Apple And Onion Screening At BAFTA Piccadilly London 21st July
Yesterday (21/07/2018), Cartoon Network UK hosted a special screening at BAFTA’s headquarters in London for a brand new limited series – Apple and Onion, plus a Q&A session with the show’s creator – George Gendi. The brand new show will premiere on Cartoon Network UK on Monday 27th August at 10am. I didn’t find out about the screening until the night before it was actually held, but luckily my friend from KidzCoolIt.com – Nick voice recorded the whole Q&A session and took a couple of photographs, without him and the Q&A audio recording, this blog post wouldn’t of been possible.
Apple and Onion follow the adventures of two childlike friends living in a world populated with anthropomorphic food, they’ve moved away from their parents and moved to the big city, together they get used to life as independent adults, make new friends and get into a few misadventures along the way, whether its dealing with cats and ducks, sneaking into a movie premiere, playing a game of Basketball while battling anxiety, earning tips or attempting to cheer up a homesick friend. Apple is voiced by the show’s creator – George Gendi and Onion is voiced by Richard Ayoade, better known as Moss from the Channel 4 sitcom and international hit – The IT Crowd and is currently the host of the gameshow – The Crystal Maze. Before working on Apple and Onion, George worked as a storyboard artist on The Amazing World of Gumball during its first season, he then pitched Apple and Onion to Cartoon Network Development Studio Europe, but CNDSE closed after Gumball’s first season. George moved to Los Angeles to work on Nickelodeon’s Sanjay and Craig as a storyboard artist, he then re-pitched Apple and Onion to Cartoon Network Studios, the show was then greenlit with ten initial episodes in a “limited series” format.
At the screening event, three episodes of Apple and Onion were shown along with a couple of shorts and then finally, the Q&A session with George Gendi and presented by Nigel Clarke (presenter of Cartoon Network UK’s Ben 10 Challenge).
Alternatively, you can listen to the whole Q&A session on the link below:
During the introductory part of the Q&A session where Nigel asked questions about the show, George mentioned where he got the idea for the show from, the show was inspired by a short story written by his older brother which was about an Apple who decides to follow his dreams and travels to the big city, while there, the Apple becomes a tree, bringing life into the city. Initially, George wanted to produce a short film based on the story, but while he was storyboarding the idea, he realised it would take too long to make and decided to pitch the idea in a TV show format. Afterwards, George created a character named Onion – instead of being round and short, he drew the character to be tall, which complements Apple’s short height. While developing his film idea, George had the idea that any food (or even any inanimate object) could be a character, but when pitching it as a TV show, the idea was scrapped and just have the characters in the show as food with human personalities.
George also mentioned the difference between Apple and Onion and the citizens of the big city, the big city is inhabited by manufactured and processed foods, where as, Apple and Onion are outsiders, to represent this, they are shown to be fresh and naturally occurring foods with no extra processing. George then talked about how he pitched the show to Cartoon Network, he compiled all his ideas into a show bible. A show bible is basically a report that explains the premise of the show, information about each characters, character designs and even drawings on how the show would look like, not everything has to be in a show bible, other ideas can be added in later, but there must be a sufficient amount of detail in a show bible to grab the attention from a animation studio or channel while show pitching. The show was initially pitched in 2011 and finally went into production in 2017. A 11-minute pilot episode was made first, which was made public in May 2016 via Cartoon Network’s mobile app. Since the pilot, some slight changes to the character designs were made.
A episode of Apple and Onion take approximately nine months to complete, but instead of working on each episodes sequentially, each episode is worked on at the near enough the same time, the first episode is worked on first, but after the initial stage has been completed, work starts on the second episode immediately the following week and so on and so forth until all episodes are in production. When in development, Apple and Onion had a small team, there were eight storyboard artists, a supervising director, a co-supervising director, a supervising producer, two background designers, two character designers and one art director. Nigel mentioned that George voices Onion in the show, he asks George how the voice actors are cast in the show, George mentions that he has a casting director on the show’s team who organised voice acting auditions. For Onion’s voice, the show’s creative consultant – Daniel Lennard suggested that Richard Ayoade would be a good choice, Richard agreed to do it. For Apple, there were a few voices, but it was ultimately decided that George will voice Apple, the reason why, is that he has control over the pitch and delivery of Apple’s voice.
In addition to the ten episodes, eight shorts were produced, which in total, used the same amount of resources as one normal 11-minute episode. The reason why the shorts were produced, is because George felt ten episodes weren’t enough for the show to gain traction and at the time the show wasn’t greenlit for a second season. The shorts were made during the post-production stage of the ten main episodes, and as music was important in the main series, each short featured a different song. Nigel Clarke mentioned the animated short – “Buff Up My Head”, he wanted to know where the idea for that short came from. In the short, Apple sings a song about “buffing up” (in other words, cleaning his head), then Onion joins in before heading to Burger’s birthday party. The idea for the short came from Matt Layzell – the show’s supervising producer. Four writers (Nick Edwards, Matt Layzell, Benton Connor and George himself) can up with different ideas for the eight shorts. Before the end of the first section of the Q&A, George confirmed that Apple and Onion will premiere on Cartoon Network UK on Monday 27th August at 10am.
The second section of the Q&A was an opportunity for the audience to ask questions about the show. A member of the audience asked George what it was like moving away from The Amazing World of Gumball to writing and directing on Apple and Onion and asked what other work he has done in between. George replied that he worked as a storyboarder on an animated series called Sanjay and Craig while he was working at Nickelodeon, he mentioned there was a slow process from writing to directing and learnt how to be a director at University. George also mentioned that producing a short animated film is the best way to show your creative ideas, especially when working by yourself. George was asked what’s his favourite character, he said his favourite character is Onion, he also likes Apple, but that’s himself, he also said that Richard Ayoade’s voice acting makes Onion a funny character.
George was asked about the similarities of the show compared to the video game Parappa The Rapper and the TV show/music band Flight of the Conchords, he was familiar with Parappa The Rapper but he did watch Flight of the Conchords after he finished working on the pilot for Apple and Onion, he admitted that there are similarities, but Flight of the Conchords’s objective is to make music, where as Apple and Onion are musical and often spontaneously break into song. George was asked whether show’s story was outline (storyboard) driven or script driven, the episodes that have been produced so far use the outline method, but going forward, episodes are now script driven, this is due to the show’s specific voicing, humour and timing.
George was asked by an audience member what shows he watched as a kid and what influence those shows had on him, he mentioned MGM’s Tom and Jerry, Warner Bros.’ Looney Tunes, CBBC’s The Animals of Farthing Wood, Nickelodeon’s Hey Arnold and Film Roman’s Garfield and Friends. George’s least favourite character in Apple and Onion is a character named “Energy Bar” (appears in the episode “Bottle Catch”), he doesn’t like her because she’s not very realistic and is mean for no reason. George was asked about the slang and humour, the slang and humour in the show is very British (mainly because both George Gendi and Richard Ayoade are from the UK), which can be hard to translate, in the United States, the humour remained intact, but in Spanish speaking Latin American and Portuguese speaking Brazil, the humour was adapted so local audiences can understand. The show is set in the United States, mainly due to the fact that the U.S. is Cartoon Network’s home market.
George was born in Egypt, but when he moved to the UK, he lived in several parts of the country including Wales, North England, Edgware (outskirts of London), Oxford, Essex and then London, and now Los Angeles in the U.S. Falafel’s Fun Day or Tips were George’s favourite episodes out of the three shown at the screening. If a game based on the show was to be made, it would be a music-themed 2D platformer. So far, George has seen the Latin American Spanish dub of Apple and Onion and it was mentioned that a Russian dub has been completed, George also said that an Arabic dub would be a funny one, in the EMEA (Europe, Middle East and Africa) region, Apple and Onion has been dubbed into eighteen languages, in terms of worldwide, the show will be dubbed in thirty different languages. The UK will be the first country outside the Americas to get Apple and Onion, with an eventual international rollout coming very soon. A young member of the audience was asked by George who their favourite character was, she replied – Onion. Finally, it was mentioned that there’s a moral to each episode, each with its own positive message.
The Q&A was concluded with an autograph and meet and greet session, this was an opportunity for audience members to get a autograph from George and ask him even more questions.
As an additional note, George mentioned on his Instagram account (see comments) that the show will be returning for more episodes:
Once again, thanks to KidzCoolIt for recording the Q&A session, to visit their website and for reviews for the latest kids movies, TV shows, games and magazines please follow the link below: