Meet Scott Gairdner - The Man Behind Moonbeam City
Scott Gairdner is a comedy writer, director, and sometimes performer from Woodland Hills, CA. He's the creator and executive producer of Moonbeam City. A graduate of Loyola Marymount University, Scott got his start with a popular Youtube channel, launched in 2006. His videos have amassed over 16 million views and his work was featured in the New York Times. From 2010 to 2012, Scott was a staff writer and director at Funny Or Die, the popular spoof-and-goof website founded by Will Ferrell and Adam McKay. In 2012, Scott was hired to write and direct for Conan on TBS. He shot dozens of sketches, including the cold opens for Conan's specially-themed episodes with the casts of "Breaking Bad", "The Walking Dead", and "Sons of Anarchy".
First, let me begin by thanking you, Mr. Gairdner on behalf of everyone at NewRetroWave for taking the time to answer some questions for us. I’ve just finished watching the first episode and I enjoyed myself from beginning to end.
1.) So what inspired you to create an 80’s themed animated series?
My overly-nostalgic brain had been simmering a thick stew made of Prince and Tron and Jem and the Holograms and EPCOT Center and Miami Vice and Back to the Future 2. Then I saw Drive in the theater, and that hit the fuse and made my brain stew explode out of my skull-pot. I knew immediately I wanted to create a character like Ryan Gosling’s driver, only much more selfish and stupid.
I’d also always dreamed of working with Titmouse, the studio that made Metalocalypse. Thankfully, the team at Titmouse ended up being as cool and insane as I’d hoped. And they executed my vision of a world where everything is neon with pastel squiggles.
2.) The character designs of Moonbeam City are very crisp, clean and really stand out from the other animated series on television. What was the brainstorming behind the visuals for the show? Was the Patrick Nagel’s style you’re first choice or were there other ideas that didn’t make the cut?
We knew we wanted incredibly handsome, chiseled, fashionable people. And we wanted to tribute weird 80s cartoons that are more human than cartoony, like Jem and the Holograms and Captain Planet. And there was a nail salon around the corner from my house, with pale angular people staring intensely from their sun-bleached window.
We also tried the characters with yellow skin and spiky hair. But the results made us say “Ay caramba!”
3.) How did you get this cast together and on board with the project?
We reached out to Rob Lowe with no connection to him whatsoever, thinking “That will be a fun no to get!” Thankfully Rob Lowe is a very funny weirdo who loves to take creative risks. Not to mention, we agreed to record 5 minutes from his house. With Rob on board, we were confident enough to make a dream cast list that included Elizabeth Banks, Will Forte, and Kate Mara. Shockingly, none of them said no either!
It’s a dream cast. They’re all very excellent committed actors who are also very funny and improvise- the best combo possible. The recording sessions were a pleasure, and we got to see a priceless behind-the-scenes evolution of Will Forte’s Last Man of Earth beard.
4.) Who was the coolest character on Miami Vice?
Phil Collins as the game show host.
5.) Is the animation on Moonbeam City completely digitally or a mixture of hand drawn with computers?
It’s digital but with many hand-drawn moments. If a character needs to do a turn or an action or a sex position we’ve never seen before, the ace Titmouse animators hand-draw specific poses. Once we made a very sweet talented animator hand-draw Dazzle’s penis, flopping around as he sprinted from an explosion. There’s a lot of physics to keep in mind when drawing a big swinging cock.
6.) When did Night Club come into the picture?
Mark Brooks, one-half of superstar electropop duo Night Club, is a director at Titmouse. When I met there, he handed me a Night Club sticker. Their logo was neon pink on black. That was pretty much all I needed to know. Let that be a lesson to any bands reading this- put 90% of your budget towards stickers.
Mark Brooks and Emily Kavanaugh made over 100 original pieces for the first season. Their synths and drums are just crunchy and thumpy and perfect. But they’re also great with melody and pop hooks, and they’re just as good writing a hokey Canadian kids show theme as they are writing a bangin’ club beat. Night Club rules.
7.) “King Dick of the Ass Forest” has to be my favorite line of the first episode. It must be a shitty position. That’s not a question. I’m just thinking out loud, “Oh Fudge”.
When we turned in the pilot, Comedy Central told us two lines needed to be “edgier”. This was one of our edgy rewrites. Pretty edgy, huh??
8.) Dazzle seems to be a mixture of Sonny Crocket and bits of Tango & Cash, Marion Cobretti, with a slight case of Wile E. Coyote syndrome. Is he as much fun to write as he is to watch?
Hell yeah. It’s basically writing super-verbose unnecessarily-poetic dialogue, mixed with really dumb action and sex. And Rob Lowe’s voice is so silky smooth, it makes microphones orgasm.
9.) Any surprise cameos that people should watch out for this season?
Adam West! Catherine O’Hara! Susan Sarandon! Kate McKinnon! Molly Shannon! Andy Richter! Paul F. Tompkins! And Powers Boothe as the devious Mayor Eo Jaxxon.
10.) By any chance does your mug say #1 on it?
Yes but it says #1 Fraud. Just to keep my confidence low enough so I’ll actually keep working.
11.) Being that the show is so drenched with nostalgia, do you have any favorite memories of the 80's?
First of all, being born. Unlike most people, I remember every disgusting second of it.
Besides that, this whole show is basically a tribute to the dreams and nightmares I had after going to EPCOT Center as a kid. Where my fellow Wonders of Life pavilion fans at?!
12.) What are your reactions to so-called “hipsters” spending top dollar on what they think are cool throwbacks to the decade; unbeknownst to them the crap they buy no one really liked such as British knights? Should we waterboard them?
I’ve heard a lot of men in Japan are getting married to Rubix Cubes, which I think is beautiful.
13.) What turns you on more: Jennifer Connolly riding a horse or Kurt Russel in a dress?
How bout Jennifer Connolly riding Kurt Russell, wearing a horse-hide dress? I think we just cracked the world’s most erotic image.
14.) Will the series consist of individual stories or will each season have an overall arc?
They’re pretty individual episodes, so you can start at pretty much any point. We do have an arc running through the season- the slow devolution of Rad Cunningham. In the pilot, he’s kinda scary. By the last episode, he’s a very sad man-child, who can barely squeeze his flabby shell of a body into his jumpsuit.
15.) If you could secure anyone to be on the show who would it be?
Prince. A thousand times Prince.
16.) Who approached who? Did Comedy Central reach out to you or did you pitch the idea to the network?
We initially wanted to be exclusive to the Quiznos online comedy channel, Toasty.TV. But since they wouldn’t let us show Dazzle diarrhea-ing Quizno’s, we settled on Comedy Central.
17.) How long did it take to complete season 1 of Moonbeam City?
14 months. Almost the same as South Park, just unbelievably longer.
18.) Are there any jokes or references you couldn’t include in an episode?
The fact that Dazzle broke all his bones in a childhood car accident and he’s now made entirely out of rods, which is why he’s so handsome.
19.) Are you having a great time? Is Moonbeam City your main focus at the moment? Do you have any other projects in development that you’d like the retro scene to check out?
Nothing in development currently, but if you like retro stuff, check out my old videos “Sex Offender Shuffle” and “The 1982 Tron Holiday Special”.
20.) Its two in the morning and you are dead asleep. Suddenly you’re startled awake by loud music. Rubbing the sleep dust out of your eyes, you walk over to the window to see what the hell is going on. The first thing you see is a Boom box. Who is holding the boom box - A.) Morrissey, B.) Morton Downey Jr. C.) Mike Tyson D.) A half full pitcher of spiked Kool-Aid? How would you remedy the situation?
I’d vow to quit huffing paint. The hallucinations aren’t worth it.