by Edwin L. Carpenter, Editor—The Dove Foundation
recently spoke with the writer and creative force behind Veggie Tales,
Phil Vischer. He wrote the script for the new movie The Pirates Who Don’t Do
Anything: A Veggie Tales Movie. Phil was driving to Chicago from Minneapolis
when he spoke with us via his mobile phone.
Dove asked Phil how he originally came up with the concept of doing stories
about vegetables. “It started back in 1990 when I was a computer animator in
Chicago. I was looking for a way to tell stories that combined faith and story
telling for kids. Back then it was just five years before Toy Story, the
first computer animated theatrical (release). Technology was so limited I had to
come up with extraordinarily simple characters. My first idea was a candy bar
and I made a little candy bar guy. I thought he was pretty cute but then my wife
said moms are going to be mad if you make the kids fall in love with candy bars.
And I thought oh good point! What wouldn’t moms be upset about kids falling in
love with? And the next thing that popped into my head was a cucumber! And
that’s really where the whole thing started.”
We asked Phil if it was true that he had performed some of the voices for the
Veggie Tales over the years. “Yeah,” he said. “In the beginning I didn’t know
any actors and I didn’t have any money. So my friend Mike and I started doing
the voices and then my wife Lisa pitched in and did Junior Asparagus and we kept
trying new voices as we added new characters.”
asked Phil if he had in some way been involved in every single Veggie Tales
episode. “Almost, almost” he replied. “My original company, Big Idea
Productions, fell into bankruptcy due to a lawsuit in 2003. Big Idea’s name and
the characters ended up being bought out of bankruptcy by a company in New York
called “Classic Media” that set up a new company also called Big Idea. Since
then I have been a creative consultant and I’ve done voices for everything but I
had writing duty for a little less than half of the videos they’ve produced so
far.” Phil has a new book out titled “Me, Myself and Bob”, which explains about
his bankruptcy fiasco a few years ago and how he persevered through that time.
asked him what inspired the new film, The Pirates That Don’t Do Anything: A
Veggie Tales Movie. “Those characters have been around actually about ten
years. It started with a silly song that Mike Nawrocki composed I think in 1998.
We were just looking for something for a silly song and we thought oh there are
these pirates but they don’t actually do anything! So he wrote this little song
that was really well received and they had their own little cult following,
these lackadaisical pirates.”
Vischer further stated that they worked the pirates into their first
theatrical film about Jonah, which premiered in 2002, and the pirates couldn’t
even sail correctly! Vischer and Nawrocki next decided to do an entire film
centered on the slacker pirates.
The theme of the new film is, according to Vischer, being a hero. “We’re all
born with this innate desire to be a hero.” The pirates are forced to become
heroic “when thrown into a real crisis, they have to step up to the plate.” He
elaborated by saying many people desire to be heroes, but then their attention
turns to paying the mortgage.
In closing, Vischer expressed gratefulness to his partner Mike Nawrocki, the
director of the film and Phil’s co-creative partner for many years. The pirates
might not do much in the beginning of the film, but Phil Vischer has been a doer
for a long time.
Read Dove's Review of "The
Pirates That Don't Do Anything: A Veggie Tales Movie"