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Sam in the Morning with Jenn

From Audio: April 28, 2021
Last Played: April 29, 2021
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On April 28th, 2021, Phil made a Guest "appearance" on Sam in the Morning with Jenn to talk about his work in comics, animation, and his upcoming Batman Documentary.
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but we're gonna get to our guests now and his name is Phil Phil are you with us? Good morning. Hey, how you doing? Good. How are you? It's sam and jen here. Uh and Phil can you, can you pronounce your last name for me? I could, but uh, but you can't have to kill you. You're not gonna kidding. My last name is pronounced Maki Maki. Okay. You see, that's why I had a feeling it's not Maci, so I had a feeling it was Maki actually. You're pretty good with that. Yeah, but I had to ask him nevertheless, you know, nine times out of 10, you get it right. Yeah. Thank you. Yeah, I don't know why, but I do Phil Mackey, Welcome to Howard to have a superpower. Yeah, absolutely. And uh, so now you're an animator, you do uh definitely an artist, um cartoonist as well. Um first that's where you come from. We're calling you this morning from austin texas. Oh wow. Did we have someone from texas the other day? We have lots of text. Okay. Maybe because the publicist is in texas or something. Right. Yeah. Baby. Is that? I don't think he is, but what do I know? How is have you lived there for a long time Phil Yeah. Uh, coming up on 8, 8 years here real soon. Oh, nice. Where did you live before that? Before that, I was in the land of denial. No, I was in Ohio. Land of the living in Ohio. Well, so I grew up in a suburb of Cleveland and then I went and did my college at Bowling Green. Okay. Cool. Some of my family's from Cleveland, so I've spent a lot of time in Ohio. Yeah. Oh, I in Cleveland like itself or like some of the suburbs. Um, well, my mom's from Cleveland itself. And my roommates from the suburbs. Okay. All right. Well, have you ever heard of stolen? I have not. That is par for the course. And that's why I never tell anybody. I'm from stolen you because nobody has a clue. Right. Yeah, that's right. Right. So, uh, now you give me a link to a place called link tree actually. Have you heard of it? Yeah, I never heard of it, but it's pretty cool because its got links to all the stuff that you do. And uh, I understand. Uh, so I looked at uh, at your youtube and, and all that stuff and you have, uh, you're making a, is this a documentary on the batman animated series? It is, it is a documentary. Uh, so, uh, I mean, I remember back then the animated series. It was what in the 90s? Yeah, 1992. Yeah. You see, I remember because I used to watch it with my kids. So if I figured when we're the young uh enough to watch it, I remember that. Yeah. Did you? Uh 30, 30 years later, kind of a retrospective look. Right, so you probably grew up with that as well, Right? Oh, absolutely. That was coming home from middle school. That was, you know, every day, four o'clock on Fox kids. Absolutely. Right. Yeah, it was amazing. And I know we used to like that because the first character I turned my kids onto was batman actually, because I liked him too when I grew up. And uh it's kind of nice because he doesn't have superpowers and yet he's a superhero, you know, he's like uh like every man type of thing, you know? So he relies on skill and intellect. Yeah. What's that? Every man if every man was a millionaire. Yeah, exactly. Hey? No. Right. And and able to wear bad suits and stuff like. Yeah. So I would imagine, yeah, I'm pretty sure a lot of bad suits it would, it would look more like a fat suit right now I imagine. Um you're a, you're also a fan of bath. Um how did you get into uh to liking him? I mean when were you first introduced to the character? Honestly, it's hard to know when the first one was, but I have a couple of distinct memories. I remember being on vacation uh with with the family and turning on the TV and the 1989 Tim Burton Batman film was on TV. I definitely remember that Bram. And then the animated series was really probably the the next closest memory I have because shortly after that was when I got into college Books. I see. Yeah. Yeah. And and that's the natural progression. Pretty much. Although with me it was a comic book first because they didn't really have animated superheroes when I was a kid, which was in ancient times actually. But but nevertheless, so uh so I guess that impacted you so much that you wanted to create a documentary about it. Tell us about the process there. Yeah. So, so that that's a great question. Um so really it's it's a movie that is born out of my podcast. I do a podcast called stay tuned and stay tuned. Is this interview talk show series that I've done for for three years now. And each episode I focus on one individual uh in their life in animated film. And so this movie is me interviewing a lot of people and putting all that together to make a film. And basically you're hearing from the individuals who were who were either creative or they were business executives or things like that. Um All of those people are coming together and telling their personal stories and it becomes one big tapestry. Sounds good. So I mean I would imagine an animated film. There's a lot of people that work on it. Um Yeah and uh and this is two D. Animation. So there's definitely a lot of uh manual work on this. It's not like computers can do um the work like a three D. Animation. And uh back in the 90s there were still painting hand-intinting animation cells. And they would do a lot of a lot of work here in the States. But then they would uh once they prepped everything they would send it off to you know countries in in Asia. Um And and they would farm farm out the you know I hate to say it, but they would farm out a lot of the grunt work, you know, So Yeah, well that's usually how it is, you know, because it's a lot cheaper to get it done over there, but um uh Yeah, yeah, so but uh did you, so who are some of the people you got to talk to, did you talk to uh producers, directors, artists, All of them? Yeah, all all of them. So I'll give you a couple examples. Um I got to, most recently I got to interview the former head of Fox Kids Entertainment, her name is Margaret Lesh, and so she was on she's one of those, you know, on the executive side of things, but I've also been fortunate enough to talk with Kevin Altieri who was who was uh one of the cartoons, uh the directors, he directed the most episodes out of any of the directors. Um And then of course Kevin Conroy who played that man himself. I've gotten to speak with him as well. Oh, very cool. Yeah, yeah. And uh so this is cool. Now I wanted to ask you about uh I guess the process a little bit. How did it work for them? I mean the day um do they write like new episodes? Uh like not every week, right. I mean it takes longer than that, but when they get started, do they already have a few episodes that they know what they want to show? Yeah. So basically once once the machine gets started, the machine of people working together on a show, um you have to you have to go, go go. So they had to have a ton of stuff just done and ready to go. And then as things are starting to come back they are making judgments about do we like direction? This is going, do we need to change direction? Um one of the writers, uh, marty Isenberg, who I spoke with, he told me that It was utter chaos at the time that they were doing all of this and he said sometimes in animation you'll get the green light to do a show in January. And they expect you to have 65 episodes written by September mm wow. So that's quite a lot of pressure. There a lot of pressure and multiple teams, multiple teams of writers, teams of artists. They have to break it up like that so they can meet their deadline. That's true. Yeah. So there again, a lot of people working on it. Yeah. So and you do other cartoons and animation. Tell us a little bit about that. You have uh Yeah. Yeah. Go ahead. Oh I was just gonna say yes. Uh Probably the things people. No, no, me most for as far as my own uh art is concerned is a series called retail. Sunshine and retail. Sunshine is a it's a comic strip series kind of like you see in the sunday paper for those people who still know what a sunday paper is. Um So that series is a comedy series about working in retail. And um I recently started animating those characters and I put a little short film together. It came out in december, it's on on Youtube, it's called sparking Sunshine and it's about the origins of those characters and how they became animated. And then I mean that's quite a uh an idea, you know what I mean, like kind of random, you know I mean sunshine and retail and all that. How did that come about for you? Oh well, I used to work in retail for a long time. It's fun, isn't it? And uh what's that? I said it's fun, isn't it? I've done it, I think everybody should have to do it, I think it's a rite of passage, you know? Um So so basically the name of the of the comic strip came from something that one of my managers said to us and I don't know, I don't think he came up with it, but I don't know who came up with it, but we were in a morning meeting and he was talking about how it was raining outside and how that was going to be real good retail sunshine for the day. And that term meant that if people are, if it's raining and people are outside, they're going to come into the store to get out of the rain. So it was going to funny in in the building, you know what I mean? Wow, that name stuck with me. And I just thought like, oh my gosh, there's something about that and something about the experiences I was having with different people customers, right? And I know what you're saying about retail because it really lets you uh see people in uh in different, you know, um situations, you know how people react to certain things and stuff. And uh I know, I mean we make fun of it because it's difficult to work in retail, all kinds of characters so many and and that's not even including the holidays. Yeah. What's that food? I said it brings out the worst in people for some reason. It really does. You know, I don't know why, but oh sorry, I was just saying you're right, you're right. You said about the holiday thing that's that's true with like, black friday and whatnot. Those are very very very, very telling of people's nature definitely. And I think I think the reason why people do, well not the whole reason, but part of the reason people do act differently to retail workers is because the customer is in a point of power and people act differently when they have a point of power. Even if it's such a small situations, that that's very true and something I had I had to get kind of okay with, even though if I don't agree with it was that we would often feel like um we were we were playing in the middle and like in other words, the corporate side, they make decisions and those decisions that affect the customers well who's stuck in the middle of the retail worker. And so we didn't we didn't make those decisions, but because we got the company's logo on our shirt, we're the ones who are held responsible for it. Exactly. And there were countless times I've told customers, I'm like, look, if I could change the rules, I wouldn't be standing here is your cashier. Right now. I'd be in an office somewhere in a suit or something. Exactly. But the people in corporate are not accessible to the average person. So all they have is you. Exactly. So you get beat up for the for the rules that you have absolutely zero control over. Yeah. And that's why we call it. We would lovingly refer to it as being on the front line because that's very much what it was. Sure for sure. Yeah, that's interesting. So how long have you been doing? So you started doing this as uh as drawings and print? When did you, when did you start that? So retail sunshine started in 2008, Early 2008. So it's been around for a while. Yeah. Yeah. Yeah. So it just started out as a as a little comic strip way for me to kind of be creative, but also just to kind of get my, my angst out and um and then if I uh basically from there, I've had three books come out since then. I have more books, you know, partially created and not finished yet. And then a couple years ago I was I was like, you know, I really do feel like these characters could move. And so I started thinking about, well, I studied animation in college. I didn't pursue it because animation is just a it's a monster to get into. Um but to be fair there putting a book together is also a monster. So that's what I was like, well I might as well try this other monster, right? And like we said, it usually takes a lot of people. And so you managed to do it just yourself. Uh Short I did is only it's just under a minute. It's a very short short. But the idea behind it is the goal for me was to make a short that could eventually be the opening theme song to an animated series. So I figured, well if I do this and I don't like it, well, it was short, so no big deal, but I do like it then you use it as my opening and maybe I'll make some episodes. Sounds good. Well, so uh I mean it sounds like you have a great career. A lot of people would envy that being able to do that. Uh So you said yeah, so I would imagine it's pretty competitive and tough to get into the industry, right? Yeah. I'm an indie creator. I don't I don't see regular income. So I that that's that's the part that's not enviable. But as far as like creatively, I feel like I'm absolutely, you know, living my best life in that sense um Being make projects that are that are important to me and I can pour my heart too, because because I believe in them, right? No, and that's what's important. You know what I mean? If you if you get up in the morning and you don't have any desire to go to work and do your work, that's the worst thing, you know. And conversely when you when you know you have something you love, you look forward to it every day, you put all your energy and you love into it and uh you get different results, you know, so uh kudos to you for doing that, you know? Uh so you took I'm sorry, go ahead Phil I said thank you, thank you. I used to work in corporate America and it was soul crushing and I realized one day that I can no longer do that, wow well, good for you. I mean that takes a lot of courage to do that, you know, to leave that regular income and and get into art and creating things, you know, so, but at least you have something a body of work that you can showcase and and and show your talents, you know, So I would presume you said you took animation in school. So you actually went for art? Is that what you took in school? Yeah, I got a degree in art from Bowling Green State, graduated in December of 2003. Um, That dates me right there and then, uh, but I mean, I've been, I've been an artist my whole life, it was just a matter of how do I want to approach this? So, right after college, I went into retail and then shortly after that I went into tech support and I just, I just got to a point where I was like, I can't keep doing this whole someday. I'll put all of my energy here. I'm like, I just got to do it now. And, and my theory was, if I do it long enough and it won't sound like such a crazy idea eventually. That's fair. Yeah. You know, that's true. That's true. It makes sense. It's hard when you're working those jobs to that, like, you absolutely hate whether it be retail serving tech support and then you come home at the end of your day and you just don't even have the energy to do anything creative. There you go. I mean tech support is probably just as bad as retail. You know, people are very similar people calling annoyed, so annoyed. Oh yeah, I mean for sure I would have phone calls occasionally and you just, you just drained, but because I work from home, there was no escaping it. So people, people thought that was going to be the best thing ever, was to work from home. What I quickly learned was it turned home into something that was no longer my haven. Yeah, it's true. Yeah, it makes sense, wow. Well, uh Phil tell people where they can. Uh so your podcast is still going on? Yeah, I'm actually releasing the new episode tomorrow. Uh currently in its third season, you can find stay tuned any where podcasts are found. Uh and tuned is spelled T 00 N E D. Um and then, but honestly, you can find me on, on my website, film hockey dot com. And uh, from there there's a bunch of links to everything else that I do, right? Let's fill M A C H. I. And yeah, you can find everything uh right here on the website. I can see there's the uh your your books, you're out of your books even. Um, how did you create an audio book out of a cartoon? That's interesting. Yeah. So, so, um, orientation is probably the book I recommend everybody start with. If they really want to get no retail sunshine, pick up, orientation. Uh, orientation kind of gets the the audience, you know, prepared on what the world of retail sunshine is. And at that point in time after I put the, the book out there, I started thinking, you know, it just would be really cool to combine my love of radio, um, with, with some kind of, you know, with my book. So I partnered up with this composer. His name is Kevin Schilder. Um, he's an awesome composer who I grew up appreciating and we worked together to make this audio book. But when we were making the audio book, um, one of the things that I was talking to him about was let's make a theme, a musical theme underneath the audio book that maybe if one day I go and do an animation, I'll already have a theme song. And so we made the audio book 1st and then from there too, I took the theme song and made the animated cartoon, uh, about a year or two after that, interesting, wow. So you've created a lot of stuff, you know, and that's uh that's pretty cool. So if you guys go to feel the website, you'll see a lot of interesting stuff. So your website again is what just like mom, or if it's easier to remember, you can type in retail Sunshine dot com, right? Because that's the one I'm at retail sunshine dot com. Uh, Phil thank you so much. I mean, we really appreciate your time and uh, you're very inspiring, you know, because people often wonder, well, I'm going to do this, I'm gonna do what I love, but well, I make a living off of this. And uh, the thing is it's not always about that, you know, I think you have creative hunger and uh, this push that you want to share it with other people, you know, and and uh and let it out so to speak. I mean if I can if I can be any kind of positive example in that way, I think that even better. So I appreciate you saying that. And if I may add uh real quickly, first of all, thank you both for having me. Um and also I listened to one of your earlier april shows and I have to agree about the uh the discussion about the hospital blanket where a sheet is not enough and heavy blankets. I have to agree. I appreciate that. I appreciate that so much. Yeah, there you go. Alright, well everybody check out if if you're a batman um fan, you'll definitely enjoy the documentary. And uh I'm sure a lot of our listeners also watched the animated series. Um how many seasons did it run for? How many episodes do you know? Uh, they ended up, I want to stay right around 90 episodes. The initial run with 65 and then they put in like two more orders of 20 episodes after that. But then of course it spawned a bunch of other shows like that man beyond the Justice League and um, just a bunch of other stuff. So really that show spawned a whole world of other shows, uh, which was great and the films are gonna be out hopefully later this year, it will be free on Youtube in the meantime, if you, if you're really itching and see a little bit of my progress, um, there's a trailer, a teaser trailer on Youtube and you can see that available now. Sounds good. And where can they find it? Let's see. You have a channel on Youtube. So I guess they, can you go first video there right now? I mean, honestly, if you do a Youtube search for stay tuned present, those, those three words, eh, tuned presents, I think that will bring it up because the title of the film is going to be stay tuned present batman, the animated series. Right. All right. Sounds good. Uh, everybody check it out, Phil, thank you so much for joining us this morning. Uh, much continued success to you and all the best. Hey, it's been a pleasure And you guys are a lot of fun. Thanks so much for having me. Thank you. And uh, everybody check out the podcast as well. And uh, get familiar with Phil's work. Sounds good. Uh, so thanks again. Say hi to everybody in Austin and uh, hopefully we'll talk to you again. We'll have to have you guys come in here to do a remote show sometimes. Yeah, maybe. Maybe. I mean I'm fascinated with Austin because everybody's moving there has never been. It's honestly like it's turning into a little mini la away from L. A. Okay. So maybe I don't want to move there after all. It's like better prices though. Yeah, exactly. But it's probably getting expensive there too, you know, because what better time to invest? Everybody moving. Yeah. All right, Phil, well, thank you again. And uh all the best to you. We really appreciate it. All the best to you both as well. Thank you so much. Thank you. Bye bye.
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