Mingle Media TV was invited to Fox Studios in Los Angeles for the DVD launch party of Alvin and the Chipmunks: The Squeakquel. This video includes interviews with director, Betty Thomas, The Chipettes founder, Janice Karman, producer, Ross Bagdasarian, Jr., and choreographer, Rosero McCoy. The MMTVN correspondent, Andrea from SavvySassyMoms.com, was on hand with her two children participating in the fun events that were had by all from dancing to photos with Alvin and the Chipmunks.
Host: Hi, it's Andrea Fellman with Mingle Media TV and I'm here at the Fox Studios for the Alvin and the Chipmunks Squeakquel DVD release party.
And I'm sittng with Janice and Ross, the creators of the movie, and I'm just gonna ask them a few questions. So, since this is such a family film and it's just part of your family since it was your father who started it, on such a personal project where do you start? Where exactly do you start?
Ross: It always starts with the idea of the story. And, you know, for us because The Chipmunks and The Chipettes are real characters, they're real kids, they're not animals, you know. So, for us it's all about emotion. What's the emotional spine of this story and why do we care? 'Cause as soon as we're making, like, a talking animal movie, we're not interested in making that. We want to make a story that characters you care about and that you go on that emotion journey with.
Andrea: That's very interesting and that's probably why it's so captivating and why everyone in the whole family can- it appeals to moms and dads, the humor, and then the kids because it's so modern. So, I'm gonna ask you about the stylizing of The Chipettes. Do you hire an actual fashion designer to design the clothing and the look of them?
Janice: Well, with a 22-year-old daughter and all of her friends, certainly they influence us a lot. But, I'd also, you know, I'd go to Fred Segal and I'd take pictures and snapshots. But yes, we do hire somebody who's very good at what she does. And so we see also if that design is gonna look good on the characters because you could have a great design, you could have a fabulous dress and it's just gonna die on those bodies. So you do have to-
Ross: Well, you know, 'cause their legs, you know, they don't have- "Hey, let's put them in a great skinny jean!", no.
Andrea: Yeah, no way.
Ross: Waist to shoe is, you know, two inches. So, Janice definitely has to pick stuff that's gonna fall on the girls right so it works for their anatomy. And that's a little bit of a trick but I think, you know, Janice and Alexandra and the kids worked that out great.
Andrea: Yeah, and that's interesting because when I talked to the director as well, she said the same thing with the music. That you can pick a great song and then as soon as you hear The Chipmunks singing it and it doesn't sound right, then you have to go back to a different one.
Ross: And well the reason is that, you know The Chipmunks- the range where their voices sound really full and not high and scratchy is at a certain thing and if you have to change the key for that well-known song in order to get it into their range, it may sound awful, it may loose all the energy and we've had that happen often times, where you go "That's gonna be the greatest thing in the world!," and then you go "Uh, no it isn't."
Janice: And the worst thing that we could do is have these annoying, high-pitched with no sort of guts to it, kids would be fine with it, but parent would be hating us.
Ross: Oh it'd be like chalk on a blackboard. It would just be grating.
Janice: We try to make it very parent friendly.
Andrea: Yeah with that, making it parent friendly, it pretty much has to be equal. It has to be entertaining for the mom and dad because they have to take the kids to see it and then the kids have to get it and laugh and like the movie as well. So, how do you equalize that?
Ross: Well, it's always a trick, but I'll tell you one of the things that we don't do, sometimes people will say "Well jeez, you know, the kids aren't going to get that joke" or "They're not gonna get-," and it's okay for us that there are gonna be some things that the kids are gonna reach a little higher for. Or they may not know, but maybe three years later they'll-
Janice: They'll be looking at something else. They don't need to get every nuance and they'll, you know, they'll be watching it so many times that maybe by the 50th time they'll get it. But that another thing that would be so shameful, is to write down to the kids and then have it just eliminate all the parents that grew up with it. We're trying to include the parents that grew up from the 60s with the characters, from the 80s, and now this new generation.
Andrea: And with this new generation comes extra bonus material on the DVD and you can even take it to your computer, which is very important because even my kids, they're three and five, and they're on the computer. And so, when they see something on the TV or in the movies, they know "Where is it on the computer mom, bring it up online." So when you started this project was that always in the background saying "Oh, we have to make extra things for the kids to take?"
Ross: Well, you know, what we definitely wanted to do is have bonus material that was, you know, really enjoyable. And when you're making these movies and making them, they're all encompassing. So, it takes so much work to just finish the film, it's hard to think of all the extras. We knew we wanted to do The Chipettes, we knew we wanted a dance segment, we knew we wanted a little "Munking History" segment, but the folks at Fox, honestly, were the ones who were thinking in terms of how to get stuff from the computer to the thing. We were not, that was one of the 800 million things, we weren't able to get to that one.
Andrea: Yeah, yeah. It's a lot of work. And will there be a number three?
Ross: Yeah, we're actually starting now.
Andrea: Yeah, great.
Ross: So, hopefully, Christmas 2011.
Andrea: 2011, and will there ever be another, maybe, morning cartoon? Or something on afternoons?
Ross: We're working on that too, yeah. That's why we couldn't-
Andrea: Ok, great.
Janice: We look so tired!
Andrea: Yes! No, you guys look great and it's really enjoyable. And thank you very much, our kids love it. Thank you.