As I walked into the theater at Disney Studios, I was excited to meet the creators of Phineas and Ferb: Dan Povenmire and Jeff “Swampy” Marsh. I immediately liked these guys and wanted to spend the day with them! They were dressed in relaxed, but dressy beach clothes. No wonder why Jeff “Swampy” Marsh is known for being a surfer.
Dan told us that he used some of his kids lives in writing the show saying that “anything’s fair game…we’ve stolen pieces of [Jeff’s] son’s life” for Phineas and Ferb. But, “most of our inspiration actually comes from our own childhood because Swampy and I were both sort of creative kids and we had creative parents that would allow us to do ridiculous things and were always building.”
“Like tree houses…I was the king of the neighborhood because I can jump 31 pines cones on my bike and me and some buddies took sticks and flashlights one day and crawled all the way through our sub division in the drainage pipes that were about 4 ft. tall. ” The mood was very light and fun as Dan and Swampy reminisced about their childhood.
Jeff goes on laughing, “a lot of writing Phineas and Ferb was putting ourselves back to a 10 to 12 year old boy thinking.” “It’s pretty easy for us to do because we’re pretty close to that maturity level.” “I look at some of the go carts that we’ve built out of old wheels and stuff. [LAUGHS] It’s really amazing that I’m here. [LAUGHS] And I have all my teeth, most of ‘em.
The Favorite Episodes
The creators went on to talk about their favorite Phineas and Ferb episodes.
Dan let us know that they have a list of favorites. “If I am really pressed to choose a favorite, it might be the roller coaster because it’s just the one! Now, when I watch it later, for me, it is Summer Belongs To You, which is our first hour long special. And it had Phineas and Isabela in Paris where Isabela’s trying to see how romantic it is and Candace and Jeremy decide to be boyfriend and girlfriend and then they all get stranded on the desert island. That one, I literally can’t watch without tearing up.” This is when the crying started for the creators and the moms like me on the interview. You can tell how passionate these guys are about their baby, Phineas and Ferb. “When it was playing, I actually purposely took my phone out and answered e-mails so that I wouldn’t be red eyed.”
One of the moms asked, why did you feel like it was time to end? Dan let us know, “well we’ve, been doing this for a decade and we felt like this is a good time. I feel like this show is still really good and really, really fresh. I’m, I’m really proud of most of the 4th season as much as I am of the, of the first ones. And I felt like let’s go out before it starts feeling tired.”
Inspiration & Tears All Around
Jeff lets us know that you “would be shocked at how many letters we get of people telling us that we got them through a really dark time.” Dan says that, “you inspire my kid to be more creative. Somebody sent us this letter that said before their kid was watching Phineas they would skip art class to go out and play and would never draw anything The Mom sent a picture her son drew before Phineas and it was one line on a piece of paper. Then a picture that he drew after he started watching Phineas drew out the creativity in her son. That makes me proud, but we get a lot of stuff like that. Some of them were things like, ‘This is the show that got me through PTSD. This is the show that got me through chemo with my kid because it was the one thing that would make him smile.’ They’re all these kind of things and I started crying like I’m doing right now.”
“We just sold another show to Disney called Mikey Murphy’s Law. I can feel that ramp upcoming again. We’re not quite in that crazy area yet ‘cause we’re just writing it, but we’re starting to hire Artists and stuff like that. So, a month from now we’ll just be frantic again for hopefully a long time. I feel like this is a good follow up to Phineas because it’s in a completely different show, but it has the same sort of positivity that, that Phineas does. Mikey is a kid who is the great, great, great grand– grandchild of Murphy from Murphy’s Law. Whatever can go wrong, will go wrong. If you were born with one arm you learn to do everything with one hand and you don’t think of it as an imposition. By the time you’re in Middle School you’re not upset that you don’t have an arm.” explained Dan.
Last Day of Summer
They had been wanting to do a Ground Hog Day-ish story for a while and so “when we thought about the end it just seemed like a really good fit because it the last day and the last day repeats over and over. So it’s sort of like getting extra days. We sort of pitched this as a Ground Hog Day meets The Langoliers.” said Dan.
Jeff joked, “Kids really like Stephen King.” I mean I loved Stephen King as a kid, but I’m not sure other kids liked it.
Don’t Dumb Down for Kids
“The thing that I want people who are making programs to get out of this is that you can never go wrong over estimating the intelligence of kids.” stated Jeff. I quoted him on twitter because I truly agree with this. Kids will understand as much as you expose them to.
“You can make poor shows that appeal to everybody from adults, to teenagers, to little kids, all the way on down without having the shows filled with jerks and idiots, and that you can put big words in and it’s okay. You can do classical music and jazz music and folk music, and rock and roll, and rap, and all of that and kids’ll get it. If you can just stop people from dumbing down the subject matter that they feel they need to put in front of kids this whole thing will be a success. That’s what I want people to take away because that’s what we fought for. It’s a show we can sit down with the whole family and they’ll feel really comfortable with my kids watching it and they’re inspired and I’m inspired.” expressed Jeff.
Dan explained the idea behind Phineas and Ferb that makes it so cool! “Phineas and Ferb are never disobeying their mom. They may be doing things that will get them in trouble, but they don’t know that it would get them in trouble you know? It’s like mom doesn’t say don’t build a roller coaster in the back yard. She says, ‘Stay out of trouble.’ They don’t really have a frame of reference for trouble since they’ve never really been in trouble. Candace is not trying to hurt Phineas and Ferb she’s just going for fairness. ‘If I did this mom wouldn’t get mad at me. So, I just need mom to see this.’ They are very subtle differences rather than just like having everybody be sort of nice to each other. Nobody’s ever motivated by meanness. These are all very subtle things that we thought would go over the heads of the audience, but just to have a nice feel. People have written all sorts of articles about the show in which they get all of those things. I’m just thrilled that it actually came through and, and that you know it feels like it’s, it’s a kinder, gentler show than a lot of other shows out there.”
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PHINEAS AND FERB Last Day of Summer will be on Disney XD on June 12, 2015
2 thoughts on “Meet the Creators of Phineas and Ferb”
What a great time we had! I loved reading your post and your take on our time with Dan and Swampy. It was so emotional!