The Guy Behind The Guys Behind ROBOT CHICKEN
Exclusive ROBOT CHICKEN Season 4 DVD
Fans have all heard the stories about being the assistant to a Hollywood star or executive. Matt Beans will be the first to tell you that they are all true.
“I do not lie. It’s all legit. I get coffee and lunch every day,” he admits. “That’s how I start every day. I make sure everyone gets their clothes dry cleaned, cars washed. I do that stuff too.”
Fans of Robot Chicken might have heard of Beans. He is Seth Green’s personal assistant at Stoopid Monkey, the production company Green and Matt Senreich set up for TV shows such as Robot Chicken and Titan Maximum. He’s also been the subject of two extra content bits on the latest Chicken DVDs, “Season 3” and “Season 4.”
“In season three they did a puppet of me just so they could have me killed,” Beans remembers. “They stabbed me in the face; it was a compliment! Anyway, I asked the guy who does our DVD extras material if he would shoot some B-roll of me and the puppet. He went ‘sure’ and then he decided to make a one-minute take on it.”
Now in Season 4, Beans, along with some of his fellow toilers at Stoopid Monkey/Shadow Machine, was the subject—some might say victim—of a “Day In The Life Of” documentary. He takes it with the grace a subordinate in his position should.
“That just started with www.adultswim.com wanting to put a bunch of us folk online,” he said. “I gotta say, I’m totally flattered. I can show my parents that I’m really working out here!”
Actually, Beans himself must wonder what his parents do think of him. He has sound reason to.
“I also come from a really conservative background. My parents are huge supporters of mine,” says Beans. “They are very glad that I’m relatively successful. They just don’t get Robot Chicken at all.
“Now one time they came by and visited the studio. We arranged for them to watch us edit one of the scenes together. Then I had to go and answer phones. It was a scene where a kid really takes advantage of his stuffed bear. The director of the show, Chris McKay, said it turned into one of the most awkward things he ever did. My parents didn’t say anything, but it was really dark and out there. We might as well had dropped them in the middle of Moral Orel or something like that.”
Not that there aren’t some privileges that come with the job. One of them is rather ironic when you think the reason Green and Senreich first got together was as fellow toy collectors. Beans is actually allowed to touch the toys.
“Actually, they need me to touch their toys,” Beans explains. “They have so much stuff in their office, flooding their desks and falling off their shelves, I’m constantly putting away toys and setting up new ones. If I didn’t do that, they would be buried. We are about to leave the offices for the holidays, and I’m trying to clean out the offices before we go. It’s a constant war.”
The job has some professional advantages as well.
“It really is a fantastic job,” Beans says, unforced. “If you do a similar gig at a talent agency, you’ll probably start in the mail room. If you get a normal assistant’s desk, then you’re usually doing about 70-80 hours a week.
“I want to eventually do some writing. So it’s important for me to have time to do it. Matt and Seth are totally encouraging on that level. They are also great guys and make everybody feel like they’re part of the family. I also get to sit in on creative meetings. I mean they write all day, coming up with sketches and stuff. Then they have the pitch meetings. I usually get to sit in on those meetings. Occasionally I even get to pitch my two cents in. In fact, it’s encouraged. That’s what makes Matt and Seth such great bosses. They want to hear opinions.
“They are also very critical if they don’t like the idea. It’s a two-way street. Yet they don’t shut anybody down for having their own take.”
Otherwise, there’s enough work going down at Stoopid Monkey to keep Beans really busy. After all, Green and Senreich have not one, but two, shows currently airing on Adult Swim.
“It’s more than that now,” Beans says. “It’s Titan Maximum, Robot Chicken and this thing we’re doing for Fox. It’s in the trades, but we landed a pilot/presentation at Fox. There’s no guarantee it will be picked up, but it’s in development. So the guys are doing a little 8-minute presentation. Hopefully, Fox will like it. It will likely be 2-D animation. It will fit into the Sunday evening line-up like The Simpsons and Family Guy. That’s one of Fox’s wheelhouses. So we’re trying to find the right niche.
“So, we’re buried. The guy’s are amazing multi-taskers. If they weren’t we would be in a situation. The Hollywood mentality is to have as many irons in the family as you can in hopes of one of them turning into something.”
Beans is also learning about a new aspect of his profession. People are starting to recognize him.
“I was really surprised with the exposure I got in the third DVD,” he confesses. “When I was at Comic Con people knew who I was.”
Otherwise, this former film student admits he’s having the time of his life.
“I didn’t know a thing about animation when I got here, but I find the world absolutely amazing,” he says. “I mean I only do stop motion and we’re just getting into 2-D. I’m sure that’s going to be its own particular world. I do love stop motion because the whole culture here is so great. These animators went to school to learn this. They all have their individual styles, and it all shows up in the work. Over time, I’ve learned to see which guy is really good at dance sequences while another guy is good for action. That’s what I’ve been learning.
“You never know when it’s going to end,” he concludes. “Matt and Seth are trying to jump on it while they have the momentum. It just so happens that what they have made has happened.”
And in the shadows we will no doubt find Matt Beans, or someone like him, getting Matt and Seth their coffee.