Me first met Ben Wheatley after he posted a few rather mental pics on the b3ta board and in the spirit of random adventure we emailed him to ask him to come for a pint.
Ben was always banging on about wanting to make a TV show, but then a lot of people do, so we didn't take much notice. So IMAGINE OUR SURPRISE when he took himself off the to the BBC and managed to make them give him cash-money to live out his dreams.
Anyway, the show is called The Wrong Door and it would be rude not to do an interview to alert the whole damn world they should watch it. And obviously not torrent it of course.
Ben Wheatley and Brian Blessed - which is which?
Would you say b3ta was your greatest influence and how much royalties can we expect?
B3ta is my greatest influence. It's pretty simple: no b3ta, no career doing telly for me. Royalties-wise there will be some b3tan payouts. Happy Toast, Monkeon.
Writing hundreds of gags and staying consistently funny is a hell of a task. Do you have a technique? a method? If so how do you go about thinking stuff up?
I draw a lot of cartoons in notebooks. I get the best stuff on trains. Then I write them up from the notebooks. I do a rehearsal with the actors and see if any of the dialogue isn't working and rewrite it. On set I do an improvised take to rub a bit more of the awkwardness off the dialogue. In the edit the improvised takes are massaged in with the straight takes. If it's still not working I cut a load of fart noises over it.
What first got you interested in the creative aspects of computing?
I've always drawn and made up stories. As time went on I've found different tools to do this with. 2000AD and Richard Scarry were probably the first things that inspired me.
Using computers just slowly happened over time. I remember having After Effects 3.1 and just scratching my head. It took literally years to get anything out of it. But then I never read the manual, so I kind of deserved that. I was an edit assistant working on Avid so I picked up a lot there. It was really seeing b3ta that opened my eyes to the fact that you could make stuff and it didn't matter if it looked a bit ragged. That freed me from worrying about things looking bad. If your work is true to itself then it's good on its own level and that's fine.
How many b3ta memes have you snuck in?
Blessed is in there. He was brilliant. There's ninjas, pirates, giant robots and cock-faced aliens.
Ben flew over to Prague to be at the recording of the score and, whilst there, he probably got drunk
The Wrong Door looks even more mental than the Mighty Boosh, is this the case?
If it was a race - The Boosh would win, The Wrong Door would trip on the starting line or turn into a robot and explode or something.
Are you happy that you have better CGI than "Primeval"?
Well we spent all the money on the sketches you have seen, the rest of it is jokes based around cubes and teapots.
No Bridge? No Shark? No Helicopter or Ladder?
(Is it a bird?)
All of these things are in the Wrong Door. You could play the Wrong Door Drinking Game. Down a pint of Guinness every time you see something off the board.
Has b3ta given you any ideas for sketches? If so, will the b3tards involved make the credits?
For the sketches I wrote I used a lot of the work I'd posted to b3ta. I spent a long time spazzing through b3ta, making selections of people's work to see if I could get it in the show. When ideas made it into the show I then contacted the makers to ask permission. b3tards will be in the credits but, curiously, using their real names...
I was thinking this... a lot of b3ta stuff would make excellent sketches...
(Monsieur needs a job)
Is "The Wrong Door" a euphemism for sodomy? If not, can you shed some light on what this "door" preference is all about?
I'd like to leave it mysterious, but it comes from me not being able to find anything at the BBC.
Sketches start off as sketches
Are you on BBC3 by your own choice? If you are, why the hell would you choose BBC3? it's shit!
They don't really ask you what channel you go on.
How do you feel about your work? Not necessarily how you would evaluate how good it is, but what do think about when you're approaching a new project for b3ta or for the BBC?
For b3ta I think about cocks. For BBC I try to not think about cocks.
The effects in The Wrong Door are brill. How on earth do you manage to get such high-end CGI into a normal show? Or is it actually all real?
I've been doing a lot of viral stuff and have met a lot of people who do effects work. We scooped them up and put them in a room at the BBC. They were chained to their machines and not allowed to leave until it was finished.
What comes first - a design for a wacky transforming object or the script?
A bit of both. We couldn't let the writers have free reign because it would end up the most expensive show ever made. We had a guide to what we could do and what we couldn't. A lot of scripts got killed at that stage. So water and fur were out, fire was in.
What did it take to get Brian Blessed involved in The Wrong Door?
We sent him the script and a load of drawings and he said yes. It was a great day in the office.
Did you get your hands dirty with the compositing on this one or did you fire director orders around at the crew, or both?
I swore I wouldn't.. but I ended up compositing about 85 shots, out of 850. I only did little bits though as my work wouldn't stand up to the standards of the proper compers!
Ben calls this "whore of Clapham"
Did the Beeb stand by in the background keeping tabs on the whole thing ready to offer any Beeb-type resources or tips?
The BBC produced it so they were there. Resource-wise we had an office at Telly Centre. I saw Jonathan Ross once, and loads of choirs but apart from that it was like working in any other office.
What would you recommend as the best set of basic kit one should set themselves up with at home if they want to make ok-looking SFX stuff on a shit-fisherman's budget?
Shake is cheap as old chips. We used it for most of the compositing on Wrong Door. They used it on Lord of the Rings as well! We had it running on a Mac Mini so the machine doesn't have to be top spec... though it helps.
3D-wise we were using 3DMax and Maya which are pretty expensive. There is a student version of Maya for £221 though.
The main thing when starting out though is time and patience. It takes forever to learn these packages well. A lot of our guys had learnt at http://www.escapestudios.com.
Your show actually looks good, what is it doing on BBC3?
(my other username is a porsche)
They paid for it so they get to show it.
Less that 1900 posts in 5 and a half years. Why so few?
(Sir Aunty Dave the Hat)
Lot of lurking. I look at b3ta everyday.
Ben likes robots. Robots love Ben
What has inspired you?
Here's some: Gilliam, Kubrick, Battlestar Galactica, Half Life, Call of Duty, 2000AD, Mark Millar, Alan Moore, David Nobbs, b3ta, Alien, Aliens. Blade Runner, Moebius, John Carpenter, Peckinpah, Casino, Warren Ellis, Garth Ennis, Frank Miller, Monkeon, Grant Morrison, Flash Gordon, Starship Troopers, Hugh Johnson, The Lettuce Man, Cyriak Harris, The Wire, The Sopranos, Rob Hill, Threads, The Owl Service, Happy Toast, Neil Stephenson, Mrs Wheatley, The Viral Factory, Terminator, The Fall, Brighton, Modern Toss, Joel Veitch and the Ginger Fuhrer
If that's the wrong door, what's behind the right door?
When a trailer for your series came on my telly, I turned to my wife and proudly proclaimed that "a guy from b3ta made that!" as if I was somehow involved and deserved some glory. Ask him "that wasn't a question was it?". Or if we can continue to leech kudos (unless the series flops, in which case I've never heard of him)
I saw one the other day and thought "Oh, that's familiar..."
Is it going to be any good or just something else that has a cult following, becomes popular, is turned into a cash cow that the Beeb milk beyond death and isn't funny as you struggle for ideas that aren't just a repeat of previous episodes and ends up as a crappy one-trick pony like just about everything else they've shown that isn't even remotely funny, once it's moved to BBC One and toned down for grannies and small puppies?
There are some repeat sketches but not half as many as there have been in other sketch shows. Each ep has a story running through it and the 'runner' sketches mostly are done in fours so the shows all feel unique. There is also a massive cast so we don't have people playing loads of roles in different wigs. We don't have any catchphrases and there's not a whole lot of character based skits. Is this what people want? We will see!
Has the internet made it easier to get into TV? Or does the sheer amount of stuff out there make it harder to be heard?
(willenium studies zymurgy)
It's made it easier for me. I rumbled around the outside of TV for a good 5 years trying to get in. I wrote scripts and made little films and generally fumed with anger and hatred. It seemed impossible to get in.
Once I had my website up and was posting on b3ta I started getting emails from TV production companies and ad production companies asking to meet up. And it went from there.
The Wrong Door is from one email I sent to Armando Iannucci just saying "hello! and look at some clips". He emailed back 6 months later, I went in for a meeting and he asked me to work on Time Trumpet. Wrong Door has spun out of that.
Do you anticipate and/or hope that The Wrong Door will one day be referred to as a cult sketch show? Also, which other current comedy shows do you enjoy?
Yeah, I hope people like it, as the ideas I've got for series two are quite mental. I like Tim and Eric's Awesome Show, Meebox and Robot Chicken.
We asked Ben to send us some photos to illustrate the interview, he sent us mostly robots
I heard off Graham Linehan's blog that BBC3 have really irritating and cringe-making marketing people who say things like, "Our target viewer smokes Marlboro Lights". Did you come across much of this kind of thing?
There was talk of channel brand... yes.
Very similar title to The Wrong Trousers; would you give Wallace a big hairy cock for comedic effect?
You have not seen the Japanese extras then.
What sketches did they not allow you to make? (and why)
Various sketches with swastikas as punchlines. Some kind of taste problem.
Will the dinosaur have speaking roles, and will he be voiced by David Hyde Pierce?
The dinosaur just growls and kills.
Is the tyrannosaurus available for children's parties and bar mitzvahs?
Philip the dinosaur is not returning my calls, the cunt.
How much are they paying you?
If I tell you then the tax man knows.
Will you plug my NOGUNARMY.COM T-shirts on your show if I give you a free one?
(monstrinho do biscoito)
Its too late the show is already made, maybe try bribing me now for series 2 if we get it.
When is it starting?
We're running out of August 28th.
Yep, a lot of robots. Lots
Will you forget about us when you get all famous 'n that?
I am sure I will have plenty of time to post to b3ta after this comes out.
You've seen me in person about 5-10 times now. Can you guess who I am?
Yes and I would like to thank you for http://www.b3ta.cr3ation.co.uk/site/music-plus/. A work of staggering genius.
Did you show the BBC Snailhousen in order to get commissioned?
(Dinsdale v Spiny Norman)
Strangely not, also I didn't show them Pretty Creatures.
Now you're famous do you mind if we all wait outside your home, grinning hopefully?
As long as you are prepared to join Project Mayhem.
How detrimental was b3ta to your current success? Do you feel you could have your own channel by now if it wasn't for the boards?
I'd be about 3 years younger if it wasn't for b3ta.
Digging around on the official b3ta hard disk we've found this photo of Ben working on some project, we'd be in the photo too but we took the picture
Do you think that you'll be able live up to the high standards we have come to expect from BBC 3 or insert 2 Pints of Lager and a Packet of Crisps "joke" here.
I am sure the show will fit right in.
There are many sketch shows on TV at this present time, how is yours different?
There's more deaths.
How would you replace Big Brother?
I think I'd just make The Running Man.
BBC Three. Spooks: Code 9. Torchwood. WTF?
Yeah, dunno. Haven't seen them. Been watching the Christopher Eccleston Doctor Who's with my son, they are great.
Are you sure that all these cool ads for the program aren't just the best bits?
Nah there's loads.
The CGI looks absolutely fantastic - but why did they waste it on a lame 'death by chocolate' gag and then show that as a trailer? Do they want people to stay away?
You don't like the clever play on words? See he orders Death by Chocolate and then he is killed by chocolate. No?
Plus did you meet anyone involved with Two Pints of Lager and a Packet of Crisps and did they look ashamed?
I worked a Television Centre at White City for 10 months and I never talked to or saw any other program makers. It was quite weird.
Is CGI your favourite type of animation or would you have done it all stop motion if the BBC had given you 10 years to make the show?
I love stop motion, there were some plans for stop motion but we ran out of time.
Another piccy from the aforementioned project. Something to do with chickens we think
What would be the hardest thing in the world to animate (eg. a hairy snowflake)?
The hardest things to animate are creatures that people recognise. Dinos are ok because viewers don't really have a frame of reference. Dogs... eeeep.
What was the first thing you saw on the internet that you found genuinely funny?
http://www.rathergood.com/bill/. I just watched this again. Still makes me laugh.
What is the silliest legislation the BBC have given you to work to?
BBC's silliest edict: you have to pay to get into their poxy club to have lunch
How often does Brian Blessed swear in real life? If often, please can you draw us a pie chart to show which swear words are most often used.
Brian Blessed is the best swearer in the world. He is a living proof that it is both BIG and CLEVER.
Do you have a TV license? Was eventually stumping up for one a condition on getting the series?
(Beau Bo d'Or)
I have one. Mainly for CBeebies and CBBC for my son.
A photo of Ben we took on our phone. Back when phones took shitty blurry pics
What is your favourite cough medicine and does it have any unexpected side effects.
I don't do the cough medicine; I am more of a solpadeine man
What's it like being awesome, and how to I go about reaching those dizzy heights?
Spend a lot of time on the dole and have a very understanding wife.
If you could hold anyone's piece, whose would it be?
(my other username is a porsche)
I have no idea who what you do, consequently I don't have a question. Oh I do. Jam or marmite?
Marmite, but it does make my breath smell of shit which is a real problem.
How much wood could a woodchuck chuck if a woodchuck could chuck wood?
If you had to dispose of a human corpse, how would you do so?
Simply liquefy and drink.
Can you remember the old jingle from the Cheerios advert? What did it go like?
Cheerios Cheerios Cheerios Cheerios Cheerios Cheerios Cheerios Cheerios Cheerios Cheerios Cheerios Cheerios Cheerios Cheerios Cheerios Cheerios Cheerios Cheerios I love Cheerios!! Was that it?
What is your opinion on yaoi?
I am more BL.
What is your idea of the perfect bacon sandwich?
(my other username is a porsche)
White bread. Home-made.
I once saw a tv show about a guy who would hunt crocodiles and you know point at them... What's the most exotic creature you've pointed at?
I pointed at a zeedonk once.
What's your favourite colour of mould?
Taupe is my fave mould colour.
Ever tried gymnastics?
I have tried gymnastics. I failed.
Have you ever rubbed your manparts on a Christmas cake?
No Christmas cake manparts-rubbing, sadly.
If I replaced every word in this sentence with 'bullsquits' would you laugh?
I can only imagine bullsquits are what you get when you eat a bull when on holiday and the bull vendor has not washed his hands properly.
How are babies born?
Very stressfully in my experience.
question two: how long?
If you could dig up and rape any corpse in the world who would it be?
Hitler and Stalin as a threesome.
Can you save me money on my car insurance?
(Is it a bird?)
On a scale of one to ten, how scaley is my one to ten?
Very fucking scaley.
Punching babies really hard in their ugly, drooling, cow-eyed faces: when is it completely necessary?
When high on crack. When they jump out and surprise you.
What's your favourite kind of egg?
What is your chosen biscuit?
Biscuits! Ask him about biscuits!
Fair to say I eat a lot of biscuits.
Cadburys Dairy Milk or Galaxy?
Daddy or chips?
How many times has someone thrown a brick through your window?
(Geoff the Clownfish)
Ask after the 28th.
Do you ever cry after orgasm?
What is your favourite mythical creature?
(Todd the Groincrusher)
Best kind of rock: Blackpool or Edinburgh?
(Todd the Groincrusher)
Brighton Rock... Come on!
Would you willingly sign body parts?
If they are attached to someone who is living and as long as it's not some complicated identity fraud.
Do you know where my fags are? If not can I have some of your new money to buy some more?
No, and No.
If you had to choose an 'Emperor of the World', and you couldn't choose yourself... who would you pick?
If you had a ukulele band what would you call it?
Metal Glass. We would play mainly Uke prog.
In event of a fire who would you accuse of arson?
I would blame The Trashcan Man.
Are you my dream girl? Remember the time I saved you from those giant dream scissors? Show some imaginary gratitude you pretend whore!
Sorry fella, this is the dream.
Did your beard have a nice holiday? Where did it go?
It comes and goes. It has a life that is long as my wife can stand.
Can you get me a job? I'll clean up or whatever if you want.
Dunno, send me your CV.
If you had a really big beard. Would you tuck it under the sheets or lie it on top, when you go to bed at night?
(Kris Fucking Kristofferson)
Tuck it under.
If man evolved from monkeys and apes, why do we still have monkeys and apes?
(Kris Fucking Kristofferson)
Because their ancestors came out of the sea after ours?
Have you ever imagined a world with no hypothetical situations?
(Kris Fucking Kristofferson)
Not until now...
Jaffa Cakes or Chocolate Fingers?
Jaffa Cakes duh!
I think you have an exceptional beard but does anyone or anything live in it? And if so, how do they vote?
(Down on the farm)
Just cheese and cheese can't vote.
Do you eat your breakfast cereals in a mix or do you take them pure?
I eat them pure!
What's your favourite question to be asked during interviews?
(mike woz ere)
Would you like a pint?
What's the minimum amount someone would have to pay you to sleep with Ann Widdicombe?
Depends if she's gentle.
Would you rather bee or a wasp?
A bee. They seem happier.
Where were you on the evening of the b3ta server fire, and are there other people who can confirm your alibi?
(turtles head )
I was on the phone to The Trashcan Man.
Would you sleep with... Rob Wakefield, for a fiver?
EEEEEW too skinny!
Have you got a job for me? As I am very proud of the fact that you are a subscriber to my YouTube channel.
Can you think of a question you should be asked and can I be credited with that question?
What is the world's largest leaf?
Ben Wheatley - who?
"Ben Wheatley Who" a tale of a time-travelling telly hack.