The future is today … worry about it tomorrow! All 10 episodes of Futurama season 11 are now available for streaming on Hulu. Geek Girl Authority caught up with Futurama executive producer Claudia Katz to celebrate the revival of the cult classic animated science fiction series.
Geek Girl Authority was thrilled to get the chance to catch up with Katz over email. We asked about how the process of creating the beloved series has changed over the years, the experience of returning to the show after a decade and memorable fan interactions.
Avery Kaplan: My understanding is that you have been involved as a producer for every single episode of Futurama.
Claudia Katz: It’s true! I have been extremely fortunate to have produced every single episode of Futurama ever.
AK: Can you tell us a bit about what your position entails and how it has (or hasn’t) changed in the years since Futurama first debuted?
CK: Initially, it’s my job to design a production methodology in which the crew can be successful that still works within the confines of the schedule and budget. Creatively, I’m involved in every part of the production. Technology has changed quite a bit in the last 25 years, but we try to be really thoughtful about what technology we embrace or forgo. There is a real charm to Matt’s drawing style, and we never want to lose the hand-drawn feel of his design and enter a cold digital world that’s antithetical to the Matt Groening universe.
AK: Can you tell us about your experience returning to Futurama for season 11?
CK: It took quite a while from when Matt first called me with the news to when things got moving in any substantive way. I couldn’t tell anyone the show might be coming back, and that’s the kind of news that’s hard to hold onto. We are so lucky to have our entire cast back. We also have our original showrunner, David X. Cohen and some of the original writers. We were also able to get some returning talent back at Rough Draft. Once we got back into production, we hit our stride pretty quickly.
AK: Do you have any particularly interesting anecdotes from the production of season 11 you can share with us?
CK: We had to update our iconic title sequence to 4K. In addition to adding a bunch of easter eggs for our fans, the 4K resolution made us notice things we had never seen or noticed before in HD. These items had all been there since the very beginning! There was a lot of David and I going, “Wait, what’s that?!?”
AK: I understand that Futurama’s distinctive and influential style involves combining computer-generated animation with more traditional hand-drawn techniques.
CK: When we started on the series, we knew we had to deliver on the sci-fi element of the show. The only real way to tackle this was to blend traditional 2D animation with CG animation. We had already moved to a digital workflow and some CG experimentation on THE MAXX (1995), but for Futurama, we had to figure out how to best render and light the CG elements to blend seamlessly with the 2D. Our head of computer graphics, Scott Vanzo, and lead 3D artist, Eric Whited, spent a lot of time cracking and perfecting the look.
AK: Has this process changed in the 23 years since Futurama first debuted?
CK: There have been some improvements in technology and software, but the essential approach remains the same.
AK: Have you had any particularly memorable fan interactions at conventions?
CK: A few, but my two favorites are non-convention related. Some years ago, I received a fan letter from an Apache helicopter pilot stationed in the Middle East to thank me and let me know how special the show had become for him and his wife. He was away on tour for long periods of time while his wife was back here in the States. Since it was their favorite show, they would sync their Futurama episode watching, including DVD commentary. We became email pen pals and eventually invited him and his wife to the premiere of the first Comedy Central season!
During the pandemic, I became hooked on Philz Coffee, and my daughter and I would order coffee as a treat and a way to get out of the house. After about six months of ordering, the guy we always picked up from nervously asked if I was the “Claudia Katz” from Futurama. I guess he had been wondering for the whole six months and finally got the nerve to ask me. The next time I picked up, I brought him a Planet Express ship!
AK: Do you have a favorite character on Futurama?
CK: Our cast is so exceptional it’s impossible to choose!
AK: In addition to Futurama, your resume includes many other animated shows. I’m curious if there’s anything unique about working on Futurama and its propensity to be repeatedly resurrected.
CK: Every project is unique, and Futurama is no exception. I think the resiliency of Futurama is a testament to the appeal of the series. We have great characters, great writing that’s smart and funny with some heart thrown in, cinematic storytelling with great acting and joke-telling, and a unique look. We also have the advantage of a vast universe to tell stories and explore new worlds.
All 11 seasons of Futurama are currently available for streaming on Hulu.
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