Rooster Teeth has been delivering avant-garde animation from their Austin-based studio for more than 15 years, outdoing themselves with each and every new title they offer up. From the cutting-edge Machinima style of Red vs Blue, to the emergence of the world-famous anime series RWBY and the original mecha series gen:LOCK, Rooster Teeth continues to evolve. Now, with the company’s first-ever Emmy campaign this year, they’re making a strong push to be a part of the awards conversation, a well-deserved and overdue milestone for the indie studio.
gen:LOCK creator and Rooster Teeth Animation division head Gray G. Haddock took time out of his busy schedule to chat with us about the process of submitting the hit new series for Emmy consideration. He not only praised the RT teams behind the scenes and star/producer Michael B. Jordan for anchoring the show’s stellar cast but also expressed an eagerness to stir things up in the awards race a bit. Perhaps most importantly, as far as the race is concerned, Haddock calls upon the vast fanbase of Rooster Teeth to help get the word out to Academy voters about the campaign. It would be in keeping with Rooster Teeth’s brand indeed if a grassroots effort made enough noise for the fan-favorite series to get the attention of the more traditional voters.
Before we get into our chat with Haddock, take a look at Rooster Teeth’s FYC trailer for gen:LOCK below:
gen:LOCK is a sci-fi mecha anime series starring Michael B. Jordan, Dakota Fanning, Maisie Williams, Asia Kate Dillon, Golshifteh Farahani and David Tennant. It is a western anime produced by Rooster Teeth in Austin, Texas, the same team behind the international anime phenomenon, RWBY.
So wait, you mean to tell me that Rooster Teeth doesn’t already have all the Emmy Awards? How is that possible?
Gray G. Haddock: I think Gus’ disqualification a few years ago, simply on the technicality the Television Academy doesn’t actually have a Best Naked Bellyslap in a Dramatic Series category, was a complete lack of vision on their part. We look forward to the Academy making amends by nominating gen:LOCK this year.
How did you come to the decision to enter into the Emmy Awards race this year?
Haddock: The crew made an amazing piece of animated storytelling. It’s that simple. All that passion and creativity produced a series we feel can compete at the highest levels. And I have to say a sincere thanks to Rooster Teeth and Otter Media, as well as Michael and Outlier Society for supporting the team’s work and helping us get submitted.
Why is gen:LOCK a perfect candidate for an Emmy?
Haddock: I think the Emmys are ripe for some disruption. The calculations and strategies behind animated Emmys trading hands between the usual suspects are tired. There’s got to be room for recognizing new teams, “little studios that could,” who are breaking in with newer, non-traditional production and distribution methods. On the storytelling side, I think gen:LOCK provides some themes that are much-needed right now, told with a high degree of representation — and it’s an amazing chance for Academy voters to recognize what can be done in the world of animation on such subjects.
What categories are you aiming for?
Haddock: We’re going for a blend of general categories as well as some very specific technical and production categories. It was incredibly tough to narrow down what to submit, but I think the team selected some shining examples from across the entire process.
A nomination for outstanding animated program would of course be amazing, recognizing everyone’s combined efforts. On the vocal performance side, Michael carried the show, turning in two critical performances. And Maisie [Williams] stole every scene she was in, hooking the audience with her easy wit and charm, and then making us fear for her life in later scenes. If it was possible to submit her for most bloodcurdling single vocal effort, for just one sound effect, we’d have done it.
On the production end of things, we’re gunning for a variety of well-deserved art and character design recognitions. I still listen to David Levy’s score separately, to this day, it moves me so much. The main title sequence turned out exactly like I had it in my head, and serves as a fantastic calling card for the show, so I’m happy the team behind that might be recognized. Our audio team treats our animated series like they were high-budget theatrical features, and I have high hopes for them. I also love that the animated component of the character performances are up for consideration, from some intimate, subtle moments, to a certain virtual dance that intertwines with a real world combat scene.
How daunting was the application/vetting process, especially as a first-time attempt?
Haddock: It’s true we’ve never had an opportunity quite like this. Rooster Teeth has been at this one way or the other for sixteen years, though, and there was no way we were going to let ourselves come off as amateur hour either. In addition to getting intimately familiar with the rules and standards, we’ve been very humbly reaching out for advice from people with far more experience. We definitely wanted to put our best foot forward as we make this first step for our department and the company as a whole. And kudos to the Rooster Teeth PR team for doing a tremendous amount of coordination, planning and material prep as part of that.
We’ve submitted and passed qualification, so now it’s just about getting the word out to the Academy voters. We don’t really have the resources to throw the yacht parties or whatever’s generally expected on that front. It’s going to take a grassroots effort from the online community to help us make some noise. Right now, we just have to get those first-round voters to check us out.
Are there other Rooster Teeth titles, besides gen:LOCK, that you think have a shot at a nomination and a win next year?
Haddock: There’s very little I wouldn’t give for each team in Rooster Teeth Animation to receive some well-deserved recognition at this scale. Camp Camp, RWBY, they could all be contenders.
Rooster Teeth definitely deserves to be in the conversation with other Emmy-nominated animated shows, but what would it mean to you and the talented team behind the scenes to actually get a nomination?
Haddock: Thanks so much for the kind words. At its simplest, I’m a huge subscriber to the ol’ idea that it would be an honor just to be nominated. Knowing that these themes and characters resonated at this level would mean a lot to me. But it would mean even more to know that the work and dedication of our little family of a crew paid off for themselves and for Rooster Teeth. I’d like to think our fans would also get something out of it, as well — some understanding they got us here. We get to live in Austin, Texas, and make cartoons for a living. I’d like to give something back to Rooster Teeth and its community for that.
Same question, but now for an Emmy win?
Haddock: Ha, hey now, I don’t want to jinx anything. To paraphrase Kurosawa, I can’t allow myself to focus on the top of the mountain. Right now we have to keep our eyes on the ground in front of us and climb one step at a time.
Is there anything you can tease about a possible Season 2 of gen:LOCK?
Haddock: Like Chase says, let the good times roll.
If you’re a fan of Rooster Teeth and/or gen:LOCK, be sure to help spread the word! Here’s a look at the categories that gen:LOCK is aiming for:
- Animated program
- Voice-over Performance – Michael B. Jordan
- Voice-over Performance – Maisie Williams
- Character Animation – Kim Newman
- Character Animation – Adele Kraus
- Character Design – Larissa Angus
- Character Design – Erin Winn
- Storyboard – Kevin Harger
- Main Title Design – Michael Pedro, R. Zane Rutledge
- Music Composition – David Levy
- Sound Mixing – Chris Kokkinos, Alena Lecorchick, Philip Spann
- Sound Editing – Chris Kokkinos, Alena Lecorchick, Philip Spann, Jake Camitta
- Casting – Koen Wooten, Ryan P. Hall, Gray G. Haddock