Five Stages (or more) of an Interview!
Leigh Lahav, known on the YouTubes as “OnlyLeigh”, started posting original animations with husband Oren Mendez in early 2013, though she’s been into the medium for far longer. Known for her “Fangirls” and “Five Stages of…” videos as well as collaborations with blog “The Mary Sue” and fellow Youtube channel “How It Should Have Ended”, she and Mendez have also started writing for rapidly growing studio Rooster Teeth this year, and I was lucky enough to talk to her about her influences, process, and hopes for the industry.
David Kaldor: What drew you to becoming an animator when you were growing up?
Leigh Lahav: I was always drawn to animation but never really considered it as a profession. I actually studied music in high school and played the violin. My biggest “problem” was that I just loved doing too many things: playing instruments, acting, editing, drawing and writing. When I started thinking about college/university options Animation studies was brought up, and looking at the curriculum it seemed I could study and do a little bit of everything, since that particular school was set on shaping creators who can completely make their own content, from writing to export.
D: What would you say are your biggest influences in terms of your comedy?
L: It’s very hard to say! Every day I am reminded by new creators that have shaped me. I loved fast paced, over the top silliness with loads of cleverly used references, so stuff like “The Simpsons”, “30 Rock” and “The Critic”, “Clone High” and “Harvey Birdman: Attorney at Law” are definitely there. I like shows that throw 7 more jokes at me while I’m still trying to relax from the first one. Lately my husband and I have been re-watching 90s comedies like Frasier and 3rd Rock from the Sun and I was very surprised to find how much those influenced me as well. A mix of a lot!
D: What are current cartoons (including anime) you watching right now?
L: There isn’t an animated series I’m regularly watching at the moment. I mostly re-watch older shows now. Hopefully, I’ll find something that strikes my fancy again soon.
D: What did you know of Rooster Teeth’s work before you were brought on to write for Camp Camp?
L: Not a lot honestly! I’m a bit of a digital ignorant. I barely knew anything about YouTube before getting in as well. RT contacted me 2 years ago about submitting to their animation festival, and they ended up screening “Belle and Tina are Time Travelers”. A year later they invited me to join the festival and I got acquainted with that world. This year they approached me about writing about for RvB and we wrote a couple of episodes. Eventually the offer to write on Camp camp also came and we hit it off! we’ve written 4 episodes so far. So get ready to see more of me! Yes, this is a threat.
(btw, when I say “we” I mean my husband and I. We’re a writing team and work together.)
D: How did it feel to get asked to write an episode for them?
L: Always fun to get work! More than that though, I was very excited about the episodes they pitched for me to write. Every single one of them was something I either dreamed about writing or was just very accurate to my skill set.
D: How was working with RT compared to meeting with more traditional TV networks?
L: There’s a nice sense of community over at RT and it all felt very sweet and intimate (even though we never physically met-we do writers meetings through Skype as they’re located in Austin and I’m in LA). You can tell they’ve established that place as very familiar.
D: As the animation industry continues to evolve, what do you hope for it in the coming years?
L: It looks like adult animation is going towards a very interesting direction- up until a couple of years ago there were “clear rules” of what adult animation meant. It had to be edgy, extreme, coarse and basically excuse its existence as an adult show, in order to completely separate it from kids shows. But it seems those rules are finally starting to crack and make room for more interesting stuff. I see it with shows like Bojack Horseman that re-defined what adult animation can do and say. I’m also seeing more female protagonists in adult animation, which is relatively rare. Hopefully, we’ll get to see more female showrunners for adult animated shows too, as that is almost nonexistent.
D: What advice would you give to aspiring animators and writers who want to make their work known?
L: To make your projects more known-don’t wait around for someone to find you. Put your work out there, contact sites that can publish it, send it to festivals, that’s the best way to get people to know you, or meet folks in high places that can get introduced to your work!
D: Any upcoming projects you can talk about?
L: I’m currently working on a new animated video that has to do with Infinity War, which I hope will come out by August. This one takes me longer than usual and I’d appreciate any help I can get to reward the kind folks who work with me!
The first of Lahav and Mendez’ four episodes, “Nikki’s Last Day on Earth”, airs today on Rooster Teeth’s website. Also check out her Youtube, Facebook, Instagram, and Patreon to support and keep up to date with all their work!