Sometimes the internet can be a cool place. Very rarely, but it happens. Take for example this convergence of events. The other day a Reddit user posted a video of one of the best things to ever happen on the Cartoon Network: “The Scooby-Doo Project.” And in the comment section a producer/writer popped up to give a brief history of how the project came to be.
For those not lucky enough to have experienced “The Scooby-Doo Project”, let me break down for you. “The Blair Witch Project” was released in 1999 and became a cultural sensation. So everyone was looking to riff on it. One of the parodies that came out of it though was a special that ran on Cartoon Network called “The Scooby-Doo Project.”
The special was an all day marathon of Scooby-Doo cartoons that ran on October 31, 1999. In-between the cartoons they would air short clips of Scooby and the gang venturing out into the woods to investigate their version of the Blair Witch. It was a mix of real world footage and animation and it was honestly kind of creepy, but then again, at that time I was still really freaked out by “The Blair Witch.”
I’ve always been fascinated about this thing and how it came to be, so it was really cool to see one of the writers and producers on the project pop in the comments and give some background information on how this thing came to be. Here’s Reddit user BoskoBoy giving his account of “The Scooby-Doo Project”:
Hey everybody. I was actually one of the writer/producers from the CN On-Air promo department on this one back in ’99. Happy to see how many have fond memories of this. Here’s some backstory:
There were three different Scooby marathons scheduled for that October, and three of us were assigned to create individual packaging and promotion for each. When Blair Witch hit huge that August we asked if we could pool our resources to send up this huge pop culture phenomenon everyone was talking about.
After putting together a quick test/proof of concept (Daphne running through the woods) the bigwigs approved the request.
Our budget for original animation was tight, which is why he made sure to get all of the characters from the back as part of the package… We hid a lot of lipflap using those shots over and over. And in projects long after this one. Scooby got reused a lot for Cartoon Campaign 2000 and Freddie footage featured prominently during the halftime show of Big Game: Road Runner vs. Coyote.
The suburban neighborhood interviews were shot at one of the producer’s parents’ house, (they were both interviewed in the final product) and the forest scenes were shot in one of the other producers’ parents backyard. We’d drive up after work, stage the tents, piles, and sticks, and shoot everything on Mini-DV.
There was a set of bumps not included here for the movie marathon portion of the stunt that we shot at a drive-in just out of town that was about to close for the season. (The Iron Giant was being played there the next night).
The live-action Mystery Machine was on a promotional tour of Canada around that time so some of the producers flew up and shot that footage in a day.
The press conference was shot in a conference room right off the cafeteria in the middle of a workday. The deputy in the background was played by a programming exec who’s developed a lot of your favorite shows over the last twenty years. And bunch more of us around the office did the voices of the press shouting questions.
The voice cast of the Scooby gang was recorded over the phone from LA, and was the same team that was making Scooby-Doo on Zombie Island at around the same time.
Everything was put together at Turner Studios in Atlanta. We were somewhat panicked when everyone started doing Blair Witch parodies for fall TV premieres on other networks, beating us to air, but thankfully the press started crowning our take as one of the better ones when our stuff started airing in October.
Everything was written and produced to air in sketch form within intro and outro bumps across the programming stunt, with an eye toward it still making sense when cut together after the fact. Because of how well it turned out, programming agreed to play the whole thing strung together at the end of the last night.
This compilation ended up getting nominated for and winning an ASIFA Annie Award for best short form program (I think that was the category) at that year’s ceremony. The Iron Giant did well that year, too.
Certainly a highlight for a lot of us working at CN On-Air Promotions at the time, and it was an amazing era to work there. This is the same group that brought you Shorties, Groovies, Big Games, Cartoon Network Responds, CCF, and a whole bunch of other stuff that seems to have found some new love here on Reddit over the past few months. We still keep in touch, and we all appreciate it. Good times.
And a previous post was right… This was never officially released on home video. But I can tell you that three DVD volumes of the best of CN On-Air were produced for posterity and they’re a treasure trove of the classics. Try to track those down if you’re a fan of this stuff. I’ll keep my eyes open for my old copies.
Thanks again for remembering everybody. Means a lot.
Man, I would love to get my hands on that collection of footage. Hopefully one day it pops up on Ebay or someone just uploads it all to YouTube somewhere.
And for those of you wanting to check it out for yourself, here’s the whole thing: