EXCLUSIVE Interview With Dan Povenmire & Jeff “Swampy” Marsh, Creators Of PHINEAS AND FERB

By: Alexandria McLean | @itbalexandria 

PHINEAS, FERB

This summer Phineas and Ferb are going on another crazy adventure, but this time on the planet of Tatoonie! Get ready because on Friday August 8th, Family Channel will be airing a special Phineas and Ferb episode, PHINEAS AND FERB: STAR WARS! Living one moisture farm over from Luke Skywalker, the fate of the galaxy is in Phineas and Ferb’s hands as they battle the Death Star and attempt to return the plans to the Rebel Alliance. It won’t be so easy with Stormtropper Candance trying to bust the Rebels, and with Perry the Rebelpus trapped while trying to stop Darthenshmirtz. The episode even features the first ever battle between brothers Phineas and Ferb, when Ferb is accidently caught in the crossfire of Darthenshmirtz “Sith-inator”.

PHINEAS, FERB

Behind the episode are the creators of Phineas and Ferb, Dan Povenmire and Jeff “Swampy” Marsh.  The idea of Phineas and Ferb was first born when Dan drew a triangle-headed boy on a placemat while in a restaurant. He liked it so much, that he tore it out and brought it home. That night he also drew a few other characters, Doofenshmirtz, Perry and Ferb. Having worked with Swampy before, Dan brought the drawings to him and they built the show off of that. It took thirteen years before the pair sold the show and were able to make a pilot episode.

THE MAGAZINE got the chance to talk to Dan and Swampy about the process of creating the show, and what to expect from the Star Wars crossover.

The Mag: You have many different roles in the making of the show. You aren’t just the creators. You both direct, produce, write, and voice characters. Which is your favourite aspect? How come?

JSM: I think writing music.

DP: Writing the songs are probably our favourite part of the process.

JSM: A close second would probably be doing the voices because both of them are the most free form.  With writing songs, we go in on a Friday evening often when we know what songs we have to write and then three or four or five of us get together with guitars and just have fun. It is just one of the most joyous, purely artistic, creative, and fun things to do.

DP: It feels the least like work. Not that any of it really feels like work.

JSM: None of it really feels laborious. The voices are just sitting in a room, making silly noises. Its great, and they pay you for it. It’s really cool!

FERB, PHINEAS

The Mag: Phineas & Ferb make many crazy inventions and Dr. Doofenshmirtz has many crazy “-inators.” How do you keep coming up with these ideas? 

DP: We have a team of writers and board artists that pitch ideas to us, so that helps. But a lot of the times with what Phineas and Ferb do, we think what else could we have them do and how would they do it.  We sort of figured out that we could have them do anything as long as they do it the way Phineas and Ferb would do it, as long as they over do it. They make it huge and ridiculous and bigger than normal. Then, how could we take that away at the end is often how we figure out what Doofenshmirtz is up to.

JSM: I remember first season we would come up with a list of things that we thought Phineas and Ferb would do and that was just us getting in touch with our nine/ten year old boy selves and thinking what would we want to do if we weren’t inhibited by reality or the laws of physics. For a while we had a board up of just “-inators” for Dooftenshmirtz that we had just brainstormed and we would just mash them together. After a while, we really didn’t need the list. The stories we were telling would start driving what those inventions would be.

The Mag: The Star Wars episode will be airing this summer. What was it like combining Phineas & Ferb and Star Wars?

DP: It was so much fun. It was the combination of our dreams since we saw Star Wars when we were kids.

JSM: We watched it when it first came out in the theatre back in [mumbles] 1977. We were really young.

DP: I was the first person in line for the very first show of Star Wars in Mobile, Alabama. I had seen the trailer, and kind of fallen in love with it. Then, TIME Magazine said it was the best movie of the year and so I was like I’ve got to see this movie! What we did was we sort of left Star Wars alone because Family Guy and Robot Chicken have kind of “make fun of Star Wars” versions, or make their characters as the characters of Star Wars and just retells that story in a funny way. What we did, is we did a story of Phineas and Ferb in the original Star Wars movie, Episode IV. But, without changing anything in Episode IV, so that it’s really sort of the rest of the story. The stuff that you don’t see, the stuff that is happening off screen in Episode IV that also affects that story and Episode IV story affects our story. It weaves together in a really wonderfully complex way.

JSM: For Star Wars nerds like us, it was a dream come true getting to play around in that universe and with those characters.

CANDACE

The Mag: You also created a Marvel crossover. How did working on the Marvel crossover and Star Wars crossover differ?

JSM: Well it’s a whole new batch of characters that we have to get to know and keep the integrity of. It can’t just be a good and funny Phineas and Ferb episode, it also has to be a good Marvel episode, or a good Star Wars episode. You have to be true to those characters, so there is a big responsibility and a challenge there to get it right.

DP: It was probably easier dealing with Star Wars because we weren’t really changing anything that actually happened. In Star Wars, there weren’t a lot of notes from Lucas about you can’t do this with this character, or you can’t do this with this character. It was really our characters in and around everything they had already set up. With the Marvel characters, we would run in to things like:

“Oh, nobody but Thor could pick up Thor’s hammer.”

“Really? Because we have this whole thing here.”

“No, nobody can do it.”

“What if he gets his power?”

“No, we can’t do it.”

We would run in to things because we were doing a new story with their characters, and there were things that their characters could and couldn’t do, or would or wouldn’t say that we had to learn.

The Mag: It took about 13 years for Phineas and Ferb to finally be able to make a pilot. Do you have any advice for children, or adults trying to achieve a tough goal?

DP: Just be really bullheaded like us.

JSM: Never give up.

DP: Never give up and never listen to anyone who says no. If you believe in something just stick with it. If you believe in it eventually others will too.

Thanks Dan and Swampy!

Make sure to catch PHINEAS AND FERB: STAR WARS on Family Channel Friday August 8th at 5:30PM.

FERB, ISABELLA, PHINEAS

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