S: I, Shayan Farooq, (I like introducing myself this way, it feels fancy), am Cam's co-showrunner on Gaffytown Bounty.
C: I’m Cameron Carpenter. I’m one of the show creators along with Shayan, as well as a showrunner - a position I also share with her. Essentially, we go in and map out the entire universe of our program. We talk about everything we want the show to be, the specific stories we want to tell, the characters involved, and then we beg and plead and pay other talented artists to get in the ring with us and box around even better ideas. So many people say they have the best job in the world, but unless they’re showrunners they’re wrong and dirty, dirty liars. We get to invent and laugh and cry and watch as others help bring our dreams to life and to say it’s one of the most amazing (if not exhausting and anxiety-ridden) experiences of my life is to massively undersell it.
for the uninitiated what is Gaffytown?
S: Gaffytown Bounty is a TV program that Cam describes beautifully as "Avatar: The Last Airbender meets Scott Pilgrim vs. The World." And because Cam is a psycho, bra-burning, man-hating feminist, he insisted that the show's primary characters be women. When we were discussing character ideas, Cam suggested I write a Pakistani character (based on my own Pakistani heritage and aggressive, irrational pride in that very heritage). That was another moment where I was extremely glad Cam wanted to work with me. He created this amazing universe, funny/smart characters, and he was mindful of the various intersects of feminism. I feel like I'm hyping Cam up a lot, and not hyping Gaffytown enough. Let's do this - if you (the audience) want more information on Gaffytown, visit our website, and if you think Cam is awesome, just know that I'm a pathological liar and Cameron Carpenter is actually repulsive. These are all facts.
C: Gaffytown Bounty is an animated television series Shayan and I have been working on for nearly a year now about an intergalactic bounty hunter named Gal who races to a nearly-abandoned Earth to rescue her younger sister Kio, who has just been put on a hit list that’s challenging bounty hunters all over the universe. It’s set in a very-distant future and there are cyborgs and hillbillies and samurais and space pirates and matadors and a lot of that juicy heartache and pain that comes with every television series nowadays. But also lots of joy, action, and thrills. We’re really working on a cartoon that doesn’t pull its punches in regard to serialized storytelling. We understand that kids and teens can handle the heavy and complex plot developments of shows like Breaking Bad and Game of Thrones, so along with all the kiss kiss bang bang stuff, we’ve got characters that are challenged by the relationships they form and leave behind. We want to use the show as a way to approach a lot of things that, well honestly, we wish adults had taught us growing up. We’ve already crafted two fantastic protagonists in Gal and Kio that I think are going to be something really bold and original for kids, especially little girls.
How did the project get started? Who came up with the idea and where did it go from there?
C: I (Cameron) came up with the original concept and then approached Shayan about it after she sent me a short film that she had written. That short did really well to show a lot of her comedic strengths and her ear for dialogue was something I knew I wanted on the team. From there we worked out the basic gist of the story, as well as the main characters. We then split the first four episodes of the show between us: I wrote the pilot and the third episode, and she wrote the second and the fourth. And then we pulled together all of our resources and took a teaser campaign to crowdfunding and matched our goal. We were really ecstatic about this. Especially considering how much time we spent crying over the idea that it could have been an absolute disaster.
S: Cameron and I met on Twitter, which is exactly the horror stories that our parents warned us about when we were first starting to use the internet. But, rather than reaching out to me for sketchy things like internet strangers are supposed to, Cam had asked me to come on board as his co-showrunner for a TV program he was developing. He sent me the pilot script that he had written, along with a few sketches and character outlines, which were so goddamn good that I would've been crazy to say no.
The first reason Cam brought me on was because he was impressed by my writing. This was super exciting to me, because I had read Cam's (non-Gaffytown) work before, and it was so good that I felt extremely lame sharing one of my scripts with him. But he liked it! And he even said that it read like an episode of Archer, which is probably the best compliment you could give me, ever.
The second reason Cam wanted to bring me on was because he had gotten a sense of who I was based on my Twitter. Again, we were Internet friends, so that was his primary way of getting to know me. This is why I'm convinced Cam is crazy. Anyone who sees my Twitter and thinks "hey, that's a cool person I want to work with and interact with on a regular basis" is a little bit crazy.
Who else is working with you on this?
S: Of course, Cam and I aren't the only ones pulling Gaffytown's weight. We're working with Bobby Fernando, who created all of the fabulous concept art for the characters. Do you know how difficult it is to create kickass characters based on personality description alone? I didn't— until I saw Bobby's work, that is. He's so talented and great and has an incredible imagination. I don't know where Cam finds such cool people, honestly.
C: We’ve got an amazing team so far, as well as a prospective list of some really great artists, writers, and directors we want to hire if the show ever gets picked. Our lead artist is Bobby Fernando, who’s doing all of our concept art and posters. We can’t say enough wonderful things about him, but damn it, am I going to try. This kid came in and worked for practically nothing at first. We could give him a basic concept and he’d say “Got it,” and come back with something with so many incredible ideas that we never even dreamed of. That’s how you know an artist - any kind of artist - is the real deal. Anyone who creates exactly what you’re envisioning is just a mindreading witch, but someone who understands what you need even when you don’t is an artist. Don’t worry, we started paying him.
Our storyboard artist for the teaser is Carlota Caralt, who just hopped out of animation school and is as cool and collected as they come. She busted out near a hundred terrific storyboards in no time at all and didn’t seem to break a sweat the entire time. If the show ever got picked up, you’ll be damn sure we’re going after her for a full-time position.
Our lead animator Liem Nguyen who, no lie, I found by searching “awesome animation videos” on YouTube. Do not dismiss the power of YouTube when you’re looking for artists. And he’s fantastic. I could not believe his animation and how quickly he was able to put his videos together. He took Bobby’s concepts and infused them with his own style to make the world look even more unique. He’s at work on the teaser right now, but every update he delivers us sends us reeling with really disgusting glee and laughter. He’s the ultimate catch and as long as we can pay him, we’re never giving him up.
And then we have our voice actors, including Gabi Mason, Mackenzie Rayne, Lauren Hayes, and Shaun Lau. Collectively they’re all great, not just for their talents and incredible voices, but because the amount of patience you have to have with me in a recording studio is the equivalent of how bad I am at metaphors.
And once the show gets picked up, we’ve made it our vow to hire women and people of colors in an effort not only to balance out the inequality of the industry, but because it’s important to have their perspectives in crafting this enormous story. We’re not interested in vanilla dude-bro narratives - we have characters from all different ethnic, racial, and religious backgrounds, and it’s important to Shayan and I that our crew reflect that as well.
Hypothetical, who would you cast as the voice actors if you could?
S: Oh man, if you knew how many hours I've spent fantasizing about my dream voice cast for Gaffytown...you'd think I'm a weirdo who daydreams more than she works. (And you'd probably be right). I don't know where I'd cast him, but I'd want Jason Schwartzman to voice someone. He's such a dynamic performer and nails literally every role he's in, so he's definitely on the list. I'm just not sure for whom.
I imagined Gal (one of the protagonists) to have a really sultry voice, like Scarlett Johansson or Alicia Keys. Gal is really witty and strong, and I'd want someone with as much attitude as her to voice the role. I also really love Priyanka Chopra's voice for Gal, but I may be biased because I grew up watching her in Bollywood, so I want her in every role, ever.
Kio, her good-hearted younger sister, is a bit more innocent. I've always dreamed of working with Zoe Kravitz, and I think she would be my ideal Kio. The character is just as strong as Gal, but a lot more emotional, and that's the key to Kio.
C: Oh, man. I can’t wait to hear Shayan’s answers for this. I don’t know how much thought she’s given it, but I totally have my dream team lined up for the roles.
I’d love to get Gugu Mbatha-Raw or Rosario Dawson for Gal. And ideally an unknown for Kio. We’ve got two characters in the show that I weep and cry and adore with every fiber of my being - they’re an older couple named Rews and Loper with a gorgeous, but devastating story. I’d like Wayne Knight for Rews and Becky Ann Baker for Loper. And there’s Minister, who is this tremendously complex and haunted bounty hunter that I think Lupita Nyong’o would be perfect for. There’s also a very self-depricative, but very funny and bright bounty hunter named Rookie that I think Harry Shum Jr. would be great for. Oh, man. Lee Pace for Gal and Kio’s dastardly older brother Avey. And Patton Oswalt would kill as Luck, who is the awkward robot son of Rews and Loper that’s desperately trying to become human. An actor that I worked with in college, Keifer Adkins, is going to be the voice for the three brothers in the ‘Dana Gang, because he’s too perfect for the role.
The other characters I think I should leave shrouded in mystery, but I would love guest roles for Brie Larson, Benicio del Toro, Nazanin Boniadi, Idris Elba, John Turturro, Alan Tudyk, Kevin Conroy, and Salma Hayek. You know. If they aren’t busy.
If Gaffytown gets picked up for TV or on a streaming service do you think you would plan for a movie?
S: A GAFFYTOWN MOVIE WOULD BE INCREDIBLE! That's how you know you've made it, when your animated program gets a movie. That means people love it enough to go out and watch it, and studios trust you enough to fund another branch of your project. That (seems like) the best feeling ever. Even better than peeling dried glue off of your fingers, which is in the top 5 best feelings of all time.
C: Absolutely yes we would, and we would pay Lexi Alexander 50 billion dollars to direct it.
What is your favorite food?
S: My favorite food is beef biryani, hands down. I ended the whole interview with that answer because that is how I would like to be remembered— as a beef biryani lover.
C: If you pumped my stomach right now, you would find 14 tons of chicken alfredo.
Who would you say inspires you the most?
S: I'm inspired by a bunch of people; I was super introverted as a kid (to some extent, still am), so I spent a lot of my time watching movies/TV & reading. I suppose I'll just list all of my inspirations (in no particular order): Mindy Kaling, BJ Novak, Tina Fey, Spike Jonze, Frida Kahlo, Mira Nair, Alex Ross Perry, David Bowie, Charlie Kaufman, Patti Smith, Jean-Luc Godard, Jhumpa Lahiri, David Foster Wallace, & Allen Ginsberg.
Out of all of those, I think I'd say I'm inspired most by Mindy Kaling and Frida Kahlo, which seems like a strange combination, but sums up the two parts of me— the funny, kind of weird side, and the darkly strange side. BJ Novak is a close second. Listing my inspirations is always a little bit terrifying because I'm very paranoid I'm going to forget someone.
C: Artistically, I'm always floored by the films of Sidney Lumet and the range of his subjects. This is a guy who made a transexual heist movie in the 70s, and before that the first mainstream Holocaust film in the early 60s, and before that one of the definitive movies about toxic racism during the Civil Rights movement. Those three films are masterpieces and they only account for 1/16th of his filmography. I'm also inspired by my girlfriend's work ethic, in the sense that it is exhausting and I don't know how she does it. I will likely be stealing her spirit in order to finish the show.
What music do you listen to?
S: I'm never quite sure how to answer this question, because my music taste is so diverse and open that it's difficult to pinpoint one particular genre or type. I like a lot of alternative music (electronic, indie, all that good stuff), but I have an equal amount of hip hop & rap music as well. Classics make up a huge part of my music library (rock/hip hop classics, oldies, etc). I've got a fairly standard Jazz 101 collection comprised of the likes of Chet Baker, Billie Holiday, and Miles Davis. My taste could honestly be summed up the way everyone's is: "Anything but country and screamo." But how boring would that have been?
C: I have literally the worst music taste of anyone on the planet. I love Queen's jazz-rock stuff. Billy Joel's early soft-jazz stuff. Maroon 5's early jazz-ish stuff. I like jazz. I have the soundtrack to Lethal Weapon on my iPod, because Eric Clapton's sax stings do more for my masculinity than I'm willing to admit. Oh, and Taylor Swift. Pop Taylor Swift, not Country Taylor Swift. She's found her voice now, and it completes me.
Anything else you want to say or put out there?
S: Yes! I'm a Cofounder & the Creative Director at Coming of Faith, a company that strives to normalize the media by championing the stories and issues that concern minority women. I love my work at Coming of Faith, and Cam is our number 1 fan (he hasn't actually told me this, but I know he is).
C: Yeah, I'd love to give a gajillion "thank you"s to everyone who donated to our Indiegogo campaign. How could I not? We'd have nothing without those people.
A tremendous thank you to the both of them for taking time to answer my questions. If you want to know more about Gaffytown Bounty check out the links below.
Gaffytown Bounty Official Site
Gaffytown Bounty Facebook
Gaffytown Bounty Show Bible on Amazon
Cam on Twitter
Shayan on Twitter