Good shows stick with you, while great shows change popular culture at the same time. South Park is a great show. When it started, parents freaked out, schools banned shirts with their characters, and everyone was talking about those foul-mouthed fourth-graders (they started in third grade) who were tackling major social issues and ideas.
South Park has been successful for the last 20 years. This success is largely due to the amazing writing showcased each season by creators Matt Stone and Trey Parker.
In this video from Behind the Curtain, we learn the writing style and influences that made South Park the smash hit we have all come to love. Check it out below.
How Trey Parker and Matt Stone Write South Park
One of the most enlightening things about this show is how dedicated Stone and Parker are to its success, even after all this time. While they are not doing 24-episode seasons anymore, the guys are involved in crafting and directing and editing each of the episodes.
It takes roughly a week from getting the idea to writing, filming, and debuting it. That's a crazy short amount of time, but it also allows them to attack the headlines with recent buzz, and they're able to stay relevant.
They joke that they were just two guys who moved to Hollywood to make money, but they had a love of animation and a desire to find a style that fit their comedic talents of ripping from the headlines, and also aesthetically reminded them of some of their favorite artists, like Terry Gilliam. They are hard workers, they get up early, they stay late, and make sure they put all they have into getting the show up and running. They have total control on the show, mostly because they found success early on.
A lot of the success comes from the characters they created—they're deep, and even when ridiculous, they have clear-cut motivations which the audience can handle.
They also set the tone for the show right away. This is a looney place where anything happens, and even if we kill someone, they can come back the next week. Establishing this right away allowed them the elbow room to world build and create even more characters.
The idea was about "kids acting the way they act, unfiltered." They lampooned the idea that children were angels. They knew that wasn't the way they saw the world. Most kids are little Cartmans, who are self-interested and absorbed. That was where the germ of the idea came from, and they built from there. Two best friends, the poor kid, and the fat kid. That was their central cast, and then they found more voices and community members from there.
All of this came from an animated short they did for a friend, which got them a meeting at Comedy Central and then a pilot. That pilot was shot on 35mm film and took three months to make. Now they finish shows in a week. That's progress!
What are some of the best things you learned from this series of clips? Let us know in the comments.
Source: Behind the Curtain