KZ Commetary: Episode 10, “Deconstruction”

At long last, here I am to wrap up the series and talk about the final episode in this run, aptly titled Deconstruction.” It was always my goal to end Krogzilla’s job-hunting arc but to also, you know, SAY something. This series started out as a funny premise, but as I wrote the scripts I realized it was about something more. Lots of us have gone through some soul-crushing “downsizing” over the last few years. I know many, many very successful people who suddenly had to re-invent themselves again, and even switch careers. That’s what Krogzilla is really a metaphor for: those of us who have been “200 feet tall,” unstoppable and at the top of our game, only to suddenly find ourselves fighting for the lowest position. I’ve heard from some of you and I know you relate. So when it came time to finish up Krog’s storyline, I wanted to take a risk… I wanted to play less to jokes and more to sentiment. In short, my target was the tone of a Wes Anderson movie; melancholy yet hopeful, emotional yet funny, and never getting too sappy while trying to say something deeply true.

From the moment I put Krogzilla on the job hunt, the inevitable question I had to ask is, “where does he end up? What would make him happy?” And it seemed like the answer was a positive spin on tearing down buildings. The workers who have to destroy a building before putting up the new one is an interesting and ironic profession, and ideal for our hero. There’s so much to say with it! It was also very important to me to not reveal what job Krog was interviewing for, at least not right away.

By making the boss a very sage-like mentor, I could also get away with a lot of “nail-on-the-head” message statements. The foreman’s voice was performed by Joel McCrary, who was just perfect. Joel has played many “salt-of-the-earth” blue collar and dad types, and he knew just how much gravitas to give this guy without going too far over the top. And many of you caught the fact that this very same character was the FIRST PERSON Krogzilla encountered in Episode 1 — the first guy he meets ends up being the guy with the answers at the end. I’d like to say I planned that, but it was one of those happy accidents created by budget constraints. As I tried to lower the number of characters to be created, I combined this foreman character with the gardener from Episode 1. I figured that in this world, they could conceivably be the same guy. Now it’s so perfect, but I never would have done it on purpose. It makes the foreman that much more sage-like!

Hats off to Ryan and his team at Silly Monster Media. They put a lot of extra time into our final show. We all wanted to “finish strong,” and make it one of the best episodes. The backgrounds have more color and detail, there are more props and some animated bulldozers thrown in there, and most of the episode is led by an original song.

Let me talk about that for a minute, because it still amazes me. Nick Flora is an independent musician in Nashville who I’ve gotten to know over the last couple years. I love his music and the tone of his stuff seemed ideal for that “Wes Anderson” vibe I wanted to achieve. It also doesn’t hurt that one of Nick’s favorite movies is “Rushmore.” I asked for him to write something in that zone, but it also needed lyrics that referenced both elements of monster movies and the experience of finding a new place in life. In about two weeks, he sent me the song CREATURES (GETTING CLOSER),” and it was exactly what I was hoping for. Just a magical little song that nailed it. I couldn’t be happier with it. I’m very proud of what it says and the emotion it evokes as we see Krogzilla happily working in the rubble. You can hear the full song and purchase it on iTunes HERE.

For the final scene, it was important to revisit Marcus and see that he and Krog will continue to be friends. And of course, I needed one more appearance from Jeff. I like pulling a little at the heartstrings and then popping that balloon with a laugh… just before it gets too sentimental. I think we got there.

I’ve had such a great time making this web series, but the other extremely gratifying thing has been the response from the audience. Web-based content is so interactive, I could read viewers’ thoughts on an episode within MINUTES of posting it. I’ve found that those on the Facebook page are much kinder and invested than the YouTube Commenters. The first is like someone stopping by your house to visit and the second is more like a random stranger walking past your house and shouting stuff at you from the street. As I finished this last episode, I knew it was a risk. I’m very aware of ShutUp! Cartoons’ demographic. Most of them would rather see hot chicks and ninjas beheading each other or a fart joke followed by a nice explosion. I get it. Most of the shows are designed for fast laughs and short attention spans. And here I come with my talky thing filled with awkward pauses, long-form character development and absolutely NO beheadings. I mean, I made a show about a monster who never eats anyone or really does anything monstrous! I felt like I could maintain that if there was enough comedy between the characters. But now I was going to do something a little softer at the end, mostly set to music. I was a bit nervous. I had no idea how the main audience would react! I could almost see the YouTube comments: “Boooooring. FAIL. Where R tha jokes??”

But the audience seemed to like it. The Thursday that it posted, I was between meetings and settled down at a Starbucks to read the reactions. An hour after the episode posted, I was seeing some of the nicest comments I’ve ever gotten. Stuff like, “So glad Krog found his purpose!,” “Emotional and fulfilling,” “Aw, that almost made me cry,” and “What a satisfying conclusion. He’s really happy.”

There I am, sitting in a Starbucks, teary-eyed. Not only did they like it, they GOT it. There was a connection made between the art and the audience. And not only that, I felt like my risk had paid off. I had trusted my audience with a little more complexity and they were gladly receptive. That’s ultimately the best I could’ve hoped for. Thanks, guys.

Many of you are concerned that, with a title like “KROGZILLA GETS A JOB,” there can be no second season. Krogzilla HAS a job, so what’s left? Lots. I titled the show “–GETS A JOB” for a reason. The show is designed to evolve with each season. So the next batch of episodes will follow a new facet of the monster’s life, and the title will reflect that. It might be retitled “Krogzilla Goes to College” or “Krogzilla Gets A Date.” Not sure yet. Marcus does say that he’s thinking of going back to school… I wanted to lay down those breadcrumbs for the future.

What is the future of Krogzilla? That’s up to Shut Up! Cartoons… and you. If you love the series, tweet, Facebook and comment to the folks at Shut Up! Cartoons and tell them you like it! I’d love to do more, and to see where the big green guy ends up next.

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