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Jarrad Wright, The Big Lez Show - Who Would've thought Animating with MS Paint Could Take You So Far?

The Big Lez Show by Jarrad Wright

A friend of mine recommended I should check out The Big Lez Show after I mentioned to him I make animations for living. He said the show's creator, Australian animator, Jarrad Wright, just makes episodes from his home using MS Paint.

Somewhat shamefully I hadn't heard of The Big Lez Show, but the fact that it was being made with MS Paint absolutely hooked me into checking out. If you've never heard or seen the show then you, like I was, are probably thinking how good could it be? MS Paint has kind of a cult following of hardcore animators but no one would use it as their primary animation tool on a series, right?

WARNING - before going any further, you need to know The Big Lez Show and its humor contains some pretty strong language. By strong I mean it's peppered very liberally with the 'F' and 'C' words and is very every day Aussie, blue collar speak. Unapologetically, all of that, is part of why it's so good. There's a good chance you've met people who talk like the characters in this show (more so if you live in Australia or New Zealand I imagine).

I'll leave it up to you to check out The Big Lez Show's Youtube Channel. The reason I'm showcasing it here is that Jarrad put together a 75 minute documentary at the start of 2020 detailing the entire history of the show, where it started, how it's made, and the successes it has had along the way, including accepting an offer from Comedy Central for a series. (Warning again, the documentary also contains strong language).

If you don't have time to watch the whole thing, at least watch Jarrad's closing statements/reflections (link will take you to that section) on his journey. If you're an aspiring animator or film creator, I think you'll find them inspiring.

Interesting takeaways include:

  • Jarrad has no formal training as an artist or animator, and worked as a janitor in his local cinema.
  • Most of the characters began life in comics created by Jarrad and his friends during his school years.
  • The animated show came to life on a government funded school laptop computer (that Jarrad still has) that came with MS Paint.
  • For more than 7 years the show has continued to be created using MS Paint, Audacity, and After Effects Elements in Jarrad's home, sometimes with help from friends on background art, editing and voices.
  • Each 5-7 minute episode can take months of work.
  • Jarrad has a very nonlinear process and often records dialogue after he's already started animating individual scenes.
  • A lot of the voices are recorded in Jarrad's car (substituting as a sound proof booth).
  • Most characters are voiced by Jarrad with voices by friends when available.
  • Jarrad has also composed, played music, and even sung in some of his animations.
  • Comedy Central Website contacted Jarrad to do a five part series, which became The Mike Nolan show. Eventually he turned Comedy Central down on further opportunities in order to finish his work independently of network influence.
  • Jarrad was able to tour and show his movie Choomah Island 3 in cinemas around the world.
  • Jarrad currently works full time creating his own animations and still creates them with MS Paint.
I guess the point of showcasing Jarrad and his work is simply to say you can find your own path to success in animation (or anything really). It's not about whether you use industry standard software or go to the right college, or even know the 12 principles of animation.

If a guy making animations with his friends using MS Paint can get this far, you can too.

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