When I was a kid there was an animated educational series that aired during children’s programming on ABC television called School House Rock. They were animated short segments that taught basic lessons through animation and music. Things like multiplication, grammar, history, and science. I watched these cartoons over and over, and loved them.
Flash forward about 30 years when someone asked a group of us if anyone knew the Preamble to the U.S. Constitution beyond the words “We the People”. No one did except for me. In fact I knew the whole thing. The group, amazed of course, asked me how and where I learned the whole Preamble. And so I told them.
It was because of a cartoon. The cartoon featured a song that included the words to the Preamble as part of the storyline. And it came from a School House Rock episode entitled The Preamble that first aired in 1975 – when I was eight years old. I didn’t know I was learning anything. I just thought the cartoon was fun to watch. To this day I can still recite the entire Preamble simply because of a cartoon I watched over and over 38 years ago.
Given my early fascination with animation it came as no surprise to friends and family when I found myself employed by DreamWorks Animation. Seeing cartoons and being involved in the animation process on a daily basis, I became keenly aware of the engaging power of the medium. People of all ages seemed to love watching cartoons. It seemed to me like a universal attraction.
So I began to think about the power of the School House Rock model – educating while entertaining through cartoons and music – and about the universal attraction of animation that I had observed at DreamWorks, and I began to wonder…
What would happen if we applied these principles to something on a grand scale?
To something like the preservation of our natural environment and remaining wild places. What if by entertaining a generation through the power of character animation, music, and humor we could instill into the hearts and minds of children and families everywhere a deep connection to the natural world?
What if children, like me with the Preamble, grew up with these lessons and ideas hard wired into their heads?
What if children and families everywhere not only had a deep appreciation and sense of connectedness to the natural world, but were educated and empowered enough to take actions that had far reaching and positive environmental outcomes.
Pretty powerful stuff, I thought.
Beginning to think that I was on to something, I knew I needed to do something about it.
So knowing very little about the business end of starting a film production company, I felt that I needed a business education to back up my animation experience. I went back to school and got an Executive MBA from Chapman University in Orange, CA. And then as most MBA’s are expected to do at some point – I wrote a business plan. Obviously for an environmental education film company. I showed the plan to a few influential advisors involved with the University and got the same response from all of them: “You have to do this! “
Inspired by their receptiveness to my plan, I established a corporation, built a Board of Directors, raised some seed money, hired an ex-Pixar production designer to create some initial character designs for our first animated film, and here we are.
What began as an idea inspired by a cartoon I saw in 1975 is now a real thing. We are really excited about our future, about the opportunity to educate and inspire through the medium of animation, and basically all geeked-up to make some entertaining and engaging cartoons that we all can enjoy.
And who knows, maybe somewhere 30 years from now, someone will take positive environmental action on a grand scale, and all because of some cartoon this person saw when he or she was 8 eight years old and was just being entertained.
That would be pretty cool indeed.
Welcome to REBEL EARTH films.
Bret Babos, President