ANIMATION – MORE FOR LESS
By Dick Rolfe
Family-friendly movies come in all shapes and sizes. The
most recognizable are major theatrical titles released by
the mega studios. Occasionally, we review a rare gem from a
small independent filmmaker who produces a top notch
direct-to-video movie that is as good as or better than the
big budget titles.
all the wholesome family-oriented films we see from
independents are low budget, live action movies. Many of
them are wonderful stories with compelling acting and
cinematography, producing an enjoyable entertainment
experience for the entire family. Animation, on the other
hand, has typically been too expensive for any but the
biggest players like Disney, DreamWorks or Twentieth Century
Computerized animation technology is moving to new levels,
making it possible to produce high quality, colorful,
animated movies equal to “Veggie Tales” or “A Bug’s Life”
for a fraction of the original price tag.
cooking a gourmet meal, you can have all the necessary
ingredients to make a mouth-watering, award-winning treat.
But, without the right recipe and a skilled cook, your meal
can be a real flop. It’s the same with a good animated film.
Technology, while necessary, must be merged with a clever
script and a talented cast and crew.
we reviewed a new animated children’s series called “The
Roach Approach” created by Bruce Barry. Bruce and his team
use just the right combination of all the above ingredients
to produce a wonderful, clever series that’s going to become
a family classic.
Foundation Associate Editor, Bradley Klinge recently
interviewed Bruce Barry.
Don’t “Bug Out” Over These Roaches
By Bradley B. Klinge
been so much fun!” exclaims Bruce Barry, creator of “The
Roach Approach,” an animated series which tells classic
Bible stories. This series follows a family of
cockroaches—Grandpa Lou, Grandma Nan, and Squiggz, who are
all from Miami. Lessons are taught through various
adventures as Squiggz tries to understand the complexities
of the Roach World.
be wondering about the same question I did—“Of all the
creatures in the world, why did Bruce Barry decide to use
roaches?” One day while he was waiting in line at a
convenience store, he observed kids eating candy that
resembled gross things like brain matter. This reminded him
about how much he enjoyed being grossed out as a kid. When
he arrived at home a huge palmetto bug crossed his path. The
palmetto bug resembles a cockroach to all of us who
categorize bugs into three categories: spiders, ants, and
“gross, what are those?” The palmetto bug stopped and
seemed to look directly at him. At that moment “The Roach
Approach” was born.
very impressed with the quality of animation in the movie
and would compare it to DreamWorks’ “Antz” and Disney’s “A
Bug’s Life.” That quality is exactly what Barry seeks for in
his films. “I take a lot of pride in the quality of the
animation,” says Barry. “I want people to see the similarity
to those movies. When I first came up with the idea I told
my partners, ‘Guys, we’re opening up an animation company
and we’re going to start a 3-D film.’ They kind of looked at
me like I was nuts and said, ‘Okay.’”
recalls the beginning of Wacky World Studios: “We started
with only one computer and I created my first animation guy,
and my wife and I just built it from there,” he says. “After
we brought on our partners and animators I told them, ‘I
can’t afford to be the Lamborghini or Rolls Royce, but I
don’t want to be the Volkswagen.’ There is a middle of the
road for quality which is where I want to be. We all strived
for that, and I think we’ve hit it.”
the stories in the Bible, Barry chose to tell of Noah and
the Ark in his first video. “I thought to myself, ‘Where am
I going to start the roaches out?’ Then it hit me. There’s
no better place than where it all began—on the ark.” The two
roaches were the last two creatures to make it on board.
That wasn’t good news for the unicorns who found out exactly
how long they could tread water.
first two videos done (including “The Mane Event,” a story
of Daniel and the Lion’s den to be released on August 23),
ideas for future productions continued to pour out of
Barry’s mind. He has ten more currently in the works,
including two separate series for telling Bible stories.
Roach Approach: The Mane Event” will be hitting all Wal-Marts
and Targets in late August. Barry recently signed on with
Twentieth Century Fox which further fueled his excitement.
“We’re going to be up there with “Garfield,” “Strawberry
Shortcake,” “The Passion of the Christ,” and all those guys.
I’m still pinching myself!” he asserted. Barry also has two
Roach Approach books—Crossing Panic Pier and
Squiggz and the Big Storm, to be released with Zondervan
included several extras in “The Mane Event” including
interviews, behind the scenes footage, and an interactive
drawing lesson. “I don’t just want to talk about the movie
[in the extras]; I also want to expand kids’ imaginations. I
want them to learn creativity, to think ‘outside the box.’
Just wait until you see it,” explains Barry.
outside the box has been significant in the development of
his characters. The goofy buck-toothed fish and mosquitoes
from “Don’t Miss the Boat” stick out as examples. Bruce
elaborates, “I wanted [the fish] to be a goofy Jackie
Gleeson. One of my favorite characters is Goofy, and I love
Jackie Gleeson. For the mosquitoes we were playing around
with different voices and the actor did a Mexican voice. I
yelled ‘Yes! That’s it!’” All three of those characters
appear in “The Mane Event.”
creativity brought Barry many of his characters, the three
main ones—Squiggz, Grandpa Lou, and Grandma Nan—are all
designed after his family. Squiggz’ personality resembles
that of Barry while Grandpa Lou and Grandma Nan were named
after his surrogate grandparents. Grandma Nan exhibits
traits of his mother who, in fact, is Grandma Nan’s voice.
“My mom can’t say ‘Squiggz,’ so she is always calling him
‘Squiggy’ which has become his nickname.”
exactly did Squiggz get his name? “I was sitting here and I
couldn’t come up with a name,” says Barry. “His name was
going to be Rudy but that just didn’t sit right with me. We
were at the attorney’s office finishing up our trademark and
one of my partners turned to me and said, ‘Okay Bruce,
what’s his name going to be?’ I said, ‘Rrrr…’ to say ‘Rudy’
and it came out ‘Squiggz.’ I think he looks like a Squiggz.”
plan is to produce a new movie every six months. After “The
Mane Event,” a new film about David and Goliath called
“Slingshot Slugger” is scheduled. In the movie, Squiggz is
constantly challenged by an exterminator who has the
personality of Bill Murray’s character in ‘Caddyshack.’
“It’s going to be huge!” Barry shouts.
should have no problem turning out a new movie every six
months as long as he doesn’t encounter what he believes is
the biggest challenge to an animated film—computer trouble.
“Our biggest issue has been dealing with computers,” he
says. “When they’re working they’re great, but when they’re
not you just want to take it and throw it out. Such as after
you’ve been rendering a bunch of frames, and in the middle
of the night it just crashes. Then you come in the next
morning and you’re missing six frames.”
recalls his drama of making “Don’t Miss the Boat.” “It’s so
ironic,” he says. “We’re doing our first movie about the
biggest storm in history and what happens down here? We got
hit by four hurricanes, and we were under a strict deadline.
We’d have to break down all the computers and shut
everything off. It was an absolute nightmare.”
thing he wasn’t telling the story of Daniel and the lion’s
den. I think Barry would have had a little more to worry
about than his computers. You can visit his website at
www.wackyworld.tv to purchase any Wacky World products,
check on future productions, and learn more about Bruce
Barry. While visiting his website be sure to open up Wacky
Wackles where the entire family can enjoy interactive games
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