Sausage Party directors Greg Tiernan and Conrad Vernon on Sausage Party, Irish accents, and frisky hotdogs

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Animated films have always been a special niche in cinema. Throughout history, cartoons have been the one medium that most people have associated with children’s films, as it seems to be the sole market for the genre. Time and time again, however, someone will step up to the plate, and revamp the format to better suit a, shall we say, adult audience. It has been rampant in television, as we’ve the glorious fortune to experience such as things as Beavis and Butt-head, The Simpsons, Family Guy, everything on Adult Swim, and so much more. Seeing it on TV, though, doesn’t pay off as much as seeing the same hi-jinks and dark humor on the silver screen. Many people will remember their unique thoughts on the 2001 hit animated feature, Shrek, and how many fans were blown by the many double entendres littered throughout the film. Well, now we have another film that not only sets the bar on what it means to be an “adult cartoon,” but blows the bar to smithereens. We got a chance to chat with the directing duo for the upcoming animated film, Sausage Party, about what madness drove them to make a film like this, and where they got their inspiration from.

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Nerd Reactor: How are you guys doing today?

Conrad Vernon: Great! The weather’s beautiful out here in L.A., so I’m good.

Greg Tiernan: I’m up here in Vancouver, the weather’s not quite as beautiful, but it’s still awesome!

CV: By the way, the guy with the accent is Greg [laughs]

GT: Yeah, the Irish guy is Greg, and the other guy is Conrad. Believe it or not, we’ve been confused in various interviews so far [laughs].

NR: Conrad, you’ve had a hand in this type of animated film with your role as Gingy in the Shrek films, but Greg, what made you go to the dark side after directing so many Thomas & Friends videos?

GT: [Laughs] I’ve been asked that question a lot, and any time the movie’s been mentioned, it always mentioned with my association with Thomas & Friends [laughs]. People need to dig a little deeper, though, because I’ve been in this industry a long time, and it just so happens that Thomas & Friends was what we were working on at the studios for four years before this. I’ve actually been in feature animation for years, and actually have animated and directed animation on adult content. The Werner movies in Germany in the late ’80s and ’90s, were all about motorcycle gangs and drinking and sex. So it wasn’t that big a leap.

CV: We used to draw dirty Charlie Brown pictures to see who could gross each other out more back when we were on Cool World [laugh].

NR: What was the mindset when you guys were offered the script by Seth Rogen and his team for Sausage Party?

CV: My mindset? It was that I’ve been wanting to do this since I was 13 years old. My mindset was that I leapt at it as soon as it was pitched to me.

NR: You had wanted to have a party with a sausage since you were 13?

CV & GT: [Laughs]

CV: Yeah! It was pitched to me as “a group of hotdogs escape their packaging in a grocery store to go f*ck buns.” That was how it was pitched to me, and I was like, wow! That is the funniest thing I’ve ever heard! This would be an amazing movie. It took a long time to sell this project, but there was absolutely no way I was going to give up until it was sold. If it still hadn’t sold, I’d still be out there, selling this project to people.

GT: I had exactly the same reaction. When Conrad pitched it to me, it was the same pitch, pretty much. It was pitched to me and my wife, Nicole – co-owner of Nitrogen Studios – and I think Conrad just said the same thing: “Hey, I been talking to Seth Rogen about this movie, and it’s about sausages who want to get out of their packages and f*ck buns, you guys interested?” [Laughs] I was like hell yeah! So yeah, it’s been a complete labor of love for both of us, and it’s come a long way since that initial tagline.

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NR: Ok, so I have to ask: how many people have actually come up to you and tell you how your trailer tricked them, making them think the film was going to be innocent?

CV: A hundred percent of them [laughs]! So far, pretty much everyone. There hasn’t been anyone that has said “Oh, I knew what you guys were going to do.” I love watching all these YouTube videos of reactions to it, and those are really fun to watch. You can see it in people’s faces, you know. Some of them are smiling, some of them are bored, like “Ok, I’ve seen this,” or “Oh, that’s cute.” Then of course, the potato gets peeled, and their faces all drop and it’s fantastic!

GT: I guarantee that you’re going to have a fun ride when you see the movie. If the trailer does it for you, there’s a whole lot more to see!

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NR: You mentioned Cool World earlier…

CV: Yeah, directed by Ralph Bakshi. He was the one who actually gave me my first job on that film.

NR: Yes, we have all these shows on TV, and everything on Adult Swim, but they still seem to ride both sides of the fence, having a leg on the side for kids, and having a leg on the side for adults. With your film, just like Ralph was doing during the ’70s, ’80s, and even the current projects in that medium, are you guys hoping that this film begins a new era for the genre?

GT: Absolutely. And people will recognize once they see the movie that it’s so much more than funny jokes and the sausages and weiners. One thing that me and Conrad, along with the rest of the writing staff, wanted to do from the get-go was, yes we wanted to make the movie as funny as hell. I mean, it’s a Seth Rogen movie, so of course it’s going to be funny, but it also had to have heart, and more substance than just a few dick jokes thrown in. There’s a lot of serious topics that the film touches on, and I think people will be surprised when they walk out of the theater. I know people are expecting cartoon characters swearing and having sex and all that, but that’s beside the point to a lot of this. Again, it comes down to what Ralph was trying to do back in the ’70s: trying to use animation as a perfectly legitimate medium to tell stories that are more adult orientated.

CV: Yeah, you mentioned all the Adult Swim cartoons. We wanted to make sure that we were doing a longer form of story-telling that we wanted to actually make a feature out of this, we wanted it to be in CG, and we wanted to make sure that we were competing, visually and quality-wise, with the other studios that were doing this. You know, we couldn’t have a product that was less than anything that was already out there. We needed to stand up to everything, and not only animation wise and look wise, but it needed to stand up to everything else, story-wise.

GT: Yeah, it had to look as good as the other movies, and one other point that we’ve been trying to make with this movie, as well, which is more of a personal thing for Conrad, myself and Nicole over here at Nitrogen (Studios), is that we know that you do not need to be selling the entire farm, and having massive, massive budgets , to be able to produce a movie that looks as good as any Pixar, Dreamworks or Sony movie. We’ve proven it with this movie.

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NR: What are you really wanting people to take away after seeing this film?

CV: That animation isn’t just for one audience. That’s what I went into it with. When I saw Heavy Metal and all the Bakshi films, I was entertained, back in high school. And I said that this is only scratching the surface, you know? There’s so much more that can be done with animation, and I’d love for people to leave, saying “That was something I never thought it would be. It was much bigger. It was just as big and as entertaining as any Dreamworks or Pixar film, but it was for me. It was for an adult.” There’s a viable market for this, and I think that a lot of people are going to want to see more of this.

GT: I agree a hundred percent on that. That’s our main goal, has been for a long time, and again, coming from Europe, there’s a slightly different mindset about it over there. A lot of the countries in Europe and Asia know that animation isn’t just looked upon as a kid’s medium. It’s another perfectly acceptable form of entertainment for adults. And when you say adults, it doesn’t just mean that it has to be sausages f*cking buns all over the place, it can be any story that can be told. Just deep thought-provoking movies that just happen to be animated.

Nerd Reactor got a chance to check out the film, so if you’re interested in checking out our review, click here!

Sausage Party, directed by Conrad Vernon and Greg Tiernan, debuts in theaters this Friday!

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Eddie Villanueva Jr.
Eddie Villanueva Jr. 314 posts

A movie connoisseur of only the finest films, and an Encyclopod of geek and nerd knowledge. And if you know what an Encyclopod is, you're cool too!

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