The Powerpuff Girls movie
July 2, 2002 - The name Craig McCracken may not be familiar, but any cartoon tagahanga is well acquainted with his creations – The Powerpuff Girls.
What you may not be aware of is that the defenders of Townsville are about to hit the big screen in Powerpuff Girls: The Movie on July 3, squaring off against Mojo Jojo.
IGN FILMFORCE: What were the difficulties in bringing the ipakita to the big screen – especially since, I'm assuming, it wasn't a Disney-sized animation budget�
CRAIG McCRACKEN: No, it wasn't. Basically, it was just keeping the tone and the feel of the show. The shows are either 11 or 22 minutos and they ilipat pretty quickly, and that's part of the charm of them – so it was just trying to keep that in mind and keep the energy of the story moving, even though we were dealing with a longer format. It was a challenge to not make it feel like a totally different animal. It feels like this still is Powerpuff – just longer.
IGNFF: How long did it take to arrive at a story that would sustain a feature?
McCRACKEN: We came up with two stories. It took us a couple of months� we came up with two different ideas – one that was purely an action show, and then on that was madami of a subtle character piece. The network liked both of them, so basically what we did is created a hybrid of the two ideas – and thus we have the movie that we just finished.
IGNFF: And it's essentially a prequel�
McCRACKEN: Yes, it's a prequel. It tells the story about how the girls were born with superpowers, but they weren't necessarily bayani at the beginning of this movie, so the movie is about the events that happen in their life to make them decide to be heroes.
IGNFF: I'm assuming Mojo Jojo was a ibingiay as the villain�
McCRACKEN: Yeah� Yeah� For me, definitely. He's like the catch-all villain – he can be really silly if he needs to and evil if he needs to. He works on a lot of levels.
IGNFF: I was pagbaba the Animation Blast website the other day, and I found Amid's take on the poster interesting, seeing as how the writers listed are artists and not screenwriters – as has been the kamakailan way of doing things in the animated feature realm�
McCRACKEN: Yeah, definitely�
IGNFF: How hands-off in the process has Cartoon Network been? They seem to exist in this little bubble of creativity in a raging storm of something less than that throughout Hollywood�
McCRACKEN: Yeah! We didn't have any screenwriters. I don't believe in scripts – if you're going to write, then you also have to draw, if you want to work on Powerpuff. That's what we did with the movie – all the guys who wrote it are the same guys who storyboarded it and visualized it, figured out all the shots, and basically made the movie. So it was being written and boarded at the same time – basically like they used to make animated movies.
IGNFF: Before they forgot�
McCRACKEN: Before they forgot, yeah�
IGNFF: How would you say that method enhances the end product?
McCRACKEN: There's a lot you can do without words. You can say a lot with pictures. It's a visual medium – and especially with animation, you can do a lot that you can't do in live action. Because it's drawings, you can kind of go anywhere and create anything you want. It really just gives you a sense of when you need to have dialogue and when you don't, and if your pictures are telling the story, you don't need to have all this talking. A ipakita like Samurai Jack – that Genndy is doing – is a testament to that, where there's hardly any dialogue in the whole show, but you can totally follow it because the visuals are selling that. I think a lot of times, in my experience, scriptwriters fall in pag-ibig with their words and feel that they need to describe everything. There's a lot to be sinabi for a visual way of telling stories.
IGNFF: How would you describe the atmosphere at Cartoon Network? Why are these kinds of projects allowed to flourish there and not at, say, Nickelodeon?
McCRACKEN: Well, for one thing, the executives in charge at Cartoon Network are cartoon fans. I mean, these are people who grew up loving animation and loving cartoons, and the only difference between them and me is they don't know how to draw. They're just kind-of frustrated artists who wish they could draw cartoons, but they don't – so they go to a network where they can say "yes or no" to good ones getting made. They trust us as creators and give us a lot of freedom to do what we do, and they basically say, "Look� We don't know how to make cartoons. You definitely do, so you go ahead and do that and we'll put them on the air." They pag-ibig animation.
IGNFF: Is there a definite sense amongst you all of operating in a bubble?
McCRACKEN: Yeah, pretty much so. We've been working this way for a number of years, so we're pretty happy with the system we've got here and the way things work. I've even had my agent saying, "Well let's try to tindahan you around and do this�" And I'm like, "Well, I've got freedom here. I can make the cartoons that I want to – why would I want to go somewhere else? Where every decision has to be made sa pamamagitan ng committee?" That doesn't appeal to me.
IGNFF: Was there any hint of that committee approach while you were working on the movie?
McCRACKEN: Not at the beginning. Near the end, as we were finishing it up, there was a little madami involvement – just because this is such a big investment from the network's point of view, that they were like, "We want to make sure that everybody's on board with this movie and there's nothing in it that could be problematic." There were a few edits that had to be made from Warner Bros.' standpoint, but nothing so disastrous that it affected the final film.
IGNFF: Content editing?
McCRACKEN: Not so much content – moreso pacing. The movie is really fast and it moves along really quickly, and I think there were just some parts where Warners wanted to keep it going a little. They felt like it maybe got a little slow in certain parts. There were a few content things, but nothing major.
IGNFF: So where's the advertising for the movie?
McCRACKEN: Good question!
IGNFF: Every time I turn around, there's another uy Arnold! Ad, but no Powerpuff�
McCRACKEN: You know, I've been wondering the same thing myself. I don't see any posters, I don't see any billboards, the only commercials I've seen are the one's Cartoon Network's been airing. In theory, Warner Bros. is putting $20 million into promoting this movie. The movie comes out in 15 days – hopefully I'll start seeing it.
IGNFF: I was speaking with someone earlier about the film, and they said, "When is that coming out?"�
McCRACKEN: Yeah, exactly. I'm hoping that word-of-mouth on the film – people seeing it and liking it – that that will drive madami people to the theaters, because I haven't seen the billboards or the posters or anything.
IGNFF: Do you worry about it opening opposite Men in Black II?
McCRACKEN: A little bit, yeah� I mean, there's been lots of billboards and posters and ads for that movie for a number of months! I think everybody knows that's coming out. It's somewhat of a different audience, though, then the Men in Black audience.
IGNFF: Do you have any fears – quite valid, with Warners' history – of this being another Iron Giant?
McCRACKEN: I hope not� I hope not� That was some of my initial fears when we originally got involved with Warners, was that they haven't had a lot of success with their animated films. Hopefully they'll see the potential with this one. The one thing we have going for us is that we're already a proven property, and so hopefully that will help us at the box office – that people know what Powerpuff Girls is, whereas Iron Giant was a new thing.
IGNFF: Of course, here's hoping that there's some advertising to remind people when it comes out�
McCRACKEN: Yes! I would� I'm waiting for it� Maybe July 2 we'll start seeing everything� The araw before it comes out�
IGNFF: Hopefully it's not July 10�
McCRACKEN: Exactly! Post-promotion�
IGNFF: "By the way, did you know this movie opened last week?"�
IGNFF: Have there been any materials produced for an eventual DVD release?
McCRACKEN: Well, a lot of the things we cut out of the movie, we'll be putting on the DVD – the different edits of certain sequences, I'm hoping to get on there. Just so people can see how a certain sequence was handled at one point.
IGNFF: Any behind-the-scenes footage of story sessions and extreme kickboxing?
McCRACKEN: Yeah, there might be some. There's been some documentation of the making of this, and hopefully we'll be putting together a long making-of piece. I know we've got all the materials for it – it's just a matter of whether the network puts that together. I would like that� That would be great.
IGNFF: And where does the series stand right now?
McCRACKEN: The series has kind-of been on a hiatus as far as production goes. We're going to be starting up again in August on the fifth season, and just kind-of go from there and continue making the shows.
IGNFF: How many episodes exist right now?
McCRACKEN: 49 half-hours.
IGNFF: Are there already contingency plans when – I'll use the word when – the film is a success for the sequel to go into production?
McCRACKEN: I haven't heard anything as of yet, but I wouldn't out it past the network saying, "This one did really good. Let's work on a sequel." And then I'll have to say, "Okay – who's going to make the TV ipakita and who's going to make this movie?" Because they're going to want both and, at a certain point, one of the projects is going to have to� I'm not going to be able to be involved in everything. So at a certain point, that decision will have to be made� What do we let go of a little bit�
IGNFF: Well, there's always the cloning option�
McCRACKEN: Yeah! Exactly! That would have been great� I'd pag-ibig that�
IGNFF: You just have to call on that secret Warner Bros' protocol� the same one they used for Arnold�
McCRACKEN: Yeah! Exactly.
IGNFF: In adapting it for the big screen, how did the animation technique change, if any? Was fuller animation used? I really don't mind the limited animation in Powerpuff, because it fits the style�
McCRACKEN: It's fuller animation. The drawings are a lot closer to being on-model than they ever have been, because the crew here went over all the layouts an meticulously fixed everything. The main thing we've done different is that even though everything was still hand-drawn and our backgrounds were still hand-painted, instead of shooting everything on cels under an animation camera, all of the drawings were scanned into a computer and everything was composited digitally. That just gave us a lot madami control over the final frame, and we could ilipat things around a lot madami and do a lot madami color tweaks. We could ilipat the camera around in ways we never could on the show. So it's just kind-of a quicker, souped-up version of the series.
IGNFF: And for those who may be fearful, are there any musical numbers?
McCRACKEN: No. Not in the movie. That was one thing that we really fought against. We were like, "There are not going to be any pop songs in the middle of this."
IGNFF: So no Peabo Bryson� No Celine Dion�
McCRACKEN: No. Not at all. There're songs during the end credits, but that's okay because there's nothing in the body of the story. We basically said, "We don't do the ipakita like that, and we're not about to make the movie that way. People have expectations."
IGNFF: And, thankfully, you were able to retain the original voice cast�
McCRACKEN: Oh yeah� That was the best. That was great. We were a little bit worried for awhile, but everybody worked everything out. It worked out great. It would have been horrible to not have them.
IGNFF: Do you have any plans for any other projects? Or is Powerpuff your main focus?
McCRACKEN: Right now, Powerpuff is the main focus. I'm always thinking about what I might want to do next, but there's still things I want to do with Powerpuff – so I can keep going with this one for awhile.
IGNFF: Do they ever come to you can say, "Why can't you be as productive as so-and-so?"
McCRACKEN: No, not at all.
IGNFF: Or do they say, "Just keep raking in the cash for us�"
McCRACKEN: Yeah, they're pretty happy with the way Powerpuff's going, and they're fine with that. I just don't want to spread myself too thin, because I want to be too hands-on. I could probably develop another ipakita and then have other people make it, but I couldn't just let something like that go.
IGNFF: So you wouldn't say that you're burnt-out on Powerpuff at this point�
McCRACKEN: Not too much. I'm pretty burnt-out as far as just working goes right now and I'm really ready for a break – just kind of stopping and rejuvenating myself. I couldn't start the series right now. I'm getting six weeks off, which is going to be great, because there's no way I could start making the ipakita right now. Hopefully this break will do me good.
IGNFF: Just think – if you have a great first weekend, they'll give you the keys to the Warner House in the Bahamas�
McCRACKEN: That would be nice!
IGNFF: If it doesn't, it's off to Encino�
McCRACKEN: Yeah! Yeah� definitely�