Behind the Behind the Scenes: JOHNNY BRAVO

Ok, this is a little meta-nerdy...
I used to work at a production company that did DVD bonus features-- y'know, the "making of's" and whatnot. Being a geekweeker, I'm pretty sure you've watched your fair share of them...and, I'm sure you've seen some pretty great ones and some pretty lame ones.

(Note: I only worked on the ones you thought were great)

The best ones really take you behind the scenes. They aren't just rehashed EPK (press kit) material, but actual mini-docs (or in the best cases, feature length documentaries) that chart out the heroes journey of the film itself. Hell, I can even point to a few DVDs and Blu-Rays in my collection where the bonus features are better than the movies themselves.

The Behind the Scenes world is a pretty interesting one-- and like any production, it has its own war stories. There were many a 4am night, sitting in a smelly edit bay, fueled on bad Chinese food and an endless supply of Dr.Pepper, that I wondered: Do people know what we do?

Behind the Behind the Scenes is a pseudo-regular column that I'm kicking off in an attempt to answer that question--

For our inaugural article, I'm sitting down with my buddy, Troy Benjamin. Troy is an up-and-coming producer who has a real knack for this stuff-- including the headtwisting world of Blu-Ray widgety doo-dads. But Troy's real passion is linear content...and nerdy projects. Really awesome nerdy projects.
Those gems that we grew up on? Troy's been lucky enough to have a hand in a lot of them-- and rightly so, the dude is passionate and talented, and approaches films and TV shows with a real reverence.

So, Geekweek, meet Troy...


TIM: Hey, Troy! So you're the guy that makes those Behind-the-Scenes DVD & Blu-Ray features-- How'd ya land that gig?

TROY: Well, you know... much like everything in Hollywood, it's all about who you know. Right? For about four years, I had worked as an assistant to a great producer named Trevor Albert and in that time had worked with the folks in Fox Home Entertainment on getting them materials for a film we were working on at the time. Long story short, a few years down the road I was looking to move into DVD special features and got in touch with one of the Fox studio people who was now the supervisor at a DVD special features vendor and the rest, as they say, is history.

(The Troyster)

TIM: To quote the Bobs-- "What is it ya say you DO here?" In other words, what's the average day in the life of a DVD producer?

TROY: Ha! Mainly just... space out... what do I do? Well. Hmm, good question.
Things are changing quite a bit with Blu-ray now being a factor, so the day to day is a little more unpredictable than usual. But for the most part, a DVD special features producer works with developing concepts for discs with the studios, then schedules/arranges and conducts the interviews, commentaries, etc., raids the studio archives for materials, then scripts and works with and editor to put it all together. Some of us also are the EPK company that film on the set on a daily basis, and some of us work with designers on the menus and interactive features as well. I'm over simplifying of course to keep things succinct. But each special features producer works in a different way and in a different capacity. Because
there are other special feature producers out there that even go so far as to oversee entirely new cuts of the film and essentially produce another version of the movie as Charles de Lauzirika did on the amazing Blade
Runner Blu-ray set. It's hard to put everything we do into a container.
But I do know that we're all happy to be doing it. You learn so much from each new project, because they all end up being unique in some way.

TIM: Yup, Charlie is great...we just talked about the upcoming Alien Blu-Quad, too! So, Johnny Bravo-- how'd that come about? You'd done bonus features for a few other animated series, correct?

TROY: That’s right. Whew, I’m glad you mentioned Johnny Bravo because I thought you were venturing into territory that I’m still not allowed to talk about... But yeah, Charlie’s definitely great and it’s an honor to have worked with him on a couple of titles... So. Johnny Bravo. Yeah. I have been fortunate enough to have worked a lot with the good folks at Warner Home Video on several animated sets that are dear to the kid in my heart including several Peanuts specials, both seasons of Freakazoid, and the first season Blu-ray set of Star Wars: The Clone Wars. When they approached me to work on another series that I had grown up on with Johnny Bravo, it was hard to say no. In fact, I probably shouted “YES!” before the studio even finished asking. 


TIM: So what'd you dig up for the extras on Johnny Bravo? Any cool trips to a Raiders-esque warehouse?

TROY: Oh yeah, definitely! To me, especially on projects like this, going into the archives is one of the most integral and important parts of the work... not to mention a lot of fun. As you sit going through character
concepts and models and all sorts of the other production materials, it's interesting to see the evolution of an animated show - and that's something that I like to try and convey through the special features. I've
done special features for a couple of animated shows where the material in the archive reveals a much different show than the one the fans eventually came to know and love. I think the best example of this was on Freakazoid!, where we had the opportunity to reveal to fans part of Bruce Timm's original concept for the show and to hear from everyone involved as to how the show metamorphosed. On Johnny Bravo, not only were we able to pull quite a bit of material from the Warner Animation Archives but Cartoon Network helped immensely by providing footage and other materials too. So fans will get to see how the show and the character became as iconic as they are to date. But the biggest benefit to any project, especially on Johnny Bravo, is when the filmmakers and people behind the scenes are involved in the process. Series creator, Van Partible who is such a creative (and funny) guy was kind enough to contribute his time and
talents and quite a bit of materials that fans have never seen before - which I'm really excited for everyone to see... and hear!

TIM: So not to get all "sales pitchy" but what extras did you guys put together for Bravo? Can you tease a few things of these "never before seen" things? 

TROY: You’ll just have to buy it, and ten copies for your friends to find out! I’m kidding, of course but actually not really. Especially with older shows from the vaults, sales really drive if they release more (and if I get to do more special features for further sets), so if you love Johnny Bravo, buy early and buy often as they say. There’s a TON of new stuff on there, there’s always a few things that limit as much as you can do: time, budget, and disc space of course, but we really packed as much into the set as humanly possible. There’s a documentary on there called “Bringing Up Johnny Bravo,” which we put a few surprises into that fans have never seen before – like I mentioned, series creator Van Partible was so unbelievably cool and gave us so much material to work with that it’s pretty jam-packed. He also had a pretty rad old school Captain EO 3D comic book that he and I looked at in between commentaries... Oh — speaking of which, there’s commentaries! Van Partible played Merv Griffin for us and brought in a ton of special guests throughout the episodes. Who? You’ll just have to listen and find out. And then last, but certainly not least, we also have a couple items directly from the archives including full segments in Pencil Test form, which gives fans a cool look at the rough draft process behind traditional animation and then there’s a demo music track from the episode “The Sensitive Male” with Seth MacFarlane, which... Well... I won’t spoil.

TIM: So, other than slinging bonus features, what other projects are you working on? Where can the Geekweek army find you on the series of tubes?

TROY: Well, the special features circuit keeps me quite busy as I still have several other projects that I'm wrapping up, including some work that I've been doing on boxed sets for two film franchises that I can't quite talk about yet (but seriously can't wait to do so). In addition to DVD special features production, I have a production/self-publishing company called Still Playing with Toys that you can find at - we have a couple of great graphic novels and comics that are in the
early stages of development, one of which a super creative guy named Adam Vadnais is shepherding and it's beyond anything that I think I've ever seen before - completely original. I also have a feature film that we're prepping to shoot next fall that's a bit of a personal story, sort of my answer to John Hughes films, which I'm really excited about. Foolish folks that are interested can hit up the website after they have perused Geekweek in its entirety, of course, for updates (and there's even free downloads of our older comics there too). Or you can follow my disgusting attempt at humor and self-promotion on the Twitters @stillplayin.

So, there ya have it-- a quick glance behind the behind the scenes. Thanks to Troy for taking the time out of his insane schedule to chat with us!
Keep an eye out for more of these BtBtS columns!

Johnny Bravo: Season One releases today-

Cartoon Network Hall of Fame Johnny Bravo: Season One
Featured Episodes:

Disc 1

Super Duped
Bungled in the Jungle
Bearly Enough Time
The Sensitive Male
Date with an Antelope
Did You See a Bull Run by Here?
Cookie Crisis
I Used to Be Funny
My Fair Dork
´Twas the Night
Blarney Buddies
Over the Hump
Johnny Bravo Meets Farrah Fawcett
Hip Hop Flop!
Talk to Me, Baby
Spaced Out Cat
Beach Blanket Bravo
The Day the Earth Didn´t Move Around Anymore
The Aisle of Mixed-Up Toys

Disc 2

Substitute Teacher
A Wolf in Chick´s Clothing
Intensive Care
Jumbo Johnny
The Perfect Gift
Bravo, James Bravo
Going Batty
Berry the Butler
Red Faced in the White House
The Man Who Cried Clown
Johnny Real Good
Talky Tabitha
Johnny Bravo Meets Adam West
Johnny Bravo Meets Donny Osmond
Under the Big Flop
Johnny Bravo
Jungle Boy
Johnny Bravo and the Amazon Women

DVD Special Features:

--Bringing Up Bravo series documentary that will allow viewers to explore the beginnings, middles, endings, and everything in between of Johnny Bravo
--Audio Commentary – With Van Partible, Jeff Bennett, and Seth MacFarlane
--Johnny Bravo Original Pencil Tests – Introduced by Van Partible, featured are some of the original pencil tests used in the production process
--Seth McFarlane Audio Track – Listen to Seth MacFarlane lay down an entire temp track on his own well before he would become known for his hit show "Family Guy"

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