Interview: Animator Leigh Lahav Talks Her New Pilot about Time-Traveling Fangirls
Belle and Tina work at what probably is the last DVD store in California. Oh! and they also time travel.
We’re big fans of animator Leigh Lahav round these parts (she’s even made videos for us in the past!), and we’re super excited about her newest venture. Belle & Tina are Time Travelers is a pilot about best friends and time-traveling pop culture-obsessives Belle and Tina, who work at California’s last remaining DVD rental store when not exploring through space and time.
The pilot episode came out today, and you can watch it for yourself above. I was super impressed by how much Belle and Tina reminded me of people I know, from Belle’s crush on everyone in Doctor Who to the friends’ frank discussion of periods. In an email interview with Lahav, I talked to her about how she writes realistic characters in extraordinary situations, and the ways pop culture inspires her to keep creating her own art.
The Mary Sue (Carolyn): How long have you been working on Belle and Tina for, and how much time do you usually spend on a single episode?
Leigh Lahav: This is a concept we’ve (=me & my husband/co writer) have been toying with for quite some time! We love the Time Travel trope but always asked: where are the ladies? They usually appear as companions, love interests or in the worse scenarios- triggers, and while some of these are great (I’m a big fan of the female characters in Doctor Who), we really wanted to see those characters in leading parts, as the travelers. We’ve only got around to pitching and finally creating a pilot during this year. We’ve had quite the squeezed deadline between projects so we wrapped it up in about 1.5-2 months (writing to finish), hectic but super fun.
TMS: What age group do you most want Belle and Tina to reach?
Lahav: EVERYONE ON EARTH! But the core target audience is probably late teens and up. We really wanna make a fun cartoon for older audiences that have an itch for pop culture. Like me!
TMS: Who are you more like, Belle or Tina?
Lahav: Oh man, that’s a toughie. I actually based both characters on two good friends of mine! I guess I’ll give the generic answer that I’m a little bit of both. Upon sending the pilot to good friends every one of them pointed out I’m very much like one or the other, so I guess you should ask them instead.
TMS: I love, love, love that periods are a fact of life in the first episode. And no one is grossed out or makes a big deal about them! Where did your inspiration for that come from?
Lahav: Well I do get them every month myself!
It just always seemed odd to me this is something rarely addressed in popular media, it’s SUCH a big part of people who have periods’ lives. Nowadays you can see a lot more attention being brought to our lovely time of the month in alternative lady-centric platforms like tumblr: jokes, memes, webcomics, it’s really fun. There’s always a lot to say about this incredibly mundane yet unspoken experience, other than the sitcomish “lol hormones make women angry.”
Belle & Tina’s little exchange about Belle’s crazy scheduled period is actually from life, I myself have PCOS which means they’re always completely out of sync and all over the place unless I’m on the pill.
TMS: This might be a big question, but can you give us an idea of how your ideas come together and what your creative process is like? At what point in watching a movie or TV show do you usually get an idea for a video?
Lahav: You know that moment you’re watching a movie with a friend, and you crack a joke in the middle, or make fun of certain parts after you leave the theater? it’s kind of like that only we’re like “dude, lets do this, lets make a sketch out of that!”
We might sleep on it and wake up in an idea-whirl hangover, wondering how the hell we came up with such a dumb premise, or we make that dumb idea a dumb reality! Once we’ve written a sketch we like we head on to voice recording, storyboard, and the whole animating process starts. I’ve written about that process here.
TMS: How can people who want more of Belle & Tina make sure they don’t miss an episode?
Lahav: Stay tuned! hopefully, we’ll have a series in no time on an incredibly cool platform.
TMS: How can we support your work?
Lahav: You can always check out my updates and subscribe to my YouTube channel, or become a patron of the arts and support my work. Or, tag me on twitter and be like “hey Leigh I support your work!” that would be SWEET.
TMS: If you could travel to any time in history, when would it be?
Lahav: Go to the future and congratulate future Leigh on the 100th episode of Belle & Tina Are Time Travelers. *wink*
Make sure to check out the pilot for Belle & Tina above. You can also find Lahav on the VidCon panels “Pop culture popularity” and “Secrets to success from youtube animators” next week.
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