Bert and Jennifer Klein have released a brand new episode of Pups of Liberty entitled, “The Dog-claration of Independence”. Pups of Liberty is animated beautifully, with great backgrounds and historical stories from American History. They cover the American Founders, the Revolution, Colonial America, Congress and the Declaration of Independence. A must watch! I recently asked if they would do an interview for our site and they agreed. Enjoy!
Do you have plans on making more Pups of Liberty episodes?
We have always envisioned Pups of Liberty as an open ended series where we follow our main character Anne through the American Revolution. The first episode is called “The Boston Tea-Bone Party”. The latest episode we have just completed is called “The Dog-claration of Independence”. The next episode would cover George Washington (“Woofington”) and the war.
What was the inspiration for the series?
One inspiration was the great educational films Disney used to make, like “Donald in Mathmagic Land”. We always liked the idea of using animation to teach students in an engaging way, so that they will remember what they watched and want to learn more about it. Jennifer has a love for history, and wanted to tell a great story from a child’s point of view. We also knew that we wanted to do it all with hand drawn animation as it matched the historical tone of the film, and would give us a chance to work with these great artists again.
Jennifer did an initial sketch for fun of cats dressed as pilgrims, and that evolved into the Pups as they are now. At first it was going to be a storybook but she got so excited about the characters and ideas that it quickly became a short film.
What is your process for creating the episodes? Do you use Cintiqs or animate traditionally on paper? Or a combination of the two?
We start with a script, which includes a lot of historical research and input from our consultant historian and educators. Then we move on to storyboards (which are either Cintiq or paper depending on the artist), and then to voice recording. All animation is done traditionally on paper, as is the cleanup. Backgrounds and Ink & Paint are all digital.
How many artists and animators have been involved?
We have been fortunate to have some of the best in the business provide animation for the Pups of Liberty films. Mark Henn, Dale Baer, Ruben Aquino, Tony Derosa, Eric Goldberg, and Frans Vischer are just a few of the great animators we’ve had the joy to work with. Using the art form of Disney quality storytelling with full hand drawn animation is an essential part of what makes Pups of Liberty special.
Is it hard producing independent animation? What are some of the challenges you faced?
Yes, it is very hard but also very rewarding. Typical challenges of production are unavoidable, such as deadlines. Finding the right balance of drama, education, and entertainment in a short subject is challenging. Seeing beautiful hand drawn animation being produced by legends like Mark Henn and Dale Baer were absolute high points in making this film, and we’ve been privileged to see these artists practice their craft.
Pups of Liberty has a great educational premise, are they being used in schools to teach students American History?
The Pups of Liberty films are used as “teaching units” in well over 10,000 schools across the country. They are distributed free to schools by education resource provider izzit.org on DVD and are now also available for free streaming on youtube, Vimeo, and an Izzit Roku channel. The teaching unit DVD’s include an education curriculum which includes tests and even homework. It is humbling to us that kids across America are taught history with our films and are doing classwork and homework based on Pups of Liberty. The coloring and activity book is great for both the home and the classroom, and is designed to be a teaching companion but also a fun activity book.
How can your fans and educators get involved?
1. “Like” our Pups of Liberty Facebook Page for updates that include animation tests, artwork, and more.
2. Watch the Pups of Liberty episodes for free on Youtube and leave comments.
Behind the Scenes: “The Dog-claration of Independence”
3. Purchase our new 48 page Pups of Liberty coloring and activity book. It is a great gift for any time of the year! Pups of Liberty Activity Book on Amazon
4. Tell any teachers and Homeschooling parents you know about Pups. They can view it on YouTube or get free Pups DVDS and teaching guides from our distributor at Izzit.org
Thanks again for the interview Bert and Jennifer!