to quantify whatís going on or in the past, but I think what weíre doing now feels totally different. Like John said about improvising and stuff, and itís something I justóI come from a very visual background so Whit and Clay and John are just doing this, itís kind of a workshop on how to be, how to create these amazing stories, and characters, so thatís whatís different about this show, and itís just so much better for it.

Gonzo: Great. Thank you very much.

Ben: And Heather, too.

Moderator: (Operator instructions.) Next, weíll go to the line of Mallory Delchamp with Please go ahead.

Mallory: Hello, again.

John: Hello.

Ben: Hi.

Mallory: Alright. This one is also for John. So, you have tackled film and now animated television. What do you enjoy most about the animation and voice-over process in comparison to a film and making a movie?

John: Well, I just answered this. Were you listening to the other person? I just gave a long detailed answer, but Iíll repeat it. Yes. Actually, I have to brag for a second. I was a guest star as myself on The Simpsons, one time.

Ben: Itís true.

John: And I got a residual check the other day from The Simpsons for $0.01, which is a whole other conversation. But yes, whatís different about this is the freedom of not having to fight the clock, and not having to be worried about the sun going down, and shooting movie scenes have really pressurized situation because youíre trying to quickly get lightening in a bottle, and then you have to move on.

And, in animation you have this luxury of always having time because the animators need time to draw, and so you can horse around in the studio, you donít have to memorize all the dialogue, you can just kind of freestyle, make mistakes, go back, do it again, so it ends up being this really kind of collegial fun thing, or it has been for me for the most part. It has been all the time on this one.

Ben: No. I donít think we everó

John: Iíve done a couple of jobs where it didnít quite feel like that, but this one, yes.

Ben: And, having John in the booth, I donít think weíve ever kept anything in the script. I mean, he and whoever else is in the scene find it in the process and yes, we have the script to kind of outline whatís going on, but in essence theyíre writing it in real time, which I assume is harder to do in live action. I donít know. Maybe not.

Mallory: Alright. Thank you.

John: Thank you.

Moderator: Thank you. Next, weíll go to the line of Diana Price with Please go ahead.

Diana: Well, I was wondering, you were talking about you do a lot of improvisation, so obviously youíre interacting in the studio, which I know some shows the actresses have a script, they go in, do their part, theyíre done. If you didnít have that chance to improvise and interact, would you still be interested in doing any animated series? This is for both of you.

John: No. I wouldnít be. Iíve had experiences like that, and I have to say that it really stinks, you end up feeling like, I donít know. It sort of feels like a manual labor job or something, youíre just going in, plugging in, doing this thing everyone told you to do, and then punching your card and getting out, not seeing any of the other actors, and I donít know. For better or worse, thatís not my skill set. My skill set is like trying to come up with something tailor-made for the moment, so I try to avoid those situations that are going to end up like feeling like what you just described. Ben?

Ben: I agree. Absolutely. Never.

Diana: Alright. Alright. Thanks, guys. And, one last quick question, whatís your favorite cartoon or animated series of all time?

Ben: The Simpsons.

John: Tennessee Tuxedo.

Ben: Nice.

Diana: Okay. Thanks, guys.

Moderator: Okay. Weíll go to the line of Deborah Kessler with The Interrobang. Please go ahead. Your line is open.

Deborah: Hi guys. You were mentioning that you do a lot of improvising. How does that impactóis that common in animated series? And, how does that affect the animators?

John: I donít know how common it is because this is the only one Iíve ever done, but it doesnít seem to upset the animators on this too much. Ben? Right?

Ben: Not at all because, again, we have everything in house, and itís a small team so other processes takeó other studios will take eight months to turnaround something. We can turnaround something in five minutes, so if thereís a change, weíve developed a work flow that plays to that.

Deborah: And, how far afield have you gone from the scripts in the course of the series, so far?

Ben: Yes, 360 degrees to which we were back at the exact same lines written on theónot. Not funny; 100%, absolutely.

John: Thereís a similar process to actually when Iíve worked with Will Ferrell in the past where weóyou try to come up with a really funny script then you do whatís written a few times until like you feel like you did it really well, and it was funny. Then you start goofing around, and you throw it out, and then you cobble together something that best fits, I guess, at the end of the day.

Ben: Totally.

Deborah: Alright. Thanks so much, guys.

Moderator: Next, weíll go to the line of Kristyn Clarke with Pop Culture Madness. Please go ahead. Your line is open.

Kristyn: Hi guys. Thank you so much for speaking with us today.

John: Pleasure.

Kristyn: But, Iím curious. This question is for both of you. What are, in your opinion, some of the key ingredients that makes for good comedic TV?

Ben: Wow.

John: Well, I think the number one thing is lack of supervision from people who are not creative people in their life. Thatís all the stuff that Iíve done with Tim and Eric is like that, the stuff with Ben, like it just doesnít seem like anyoneís really in charge except the creative people, and thatís how it should be, I think. Thatís the best way to get good results. I know whenever thereís someone in the room that feels like your boss, that you have to obey, that tends to kill the comedic spirit, in my experience.

Ben: I agree and I just want to go on record and say the first minute after youíve watched everything that FXX and FOX has ever produced you can watch Bag Boy and the first minute of Bag Boy is some of the funniest, the funniest scene Iíve ever seen on television. So, thatís the Holy Bible for funny television.

Kristyn: Thatís our [indiscernible]. Right? Thank you so much.

Moderator: Thank you. Next, weíll go to the line of Kristen Lye with Movie Pilot. Please go ahead. Your line is open.

Kristen: Hi guys. I was just wondering, if you guys could get anyone to guest star on the show, who would it be? And, my follow-up would be, what kind of character would you like to build around them?

John: I would choose Don Knotts, and he would be like my superior at the police station.

Ben: Thatís good. Yes. Iíll try to get that; Iíll try to second that. We talked about Jerry Lewis. I donítóhe hasnít gotten back to us, yet.

Kristen: Alright. Thanks, guys.

John: Thank you.

Moderator: Thank you. Next, weíll go to the line of Annasita Donagoda with Mike the Fanboy. Please go ahead. Your line is open.

Annasita: Hi again. So, my question, why ducks? Any special reason oró

Ben: Yes. I think itís just kind of aó itís cartooning. Why do cartoons even exist? Itís an interesting thing, I think. Itís a way to kind of make something thatís even more human than you can draw realistically, like sometimes you can capture someoneís personality as a funny little drawing, and certainly one where you turn humans into characters, they become even more human, and I think itís a way for us to just explore these characters as real funny people. Itís just something Iíve always drawn.

Annasita: Thank you.

Moderator: Thank you. (Operator instructions.) We will go to the line of Angela Dawson with Front Row Features. Please go ahead.

Angela: Hi, again.

Ben: Hi.

Angela: I wanted to ask you, since we live in a social media world, what kind of feedback do you get from the fans on this show? And, has any of the feedback influenced any of your writing?

John: I just want to say for the record that I donít live in a social media world, actually. Well, how about you, Ben?

Ben: I donít know. Yes. BubbleBlabber, theyówe read every review they give us. The first kind of big artistic thing I did was, and it was a website, so I donít really differentiate anything, sounds like Iím a cyber punk or something, but a specific answer would be yes, I think the question itself is kind of aónot to criticize the question but an old way of thinking where you do say these things are disconnected, or thereís this new thing of social media. To me, thereís no difference between walking down the street and seeing a homeless person crap in an alley, and reading something on Twitter. Itís all just the same reality, so you have to navigate it intelligently. That made sense, didnít it?

Angela: I have this picture in my head now.

John: Enjoy.

Angela: But anyhow, my only other question, I guess for John would be, I know somebody asked you about Step Brothers earlier, but I do have to ask you about Wreck-It Ralph 2. Itís been floating out there.

John: Donít waste your follow-up on this. Do you know how much press Iíll have to do if that movieís made?

Angela: A lot.

John: Iíll talk to you about it then.

Angela: Okay. Thanks. Alright. Well, thank you guys.

John: Thank you.

Moderator: Thank you.

Ben: I think I did a bad job with that question.

John: It was a striking image you created.

Moderator: Okay. And, next weíll go to the line of Diana Price with Please go ahead.

Diana: Well, you guys have talked a lot about improvisation, so thereís probably a lot of stuff that doesnít make it to the final cut thatís really entertaining. Any chance we might get to see some outtakes, like I know the Boogie Nights DVD, oh my God, the outtakes are hilarious of you, John. Could we maybe see something like that with the show? Some outtakes?

Ben: Yes. I will tweet them out to all for our fans which I love and our fans on social media arenít homeless people defecating in alleys, to tag the last answer that I gave.

John: Didnít they do that? What movie, what animatedóthey did that like in Toy Story or somethingó?

Ben: Yes. Toy Story does a good job.

John: They took outtakes and made it like the cartoons were goofing off camera, whatever.

Diana: That would be awesome.

Ben: Absolutely. We do plan to make little shorts and literally tweet them out and put them on Instagram and Vine, and I think thatís a great format and platform for really fast, short, funny content.

Diana: Alright. Great. Thanks so much, guys.

Kristy: Alright. Well, I donít see any more questions in queue, so we can end on that note for today. Thank you so much to everyone for joining us and especially John and Ben. We greatly appreciate your time. As a reminder, Stone Quackers airs as part of FXXís Animation Domination, which airs Thursday nights at midnight.

Ben: Thanks, John.

John: Thanks. See you later.

Moderator: Ladies and gentlemen, that does conclude our conference for today. Thanks again for your participation and for using AT&T Executive TeleConference Services. You may now disconnect.

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