Austin TV Festival returned for its eighth year and I had the pleasure to attend. The four-day event celebrates all things television: looking back at its history, where it is now, and where it is headed. The festival consists of panels, screenings, and events where attendees and leaders in the TV industry talk, watch, and experience television together as one community.
One of the shows I have grown to love is FXX’s adult animated action series Archer. The Archer screening and panel took place at the Alamo Drafthouse Ritz theater on Sixth Street on Saturday, June 8. The series is currently back for its 10th season and the episode screened is the upcoming third episode of Archer: 1999, “The Leftovers.”
Executive Producer Matt Thompson introduced the episode screening, which would air the Wednesday June 12. Thompson was originally from Athens, TX and attended the University of Texas at Austin. He wanted to show his love and appreciation for Austin and the TV festival, so he included something in just this episode screening for just our audience.
- Matt Thompson, Executive Producer
- H. Jon Benjamin, Voice actor (Sterling Archer)
- Taylor Parrish, Lead Story Board artist
- Chad Hurd, Producer/Art Director
What was just for us
As soon as the screening started, it was very obvious what Thompson included for our audience: a digitally inserted cowboy hat on Archer throughout the whole episode. YEEE HAW y’all! Archer didn’t say that but it’s definitely a nod to us Austinites (or Texans in general). Hook ’em horns, Matt! \m/
After the screening
Thompson explained how the episode had homages to Firefly and Alien. Parrish talks about working with Chad Hurd on the episode and that the eggs were reminiscent of Star Trek. Benjamin explains that he watched all of Firefly to prepare for this episode.
Hurd explains that a lot of pre-planning takes place to story board–about three weeks.
Thompson says “Pam is like Hercules” in this 10th season of Archer. Hurd added that the artists “went through 10 different designs for Pam as the rock monster.”
Benjamin says that most of the characters stay the same throughout the series, even though their environment changes. Though Thompson chimed in that “Archer [had] soften up a little,” since he was a womanizer in season 1. Jokingly, Benjamin comments that “Archer is still going through his womanizing phase.”
Was a scene that FX did not approve?
Thompson recalls an early episode in season 2 with the 15-year-old girl in Germany who was hitting on Archer. FX asked them to age up her character even though the age of consent in Germany is 15.
Is there any room for improv when voice recording?
Thompson explains that actors can improvise mostly when it comes to scenes where the characters yell at each other. Benjamin adds “that’s where I shine.” Any Archer fan delights in Benjamin’s “Oh no”‘s and “Oh god”‘s.
Hurd adds that the “most difficult part [for improvisation] is when there’s action–sometimes you can’t anticipate what actors say when you’re story-boarding.” Thompson adds that they have done more improvisation in season 9.
Will there be anymore crossovers?
Thompson responded that while he loves Bob’s Burgers, most of the actors whom have guest starred in Archer, “crossover stuff doesn’t feel like us–we’re not a pop culture show.” The best crossover was Bob’s Burgers when “Archer [lost] his mind and he woke up as Bob.” Being a fellow Bob’s Burgers lover myself, that was an excellent, well-executed crossover.
Thompson also loved the Conan crossover even though he admitted his script wasn’t the best. Benjamin and Conan did a great job with improvising it.
Are there any differences for recording on Archer and Bob’s Burgers?
A fan in the audience asked this question for H. Jon Benjamin and he explained that with Archer, they did single recordings and with Bob’s Burgers, they did group recordings. Thompson also added that having the actors record separately benefits the team, so the work is on the editors to make the lines seamless.
Featured image credit: FX Production