On the last day of our trip, Wednesday, we shifted gears and visited Disney’s animation facility to learn more about “Future-Worm!,” a new animated comedy adventure debuting on Disney XD on August 1, 2016.
“Future-Worm!” tells the story of an optimistic 12-year-old named Danny Douglas that creates a time machine lunch box through which he meets and befriends Future Worm, a fearless worm from the future (with titanium-enforced abs). Together, the duo embark on adventures through space and time.
While at the animation facility we had the opportunity to screen the first episode of “Future-Worm!” (details in the coming weeks) and also sit down the show’s Creator and Executive Producer Ryan Quincy. Now, the name Ryan Quincy may sound familiar and it should! Best known for his work on the long-running animated series “South Park,” he won two Emmy Awards. He also created IFC’s animated series “Out There,” for which he also voiced the lead role of Chad.
Anytime we go to a private screening we go into room in the building that is literally like a miniature movie theater. The seats are setup in theater fashion, they are comfy like theater seats, and there is a big screen where we get to view the film or show of the day. In this particular room there were pictures from the show and a few characters place here and there. We were permitted to snap a few pictures before Ryan arrived to join us for the screening and a Q&A session.
Before the event formally began, Ryan shared a bit about himself with us so we would have a better understanding of the show’s origin. He noted that he worked on “South Park” for about 14 years and that he is the father of an eight year old girl and twelve year old boy. As someone who has watched “South Park” in the past, I understand that the show caters to a more adult audience and therefore that was not something that he was able to share with his children. Ryan shared that he always wanted to make a show for his kids, a show that he could watch with his kids, and that is “Future-Worm!”
What I loved about Ryan is how animated he was. He was so excited to be there with us, to unveil his baby, and share it with the public. This was the first time someone other than Disney employees, or perhaps his children, were going to see his work and it was evident that he was absolutely stoked. Everything about Ryan screamed I’M FRIENDLY AND THRILLED TO BE HERE and I couldn’t help but smile when he started to introduce the first episode of “Future-Worm!”
Ryan ended with the following words before the lights dimmed: “It’s a lot of fun, it’s absurd, it’s silly. It’s the most fun I’ve had in animation. I love the crew. I love the cast and I can’t wait to share this with you.”
After the lights came back on you should Ryan jumped back up and was ready to talk about what he had just seen. The first thing he wanted to touch on was someone that we were introduced to in the episode, someone that I was thrilled to see, Neil deGrasse Tyson!
RYAN QUINCY: As you saw, we have three cartoons that make up our half-hour. We have an 11-minute, a 3-minute, and a 7-minute. So, we’ve got a nice variety of adventures and stories to tell. And, Neil deGrasse-Tyson, he’s been amazing. He’s been all game for everything. His big thing when we asked him about it, he said, well, I’d just like to make sure that there’s some, you know, science education in there.
So, we tried to do some of that! But he always corrects it. There was one time we had a line, in another episode, where we talk about some galaxy that’s like, three million light years away. He says, you know, that’s pretty close, you might want to add a couple more zeros on to that. [LAUGHTER] So, he’s our unofficial science consultant, so it’s been good.
Then he opened the floor to questions!
QUESTION: Will you explore the origin?
RYAN QUINCY: There were five shorts that we did last summer, five 90 second shorts. “Future-Worm!” shorts. Some of the origin is in them. With the series, we want to just hit the ground running. Over the course of the season, there’ll be some callbacks to some of that. But, basically, what happened was, Danny created this time machine lunch box, sent it so far into the future that these future scientists found it, opened it up, and some of Danny’s lunch was in there, there was an apple in there that happened to have a worm in it.
They put it through their genetic escalator, and gave him all these attributes. Like, the bulletproof beard, the photoreceptor visor, and the 24 titanium-enforced abs. [LAUGHTER] Then, they sent Future Worm back to hang out with Danny. So, that’s kind of in a nutshell, the origin of how they met.
QUESTION: Have your kids seen the show, and do they like it?
RYAN QUINCY: Oh, they love it. They’ve given some notes, too. So, not only do we get notes from the execs, which, those are great. My kids also give material. My son, in the episode there is the line that Future Worm had of, “I love shoestring fries.” Before, it was, “I hate shoestring fries.” He was like, you know what, it should be “I love shoestring fries.” Future Worm should love those. So, we made that fix. But, yeah, they love it. It’s been fun to share it with them. Yeah, it’s been great to watch it with them and get their input.
QUESTION: What was the inspiration behind “Future-Worm!”?
RYAN QUINCY: When I came over to Disney to develop something, what was so liberating about the marching orders was, they said, make a show that you always wanted to make. And I always loved time travel, and adventure shows, and I’m good friends with Justin Roiland, who did Rick and Morty, and when we were talking I said, I think I want to do a time travel show. He said, well, if you’re gonna do that, there’s always the rules you have to deal with.
And I was like, do you, though? I don’t know if you do — maybe if it’s a show that –, and the characters kind of say, ah, forget the rules, and just kind of barrel ahead. And that was really sort of the inspiration of doing sort of this self-indulgent time travel, and not every episode is time travel. There’s other adventures, too.
QUESTION: Will Bug go on any adventures?
RYAN QUINCY: That’s kind of the big frustration for her. There’s sort of this prophecy that a future version of Danny comes, who’s voiced by Paul Williams, and says, you can’t take her into the future, because if she goes in the future, the whole universe implodes. So, she’s really frustrated and they know that they can’t take her on these adventures. But, there’s a nice arc that you’ll see over the course of the season, where we deal with that. She’s gonna try her hardest.
BLOGGER: Some of this stuff is so right up kids’ alleys that it’s scary. My son loves this level of silliness.
RYAN QUINCY: Well, absolutely. And I even tapped into my own nine year old brain, [LAUGHTER] and was like, what was the show that I would’ve loved to see on Saturday morning, or wherever. There was a lot of, what do my kids want to watch and what do I want to watch with my kids? There’s a lot of fun stuff that I think the parents and everyone can enjoy, it’s a wide appeal for everyone. I love getting ideas from my kids, and talking to them, kind of pitching out ideas and things, and seeing what they think. Every time I screen one of these for them, I’m like, what was your favorite, what was this? I kind of needle ‘em a little too much, they’re like, Dad, alright, enough. [LAUGHTER] We liked it, we liked it. [PHONE RINGS] Oh, this might be my —
It was at that point that a cellphone rang. Now, I can tell you that we were all looking around frantically because it is common courtesy to turn your cellphone off when sitting down with talent and here a phone was ringing. EVERYONE was looking around trying to figure out who broke the unspoken rule when Ryan pulled his phone out of his pocket.
RYAN QUINCY: Hello? I’m kind of in the middle of something, but, oh, here they are. Yeah. Ladies and gentlemen, our future scientists. [GROUP CHEERS] That’s amazing.
In walked two future scientists with latte and muffin in hand and they headed to the front to meet Ryan.
RYAN QUINCY: Wow. [SOUND EFFECTS] Thank you. You know it’s from the future because there are these future antennas on it. Fantastic, guys. Thank you. No, you don’t need to sign any autographs. [LAUGHTER] But thank you! [APPLAUSE] Future scientists, everybody! [LAUGHTER]
He took a sip of the latte just to confirm that it was real and commented that it was a bit cold but tasted great … then he allowed us to return to business. ;)
QUESTION: Did you have a design in mind for the characters?
RYAN QUINCY: I started with just the name, “Future Worm!” That just sounded funny to me. It started with the name, and it was like, who is, of course, if his name is Future Worm, he has to be a time traveler. So it just started there, and I started thinking about the stuff that I loved as a kid, like I loved pro wrestling, I liked Hulk Hogan, Macho Man, Ultimate Warrior, Mr. T, and Chuck Norris. All that’s stuff got thrown into the suit.
That was all the DNA’s and also just wanting a sidekick like Chewbacca, like an ET that would be by you, walking down the halls at school, or having your back. That was really the whole inspiration of the character. I just started drawing worms with beards and weird hairstyles. [CHUCKLES] Then I just started to think of myself as a kid.
I was a little bit on the chubby side but, I kind of had a weird confidence, and I wanted Danny to just be comfortable in his skin. I used to wear a captain’s hat that I got at Disneyland. So that kind of inspired that look. I wasn’t so much into the science side of things. I was more into art and drawing comic books, and making movies. But I thought it’d be fun to have a kid that’s really into science, and playing with that aspect of stuff.
So, I just started drawing those characters, and then it just felt very natural, very organic, how they came to be.
QUESTION: So you drew the characters?
RYAN QUINCY: Yeah, I designed the characters. I designed all the characters. Now we have an amazing staff that can draw better than I can. [LAUGHS] They do a great job. Bug is a lot of fun to develop, too.
Then there was a loud mechanical noise like a large remote control car was making its way through a busy room. I looked to my right to see Robo-Carp shooting down the stairs and heading straight towards Ryan. I couldn’t help but laugh and giggle as I was witnessing the fun, absurdity, and silliness that Ryan had referred to earlier in our conversation. THIS was all part of his day, and I have to admit, I’m pretty jealous!
As Robo-Carp continued to explore the room, Ryan tried to refocus and tell us a little more about the show’s message.
RYAN QUINCY: Acceptance, family, and best friends and celebrating that. I think we set out to make a show that, like a lot of the Disney XD shows, shows that kids can watch with their families. That was a big part of it. I hope people just are excited to hang out with these characters, and see what they’re doing each week. We have such a variety of stories to tell.
We have 21 half-hours. There’s three cartoons per half hour, that’s a lot of stories to tell. But, they’re fun and I’m really excited to just unleash it to the world.
QUESTION: All the episodes are complete?
RYAN QUINCY: Uh, no — The paint was still drying on this one. [LAUGHTER] We’re right in the thick of it, but it’s fun doing this, every step of the way. Even from coming up with the ideas in the writers’ room, to the final product, putting the last bells and whistles on things. It’s fun!
QUESTION: How long does an episode take:
RYAN QUINCY: Well, we started on this last January and the assembly line just turned on, and it’s all overlapping. Every day, I am involved in some part of the process, I’m either at a voice record, or I’m looking at the first storyboard of an episode, and then at the next meeting we have color, we have animation. So it’s just a scatter-brained, multitasking kind of thing. I really don’t know how long it takes. Dan, our line producers? What do you think? [LAUGHTER]
DAN: It takes a long time. [LAUGHTER]
RYAN QUINCY: It’s a labor of love. But, I’ve watched all three of these episodes in some shape or form for the last year, year and a half. I’ve probably seen them 500 or 600 times. But I still laugh at the same places it’s a labor of love.
QUESTION: How many people did you see before Andy Milonakis?
RYAN QUINCY: Andy? Andy was my first choice. He was my first choice to be this character, do the voice of this character. He’s fantastic. He’s amazing. He does such a great job. He brings such a great energy to the character, and just, I love Andy. He’s great.
QUESTION: Will you ever work with “Future-Worm!” in VR?
RYAN QUINCY: We have a virtual reality episode, that’s coming up, with Steak Starbolt, who’s voiced by Jonathan Frakes. They go into a video game and play with him. And, Mom wants to hang out with Danny, ‘cause she takes the day off, and they’re so consumed with this virtual reality game that Mom goes into the game and hangs out with her son, there.
I’m really intrigued by VR, and I think that would be fun for kids to hang out with, Danny and Future Worm, and go on an adventure with them. I think that’s really intriguing.
QUESTION: Will there be merchandise or the ability to make our own?
RYAN QUINCY: Yeah, absolutely! It just takes a little scotch tape. [LAUGHTER] Hopefully a remote control Robo-Carp that doesn’t explode. [LAUGHTER] There’s a lot of fun ideas on the horizon.
QUESTION: Is there significance to the lunch box?
RYAN QUINCY: That metal lunch box, I had so many of those, like, the Star Wars ones, and the GI Joe, and you name it; I had every one. That was so exciting. So I thought that would be a fun vehicle for them to travel in, a lunch box.
QUESTION: How do you come up with the ideas for each episode?
RYAN QUINCY: It’s a lot of fun. Going into the writers’ room is some of the most exciting times on the show. It’s where we come up with what stories we are going to tell. There are no rules. That is kind of our thing. It is a time travel show, but, that’s more of the backdrop. It’s more about these two best friends. We kind of use the core of two best friend, where Future Worm has seen everything, he’s been everywhere.
He could hang out with anyone in any time period, and he chooses to hang out with Danny. That says a lot about Danny’s character. And Danny was always kind of looking for a sidekick, or someone to have his back through all these adventures. So they kind of, they complete each other. That’s the core, heart and soul of the show. And, not to sound cheesy about it, or cliché, it doesn’t write itself, but it just feels like, you have these strong characters, you know their voices, and that helps so much, to have that character-driven stuff.
QUESTION: How do you pick the three chapters in the episode?
RYAN QUINCY: We definitely were very mindful of what we paired together. We see the parents in the 11-minute here. We see Bug in the seven-minute. And then the next one, we’re a little strategic about how we plan those out, and space ‘em out. Our holiday episode will have two 11-minutes. And then our finale will be a big whopping 21 minutes. A nice big finale!
As the Q&A session wrapped we were excited to learn that we were going to get the opportunity to meet up with a few of the animators from the show. We were gifted our very own “Future-Worm!” lunch box and a couple of animators sent us home with a personalized momento from our day! Needless to say, I had a very excited little girl when I arrived home from my trip.
WAIT … I can’t leave this one out ….
The day was filled with pure laughter and fun and I couldn’t help but take in every moment of the silliness and giggle along with the group. The “Future-Worm!” crew is a group that clearly love their jobs, the new family that they have created, and I am excited to share more about “Future-Worm!” with you in the coming weeks. In the meantime, check out this clip below, become better acquainted with the characters that make up “Future-Worm!” and tune in to Disney XD on August 1, 2016 at 11:00 a.m. ET for the shows debut!
For all the “Future-Worm!” fun, check out #FutureWormEvent on social media.
* I was invited by Disney to attend #TheBFGEvent and #FutureWormEvent to share my experience with my readers. All opinions are my own.
Some photos courtesy of Disney XD/Richard Harbaugh