Thursday, September 24, 2015


Hey guys, haven't used this blog in quite some time, but I figure it's time for an update. Here's what's going on with the show and several other related topics.

We're still animating the pilot and as with any piece of animation, this takes a while. Add on top of that busy schedules and real life issues, it becomes an even longer process. It's been insanely hard to pinpoint a date when the final product will be released, but we're getting there. Slowly, but surely. I'm sure a lot of you have seen this gif, but if you haven't, it really shows off the look we're going for with the animation. 

I'm working on two other pilots (one that's currently being pitched and another that's being thought out) and a top secret project at my current job. The latter is a really, REALLY cool thing I'm putting together and let's just say I'm talking to a LOT of cool, well known people that want to help. I'll update you on that when I can.

You may be wondering about the art contest we had and the prizes we promised. Well, we're currently working on getting those to you! The prints take a while to make, as well as the keychains, so it's going to take us a bit longer to get those to you. WE HAVEN'T FORGOTTEN YOU, SO THANK YOU FOR YOUR PATIENCE. 

Matthew Pop, the writer and performer of the theme song for Failing Upward, is currently going into the studio to make his next album. While recording, he's going to be doing a full, studio version of the theme song, as a b-side. 

That about wraps it up.

- Gary

Now if you'll excuse me...

Thursday, July 10, 2014

Wherever You Go, There You Are

Two years ago, we launched the Facebook page for Failing Upward. At the time, we thought that maybe a few of our close friends would like it, until we started producing actual content. That being said, we've been insanely fortunate to have so many people like our page, without having much to give them in return, but that's going to change...

If you didn't notice, we posted the first promo for Failing Upward nearly two weeks ago and we're very happy that people seem to dig it.

Alongside that, we've also completed the full animatic for the pilot, meaning we're ready to move onto the actual animation. I can't tell you how excited both Nik and I are, right now. For the past couple of months, we've been bouncing ideas off each other, seeing what fits, and getting everything organized to bring you something really special. 

We're so lucky to have awesome fans, like you, that have stayed with us through all the delays and changes that this series has encountered. Right now, we're aiming for a late summer/early fall release for the pilot and since everything seems to be moving on schedule, we just might be able to hit that target. 

So, with that, I hope you all stick around for the final product. I think you're really gonna love it.

Your friend in time,


Wednesday, December 12, 2012

An Update...FINALLY

To All Our Followers,

First and foremost, I'd like to thank all of you for following us with such limited material. You rock our faces off.

The reason things have fallen behind schedule can be attributed to one word: School.

I've been going back to school to finish my degree at NYU and it's been nuts. I took some time off to get Failing Upward started, but I knew I'd have to finish stuff eventually. After this semester, you'll be looking at a full fledged alumni of the Tisch Film!

Steven has been VERY busy teaching his own animation classes and is doing a hell of an awesome job. We still converse about Failing Upward a lot and have some character models we're working on.

Nik, our new storyboard and animatic artist, is in the same boat as me. We're both trying to make it threw the semester in one piece. He's been working on his stuff when he can and I'm sure it's going to be freaking amazing.

So, what does this mean about the future of Failing Upward? Well, it just means we'll get it to you as soon as possible! We'll all have a bit of time over the vacation to regroup and plan some awesome things for the future of the show. Right now, we're looking at doing the show in 3 minute episodes, depending on how well the pilot does.

Once again, thanks for all the support guys. It means so much to all of us.

Smell ya later,


Sunday, October 28, 2012

Every Day I Write The Book #4: Creating JC

My friend Keaton had a huge vendetta against the show, "The Odd Couple". To this day, I could never figure out why. The dynamic that the show used has become a staple of television; that dynamic being the mismatched pair of kindred souls just trying to make it day to day without tearing each other to pieces. I guess, by proxy, he should hate Failing Upward, but indeed, he loves the writing and look of it, so...yeah.

The first sketch of JC. Art by Iris Febres.
If you recall, in an earlier post, I mentioned that Failing Upward was based on my friendship with a person who lived very far away. She became the catalyst for who JC would eventually become. This person, was someone who I considered a friend, certainly, but also had this snarky disposition that I had a fascination with. Every so often, she'd shoot me down for a stupid comment I'd make or just kind of poke fun at my lack of "real world" experience. Yet, somehow, we managed to be pretty close for about a year or so. I think it was the fact that we trusted each other and I also think that trust was amplified by the distance between us.

But, while she was the catalyst, I don't think she was what made JC an interesting character. See, at first, JC was a bit too mean, just as Cody was a bit to stupid. They were these kind of do I put it...assholes? Seriously, I look back at some of these original drafts of the pilot and I can't believe some of the things they were saying to each other. JC, especially in the earlier draft. Cody always kind of walked the line of likable/unlikable, but JC is supposed to be this reminder that the real world IS indeed a thing and not a myth adults make to scare you into getting a job. Instead, she was so terribly undefined, that she became kind of mean for no-reason whatsoever. The only reason she hated Cody was because he WAS Cody. Let me tell you, that is no way to ever write a character. It makes you wonder how the character of JC existed before she knew Cody.

So, I went back in and retooled things. I think the single most important thing I did was start putting more of myself into her. I know that sounds vein, but a lot of the time, it's the best thing a writer can do, especially when it comes to these kinds of slice of life stories, It's a great way to motivate your character with mistakes and lessons you've made. Don't get me wrong, there are BAD ways to make yourself into a character. We have loads of fan fiction on the internet to prove that. However, if you can take your personality and stretch and split it into new forms of life, then you have yourself an original character.

To me, at least, JC is the part of me that strives to work hard to attain something in life without any help from others. She's strong, independent, albeit a bit naive about her own limitations. Despite that, she shoots for the stars at any chance she can get. More often than not, she'll hit the roof, but come right back up at the next opportunity. The newer and improved version is also kind of knit from my own cynical view of the world (whereas Cody's viewpoint is much brighter). For years, I had always tried to be very open minded about the world around me, but there was always that hint of sourness that would come out every now and then. And I think that's where the initial makeover started.

Early redesigns for JC. Art by Steven Ray Brown.

Another change started when I met the voice actress who plays JC, Casey Haller. I had met Casey at her old job in a comic book store and when we started to become good friends, I really began to write JC with Casey in mind. She became a bit more deadpan, a bit more aggressive with her thoughts, and I think the best part is that she brought a more sophisticated intelligence along to JC. Anytime I talk to Casey, she always has all these facts to back up her opinions or thoughts on any subject of any scale. I like to think she just kind of perfected JC.

JC's cynical attitude is in full swing, due to her living at home with her family, which consists of 10 brothers and a pair of parents. While I'm not sure why I made all the siblings boys, it might be cause my dad had a similar family, sans a girl,  I can tell you why there are so many of them. I grew up where I had friends with big families, my previously mentioned friend Keaton had a bunch of siblings and I always fascinated by the dynamic of large families. How they work, what they talk about, how they deal with age gaps. I think JC coming home and having to deal with all this, will provide some great character moments in terms of compassion and understanding, despite her bitterness.

I think my favorite moments that I've written with JC is when she's happy. Doing scenes where JC is truly at peace or even writing her music blog are just a blast. It's a chance for me to make her a multi-faceted character. Speaking of the music aspect,  that was another thing that was greatly affected by my life. I'm a huge music junkie and even the titles of the episodes are named after some of my favorite songs. JC's approach to music reviewing is still kind of a work in progress, but it's also just a giant part of her character that will be explored in later episodes.

JC's design was always fun to mess around with. I still think the best picture Iris ever drew of her was the first one. I love the halter top look for her and her punk-ish demeanor. The only thing that really changed when it came to Steven was her hair. We had a short talk about whether or not we wanted to change it from kind of long in the back, to an almost anime style spikey-explosion. I think the latter was a step in the right direction.

So, that's all I've got about JC. I might do one on the secondary characters, but it might be a while before you see that.

Good Riddance,

- Gary

Friday, October 19, 2012

Every Day I Write The Book #3: Creating Cody

So, as you may or may not have heard on the Facebook page, we have a very awesome opportunity we're going to try to seize in the coming months. It's times like these where previous plans kind of get pushed to the side to pursue bigger goals. Which means the new short, the working title for which was "JC's Suburban Rants", has been pushed back, just a bit. Don't worry, you WILL see it.

In the meantime, let's talk about Cody. If you haven't seen "Cody's Pro-Tips", you can find it in the post bellow. I think it's a pretty great introduction to the character, too.

The very first sketch of Cody. Art by Iris Febres.
Cody was created kind of as this "what-if" scenario for me. During my time at Tisch, I began to strongly consider the idea of just...not being able to fit into society as a functioning human being. I think one of the most important things you need to realize is that film school doesn't exactly boost your ego. I was put down a lot for the kinds of projects I wanted to do. I went to Tisch during a period where everything "indie" was in. I usually felt this strong hatred for anything that might conform to a mainstream taste. As you'll see in future episodes of Failing Upward, I constantly like the lampoon the mindset.

But, my point is that I seriously thought there was no place for me in the world of film and television. For all I know, I may be right.

The idea of Cody started with the prediction that I was still going to be living at home at the age of 24 or so. I've always kind of had this weird fascination with kind of reclaiming lost time from my childhood and teen years. Suddenly, I'm living in the city and it's a bit scarier that I had anticipated. I kind of felt like most people where they felt it had gone by way to fast and that I didn't have the experiences that I wanted to, but you know, I'm a rational person. We get over these things.

With Cody, that thought process is taken to a much crazier extreme. He's a character that literally will do anything to avoid any kind of social responsibility. It's not that he's stupid or a jerk, it's just that he's got this ideal life in mind. He legitimately loves suburbia. Now, it's not to say he's not lazy, that's a given. However, in the first episode that I had written, there's definitely a bit more going on mentally with this kind of refusal to grow up. I think, once Cody has been kicked out and is forced to move to the city, a lot of these things start to come to fruition.

The side of Cody that was the most influenced by my own personal life was Cody being a geek. I guess by popular label, you could call me a "geek", and I'd be hard-pressed not to disagree with you. However, I think the thing that separates Cody from the normal sitcom geek, is that, all of his nerdiness is based in pop-culture. There's no real intellectual side to Cody and I actually really prefer it that way. We're living in an age where being a geek is pretty much defined by how much you know about trivial topics. I never really understood the correlation between being smart and loving science-fiction and comic books, considering the latter almost always slaps logic in the face. I think actor/comedian Donald Glover said it best;

Early Redesigns for Cody. Art by Steven Ray Brown.
"Strange specific stuff, that's what makes what makes a nerd a nerd. If you like strange specific stuff, that's a nerd. Kanye West is a black nerd, he likes strange specific stuff. If you go up to Kanye West and say; 'Hey, what are you favorite things?', he'll be like 'Robots and teddy bears!', that's a nerd!"

That's what makes Cody unique on the surface. He'll be talking and just whip out a reference to this B-movie movie you may only know by name, at best. It's this strange, habitual trait that his brain is hardwired to jump to. This isn't random either, he always has legitimate points to make using these references. It's not done to prove anything either. That's one of my biggest problems with the sitcom nerd, it's feels like name dropping for the sake of name dropping. I'm looking at you, Big Bang Theory.

I guess the last thing I should mention is Cody's design. If you ever see me on a livestream or doing a Q&A video, the first thing you're going to automatically notice the resemblance between myself and Cody. I kind of made pact with myself, that this would be the one and only character that would ever look anything like me. I think it's mainly because Failing Upward is such a personal story for me. On the flip-side of that, I knew there had to be some differences.

One of the major ones was giving him glasses, which is kind of just the Clark Kent trick, but I really do think there's a lot of character in those glasses. From Iris' first design, I just thought they made a world of difference between me and Cody, it allowed me to step back and not look at him as myself, but as a character. Steven came in and did some amazing touch ups and one of the things that I love about Cody now, is the dotted eyes. I think those emphasize the glasses and give him even more character. Of course, there's also the slew of geeky t-shirts, which, I'm sorry, but if I'm going to be guilty of any kind of reference dropping, it might as well be something you have to recognize and think about.

So, I guess that's Cody in a nutshell. Despite all the geekery and silliness, I'm glad he kind of became an entity that didn't entirely represent me. I can't wait to really explore him further and I'm sure you'll grow to at least tolerate his antics. In the next post, I'll talk about how I was able to take a bunch of other stuff about me, and mold it into a redheaded girl named JC.

See You Space Cowboy,

- Gary