Behind the scenes of Hook Ups

By Chris Cudby

Simon Ward is putting the finishing touches on the promo video for the first season of Hook Ups - the fledgling animation company's first collaboration with writer and vocal actor Jessica Hansell aka hip hop artist Coco Solid.

Working with a close-knit dedicated team of pop culture enthusiasts in a secret location in the heart of Wellington, Ward is quietly confident their collaboration has produced a winner.

"We were attracted to Hook Ups because of Jess' desire to give it the same character as 90s MTV cartoons like Liquid TV, Dr Katz and Beavis and Butt-head," exclaims Ward.

"Funnily enough it's come out flasher than those in a lot of ways... we knew it was going to be good because Jess has good ideas and we like her creative style."

Primarily responsible for the distinctive look of the show, Skyranch has jammed Hook Ups full of visual gags while somehow never overwhelming the show's lackadaisical style. It's a clever balance that should come as no surprise to followers of Ward's previous work - signature music videos for artists including Shihad, Disasteradio and The Ruby Suns.

He has drawn his music video collaborators into the fold in Skyranch, describing the five-strong team as akin to an art collective with each member bringing their specific talents to the table.

Hook Ups dialogue is recorded first, then sent to the Skyranch crew for storyboarding, editing and production with each member injecting their own personality into the mix.

Ward describes the core of Skyranch as Don Brooker, Luke Rowell (aka Disasteradio) and himself. Brooker's character designs (based on Hansell's earlier comic strip) bring a cartoony x-factor to the show while Rowell handles sound design and sneaks absurdist sight-gags into the background of every scene.

Ward is responsible for storyboarding/animating/everything else - structuring the show and pacing out the gags. Additional Skyranch members Richard 'Quarks' Pilkington and Kenny 'Boogerlab' Smith bring valuable animated support while three regular interns round out the crew.

It's been a five month crash-course learning the ins and outs of the first series but despite the huge workload Ward is enthusiastic about what his team has achieved, looking forward to unleashing Hook Ups upon the world.

*Hook Ups episodes go live on on Thursdays at 4pm, debuting May 2. Watch the trailer here, and download the App here.

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