As a 30-year-old directing her first animated series, Australia’s Jo-Anne Boag isn’t a big name in the industry, but the distinctive visual style of Energee Entertainment’s Gloria’s House is already turning heads. At press time, she was trying to pump out the eps as fast as she could (the unfinished series is already airing on Seven Network in Australia), but found time to talk about the birth of Gloria’s eccentric and all-too-human family The Nits.
Tell me how the concept for Gloria’s House first came to you.
The co-creator of the series, Linda Curtis, was working as a reflexologist in this awful nursing home that had about 400 old people in various stages of getting close to death. She had invited me to come and draw them, because the old people sat so still that it was like drawing professional models.
There was one old lady that Linda was working on who kept calling her a nit. And Linda was saying, `I’m not a nit, I’m Linda.’ And then the lady started saying: ‘So youra nit, and ima nit.’ and then went off on this whole word play thing. Linda thought that this was quite funny, and being a writer, she thought we could do something with it. So we created these kooky characters called The Nits.
Who is Gloria Nit based on?
My aunt teaches kindergarten over in Scotland, and she invited me in to read some stories to the kids at Christmas time while I was visiting-to let them hear my Australian accent. She was showing the kids a picture of Jesus, Mary and Joseph, asking them to name the mother of the baby. All the kids were going ‘Ohhhh, ahhhhh, what’s that lady’s name again?’ They all put their hands up and my aunt picked this little girl with red hair and freckles who was missing her front teeth. She was so sure she was right, and she said: `Is it Cinderella, Miss?’ It’s moments like this that I try to use for the characters, because it’s the essence of the real thing.
So it’s a matter of distilling those little human things into the characters?
Yes. Each character is part of something that I knew, and I suppose in a way, that’s what people relate to. For instance, there’s Beat Nit, Gloria’s 10-year-old brother. He doesn’t ever show his hands-they are always in the sleeves of his jumper-and that’s from my partner. Every time he comes home from work he puts on this same jumper, even though it’s got holes in the sleeves and they’re too long. They’re all little characteristics that connect the family.
Is that the key to successful series creation?
I think so. All in all, I think that the more heart, or the more believability that you infuse into your characters, the more people can relate to the series.