NYCC 2017: Olan Rogers & the “Final Space” Team Talk First Season and More
Final Space rolled into New York Comic Con and introduced fans to Gary and his continuing adventures. They had a panel and a well-attended autograph signing where they were giving away promotional posters for the show.
We had the chance to sit down with Olan Rogers (EP/Creator/Lead), Matt Hoklotubbe (Producer – New Form), Mike Roberts (Supervising Director) and Coty (co-tee, not co-tay; the voice of Avocato) to discuss what everyone can expect from their new series.
We have had a chance to sit down with Olan before to talk about Final Space and his other independently produced cartoon pilot Lion’s Blaze, so it was great to catch up with him and some of his team to talk a bit more in depth about Final Space before it comes out in early 2018.
I started off the interview asking how long it took to put Final Space together as a project, from conception to the final product we are going to see on TBS in 2018. Olan shared that he pitched the idea in the summer of 2015 and that fall and winter he and his team started working on proof of concept. It took roughly five months to write, put together the radio play, and send it out for animation.
They posted the pilot in April 2016 and received a huge and rapid response, including a number of inquiries about where they wanted to take the project. From there they developed a pitch and brought on David Sacks as the show runner, taking it out August 2016 to anyone who would look. A couple of months later, almost a year to the day of this interview, it got picked up by TBS and they brought Conan O’Brien on as an EP. Olan summed it up and said it took about two years, three if you counted the work he did before he brought Matt Hoklotubbe from New Form in on the project.
When discussing inspiration for Final Space, Olan shared that he watched tons of animation growing up. He was raised on old-school Toonami cartoons and enjoyed the serialized aspect of a lot of the old series. He loved Dragon Ball Z for example, but as he got older he realized that serialized animation was a “dried up pool” and if he was going to do something, it was going to be something that could fill that gap.
Olan was also influenced by the quality of animation and storytelling in Pixar films, so when he sat down to do a project he wanted to combine his love of cartoons, sci-fi, and comedy. He said “it just took a life [of its own] eventually.”
His team was drawn into the project through their own interests and because they were impressed with the script. Matt Hoklotubbe of New Form joined after Olan pitched the initial concept. They worked together on it for a year before it started to pick up. Mike Roberts was brought on through the animation studio that Olan ended up using and caught wind of the project when the team at that point was going on tour.
Mike said he loved everything about the project and did his best to get onto it. He said it is “filmic, serialized” and that it was “easy to pry him away, because if he pictured a show in his head that he wanted to create it was Final Space.” He begged and pleaded to get in on the project and Olan said yes.
Cote Galloway, the voice of the character Avocato (with a T!) was friends with Olan before the project was conceived. Olan pitched him the character and above all else, Cote liked the joke about the name and signed on. He helped Olan create the pilot that is available on Youtube and eventually got a call from Olan telling him the series was actually happening. Even though Olan spent two years mispronouncing his name as “Co-tay” instead of “Co-tee” he jumped on the project as a regular and they have not looked back.
The guys shared that fans can expect a lot from this show. It is going to be serialized, so Olan said that there is going to be a lot of drama, comedy, and sci-fi. He went on to say, “kind of a big theme that seems to be underlining it is friendship, it definitely has lots of sacrifice and, [it is about] essentially doing everything you can to try and succeed with the possibility of coming up short, you know? It is kind of a sad cartoon really [laughs]. I would expect to experience something like that.”
Matt pointed out that there is “a ton of failure in this show” and Olan added that “another thing I really wanted to do was have a show that had real consequences, essentially. Just like the old Toonami days.”
They shared an example, that the main character Gary was going to lose his arm and it was not going to grow back or magically return.
Matt added, “and maybe like [one of the themes] is finding your purpose. We start off with a lot of characters who perhaps are kind of lost and [who] find what their purpose is and where to go from here. There are many seasons and season one does a good job of setting the stage for the bigger story.”
On transitioning from live action, like what Olan has done for his Youtube channel, to animation, Olan shared that it is “definitely a bigger playground and definitely fun in that area. With Youtube there were so many restrictions on what I could literally financially do, you know? Or what I could get away with and this is literally saying ‘look, write it and we can do it’ and that’s such a cool thing to basically be like ‘well, lets do a thing where a ship lightfolds into a sun’ […] there’s no limits, which I think is cool.”
Cote followed up with some good things to say about Olan’s leadership, claiming that he is “a mastermind with laser vision.” As an actor, Cote shared that getting Olan’s scripts sold him on the project because “the color and the text just comes off the page […] you can’t help but want to dive into that because you know it is something so powerful. As an actor, that’s an element that probably brings people in.”
One of the other reporters at the round table asked about David Tennant’s involvement in the series. Olan said he has been a big fan of David Tennant for years and thought he would be perfect to voice his villain. He wanted someone to “bring his bad guy to life,” so they sent out the script and David liked it and signed onto the show. He brings a very unique voice to the villain, one that is “not goofy” compared to Olan’s original rendition in the pilot, and David Tennant has made the villain “a legitimate threat.”
Mike, the supervising director, pointed out that Olan really laid down the gauntlet for voice acting on the show. They “have to knock the casting out of the park so they can keep up [with Olan]” because there are times where they listen to an audition and think, “nope, Olan did it better.”
Along with David Tennant, we wanted to know if there were any other big names they wanted to try and get. Olan said he really wants Gary’s mom to be voiced by Sigourney Weaver and added that so far “the whole casting process was ‘these are all long shots, but lets try to get them” and they ended up getting about 90% of their choice actors to agree to the series.
The interview wrapped up with a quick discussion about Olan’s emphasis on soundtrack, which was said to practically be its own character. When he was sending out scripts and pitches he actually included a playlist because he “wanted them to feel the show,” not just read it on the page. Extra details like that are probably what pushed this project to where it is now.
With all of that said, we are looking forward to seeing Final Space when it comes out on TBS next year. If you want to stay updated be sure to follow FinalSpaceTBS on twitter.