I’m not really content creatively, unless I’m doing something that scares me a little bit.
It’s just the more you know about what’s possible and how to do it, the more freedom you have.
Whatever, if it makes you laugh, it’s an honest laugh.
We’re going through a bit of a dark ages as far as FCC restrictions and it’s a lot that we can’t do now, that we used to be able to do when the show started.
“It’s just the more you know about what’s possible and how to do it, the more freedom you have.” – Seth MacFarlane
Evan: He’s an American TV producer, filmmaker, actor, and singer.
He’s best known as the creator of the TV series, Family Guy. His first feature length film, Ted, became the highest grossing original R-rated comedy.
He’s Seth MacFarlane and here’s my take on his top 10 rules for success.
Rule number one is my personal favorite, and make sure to stick around all the way to the end for a special bonus clip.
And as always as Seth is talking, if he says something that really resonates with you, please leave it in the comments below and put quotes around it so other people can be inspired as well. Enjoy.
Rule #1: Do What You Love
Interviewer: What were you like as a child?
I was a combination of reclusive and obsessed with what I wanted to do. When I was two, I was sitting in front of the TV drawing Fred Flintstones and Woody Woodpeckers, and at age seven, I’m running around like a crazy person doing voices. But at the same time I would try to make animated films and try to figure out exactly how that art form worked.
“I was a combination of reclusive and obsessed with what I wanted to do.” – Seth MacFarlane
When did you do your first cartoon? How old were you and what was it?
I was in seventh grade. It was called Space Pirates. It was terrible.
Rule #2: Be Unpredictable
I like your bustle by the way.
Woman: Oh yeah, I really love that the most alluring fashion statement a woman can make today is to simulate a fat.
Is the simulation of a fat right there?
Interviewer: We don’t often see you in front of the camera. So what made you think this time, alright, here we go?
Throughout the course of my career, I’ve managed to continue to challenge myself and to try things that I haven’t tried and to keep scaring myself. I’m not really content creatively, unless I’m doing something that scares me a little bit. That’s stimulating.
Interviewer: There’s something inside you that keeps saying, no go further, try something different. What is that?
It’s a constant crippling feeling of inadequacy.
Interviewer: Is that what it is?
I think that might be what it is, yeah.
“I’m not really content creatively, unless I’m doing something that scares me a little bit. That’s stimulating.” – Seth MacFarlane
Interviewer: We spoke to your dad at the premiere last night. And here’s what he said.
Ronald MacFarlene: Just have such great respect for him. And he’s still a very, very grounded and kind and focused human being. He’s a good soul, a good person and that’s more than anything else, what I’m proud of.
My dad’s such a. I’m going to get him for that, man. Oh man, I’m going to, yeah son of a.
Rule #3: Hustle
From start to finish it takes about nine months to, sometimes longer, sometimes 10 months. It’s roughly a year between the time that the story is pitched to the time it gets on the air. Takes roughly a year to do it.
And it’s, you know, no one has ever figured out a quicker way to do hand drawn animation in prime time. And it’s all still hand drawn. It’s colored with computers but every single frame is still done by hand.
You know, this season was a little smoother than last season and last season was a little smoother than the one before. So, it gets incrementally easier. It’s still in many ways, a seven day a week job to get this thing done.
I mean, it’s a virtually impossible thing to do a primetime animated series, yet somehow there’s a bunch of people that do it. It’s, I don’t know how The Simpsons, you know, does it for as long as they’ve been doing it but it’s just a very, very intense process that in many ways gets easier when you get cancelled.
Rule #4: Just Start Doing
Interviewer: What advice can you give to someone who wants to study animation?
There’s a million ways to do it. It’s trial and error. With me it was just trial and error. It is learning the process. You do have to find a good school. I mean that’s the best thing you could do. Rhode Island School of Design was great. Cal Arts is great.
I mean there’s a lot of art schools that now have gotten up-to-date with their animation programs. But it’s just doing it. It’s doing as much of it as you can and sitting, you know, even if it’s with one of those little cheap video camera things just experimenting with movement and experimenting with speeds of movement and what looks funny. It’s just the more you know about what’s possible and how to do it, the more freedom you have. It’s the same as directing, I guess. The same as directing live action.
Interviewer: You just got to go out and do it.
Yeah. If you know what is possible and what you’re capable of, then
Interviewer: Learn the tools first.
Interviewer: And how they work.
Rule #5: Find The Right Balance
Barbara Walters: And at 24, he became the youngest person to ever head a network show. That led to the spin-offs, The Cleveland Show
(Cartoon) Here. Here’s 10 bucks. Don’t get kidnapped.
Barbara Walters: and American Dad.
(Cartoon) Stop get off me.
(Cartoon) Yeah that’s what your mom said last night.
Barbara Walters: There doesn’t seem to be anything off limits. I made a little list of some of the things that you discuss. Bestiality, abortion, AIDS, Irish-men who drink, nuns, pre-mature ejaculation, breastfeeding, and farts.
“We try to keep those jokes spread apart. It is a balance but my view is that whatever, if it makes you laugh, it’s an honest laugh.” – Seth MacFarlane
Barbara Walters: You think it’s easy for me to say all that?
When you line it all up like that, I mean it sounds like maybe we made a huge mistake. Doesn’t it?
(Cartoon) You know what I am back at the ranch? I’m a breeding bull.
(Cartoon) Well, well what, what’s that?
(Cartoon) You gon’ find out.
Barbara Walters: The trick to getting it all past the censors, according to Seth, is not to offend to many groups in any given episode.
It all just can’t be in the same place. There’s something called tonnage. And we try to keep those jokes spread apart. It is a balance but my view is that whatever, if it makes you laugh, it’s an honest laugh.
Rule #6: Push The Envelope
Interviewer: You push the envelope a lot.
Interviewer: Obviously, you do. Has there ever been something that’s like, oh God, that’s a little too, a little tense even for us, so we can’t do that?
Yeah, there’s the occasional, joke about, that’s too racist or too, you know, offensive to people with a particular disease or, you know, there’s too much abortion centric comedy. That we say, probably that shouldn’t go.
Those are just three examples that come to mind. Probably that maybe shouldn’t go in the show. Maybe just for the DVD. But there are things that we do now that we do strictly for, you know we do a few versions of the show.
There’s one for television and then there’s one for the DVD because it’s a very, We’re going through a bit of a dark ages as far as FCC restrictions. There’s a lot we can’t do now that we used to be able to do when the show started.
And so, to kind of fight that, we do DVD versions in which you can kind of see the show untouched. Okay, here’s one. If you were gay and you had to have sex with either John Forsythe or Sean Connery, who would it be? Eh, it’s so funny I would also say John Forsythe. I was just curious.
Rule #7: Focus On The Idea
You know, there are great things about television and there are great things about film. Television has the advantage of speed. You can conceive an idea and see it through to fruition all in the timeframe that you’re just getting a movie off the ground.
“Generally, the idea comes first.” – Seth MacFarlane
You can tell different types of stories every week and if one of ’em is, you know you can experiment a little more. If one of them goes wrong, well there’s always next week. With a movie, the flip side of that is the one story that you tell, you can really get it right.
So, it depends on the project. Generally, the idea comes first. If I have an idea, then I sort of think to myself, well is this better as a series or as a feature? And I think that’s, I think that’s a good way to do it.
Rule #8: Seize Opportunities
Interviewer: You’re slaving away six months. Slaving away because you’re actually pursuing a dream and it’s incredibly hard work. But it also, I’m guessing kind of feels like Jesus, this is kind of it. And I’ve really got to, I do have to pour everything I have into this.
Yeah, they had given me, you know, You’re talking about The Life of Larry or are you talking about the?
“I just said yes, I can do it and I’ll figure out how to do it after the fact.” – Seth MacFarlane
Interviewer: Well, the pilot for Fox.
For Fox, yeah. Yeah that, they gave me something like $40,000 to do this animated pilot. Usually, it’s about anywhere from 800,000 to a million to do an animated pilot. And I just said yes, I can do it and I’ll figure out how to do it after the fact.
Interviewer: And you did.
Yeah, yeah, yeah. And it’s the kind of thing where it was a once and a lifetime opportunity where they’re basically saying, you know, we’ll give you a small amount of money, you’re basically going to have to kill yourself for half a year, but if it works, then you’re set. And, you know, you’ve gotten in.
So it was a gamble, but I managed to, managed to do it.
Rule #9: Think About Longevity
Interviewer: Do you try to stay timely? The Paris Hilton thing today, would you ever move into that area?
Yeah, you know it’s possible. It’s tough with things that are very, very immediate because of the fact that it does take us a year to do these things. You know, if we do, We did a joke about when Ashlee Simpson had the lip-syncing business on Saturday Night Live.
We did a joke on that and we were– By the time it aired, we were just on the tail end of relevance because it had already, many months had passed. And, you know, I think that’s a good thing, though.
Because I think it’s a good thing for longevity. I think it’s a good thing for re-runs. If you look at, excuse me, If you look at All in the Family, you know that’s a show that was very, very topical and very much of its time, but it was general enough that you can watch it now and not have to know what was going on that specific week with Richard Nixon and you could still enjoy it. And that’s sort of the balance that we like to go for.
Alright, guys the best thing you could do for your body after a massage, is hot coffee, alcohol, and Slim Jims.
Rule #10: Do Awesome Impressions
Interviewer: You could be an impressionist. If you wanted to make your living as a you know–
Woman: There are many times at a table read that we write a piece for somebody and want to get a guest star and Seth will fill in and do it or Seth Green will, or I will and nine times out of 10, MacFarlane’s read for whoever is way funnier than when we actually book the person to do it. And many times he’ll end up re-recording anyway.
Interviewer: Who else can he do that we would be very amused to hear.
Kermit the Frog.
Kermit the Frog.
Do that Taken thing? We have a gag in the show coming with Jim Henson’s, Taken.
I don’t have any money. But what I do have are a certain set of skills. Skills that could be a nightmare for someone like you. If you don’t let the girl go, I will track you down, I will find you and I will kill you. That’s Kermit the Frog.
Evan: Thank you guys so much for watching. I made this video because Gerardo asked me to. So, if there’s a famous entrepreneur that you want me to profile next, leave it in the comments below and I’ll see what I can do. I’d also like to know what did Seth say that really resonated with you? Leave it in the comments.
Really curious to find out. Finally, want to give a quick shout out to Shahrukh, thank you so much for picking up a copy of my book and posting that tweet about it. I really, really, really appreciate it and I hope you enjoy. So, thank you guys again for watching. I believe in you. I hope you continue to believe in yourself and whatever your one word is, much love. I’ll see you soon.
Roll Up Your Sleeves
Alright, we have got work to do. So, let’s roll up our sleeves and get right to it. There’s a lot to do. So we can’t be afraid to just roll up our sleeves and get the job done. We can’t be hands off managers. We got to roll up our sleeves and just dig in.
Peter your arms are turning purple.
Purple with success. That’s the color of money. You got to do the work of two men and pay yourself for one. Just roll up those sleeves and address the task at hand. Whatever it may be. Not shying away from the dirty work but just rolling up our sleeves and having at it. Success is not given, it is taken. It’s time to get in the game and get dirty. Alright, I’m going to lunch.