Lil Stevie Wanders: when failures are part of the success - Interview to Austin Stock


( This interview is also available in italian ๐Ÿ‡ฎ๐Ÿ‡น on nerdgazmo.it)

Sometimes something happens that completely changes the way you see things around us, creating new standards, overturning completely the way we interact with a specific media. Even if sometimes comprehension requires time, even years.



Let’s take for example 1968's “2001: A Space Odyssey”. In one of the scenes of this movie, it’s possible to see an astronaut utilizing vertical screen suitable for both reading and viewing contents. Only 50 years later that aspect ratio (the 16:9 format) has become the standard for Instagram TV which decided to implement this (uncomfortable) ratio because teens watch less TV and spend most of their time with a smartphone vertically. 


This is the kind of things that I call Evolution of Devolution. Some time ago I tried to realize a Pilot for a TV Show. The series’s name, in fact, was Evolution of Devolution and was an animated documentary about social devolution and tell stories of people who have achieved success with the Internet. In the Pilot, I was talking about the animated show Rick and Morty, produced by Adult Swim. 




The EoD episode was made just to make the series known to the Italian public before Netflix Italia bought it and dubbed in Italian (with the great voice of Christian Iansante as Rick Sanchez). In the episode I was also speaking about the origin from which Rick and Morty’s prototype was taken, Channel 101, a monthly series which specializes in grotesque/funny series of fake tv episodes lasting approximately 5 minutes.

EoD was also selected for an Italian competition announced by Infinity TV (Mediaset). Then, as usual, it wasn't chosen.

But just when you believe you have collected only the umpteenth failure, something unexpected happens:

A few years later I showed the Pilot to some friends and rewatching the part about Channel 101, I decided to return to the web TV site to see some new Pilots. So I found myself to see a cartoon made in a completely atypical way that did not leave me at all happy, indeed far from it, gave me anxiety and worried me a lot. And at the same time, something in the music score drove me to very deep thoughts about existence.








So, I started to watch the first two episodes on the channel 101 website and try to find a way to contact the author of the show. With my surprise, I discover that the series has very few views on Youtube. There are some positive comments but nothing more. That’s because the series never trended, it never appeared in the recommended videos and no one has made a meme of it yet, that most of the time tends to increase the success of anything exponentially.

Convinced of this belief, some weeks ago, during a Halloween Party, I had the opportunity to project some animations made for my Instagram series TripARTvisor and between the various visuals in loop, at a certain moment, I projected the third episode of 'Lil Stevie Wanders, just to surprise and see the reactions of the public.




The people who were dancing (at 03:00 AM by the way) stopped dancing and concentrated on the 3D images. There were those who laughed from the moments of little Stevie, who were frightened and terrified to see an alien with the shapes of a child being shot to death and there were people who simply did not have the slightest idea of what was happening but that they could not look away.

In addition to this event, I talked about this series with Andressa Pakita, a good Youtuber from Brazil who took the opportunity to make a nice reaction video so you can see with your own eyes what I'm talking about.




The alienating effect of the public's reactions confirmed how much this new animated series is just the beginning of something amazing that is about to arrive in the world of digital entertainment.

Fan Art of Lil Stevie Wanders realized by Stefano Donatiello


Here below is the interview with Austin Harvey Stock, creator, and animator of Lil’ Stevie Wanders, Professional editor, voice actor and director, founder of Youtube channel Rare Bird Interactive in the United States.

The interview was made in the previous months and updated to the last days as now 'Lil Stevie Wanders has been nominated to the Channies award of Channel 101 in 7 different categories.




T: Hello Austin. After watching Episode three there’s something sticky in my mind about Mind Trip and bald Father & Sons relationship… Can you please explain me?

AHS: I always felt like this entire series is about the sins of the father, sons hating their creator and how small moments haunt us. It's all very silly

How many episodes is the series?

I’m currently working on the fourth episode, but we've had a development deal with Adult Swim in the past and may pitch this to them soon. I currently have a deal with a production company for an animated musical, hopefully, next year I can talk more about it!




There are some other things that you made that I will see online?

I've only got whatever is on my website or YouTube at Rare Bird Interactive.
Everything else I've worked on is either a commercial, music video or documentary that I'm not allowed to post. I'm looking into directing a short film soon with my brother, but I'm getting offers to do music videos a lot now after this Lil' Stevie Wanders show. I've been an editor for the past 9 years but after getting the development deal I've been focusing more on animated projects. Honestly, this year is the first I've been getting offered jobs, so we'll see where it goes.




About the series..

Yes... We just wrapped up the first series of episodes and will continue the rest in 2019. Hopefully, the audience likes where I'm heading with it. It takes a lot of work!



Which are your influences for LSW?

The Devil’s honey by Lucio Fulci was an huge influence with Hideo Kojima’s Metal Gear Solid and Daniel Stessen’s Dream Corpo LLC





But you made all the 3D work?

I don't have time to model everything so for buildings or furniture I buy them or find free models online. I do all the actual animation by myself though (Also the Stevie Model is original), in my spare time. Some of the Mocap stuff is stock, but for the custom movements I have to hand animate.




I saw a backstage Video where you use caption motion...




Gotchya, I'll explain in detail but the Motion Capture BTTF thing was all for fun, we animate everything by hand or stock animation. We may use the studio eventually but it's much easier by hand for now.


There’s some good news about the future of the series?

Yes, I do plan on doing two more at the very least first thing in 2019 just gotta find the time. They are all mapped out and I have songs in mind too.



(Thanks to Austin Stock for his time and also for helping me in the translation of this article)
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