Nickelodeon is one of the most successful children's television channels in history, having produced an array of groundbreaking and award-winning shows since their establishment in 1977. Now a powerhouse in children's media, Nickelodeon is estimated to be watched by more than 93 million viewers in the United States alone, and many of their series also have a strong impact in other countries, too.
One of Nickelodeon's newest shows is called The Loud House, which chronicles the life of an 11-year-old boy named Lincoln who is growing up in a house full of girls -- namely, his 10 sisters, who all have unique personalities and names that begin with the letter "L" (Lori, Leni, Luna, Luan, Lynn, Lucy, Lola, Lana, Lisa, and Lily). The show is based off a short film that was presented at the 2013 Animated Shorts Program.
The Loud House was created by Chris Savino, whose previous credits include classic series such as Rocko's Modern Life, Dexter's Laboratory, The Powerpuff Girls, and more. Chris grew up in a family of 10 children in Royal Oaks, Michigan, and he has used his 26 years of experience as an animator to aptly convey the chaotic nature of a household filled with children. Chris has been nominated for three Emmy Awards, and he currently resides in Los Angeles, California. He was happy to discuss his experiences working in animation and on The Loud House in particular.
Meagan Meehan (MM): How did you enter into animation?
Chris Savino (CS): I started my career back in April of 1991. I was 19 at the time and living in Michigan. I was fortunate enough to have learned that Nickelodeon was producing John Kricfalusi's The Ren & Stimpy Show. I wrote John a letter and sent him some drawings. To my surprise, he actually called me on the phone and offered me a job. The rest is history. I owe John my entire career for giving me a chance.
MM: How did you come to work with Nickelodeon?
CS: I've worked with Nickelodeon on a few different occasions. Animation is somewhat a nomadic profession in so much as one tends to move where the jobs are available. As I stated above, I worked on Ren & Stimpy at SPUMCO for John K. My first real job at Nickelodeon was as a character designer on Rocko's Modern Life. Again, luck plays into it as I met a production coordinator who worked on Rocko on the bus that took me into Hollywood for a job I held at that time. He said he worked for Nickelodeon and that I should show Joe Murray (the creator) my portfolio.
MM: What is The Loud House about? How did you come up with the concept?
CS: The Loud House is a show about an 11-year-old boy named Lincoln Loud and what it's like for him to grow up in a house with 10 sisters. The original pitch was about a boy rabbit with 25 sisters (rabbits multiply), but through the development process, it was suggested to make them human. As soon as that happened things really started to fall into place and it became The Loud House we know today.
MM: What's your favorite episode and character? Why?
CS: My favorite episode (that has aired) is an episode at the end of season one called "For Bros About to Rock." It was the first time we started digging deeper into the sisters and telling stories more from their point of view. It was Luna Loud in this particular episode. It's always a gamble to bring a secondary character to the forefront and let the main character hang back, but by the end of Season 1, it was clear that the sisters were more than just foils for Lincoln, they were characters that the audience wanted to know more about. This episode opened the doors for us to start telling stories from their points of view without fear that we would miss Lincoln. In fact, it did the opposite! By making the sisters more complex and multi-faceted, it really helped to make Lincoln even more complex and relatable and a hero.
MM: This show is brand new. Why do you think it will appeal to children? What are your ultimate goals for it?
CS: Any show creator hopes that his or her show will appeal to the target audience. My hope was that because the kids in The Loud House are human that it might resonate on a deeper level with the viewers. I hoped that it would be the right time for a show that was more real in the sense that the kids on the screen deal with issues that kids at home watching are dealing with. Cartoons are often an escape, but The Loud House is more of a mirror reflecting real kid issues in real scenarios. Hopefully, with 11 different personalities, the audience has a bigger choice as to who their favorite characters are and will root for them and be excited when an episode features that character in the story. I'm not sure where The Loud House will go from here. I can only hope that it continues to resonate with the audience and that we can continue making episodes that are honest, relatable, authentic, and—most importantly—funny.
MM: What other projects have you been a part of?
CS: I have been working in the animation industry for about 26 years now and have had the good fortune to work on many great television shows with many talented people. I've worked on The Ren & Stimpy Show, Rocko's Modern Life, Hey Arnold!, Dexter's Laboratory, The Powerpuff Girls, Foster's Home For Imaginary Friends, and Johnny Test, just to name a few.
MM: What has been the most rewarding part of working in animation?
CS: Animation is a collaborative effort, and to see all different types of people in different capacities working together to bring a cartoon to life, and seeing the final product and realizing no matter how difficult the path, that outcome, that feeling of "THIS IS WHY WE DO THIS." There's no better feeling. It is only second to getting [a] great reaction from the kids who watch the show.
MM: What are your career aspirations over the next ten years?
CS: I hope to make The Loud House for as long as they'll let me. It would be great to see it in different formats. A Loud House feature film would be amazing. I think beyond this show, I would love to tell bigger stories by possibly directing an original animated feature, and perhaps someday try my hand at directing live-action movies. That said, I would never and could never turn my back on my one true love: drawing cartoons.
MM: What advice would you give to someone who is aspiring to enter the animation industry?
CS: I think it can be a given that if you want to work in animation on the artistic side that DRAW ALL THE TIME is a solid bit of advice. But if that's just assumed, then I always give this one-word piece of advice: LISTEN. It all boils down to this: listen to what your peers are saying. Listen to notes you are getting. Listen to ideas from ANYONE. You never know where good information or ideas or direction is going to come from and most important, be open to them.
MM: Are you currently working on any projects that you would like to mention?
CS: Just like everybody in this industry, I always have many other projects on which I am working. One in particular is a buddy comedy called Bigfoot and Gray on the Run, which, to my excitement, is going to be published as a graphic novel in early 2018.
[Featured Image by Katelyn Balach/Nickelodeon]