As a child, Tristan Homer remembers enjoying Inspector Gadget cartoons on the television at his parents' home in Salmon Cove. Never could he have imagined growing up to bring such a show to the small screen.
But that's just what Homer, a 30-year-old television producer now living in Toronto, does. His biggest project to date for employer 9 Story Entertainment is just making its way onto television screens in Canada and around the world.
Almost Naked Animals is a half-hour animated comedy about the misadventures of a group of clean-shaven animals that only sport underwear while running a beachfront resort called the Banana Cabana. The series debuted on YTV on Jan. 8 at 11 a.m., and will continue to run in that Saturday morning slot following the immensely popular children's program SpongeBob SquarePants.
The show has been Homer's main focus at work for the last two years. As the producer, he runs the show.
"Part of my job is administrative, and part is creative," says Homer, who worked his way up from a production assistant job (a glorified title for 'photocopier') he got with 9 Story Entertainment in 2005.
"I deal a lot with schedules and budgets, making sure all the various stages of production are moving along as smoothly as possible. I also review a lot of the key creative elements, including the writing, voice acting, animation, and audio design."
That adds up to a lot of work for each half-hour episode, which takes seven months to create, with multiple episodes in production at any given moment. Currently, Homer is producing a 26-episode season.
"Every second of an animated show contains 24 separate frames of animation, so a 22-minute show contains about 31,680 frames," says Homer. "Working in animation definitely requires patience, and a ridiculous level of organization."
But that sort of hustle-and-bustle was just what Homer was looking for after completing his bachelor of commerce (Co-op) degree at Memorial University in 2003.
"I've always been interested in making or creating stuff, and I'm not sure that I fully realized as a kid that you could actually make a living doing that, which is why after high school I did a business degree."
While completing his final year of studies at MUN, a friend told him about the television program at Ryerson University in Toronto.
"I was drawn to children's programming most because it seemed to me like it would be a lot of fun to work in. The stories that are told are sillier, and you can do lots of weird and imaginative things that normally aren't done for older audiences - especially in the world of animation."
Almost Naked Animals is the creation of Noah Z. Jones, who previously made the animated series Fish Hooks for the Disney Channel. Homer says the show is meant to ideally appeal to kids ages six-to-10, though he hopes it will find older fans as well.
"We try to pepper each episode with elements that will appeal to broader audiences, so that parents and older brothers and sisters will be able to enjoy the show too."
In his time with 9 Story Entertainment, Homer has been able to work on several popular shows, including Max and Ruby andWibbly Pig. The latter was nominated for a Gemini Award in 2010, representing a career highlight for Homer, who was a line producer on the show.
"It didn't win, but the Polkaroo (from the long-running kids series Polka Dot Door) was at the awards ceremony, and that was pretty fun," he says.
In his spare time, Homer has pursued other creative interests, including a video podcast he directed and wrote with friend Daniel Misener called Jim Dupree: Enthusiast.
"I've always had ambitions to write and create my own projects, rather than just producing, so maybe someday I'll give that a shot. More than anything, I just want to keep myself involved with projects that I enjoy working on, and that I can be proud of at the end of the day."
There seems to be a lot of interested in his newest show, given its plumb Saturday morning time-slot after everyone's favourite yellow sponge - it's also set to air in multiple foreign markets. Homer says it has been hard to stay on top of trends in children's programming, but he says they tend to be cyclical.
"It's always changing, but it seems as if even if it's not a great time for a certain type of programming, it's just a matter of time before everybody's hungry for it again. Hopefully the world is hungry for shaven animals in their underwear for many years to come. A down payment on a house here in Toronto is pretty expensive."
The move to Toronto in 2003 was a surprisingly easy one for Homer, who up until then had never even visited a large city, let alone live in one.
"I am just as comfortable walking down a crowded street here, as I am going for a stroll on Salmon Cove Sands," he says. "I still miss a lot of things about home, though, and I'm always happy when I get to come back for a while."
About Tristan Homer
• Family - son of Wayne and Marilyn; has one sister, Joanne
• Favourite TV show - Curb Your Enthusiasm
• Brush with a celebrity - "When I was a student, I worked an event at the CBC, and they asked me to accompany Anne Murray and her entourage in an elevator. I also got to hang out with Clifford The Big Red Dog once in Mississauga."
• TV idols - Geoff Stirling and Gordon Pinsent
• Hobbies - listening to music and eating potato chips
• Ultimate future collaborators - Geoff Stirling or Gordon Pinsent
• Last book read -I Know I Am, But What Are You?by Samantha Bee
• Favourite piece of Newfoundland - his family home in Salmon Cove
• Choice for next premier - Geoff Stirling or Gordon Pinsent