So, without further ado, I present An Interview With... Jordana Arkin. (Questions are asked as Scoobypedia, replies are shortened to JA.)
Scoobypedia: How did you get into the biz?
JA: When I was just out of college, I was doing research at the Burbank library for a sitcom spec script. I was waiting in line for the copier and started talking to a friendly looking guy next to me. He told me he was working as a freelance writer for Hanna-Barbera. I was so impressed and eventually asked if he would consider mentoring me through an animated spec script. He did and when H-B had a new show and was looking for freelance writers, he recommended me. I pitched and got my first script, which lead to six more.
Scoobypedia: How did you become a writer for What's New, Scooby-Doo?
JA: I honestly don’t remember exactly how it happened. I think I knew an exec at WB animation who liked my writing in the past and referred me to the Story Editor George Doty. I pitched an idea and he liked it. The second episode I wrote was a story they gave me.
Scoobypedia: Before getting the job, did you have any experience watching the original cartoon or any of the previous incarnations before What's New? If so, did that help in the writing process?
JA: Oh yes! I grew up watching reruns of the original so I knew it well. I remember when I sat down to write my first script and typed in “Velma.” I couldn’t believe I was getting paid to write words for this iconic character. What a thrill!
Scoobypedia: You wrote the song "Petrified Bride" for The Vampire Strikes Back. How did that happen and did you have a hand in producing the song as well?
JA: The Story Editor told me they wanted the Hex Girls added to the episode and asked me to write a song for it, if I wanted to. I had written a song for a show before so I knew how it worked. I would write a few lyrics and they would give it to a composer who would put it to music and complete the song. I was really happy with how it turned out. And music residuals rock! ;)
Scoobypedia: Did you have to watch the Hex Girls in their previous appearances for research?
JA: Yes, I did.
Scoobypedia: What was it like meeting Joseph Barbera? Was it a requirement to meet him when writing for Mr. B?
JA: Ha! No, it wasn’t a requirement for writing his character. In fact, I don’t know if I really knew that character was him at the time. But I was in the middle of writing the episode when the Story Editor, Ed Scharlach, said that WB wanted me to meet with Joe Barbera to discuss the episode. Apparently, he still liked to be involved with Scooby Doo and know what was going on. He was in his 90s, I believe. He thought the episode story for “Farmed and Dangerous” was silly. I couldn’t really argue with him. When I was pitching multi-colored popcorn to him, I could hear how ridiculous it sounded. I also remember that I brought a Jetson’s cell with me and asked him if he’d sign it… which he was happy to do. I told him how that show influenced my love of animation and it also gave me hope for a cool future which I really appreciated.
Scoobypedia: Out of the five members of the gang, who is your favourite and/or easiest to write for?
JA: Velma. I love sarcasm. My favorite line, that I had the privilege to write for her [in The Vampire Strikes Back], was when she was in a wedding dress as a decoy, and in her deadpan way said, “My mother would have a heart attack.”
Scoobypedia: What's the difference between writing in live-action and cartoon?
JA: With live action sitcoms, there are more limitations, usually a living room, kitchen and a bedroom or office, which I think actually makes it easier. Animation is more challenging because there’s SO much more you can do physically and logistically. But characters are characters and storytelling is storytelling so I enjoy both mediums.
Scoobypedia: How long did it take to write each of your Scooby scripts?
JA: Hmm. Now you’re really testing my memory because I have written A LOT of scripts since then. My guess would be a week at the most. Usually, you have a few days. But then rewrites, of course. You can be given more time for freelance scripts because they often hand out a few at one time so they may or may not need it back quickly. I feel like I had more time to write one than the other.
Scoobypedia: Were you able to watch the finished results of both your episodes? If so, what did you think?
JA: I was at the record for The Vampire Strikes Back. (BTW, that title was for my husband who is a huge Star Wars fan.) Being at the record was exciting because I got to hear and meet Casey Kasem and Frank Welker. I think WB sent me a copy so I could see it before it aired. I was pleased with the results.
Scoobypedia: How has the animation business changed since your time on the show?
JA: Wow, that’s a good question. In a way, I don’t think it has all that much. Not even the rates. ;) The process is pretty much the same — Story Editors run the writing on the shows with either small staffs for have the scripts written by freelancers. I think, due to the success of Spongebob and Adventure Time, there are more board driven shows which means no scripts, just outlines. Personally, I prefer working on scripted shows. I think there’s more consistency that way.
Scoobypedia: In closing, is there anything new you are currently working on that you would like to plug?
JA: Oh, thank you. Well, I am currently in development with Nickelodeon on my own animated project and have a live action episode for an AMC show being filmed next month, plus I’m fielding other offers for development. Unfortunately, I’m not allowed to talk in detail about them yet, but hopefully you’ll be seeing new shows from me soon. If you want to see my past work, I had co-developed “Star vs. The Forces of Evil” for Disney and ran the writing on the first season. After that, I created “Project Mc2” for Netflix and wrote season one as movie that they split into three episodes. Both are currently available. That’s my plug for now! Thank you for letting me be part of your forum. It was fun!
End of interview.
I’d like to give a big thank you to Jordana for agreeing to take part in this, and to our very own Muddlemore for once again arranging and assisting in this interview.
You can follow Jordana Arkin on Twitter via her handle @JORARKIN.
Goodbye for now!