Todd and the Book of Pure Evil is an excellent show that went underappreciated during the time of its original airing. A love letter to the music genre of metal, and television shows like Buffy the Vampire Slayer. Sadly, Todd and the Book of Pure Evil was fated for near obscurity, until being discovered in Netflix. Afterwards, its popularity exploded, and it gained a substantial cult-following which eventually led to the start of an Indiegogo campaign for a movie! The success of the campaign (and with additional funding from other sources) resulted in the development of Todd and the Book of Pure Evil: The End of the End scheduled for a release in 2017! But, in order to celebrate the imminent release of the film, we reached out to the keen minds behind the film (and show), for an interview which will hopefully tide over crowds until the film comes out!
We were pleasantly surprised, when our email reached Andrew Rosen a producer for the show and film! Thanks to his response, we got to speak with Charles Picco (co-creator of the show), and Craig David Wallace (director and co-writer of the series). All three were very pleasant during their responses, and we’re proud to have had the opportunity to chat with them on a personal level. Thus, without further ado, here is the interview with the creators of Todd and the Book of Pure Evil:
- As a formality, would you guys mind telling us a bit about yourselves?
Craig: I’m Craig David Wallace. People give me a lot of shit about having three names, but there was another Craig Wallace in my film community when I was starting out so I added my middle name to stop the confusion. I co-wrote and directed the original TODD & THE BOOK OF PURE EVIL short film back in 2003, and then co-created the series with Charles Picco and Anthony Leo. Since Todd was “not renewed”, I’ve been working on creating new series and feature films, and working as a TV director for shows like Slasher and Dark Matter.
Charles: My name is Charles Picco. I’m the co-creator of the Todd & The Book of Pure Evil TV series, and the co-writer of the Todd & The Book of Pure Evil movie. I live in a small town on a small Island, located in the North Atlantic Ocean. I’m not overly ambitious, I detest all forms of exercise and I probably spend way too much time living inside my head.
Andrew: I’m Andrew Rosen, one of the producers of the film. My producing partner Anthony Leo and I (through Aircraft Pictures) produced the original series, and helped push the idea of continuing it on after we got cancelled…because the fans wanted more. And more we shall give them!
- What was the inspiration behind Todd and The Book of Pure Evil?
Craig: I always wanted to something like “Young Indiana Jones” or “Young Sherlock Holmes”, and I was really getting into heavy metal, so I had this idea that I wanted to do the story of “Young Faust” as a heavy metal teenager who makes a deal with Satan. The idea changed along the way and Todd & The Book Of Pure Evil was born.
- In your own words can you describe the basis for the series?
Craig: After the short film, I wanted to turn the idea into a series. It was originally going to be a “be careful what you wish for” Monkey Paw anthology, following a different story of a different high school kid who used the Book Of Pure Evil to solve their petty teenage angsty problems. Once Charles and I really dug into the idea, we realized we needed a continuing main character to follow from episode to episode, so Todd came back as the main focus. It was always our intention to make a ridiculous and silly show, and really have as much fun as possible making it. We pitched it as “Evil Dead meets Breakfast Club” and “Buffy meets South Park”.
- What sort of influences did you have when making the show?
Craig: Despite some obvious similarities, Buffy The Vampire Slayer wasn’t a big influence. I had never really watched the show, but I kept telling my girlfriend (and now wife and mother of our three kids) about all these great ideas we had, and she kept telling me: “Buffy did that”. So I watched the first season and I loved the show, but I had to stop watching because I would have just given up trying to get TODD made. Charles and I really dug into old horror movies, and I have to give him credit for a lot of my favorite films because for the six years we spent writing the series before it was made he had me watch all these horror classics over beers at his place. The Evil Dead movies were a primary influence, and a lot of John Carpenter got in there too. And of course, Conan The Barbarian, which remains one of my favorite films of all time. So many other influences… a lot of the episodes had specific references we were drawing from. “How To Make A Homunculus” was kind of my homage to Monkey Shines, “Monster Fat” has a lot of Carrie in it, and the Metal Dudes’ training of Todd riffs on Star Wars Jedi training…
Charles: The films of John Carpenter (aka God), Brian De Palma, Dario Argento, Sam Raimi and John Hughes. And of course heavy metal music.
Andrew: I was really into Strangers With Candy while we were developing it, so that off-beat tone was always in the back of my mind. But more importantly, we had to keep the John Hughes heartfelt aspects always in check – we didn’t want to make it a pure comedy, we wanted to have real characters and relationships within the crazy world we built.
- Can you name some of your favorite movies and TV shows?
Craig: Too many! Sam Raimi, John Carpenter, Brian DePalma, Alejandro Jodorowsky, David Cronenberg… and there’s a ton of modern stuff I love too. My current favourite right now is The Blackcoat’s Daughter – I think about that movie everyday. As far as TV goes, it’s getting hard to keep up with everything that’s out there. I really loved Stranger Things, but man there’s so many things in there that are close to other projects I was developing that I feel sad that they did it so well and now my ideas look like also-rans. And their science teacher looks suspiciously like someone else I know…
Charles: Favorite Movies: Raising Arizona, Repo Man, John Carpenter’s The Thing, Eraserhead, O Lucky Man, 2001: A Space Odyssey, Le Samourai, Tokyo Drifter, Orpheus, Black Narcissus
Favorite TV Shows: The Sopranos, Twin Peaks, Stranger Things, Freaks and Geeks, Seinfeld, Codco, The League of Gentlemen, Monty Python’s Flying Circus, Star Trek, WKRP in Cincinnati
- If you could go back in time and change anything regarding the series, what would you do?
Craig: Nothing. Maybe I would try to find a way to blackmail or bribe someone to renew the season for season 3.
Charles: Having Todd’s parents as characters immediately comes to mind. We also had a fun storyline involving Atticus dating Jenny’s Mom. I wish we could’ve afforded to do the “river of menstrual blood” sequence in the “Jungle Fever” episode. And finally, and most importantly, I would’ve asked for a lot more money.
Andrew: I’ll go with Craig’s blackmail scheme.
- If you had one more full season of the show, what would have happened to Todd and friends? What would you have done with it?
Craig: The Todd Animated Feature is pretty much the arc of season 3 with all individual episode ideas taken out. We actually had full arcs of season 3 and 4 all worked out because we wanted to shoot them together because our cast wasn’t getting any younger. One of my favourite things that got left behind was having Atticus’ Uncle coming to town and becoming a mentor to the gang, and he would have been played by the amazing Julian Richings who played Atticus’ Dad in the first season. There was so much insanity… there was going to be an episode on how the Book came from Europe in WWII to North America, and it was going to be the Wagner Opera Episode with Nazis and it was going to be in black and white…
Charles: It would have been such an awesome season. A fantastic mix of both “stand-alone” and “serialized” episodes as well as a new musical episode, set during World War II, that told the story of how the Book of Pure Evil ended up in Crowley Heights. (“The Dirty Dozen” meets “Cabaret”).
- Could you tell us about the reasons behind the lack of a season 3? Was there executive meddling involved and if there wasn’t, why didn’t they renew for more seasons?
Craig: Ratings. I don’t think much of our audience actually watched the broadcast. We have a huge Brazilian fanbase, but we never even sold into that market.
Charles: It’s all Andrew Rosen’s fault. Blame him.
Andrew: I accept all the blame. I cancelled the series to get back at Charles for parking in my parking spot one day.
Regarding the movie itself:
- What were some of the unexpected challenges that came with making a movie?
Craig: We knew it was going to be hard to raise money to make it, so that wasn’t unexpected. Really it was how long it would take to get all that money together once we actually had the commitments. I think it took almost two years to get everything worked out in agreements and contracts before we could really get started animating, and that was AFTER we had already been financed!
- Why did you opt to go the animated route vice the show’s live-action setting?
Craig: After the show was cancelled, we had all these ideas we had developed and really wanted to continue the story. We tried pitching a TV Movie, a web series, thought about a graphic novel… ultimately we decided on animation because we thought that for the money we had (which was around a single half hour episode of the series) we’d be able to do more.
Andrew: We were very close in convincing someone at the broadcaster to greenlight a TV Movie wrap-up based somewhat on the Star Wars Christmas Special. It would have been so fun to have Atticus and the Homunculus singing “Little Drummer Boy” as a duet. But we figured we could tell a full story with animation, so there you have it.
- What were some of the challenges that going the animated route brought?
Craig: The cast was pretty spread out across Toronto, LA and Boston by the point we wanted to record, but everyone was excited so for the most part they all came to Toronto to record together. We needed to find an animation company that was interested in doing a super ambitious project for little money, and we are extremely fortunate to have partnered with Jonas Diamond and Smiley Guy Studios. Not coming from an animation background, the shift from live action to animation was a bit of a head-spin, especially just how long everything takes.
3 I know it keeps being asked, but what kept delaying the film?
Craig: After we did the Indiegogo campaign, it took around a year to write the script and get everyone together to record the dialogue. After that the delay was getting all financing locked because it was coming from so many different sources. We had the initial investment from our wonderful fans with our Indiegogo campaign, but then around 80% of the rest of budget came from a variety of places like FearNet, Telefilm Canada, Canadian Tax Credits, and deferrals from all the companies involved. It was a lot more complicated than when we did the series. We were only able to actually start the animation process in January 2016.
4.What was the reaction of your crew, when the crowdfunding campaign became a success?
Craig: Well, I think the crew was happy that the story would continue, but since it was a live action crew, I think it was a little bittersweet considering they wouldn’t be working on it.
Andrew: And a bunch of them contributed too – those suckers!! But seriously, everyone is really thrilled to see the story continue. The cast and crew had great times on set when we filmed the first two seasons, so this will bring back some fond memories for all of them.
- What was the reaction of the actors?
Craig: They were excited! I hope. Anyhow, they all did it and did a great job, so I’m excited.
- Have the actors, made remarks regarding the challenges that animation has compared to the original show? If so, what were the remarks?
Craig: Uh… we kinda just recorded them and said “Thanks!” It’ll be done next year! And that was almost three years ago.
Andrew: We did something that isn’t totally normal in animation, though. We recorded them all in a group setting, all sitting in the same room, so we’d get the same chemistry and good vibes they’d normally get on set when performing together. I think it gave us some extra “Todd-ness” that you wouldn’t get if they recorded each of their lines separately. They all appreciated the chances to work together again.
- Has anyone in the group worked with animation before? If so what shows/movies/studios were they?
Craig: None of us had really worked in Animation before. Andrew is producing a huge animated film but I don’t think it had started yet. Some of our insanely talented writers came out for a jokes session to punch up the script, and they’d written some animation. Once we partnered with Smiley Guy Studio, it all really clicked together. My co-director Rich Duhaney from the studio is amazing, and he and his animation team has blown us away. They’ve really managed to capture the little nuances of each actor and translated that to their animated counterparts. And they really know how to splatter the blood!
Andrew: We hadn’t done any animation, but we were also inspired by Jason Mewes and Kevin Smith’s Jay & Silent Bob’s Groovy Movie, which was made for next to nothing, but had their spirit in it. Jason was actually recording some of it during our second season of Todd & The Book of Pure Evil, and telling us how much fun it was to do animation. His wife Jordan (also a producer with Kevin Smith) told me it was a really tough project because of the low budget, but they had lots of control and no oversight from networks, which was great.
- Did the cast have fun being reunited for the movie? How did you guys feel, when you contacted them?
Craig: I hope so! They seemed excited. We were excited when we contacted them, because we were going to make an animated movie! Now it’s five years later and we’re really tired.
Andrew: They had a lot of fun, and we have video clips to prove it!! We’ll release some behind-the-scenes recording clips when we start promoting the film.
- How much is the movie going to cost?
Craig: My soul. Actually, the soul of Jonas Diamond, the owner of Smiley Guy Studios.
Andrew: Can’t say the exact cost, but it’s less than one episode of the original show, and waaaaaaaaay less than an animated feature film should cost. Waaaaaaaay less. Thanks to Smiley Guy Studios for stretching their dollars to infinity. And a lot of people have been either working for free or really reduced rates, so that helps too.
- Is there any way to get the show back on Netflix?
Craig: We’re trying.
Andrew: A fan revolution. And we’re trying – in the US it’s currently on Chiller.
- How do you guys unwind after a long day of recording?
Craig: We only really had a week of recording, and it was at night, so we went to sleep.
- Is the cast/crew close to each other? Or is it strictly professional?
Craig: I think we all have different connections, some folks being closer than others. I’m a bit of hermit / curmudgeon, so I don’t tend to keep in touch with people very well, and considering I don’t have any social media accounts I rarely know what’s going on with anyone. I miss everyone terribly, especially Charles since he moved out to Newfoundland. Every time Andrew and I watch a new cut of the film, we both say “I miss Charles”, pretty much at the same time. Oh, yeah, I see Andrew all the time since we’re the primary force getting this thing made (except for Rich and the Smiley Guy Gang, who are spending more hours actually animating this thing).
Charles: I like that Craig David Wallace fellow. What a thoughtful and well- mannered young lad. As for Andrew Rosen, he is – and will forever remain — my one true love; even if he did leave me with a bad case of German Herpes.
Andrew: Charles, I’d dare to say that it was a GOOD case of German Herpes. And I know that in making the original series, the cast definitely became life-long friends, still seeing each other all the time. Except for Chris Leavins, as he hates everyone in the world and has moved into a cave.
- Any words you would like to give the fans that have been waiting for the movie this long?
Craig: Sorry! No refunds. But honestly, despite the wait, the movie is fucking awesome and I’m so excited about it.
Charles: Todd fans are amazing. Proud to fly that freak flag, they’re incredibly clever and twisted and loyal and very, very patient. If Todd fans were allowed to rule the universe (or at least Canadian television networks) mediocrity and bad taste would forever be outlawed.
Andrew: We really appreciate your patience with us, but let it be known that we’ve actually been working on it for five years, so please cut us a bit of slack! We’re doing it for the fans, but we also need to do our “paying” jobs while doing this film. But we’re so proud of how it’s turning out, we’d love to see Todd & The Book of Pure Evil live on again for a new generation of slackers.
- Anything you would like to say for yourselves? Feel free to say whatever you want here.
Craig: I started working on what would become TODD back in 2002. A significant portion of my life has been spent at Crowley High. After TODD was done, someone asked me what my dream project was, and I realized I had already done it. Without TODD, I don’t think I’d be still writing and directing in this business, so I will always be grateful for the deal I made with the Book Of Pure Evil. Even it’s going to kill me eventually.
Charles: I spent 10 years of my life working on Todd & The Book of Pure Evil. My youth may be gone – but it was not wasted. For it truly was a joyous and life altering experience. I doubt I’ll ever have as much fun working for a living as I did back then.
Andrew: Don’t believe Charles – he never had a youth.
Afterwards, I thanked them for their participation, and parted ways. The opportunity to see these guys will certainly remain with me forever. I am happy to see a satisfying ending for a series which grew really near and dear to my heart. But, there will always be a longing for more Todd in the hearts of fans everywhere!
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