The real work for production interns was filing paper and dubbing tapes. Let’s start with the former.
Every morning from the Los Angeles office we received a large FedEx box, the size that holds 10 reams of copy paper. In it were photocopies of scripts, storyboards, character designs, background designs, and prop designs for Brother Flub. This was before e-mail attachments of any reasonable size, and FTP sites, so this remarkably inefficient method was the most efficient way to get these materials across the country. And they needed to be filed. Ostensibly producers Randy and Tammy were reviewing them all, but either they had already seen earlier versions, or that’s one of those jobs that no one does even though on paper it’s part of the job. Again, this was thousands of sheets of paper per day.
So I or one of the other interns would slide this very heavy box (sometimes there were two) over to the oversized beige metal filing drawers, pull open the Brothers Flub folders, and file away all this paper. There were folders for each category, for each episode. And much of the paper – storyboards and models particularly – was 8.5 x 14 inches, bigger than standard letter-sized paper. It was brainless, but exactly the kind of task someone is obliquely referring to when he or she says to you that your internship or production assistant (read: gopher) job will be a learning experience even if you don’t do anything important. Because you will observe things, overhear things, and become familiar with processes that make up the everyday at a company. And you will see physical objects up close you would not have otherwise.
So it was for me. Model sheets for costume changes of the main characters. Model sheets for props or anything that moved in the episode, like the shape of the tear a finger made poking through a newspaper. And teleplay scripts, with minimal stage direction, and names and dialogue centered on each page.
And of course there were folders for shows besides Brothers Flub. There were many for Salty’s Lighthouse, the other show in-production (and on-air at that time, I think), and there were many for The Tick, one of the last shows Sunbow had worked on prior. But the real teases were the folders for the older shows: G.I. Joe, Transformers, Visionaries, My Little Pony. (Also, shows I didn’t care about, like Conan the Adventurer.)
Sadly, those folders had very little of interest. At one point, years earlier, they would have had everything. Every script, every design. Not color cels and backgrounds, of course – those (mostly) stayed in the Orient, but many contour images on white paper. And a single half-hour of animation generates of lot of that over its six months of production. By the time I got to Sunbow, the show folders mostly consisted of episode lists, writer lists, episode summaries, and the like. I recall a box under the desk in the dubbing room had transcripts of dozens of G.I. Joe episodes – transcripts, not scripts. In the UK, G.I. Joe aired as Action Force, so here I suppose British actors could redub the parts where the Joes yelled their “Yo, Joe!” battle cry with “Full Force!” I’ve never seen Action Force, so if there are any international readers out there, please leave a comment if this rings true.
I did find two fascinating G.I. Joe documents in those files, however.
What were they? Tune in next time to find out! [Click here for Part 10]