Hi Reddit! We are co-hosts of a new show on Turner Classic Movies, TCM Movie Camp, a summer long film series, created to inspire a love of classic cinema in young filmmakers. With our awesome team at Moonbot Studios in Shreveport, La. we make movies, books, apps and video games, often inspired by classic movies. We also won an Academy Award for our animated short film, The Fantastic Flying Books of Mr. Morris Lessmore. We are really excited for everyone to see our newest animated short film, The Numberlys, on TCM this Sunday, July 19 right after a screening of Fritz Lang’s Metropolis, which was the inspiration for our film.

A member of the AMA team is helping us out today. We can’t wait to answer your questions! Ask away!

Brandon: @Brandonbot Moonbot: @moonbotstudios http://fb.me/moonbotstudios William: @heybilljoyce

PROOF: Picture and Twitter

UPDATE: We have to go now! Don't forget to tune in tonight to TCM for TCM Movie Camp 8p ET / 7p CT. We're showing Metropolis in it's entirety paired with the world television premiere of our Moonbot short The Numberlys.

BO: I'm really proud by all the questions about Rise of the Guardians, and if Dreamworks is too busy we'd be happy to make it for them.

WJ: This is really fun talking to everybody, and it's very exciting to hear all the support that we have out in the real world. We're just a little start up and we're trying to do big things. Everybody's questions made us feel 10 feet tall today.

Comments: 110 • Responses: 40  • Date: 

chrisjay3185 karma

Howdy, Bill and Brandon! What are your earliest memories of going to the movies? For me, I remember my mom taking me to see Bambi, and I lost my mind when the meadow caught on fire. Is there an earliest, clearest memory of moviegoing that stands out for each of you?

WJoyce_BOldenburg3 karma

BO: By far it wasn't the first film, but I saw Raiders of Lost Ark and when I walked out I told my dad what I wanted to do the rest of my life, and my dad said: "An Archeologist!?"

WJ: Bambi was one of my first film experiences, and I was with my mom and Bambi's mom died it really messed with me cause I realized it happens to everyone's mom at some point. Then it just freaked me out, but it was awesome at the same time that I felt that from a story that was drawn. It wasn't reality it was this other thing, and from that point on I knew there was a difference between reality and stories, but that stories came from reality, and I preferred thinking in terms of stories. The first movie I saw was The Day The Earth Stood Still, and it melted my brain and I haven't been the same since.

missmintygreen4 karma

Mr. Joyce, I'm a huge fan of yours. Your two recent films Rise of the Guardians and Epic were the final push I needed to actively pursue a career in animation. Unfortunately, I can't afford to go back to school for it full time. What do you think is the most important thing a newcomer to animation and film-making needs to know to break into the industry?

WJoyce_BOldenburg4 karma

WJ: Study the masters of animation. Live and breathe what you learn from them. Internalize every lesson that you can see. Read, devour, become the art form. Treat it as a religion, or a calling. And if you're good, your talent will shine through, and people will hire you. You don't have to go to college to learn this. You just have to want it so bad that you can't not do it.

thatbrat4 karma

Dear Mr. Joyce, I know many people don't give him much thought when talking about the movie, Rise of the Guardians, but for me, the character I was able to relate to the most was young Jamie Bennett. I saw so much of myself in him from when I was a child, and can still relate to his wanting to believe in fantastical beings and pursuit for the truth of the supernatural. I also thought his relationship with Jack was especially endearing and significant. So, getting down to it, my question is: can we expect to see more of him, specifically in Guardians of Childhood? Also, if you've given any thought to it, what would he be like as a teenager? What would his aspirations be?

WJoyce_BOldenburg3 karma

WJ: Jamie was our way of giving the audience a sort of identifiable every kid. So as his character took shape we just thought of the things we wanted him to embody that we all had felt about belief and imagination and that sort of fall from grace when you have to accept the fact that a lot of these things aren't real. But the belief in them is really the most awesome part of the experience, and in the way it makes these characters real. I want to leave Jamie exactly as he is and let people like yourself imagine his further adventures.

TraverseTown3 karma

What's your "dream film" that you'd like to see screened on TCM? Perhaps something rare that doesn't get much attention and has been forgotten?

Also, my little sister watched Rollie Pollie Ollie: The Great Defender of Fun on VHS everyday, multiple times per day for about a year and a half while we shared a bedroom, so thanks a lot for the memories!

WJoyce_BOldenburg3 karma

WJ: Thank you for loving and watching Rollie Pollie Ollie! It makes me happy that you guys shared so much fun with Ollie. I would really love to show anything by Wes Anderson.

BO: I would love to show the lost Jerry Lewis clown movie.

theplayerpiano3 karma

Hey Bill & Brandon!

It seems like the big screen adaptations of Bill's work never reached their potential - be it Robots, Meet the Robinsons, Rise of the Guardians, or Epic. I know making a movie in the first place is a long and treacherous journey and that LOTS of people are involved, meaning your vision gets lost in the process.

My question is - Do you think that you'll have a chance to direct a feature film adaptation of your work? Or is that something you're even interested in?

WJoyce_BOldenburg2 karma

WJ: Yes, I'm interested in that. That's what we're hoping to do in the future at Moonbot, but in our own way.

MoonclipperStowaway3 karma

Have either/both of you seen the mini-series "Over the Garden Wall?" The series draws upon a lot of early animation influences that I recognize in the aesthetic of Moonbots as well. It seems like something you would enjoy! Lots of those rubber hose arms.

WJoyce_BOldenburg2 karma

BO: Over the Garden Wall is definitely one of the most exciting things I've seen on TV over the past year. Please start a petition and let Curtis Lelash at Cartoon Network that you'd like Moonbot to do a mini series in the same tone as Over the Garden Wall

jeterderek3 karma

You have blown minds for decades, probably your whole lives - what is blowing your minds today?

What has your biggest struggle ever been?

Is there any movie or tv show that people can't access today, b/c of licensing or whatever, that you wish they could?

WJoyce_BOldenburg3 karma

WJ: I saw about 4,000 people riding their bicycles naked in St. Louis yesterday, and that really messed me up. But what blew my mind -- there's this cool thing in New York a puppet show called Ada/Ava. Struggle: Creatively...Realizing when you're wrong is tough, but once you get over that it makes everything so much easier. Movie that can be accessed: There's an amazing short called Blaze Glory that's about the trippiest thing you'll ever see. Blaze Glory is Imagination with execution, but it's still a hallucination. Also more work by Lottie Reninger.

BO: Things that are blowing my mind are: Magic Leap, Punch Drunk Theater. Struggle: Balancing patiences and perseverance with sanity. It's a fine line. There's a quote by Thomas Edison that we often look back on: "vision without execution is a hallucination". Movie that can be accessed: This is something that's not that old, but certainly hard to find - a place where you can tune into the exciting experimental use of film for shorts and music videos. Back in the 80s there was this thing called MTV and they used to show music videos. Late at night they would show this show called Liquid Television. Sure Youtube and Vimeo do a form of this, but rarely do you get to experience something that's curated like Liquid Television. We got to see The Dancing Pig. It wasn't the Lumiere Brothers. It was another group. It was made in the 19-teens. It's actually an incredible costume. It's the most bizarre and captivating cosplay caught on film. We got to see it in it's most purest form. An restored print using a hand crank exactly how it was first shown one hundred years ago. You could only see it at the TCM Movie Fest.

WJ: It would be awesome to see things like Liquid Television on a movie screen. TCM or Turner Classic Movies has a film festival every year where they show some of the rarest and most amazing stuff. In the most beautiful screening rooms in the world and it's a revelation. It would be great if TCM Movie Fest could go everywhere in America.

Spiritish3 karma

Hello! Both of your artworks are fantastic btw! All of your works inspire me so much. Thank you for creating so much wonder and hope that inspires children and people everyday -- But my question is 'what advice would you give a young artist who is starting to doubt themselves about their artwork? What tips would you give in drawing/creating something new so that THEY can inspire others too?'

WJoyce_BOldenburg2 karma

Both: Thank you for enjoying our artwork!

BO: Sharing is important. Sharing your gifts with not just your family or friends, but as many people as you can in really important. You'll make an important connection. Try to tell stories through your art. Try to tell personal stories. That's where true meaningful connection will inevitably happen.

WJ: Just remember that everybody's story matters. And if you can tell your story truthfully people will recognize it's power.

KSClaw3 karma

If 2D animated movies were to make a come back, which of your movies do you think could be fun to see made like that? (It can be more than just one of them)

WJoyce_BOldenburg1 karma

WJ: All of them. I mean it would be cool. The opportunity here is to get the story right [laughs] so going back and doing them in 2D and getting the story right would be awesome to do with any of them.

MowchiBear3 karma

Hey William and Brandon! Thank you so much for being here . First of all i got to meet you guys last Ctn and it was a blast! I was never familiar with the work you have done but I fell in love after I found out you guys did Robots and when I watched the fantastic flying booksof mr morris lessmore. The Mobile games were too adorable and cute as well! I will be graduating this September from Art school and what i want to do for living is Vis dev and Illustration. The problem is I have been very very Lost about how to start and where. I would Love to know about how you guys started in this industry and if there is any advice you can give me or anyone else who is new and want to start fresh in industry! Also Would love to know what is the process when you guys try to hire an artist! What qualities do you look for in their work/portfolio and what goes through your head?! Thank you so much!

WJoyce_BOldenburg2 karma

BO: We can only speak from our personal experiences and how we've done it. That being said for me I have always like and enjoyed paving my own path and creating the job vs. applying for it. It comes with greater frustration and risk, but with greater reward and satisfaction.

WJ: I second that.

MoonclipperStowaway3 karma

"Meet the Robinsons" is one of my favorite movies. At what point did the film move beyond the book in order to take on the theme of adoption/letting go of the past? Was this a direction Mr. Joyce wanted it to go?

WJoyce_BOldenburg1 karma

WJ: That came into the development process about 12 years into the development of the film. It originated with the director as it reflected his childhood experiences. I think it worked within the context of presenting Wilbur as a dreamer and outsider, but it was not my first choice for the direction of the story and I've always felt a little ambivalent about it.

CobraCornelius3 karma

Did you see the 2011 animated short Wild Life?

WJoyce_BOldenburg2 karma

BO: Yes we did. It's a cool one. The two women filmmakers who created it are very sweet and have a very unique outlook on the world. They've been nominated several times.

WJ: Yeah, that was awesome. We love hanging out with them. They're like us. They're artists.

Point21Gigawatts3 karma

Hello! Thank you both for being here today.

Mr. Joyce, Robots was one of my favorite movies growing up (and I still enjoy it today!). Do you have any favorite memories from the production of that film? As production designer, what were some of the locations and scenic touches that you created?

WJoyce_BOldenburg4 karma

WJ: One of my favorite things was Brandon and I went to a bunch of junk stores and bought all this metal junk. Like old pressure cookers and waffle irons, and coffee pots and just nutty metal stuff. And we built a miniture city in my living room out of that junk. That became the template of the whole look of Robots. As the production designer we sort of inspire a team to find the visual language that everybody agrees works for the story and the characters, and is cool. The whole process of making the movie with the team and with Chris Wedge was more fun than recess, but politics of the studio filmmaking can weary the happiest spirit.

KSClaw3 karma

Dear Mr. Joyce, as it was suggested on your tumblr, I figured it wouldn't hurt to ask =) Where did the name Moonbot Studios come from, aside from your book, The Man in the Moon?

WJoyce_BOldenburg1 karma

WJ: That's pretty much it! It was kind of Brandon's idea.

BO: In 1998 Bill and I worked on our first project together, which has yet to be finished. It was an animated short about the origins of the man in the moon. It only made sense to name the studio after the first character we created together.

WalrusWinks3 karma

I have been waiting to see Numberlys since hearing about a year ago. Will there be a digital distribution?

WJoyce_BOldenburg1 karma

BO: As of right now there isn't a digital distribution. The exciting component of this is that we would love to have digital distribution. There are big steps being made right now towards that, but the closest thing you'll get is your DVR tonight on TCM Movie Camp.

rareapplepie3 karma

Hello! I have a couple of questions of you! 1. Is there going to be a book for Pitch in the Guardians of Childhood series?
2. Are we going to get a Rise of the Guardians sequel? I've heard whispers and rumors, but I wanted to ask you guys~
3. Will there ever be any hope of actually getting good, quality merchandise for Rise of the Guardians? Things like...Jack's Hoodie, maybe a toy Ruby Memory box, stuffed plushie Nightmares, maybe even something cute like a Sandman Nightight? All of your fans would -love- to have stuff like that!

WJoyce_BOldenburg3 karma

WJ: Maybe. I'm thinking about. I just finished the Jack Frost book. Everyone who wants a sequel to happen to call Jeffrey Katzenberg at Dreamworks studio, and not to hang up until you talk to him. Tell them how essential it is that another Rise of the Guardians film be made. As for the merchandise, call Jeffrey Katzenberg [laughs] send him telegrams, letters, fruitcakes, pints of blood, anything that'll get them to do this very simple, profitable, and necessary extension of our global culture. And bless you all.

KSClaw2 karma

Dear Mr. Joyce, where did you get your initial ideas for Nicholas St. North from your Guardian of Childhood series? How did you come up with that he started out as a Bandit King?

WJoyce_BOldenburg2 karma

WJ: 1. I came up with the idea when i was in the 3rd grade when I saw my first James Bond move with Sean Connery and I thought Santa Claus must be as cool as Sean Connery and I came up with an early idea of what his life must be like: a super cool spy bandit from bandit from long ago. 2. Sort of the same thing it seemed more interesting that he started out as not a totally good guy, but became a good guy because of what happened to him. It was sort of merging Robin Hood and James Bond because Robin Hood was a normal guy and became a hero because of what was going on around him. He became a hero for the underprivileged, and kids are always treated as second class citizens and Santa Claus' mission was to make their lives easier and inventive and full of imagination.

burningeraph2 karma

I'm a character animator that's very interested in what you guys are doing. I grew up outside of Atlanta and have moved to Los Angeles and Vancouver in order to find work but would love to get closer to my family. I applied last year when you were looking but wasn't selected. I've now finished my mentorship and am poking around studios. I recently watched some reels from your animators and noticed there was feature experience in a few. What are the things you are looking for in reels that make people stand out besides the basics like understanding of the principles?

WJoyce_BOldenburg2 karma

BO: As it relates to animators and all of our artists, we're very selective as it relates to choosing people. As it relates specifically to animators. We have to sense that they're a great actor that there's an actor inside of them and they have to be able to translate that into the puppets that you create. They don't have to be pretty they just have to perform well. But if you create a thesis or short and you create it yourself and you have a beautiful looking character that performs incredibly well that's always a plus.

WJ: We look for a spark of divine and hilarious and tragic and fun.

JokulFrosti12 karma

Did Jack meet his "family" (the one we see in flashbacks in ROTG) between his (as Nightlight) battle with Pitch but before he officially became Jack Frost?

WJoyce_BOldenburg1 karma

WJ: Yes, but they couldn't see him.

ronsussman2 karma

Hi Brandon, its Ron Sussman. So proud of everything you have accomplished. I knew you when! Did TCM approach you guys or did you have to pitch them?

WJoyce_BOldenburg3 karma

BO: Hi Ron! Ron is a very talented editor in Dallas, TX. We tweeted "Hey TCM we always play your films in our lobby here at Moonbot Studios. We should do a show together or something." And the rest is history!

andrejason2 karma

Hi guys. I'm a writer from Lafayette, Louisiana. I have a lot of questions for y'all. First, what advice would you give an unpublished children's writer on breaking in on the scene?

WJoyce_BOldenburg3 karma

WJ: Don't give up it took me 10 years and over 100 rejection slips to finally get published. Just keep trying.

WalrusWinks2 karma

I saw the demo made for Dolby Atmos, but obviously couldn't hear it properly. Where can that be seen/heard?

WJoyce_BOldenburg1 karma

BO: There are a few Dolby Atmos theaters in the United States and throughout the world. They are trying to double the number of those theaters over the next year. Dolby has a new projection system called Dolby Vision, and I'm excited to hear where this goes and grows within the United States. I believe Look Cinemas have Atmos theaters, and if you go to Dolby.com you can find them. It is a joy to mix in Atmos it's like nothing we've ever experienced. It's sexy.

heysaratoga2 karma

What's your favorite pizza topping?

WJoyce_BOldenburg4 karma

WJ: Moon Cheese.

BO: Pluto droppings.

WalrusWinks2 karma

What feedback did you get about the vertical orientation of Numberlys from the film festival experience?

WJoyce_BOldenburg2 karma

WJ: Some people really dug it.

BO: There was a festival in Austraila dedicated to films in the vertical format, and it was able to screen in that festival.

WJ: We thought we were the first.

BO: First tall short film.

MoonclipperStowaway2 karma

The chant of the Guardians is always "Believe Believe Believe," and I think this is a good message, one that brings them hope and strength. What is it that you personally believe in to pull yourself through the hard times?

WJoyce_BOldenburg1 karma

WJ: The power of imagination.

youdontseekyoda2 karma

Do you think there will be a reversal in CGI in the near future? I feel like movies are starting to use more practical effects - and perhaps Star Wars: Episode VII, with its use of actual puppets, etc - will finally prove the efficacy of actual props, vs pixels.

WJoyce_BOldenburg2 karma

BO: Yes, most definitely. There are so many exciting things happening in the 2D format for animation these days. It's inevitable.

WJ: 2D is just too much fun. Practical effects are so immediate and visceral and joyful that merging them with CGI is something that's a no brainer. I think practical effects will keep the filmmakers closer to their stories, and the use of CGI will just help. Being a purest about one over the other won't get you anywhere. Computers do perfection really well. We like imperfection. That doesn't mean it's ugly, or crude, it just means you can see the hands of the creators and the soul and the hopes and wishes and dreams in the product. You can see the struggle, and it makes it more real.

anuragdidit2 karma


WJoyce_BOldenburg4 karma

JW: [laughs]...It was as if an atomic bliss bomb had gone off inside my soul, and I don't think that my matter re-materialized for six months. I highly recommend winning an Oscar. It was the most fun I ever had with my clothes on.

BO: You go to cloud nine and at a certain point I started asking the question: "Do I have to get off?"

andrejason2 karma

Are there future plans for Moonbot to accept manuscripts from writers? Are y'all considering publishing on your own?

WJoyce_BOldenburg1 karma

BO: The answer is no. Not currently, but I'm not sure we every will.

WJ: We're publishing our own stuff at Simon & Schuster. We have an imprint at Simon & Schuster.

WalrusWinks2 karma

Do you have any comment about the focus on vertical videos by Snapchat?

WJoyce_BOldenburg1 karma

WJ: I think it's cool.

BO: I would agree. We shouldn't always lock ourselves into one format.

WJ: I want to see a triangular movie.

BO: Kanye premiered the first triangle film a few years ago at the Cannes Film Festival.

andrejason2 karma

I'd love to take a tour of Moonbot studios. Do you offer tours?

WJoyce_BOldenburg2 karma

WJ: If you finance our feature yes [laughs].

BO: The reason we don't offer tours is related to intellectual property. There's a lot of stories on the walls that we haven't made yet. We run a risk of that stuff leaking when we have a flow of people coming through the studio. From time to time we do fundraisers, and sometimes we add that as a perk.

Spiritish2 karma

One more question(s)~ How do you both feel about people portraying your characters from your stories through roleplay-writing/or creating Original Characters based around your stories? Have you seen any that you like, or seen any at all? What are your thoughts about it?

WJoyce_BOldenburg2 karma

WJ: I think it's really fun and awesome even when it's weird. I love that the people embrace the characters so much that they want to play with it themselves. I think it's a really cool development in storytelling. This kind of roleplaying where stuff can happen.

missmintygreen2 karma

Also something my sister and I have been curious about—are there any plans for the Golem video game? It looked so promising on Kickstarter, and I've been hoping we might still get a chance to play it.

WJoyce_BOldenburg1 karma

BO: Our company has been learning a lot about video games and we will make the Golem into some sort of interactive experience, but what's most important to us right now is to get the story right.

KSClaw2 karma

What was the inspiration for Bunnymund from Guardians of Childhood, and how chocolate affects him (such as the transformations)?

WJoyce_BOldenburg1 karma

WJ: The inspiration for Bunnymund was a play from the 1950s -- and a movie -- called Harvey starting Jimmy Stewart. In which Jimmy Stewart's best friend is a six foot all knowing all powerful invisible rabbit named Harvey. Harvey is described as a Pooka a creature of Celtic mythology. I loved that play and movie as a kid and I still love it. So I made Bunnymund the last of the Pooka's and gave them a history that amused and delighted me and I tried to do honor to the original concept of Harvey. The chocolate thing, it just made narrative sense.

JokulFrosti12 karma

I know I'm late to the party but William when you were making Rise Of The Guardians do you ever planned on naming Jack's sister? And if so what would be her name?

WJoyce_BOldenburg1 karma

WJ: That's a closely guarded secret, but if you contact Jeffrey Katzenberg at Dreamworks Studios to know the answer in a sequel to Rise of the Guardians I think that's the best shot you have to knowing the answer.

bestnameforever2 karma

Hello Moonbot!

I'm an animator - recent college grad! - and had lived previously near the area where you opened your studio (south central Arkansas). What are some of the reasons you chose to open there instead of the traditional big cities like Los Angeles, New York or Atlanta? I know as a creative person I ultimately had to move away for work but I was intrigued when I heard about the Bots being so close to where I grew up.

WJoyce_BOldenburg1 karma

WJ: We wanted our lives both creatively and personally to be more like a Frank Capra movie. We decided to stay in the area we grew up.

BO: Period.

rareapplepie2 karma

Another question! Last one I promise~ If each of the Guardians and the Man in the Moon had a specific song that related to them, what would they be?

WJoyce_BOldenburg1 karma

BO: Back in 1998 we wrote the love theme for The Man In the Moon. It was composed by John Hunter, who we've worked with many times. He made The Man In the Moon Love Theme. We presented it to Bill with complete sincerely that this should be the pop song that plays during the credits. Much like the disney films had. In answer to your question. I think any of Barry White's major hits would be great for The Man In the Moon. For pitch I would say Kenny G.

WJ: Except it sounded like Barry White. The first time I heard it I thought my collaborators had completely lost their mind. Then I realized it was a joke, and I didn't respond to them for two weeks. They got afraid that I didn't want to work with them any more. In answer to your question. I think any of Barry White's major hits would be great for The Man In the Moon. For pitch I would say Kenny G. For Santa Clause it would be Frank Sinatra, for Tooth Fairy it would be Cher and for Sandman it would be Metallica. For the Easter Bunny it would be Run DMC.

MoonclipperStowaway2 karma

Will Moonbots ever sell art prints? I have this photoshopped bootleg hanging on my wall: (http://eviesketchy.tumblr.com/image/124516269089) but I'd love to order stuff from you instead.

WJoyce_BOldenburg1 karma

BO: We would love to make limited edition signed prints of all the artwork we create and we hope to in the future when we attend conventions and see how they do. Maybe by the end of next year we should.

MoonclipperStowaway1 karma

Hi Bill and Brandon! I'm a teacher of young children and Humptey Dumptey is still very popular. Would Moonbots consider doing a book/app/short with that character? I think you all would do something really special with him.

WJoyce_BOldenburg1 karma

BO: I am assuming you have seen our film The Fantastic Flying Books of Mr. Morris Lessmore where Humpty Dumpty plays a major role. If you haven't you should check that out!

WJ: We have a story called Humpty Trouble that we would love to someday turn into a short, a book and an app, and maybe we will. We love Humpty too!

hemswa1 karma

Hey guys! I'm a big fan of the studio and I live about an hour away. I visited once and I fell in love! It really feels like Moonbot is the place I'm meant to be. I was wondering what you look for in a person, and in their work, when making new additions to the studio? I'm starting college soon, majoring in studio art, and I'm working on building my portfolio. Thank you both for the constant inspiration. The studio and both of your work means so much to me!

WJoyce_BOldenburg1 karma

BO: Self starting passion. It doesn't hurt to wear multiple hats. A love of story and the ability to collaborate.

WJ: Ditto.

ObbyOss1 karma

First: You guys are heroes!

Questions: 1. Any update on the status of your Golem project? 2. It was reported awhile back that you were working on a ghost story and one based on 7 Samurai. Are they still in development? Anything you're working on now that you can talk about? 3. When creating picture books for children, how do you develop the pacing? Yours generally have more slower story elements than the typical frantic ones on shelves.

Thanks! Looking forward to TCM tonight.

WJoyce_BOldenburg1 karma

WJ: Yeah we're working on both of those, and it'll take us a while, but they'll make their way into the public awareness once we finish them. It's sort of like making a piece of music. You internalize what you think should happen next and what would be the most interesting and compelling way to advance the story. You decide where you want to linger and where you want to pick up the pace and it feels right.