If you grew up watching cartoons in the 80s and 90s, then you know the name David Feiss! Feiss has a pretty impressive resume in the animation industry working for Hanna-Barbera on such projects as ‘A Flintstone Family Christmas,’ ‘Smurfs, and ‘The New Scooby and Scrappy-Doo Show.’ He’s also worked as an animator on classic 90s cartoons like ‘The Ren and Stimpy Show’ and ‘Beethoven’ as well as on films such as ‘Jetson: The Movie,’ ‘Rango’ and ‘Depicable Me 2,’ ‘Minions,’ and ‘Open Season.’ But it is the series that he created, ‘Cow and Chicken,’ that people seem to know him best!
Now with the release of ‘Open Season: Scared Silly,’ ScienceFiction.com had the opportunity to interview Feiss who happened to be the director of the fourth installment of the franchise that brings back Elliot, Shaw, and Giselle.
ScienceFiction.com (SF): You were the head of story for the first ‘Open Season’ film about 10 years ago and now are the director. How was that transition?
David Feiss (DF): It went really well! I knew these characters so well. It went really well. The transition was really smooth.
SF: Did you work closely with Carlos Kotkin on the story of ‘Scared Silly’?
DF: I did! Yeah, Carlos is great! He’s a great guy. I had not met him before. I met with a few writers and he’s the one I really clicked with. Early on we sat together for 3 days, 4 days talking about ideas. He went away then came back with a beautiful script, embellished it a little bit and that’s what we got!
SF: What prompted the idea for ‘Open Season 4’? Did something happen in your childhood?
DF: (laughs) A lot of stories I do, do come from my childhood – especially on the TV series ‘Cow and Chicken.’ A lot of those came from my childhood, but on [‘Open Season 4], some of the ideas came from ‘Open Season 1’ that didn’t quite make it into the film for one reason or another.
Like in ‘Open Season 4,’ the whole plane sequence… I had wanted Elliot to hot wire an airplane in the first movie because I thought it would be fun to see wild animals up in the air.”
SF: The budget wasn’t as large for this film as it was for the first. Where there some things you had to adjust or just couldn’t do because of it?
DF: Oh absolutely! We didn’t have the budget to do large water effects or big budget CG effects. It was always in our mind that we couldn’t blow our budget on that kind of effects. So you’ll see in ‘Open Season 4’ there is some water but it is very minimal. We made sure we wouldn’t do anything that would mess up our entire budget with these spectacular shots. I’d rather tell a story and pepper in some really nice shots here and there.
SF: Is there anything that didn’t make it into ‘Open Season: Scared Silly’ that you wish did?
DF: Not at the top of my head. Nothing like in ‘Open Season 1’ where I really wanted to see Elliot in a plane! Basically, everything I wanted to see in this film got in there. It was just a blast! I feel like I know these characters so it was fun knowing their what their personalities are, how they would react in different situations… like putting them in a lava mine, how they would react. Putting them up in a plane… it was fun to do that.
SF: The big thing these days are Easters eggs and you have such a rich portfolio of work in the world of animation. Did you put a lot of personal Easter eggs in this film?
DF: The shadow puppets that the ducks were doing, I put a cow and chicken in there. I can’t remember off the top of my head other Easter eggs. There are little things here and there. It’s important to me to put things for multiple viewings for people to say ‘Hey, I didn’t see that the first time through!”
SF: Most people do know you from ‘Cow and Chicken.’ Are you surprised that after 20 years that it still gets as much love as it’s gotten?
DF: It never stops being a thrill. I love it. People who were born when it first came out and have grown up and are now adults watching it and it blows my mind! It’s a real honor for me to know that people have grown up with it and holds a place in their heart. Much like the way I grew up watching ‘The Jetsons’ or ‘The Flintstones.’ It’s a thrill. It’s an amazing feeling.
SF. With nostalgia being a big thing nowadays, have you considered starting a Kickstarter to bring it back?
DF: I have never thought of it. It is a Cartoon Network show so it’s owned by Time Warner and Cartoon Network so if it is something they would be interested in, I would be interested in talking to them.
SF: We’re going to have to hashtag for this then! Everyone #CowandChicken!
DF: Yeah! (laughing)
SF: Animation has changed so much since you started. Where do you see it heading?
DF: It’s becoming easier and easier to convey your messages and stories in a very believable way. These shows look so good in CG. The characters really have that extra bit of believability and life. They really do! So, it’s helping you tell your story and you’re not taken away from watching something and saying “Well, I’m watching animation” or “I’m watching a movie.” Now, it’s “I’m watching something I’m interested in the story.” Everything, technology, is just helping storytellers.
SF: Do you know if there will be an ‘Open Season 5’?
DF: I have a good feeling there will be. The folks here at Sony Animation are pleased with how ‘4’ turned out and there are a lot why they wouldn’t want to do it but I think there are more reasons why they would. It all depends on the economy and economics of ‘4.’ They like the series, people like the show and I think they would like to see [the characters] do other things.
SF: Will you be involved in that?
DF: I would love to be! At this point, maybe with the writing portion of it which I love. The process is really just fun. I would definitely love to be involved with that. There’s a great possibility that can happen.
SF: Do you already have a story idea for ‘Open Season 5’?
DF: There is a story that’s in my mind but I don’t really want to talk about it right now. But, yes, I know there are some different scenarios these guys have not been in yet so it would be a fresh idea.
SF: So nothing in ‘Open Season 4’ that may hint at what could be in ‘5’?
DF: No, there wasn’t any forethought when making ‘Open Season 4’.
(SF: Okay, readers, I tried!)
SF: So what’s next up for you?
DF: I’m here at Sony Animation and am actually developing new ideas for a feature film. Hopefully, that will come to pass.
Elliot, Boog and all your favorite woodland creatures are back in a brand new, comedy adventure, OPEN SEASON: SCARED SILLY. When a case of mistaken identity leads both humans and animals to believe there is a monstrous werewolf on the prowl in Timberline National Forest, former hunter Shaw seizes on the opportunity to re-open open season. With Shaw on the loose and all the animals at risk, it’s now up to Boog, Elliot, and Mr. Weenie to face their fears, track down the elusive werewolf, and get open season closed permanently
‘Open Season: Scared Silly’ is available on Blu-ray and DVD on March 8th.