Showrunners Benji Samit & Dan Hernandez

ComingSoon Senior Editor Spencer Legacy talks to Koala Man showrunners Benji Samit and Dan Hernandez about Hulu’s Australian animated comedy. The duo discuss trusting your creative partners and uncovering the world of Australian concepts. All eight episodes of Koala Man now streaming on Hulu.

“It follows middle-aged father Kevin and his titular not-so-secret identity, whose only superpower is a burning passion for following the rules and rooting out petty crime in the town of Dapto,” read the synopsis. “Although it seems like any other Australian suburb, evil cosmic and man-made forces are waiting to attack the unsuspecting Daptonians. In a bid to cleanse his hometown, and always tied to his frustrated family in his adventures, the Koala Man is ready. He will do anything to defeat evil minds, supernatural horrors, or worse: villains who do not take their trash on the right days.

Spencer Legacy: You two have worked together, you know, a few times before. What, what makes your collaboration so good?

Benji Summit: Oh, man. I mean, we’ve been writing and producing together for a long time. We met in college and have been working together ever since. I think it’s a few things. We share the same taste in what we enjoy, what we think is good, but we also work together in different ways.

Dan Hernandez: I think Benji really put his finger on it, which was delicious. I think, sometimes, there is a misconception that in a partnership, each person should be equally good to everyone. I honestly don’t think that’s the key to a good partnership. I think that if everyone feels like they have to do everything all the time, you naturally prioritize who takes the first pass at a blank page, or who gets to rewrite it. I think what is more important is to have a vision of what you want the final product to be.

So if you can be artistically organized, so for example, something like this show where we’re like, “Well, we know we want it to be funny, of course, and shocking and crazy,” but between us, we like to set ourselves the goal of actually telling an amazing superhero story — almost secretly. But at the end of this season, looking back and saying, “Oh, that was a superhero story. It wasn’t just a joke, it wasn’t a joke. Some epic stuff happened.” And so it was. that when you’re artistically aligned in that way, you can be more egocentric about who’s doing what. You can focus on the things you’re good at.

Because we’ve been friends for a long time, working together since college, if Benji changes something I’ve written, there’s no part of me being defensive at this point. And I think vice versa. Because of that, it allows us to really focus on the result instead of how we divide the work and who will do it and be strict about that. Many times we don’t even remember who wrote what, at this point. true. I’ll think he’s writing and he’ll think I’m writing it and the truth will fade away in time. I think that’s what, for us, made our partnership successful – trust, really, more than anything else.

Benji, how about the original online Koala Man shorts you made, “I want to do this series about the Koala Man?”

Benji Summit: It’s very unique and different, and Michael Cusack’s voice — not just his literal voice, which is funny — but his vision. His twisted views of Australia and life … they’re so funny and so different from anything we’ve seen. So we are very excited to sit with him and talk. From there, 10 minutes into sitting with him, we knew, “We’re going to work on this together.” Where Dan and I have had a great collaboration for many, many years, it’s the same thing with Michael, where both Michael and I just hit the same page. So it’s one of those rare things.

Dan, the concept of Koala Man really revolves around taking a mundane issue and turning it into a serious crisis. So what was the process of turning something like a forgotten jacket into a story about the cannibalistic Wiggles?

Dan Hernandez: For me, as a kind of philosophy in my writer’s room, it all starts with what is a real human emotion or a human crisis or a human condition that any person in the world can identify with. realistic, as opposed to over-the-top. or surreal. I think that when you build the foundation of a story in a realistic way, you are allowed to go as crazy as you want to know the details of how it is expressed. So for me, take, for example, his jacket. When you go through painful things, there are people who want to talk about it, but many people don’t want to talk about those events. Part of that episode is that Kevin is forced to face some uncomfortable truths about his past that he doesn’t want to think about.

So the jacket becomes that mountain without having to think about things. That felt so real to me on such a visceral level that if someone said, “Hey, I really need to talk to you about this very painful and traumatic thing,” you’d be like, “Well I really have to go do something now.” That’s where that episode came from. Once we knew that was the emotional foundation of that episode, that allowed us to say that we had this idea about Australian children’s music bands and we were looking for for the right delivery system for that.

So it was like, “Well, if he’s going out in the Outback, what’s the craziest, messiest thing he’s going to find out there? That’s how we ended up in Tigglies, right outside Tigglies HQ, eating baby. I think it’s the combination of a really emotional story that allows you to escape to any exotic place you want to go.

Benji, is there any concern that Australian concepts like show bags may not be fully understood by international audiences? Or do you trust it?

Benji Summit: There is absolutely nothing to worry about. Actually more exciting, you know? The truth is, as many of our Australian writers have pointed out, they all grew up watching American TV, and there is American stuff on there, and they just know it. They put it together, they [used] context clues, or they look at them. You can understand it. So we just flipped that on its head and threw some Australian stuff at Americans to find out.

But no, we’re excited about all the Australian stuff because it’s one of those things that’s like … we’ve been in a lot of writers’ rooms now on American sitcoms and animated shows where it’s , you thought and Simpsons did it. South Park do you know American ideas are always made. How many times have you done the homecoming dance or prom or this or that. But with this, whenever one of the Australian writers mentions a uniquely Australian – there hasn’t been a primetime adult animated Australian show. Always. Even just in Australia. It has never been done.

So any concept in Australia that’s like, “Oh, there’s an episode there,” nobody’s done it before. So it seems super exciting that one of the writers casually mentions show bags, thinking we know what they are. We were like, “Wait, what? What is the show bag?” And then they told us, and they were all excited and we were like, “Oh, we have to do that.” So it’s great how quickly we can… [the] Great Emu War, things like that, where it’s just weird Australian stuff that translates to TV. Every now and then we put in a few lines to help clarify and clarify things, but for the most part, I think you can just figure it out.

How was working with Michael Cusack? He is not only the creator, but he makes sounds and everything like that. What is it like working with a creator with a more hands-on approach?

Dan Hernandez: It was a nightmare. Michael is a genius. He is very talented as an actor, voice actor, musician, and animator. And so for us, to have someone who — especially in the animation department — has a skill set that we don’t really have, to be able to pitch a character and watch and five minutes later Michael held up a drawing of what that character was. to look like, is valuable for us to really get a sense of who these people are, what they look like, why they are funny. From that perspective, it was a dream. We are also big fans of his work, independent of the work we do with him. Smiling Friends and YOLO are two of my very favorite movies. Until now, watch them relax. I’ve seen all the episodes like 20 million times.

So it helps to be a fan of someone’s unique voice. I think what we bring to the process is a much broader experience of American-style storytelling. Some of our film work is useful in the sense of “How do you build a long-form story over the course of eight episodes and divide the pieces so that in the end, the last two episodes, everything comes together . [in] a hopefully wonderfully satisfying way?” He really trusted us to do that. Again, we come back to this idea of ​​trust, like we let everyone work as hard as they can without too much criticism or editorial nitpicking, because Michael is one of the best at what he does in the world. And so we just said, “Make us look good!”

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