In deepest, darkest Essex, an new movement is happening.No, it isn’t a new form of fake tan that doesn’t streak, or eyelashes that will survive a nuclear holocaust. This is ‘The Bruvs’, an online cartoon following two East End characters make a new life in Essex and all of the people along the way.
The online animated cartoon has been going from strength to strength, and luckily I got the chance to interview them (didn’t meet Chanterelle though, sorry guys).
KJ – Hi, sorry it’s taken me so long to do this interview (I promised it over the weekend and got pulled out of bed at 7am Sunday to go into work), but by the looks of things you understandbeing busy. What’s going on in ‘The Bruvs’ world right now?
TB – The wait was well worth it. For us. Thanks for inviting us to take part … We are thrilled to be questioned by the Sober Essex Girl. Perhaps we should say TheBruvs is a comedy animation web series. All about an East London family with a dodgy past trying to go straight in their new home in leafy Essex – and failing big time. Generally things end in violence – between the main characters – the brothers Doug ‘n Den who are TheBruvs. They tend to bash each other about because they like to keep it in the family. Proving blood really is thicker. We have a YouTube channel with about 12 short films up at the moment. We’re also on twitter @TheBruvsTV, Facebook – TheBruvsTV .. and our website www. TheBruvs.com where people can find our films, behind the scenes stuff, extra gags and more. Currently in TheBruvs world we’re trying to get our next film ready as fast as we can. We’re also boosting our website and we are now offering a selection of merchandise – T-shirts and Mugs with TheBruvs logos. We think the Sober Essex Girl would make an excellent model for one of our exclusive T’s. People can find out more by messaging us or using the email at the website.
KJ – Where did it all start? Adult cartoons have always enjoyed success on T.V, but the internet is hard to break into?
TB – It all started quite a few years ago… That is not to say we are the laziest animators in the world. But the first seeds of the idea started a while back. One of us – Ian Brown – is a TV writer and producer with credits on Top Gear and who has written for the likes of Jamie Oliver, Liam Neeson, Emma Bunton, Denise Van Outen, Davina McCall, Ant n Dec and many more. He had the idea and asked award-winning animation director Eoin Clarke to draw the characters. The plan was to pitch the idea to TV channels. It kind of fizzled out because of other work but, a few years on, we decided to make the films anyway and take the Internet route. We prefer to call our films Animations for Grown-Ups… Adult films seems to suggest something else. We’d say you’re half right. Grown-Ups animation has been a hit on TV – but mainly from America.. The Simpsons, Family Guy, American Dad and so on. Our aim is to build TheBruvs via the internet and hopefully see them develop into a successful British animation series to take on some of those US juggernauts. That said, we are a tiny set-up by comparison. And, as you say, making things work online is quite tough… You have to keep at it plugging away on twitter, Facebook and – of course – giving interviews like this one .. For which we are grateful. We really are.
KJ – Who is your favourite character?
TB – We love TheBruvs themselves… Doug ‘n Den but both Eoin and I have a very soft spot for Chanterelle… who is our featured West Essex Girl. She appears in episodes Parachute and Half-Baked currently. She is partial to spray tans and, on first glance, seems a bit stereotypical perhaps. BUT we would quickly add that the new film we are trying to finish at the moment features her heavily – and reveals a whole new side to her… which we think is good news for Chanterelle. A bit like some of the ladies on TOWIE or, say, Katie Price – our Chanterelle is not to be underestimated!
KJ – What inspires you? I must admit I get writers block now and again, but Essex is so entertaining, I’m always finding new material!
TB – One thing we have genuinely had as feedback through twitter and Facebook is a large number of people saying they recognize or know the characters in real life… People say Doug or Den is them or their mate or their brother… They are kind of based on people seen around parts of Essex. People who might frequent frothy coffee shops, seems to have plenty of money but who don’t seem to go to work – as most people might know it. Overheard conversations or exchanges in the street help a lot to prompt ideas. But our episode Bolloxbox, for example, is simply a response to Gogglebox. We just thought TheBruvs would have an opinion on that TV show.
KJ – How long does it take to make one cartoon?
TB – It takes several weeks. The main reason being we are a very small set up. Eoin does the animations solo at the moment. So, an idea is written up, generally by Ian. When we have a few ideas we will go into the recording studio with our great sound guy Paul Richmond. We will knock things about… Ian does most of the voices. Stories develop as we record. Then when we are happy with all that, Eoin goes away and sets about making the films. When they are done we bung them on the YouTube channel and our website. And wait for the response.
KJ – From reading your press releases etc on your website, I can see a lot of teamwork has gone into this endeavor (there will be a link to that page), Ian, how did you link up with Eoin and Swivel?
TB – As said before, I initially hired Eoin to design the characters based on my ideas and my brief. Back then he was linked to a London animation company. When he showed me his concept drawings, I just knew they were right and these were TheBruvs! Of course, it then took a few years for us to decide to go for it ourselves with the idea and get it up online. It is a team effort. As well as Eoin, there is also our sound recordist Paul Richmond and our composers and musicians Stig Winslet and Pete Harbour and we have also had a lot of guidance from Epping-based web designers Swivel. Once again with them, we just knew they understood what we were about. We are a happy team – at the moment. It’s very collaborative. But because animation is a slow process, you also have to be very patient. By the time the films are ready I am gagging to see what they look like.
KJ – What is next for ‘The Bruvs?’ (try as I might, I cannot get them to do a cartoon of me because they are faaaaar to busy).
TB – I hope you understand a bit more now. We are a tiiiiinyyy set up. As we keep saying. It would be great to have The Sober Essex Girl meeting TheBruvs – specially Chanterelle. May be some day in the not too distant future that dream encounter will happen! In a forthy coffe shop – or a spa! Next for us is more episodes and more publicity we hope. We are trying to spread the word as much as we can. Ian is an occasional guest on BBC Radio Essex with Tony Fisher and he gives updates on TheBruvs there. There are also very early talks at the moment with proper TV people… which might, just MIGHT see TheBruvs coming to TV in some way in the future. It is very exciting. The joy of doing TheBruvs online is the potential audience. We have had some amazing feedback from people throughout the UK, Russia, Australia and particularly America – where we are a bit of a hit with quite a few podcasters. The people of Essex seem OK with us too. Which is a relief.
KJ – What would you say to any young, budding animator who wants to follow in your footsteps?
Train properly, master your skills and follow your dream. Post your work online somehow – there are many ways to do it now. That way you can get exposure for your work. Don’t be put off by criticism. If you’re good enough you’ll make it. But be a bit thick-skinned. And Good Luck!