Penn State alumnus Lee Goldstein (’04) and his twin brother, Mike Goldstein, launched a Kickstarter campaign yesterday to animate their cartoon series, Zoo University.
Although Mike graduated from Temple University, he spent a semester “studying abroad” at Penn State when Lee needed a roommate. He was permitted to take his last Gen-Ed courses and live in State College. It was actually on their way to Happy Valley when they came up with the idea.
“We were driving up to Penn State for the Fall semester and we thought of the idea to create a cartoon series about college,” Mike Goldstein said. “We realized that instead of humans, why not have zoo animals to add a different side to it?”
The Goldstein brothers pursued their vision by creating single cell comics and submitting them to college newspapers around the country. Eventually, the comics created a buzz at San Diego State University, where students and professors both began cutting them out of the school’s paper and hanging them up.
What started as a series of puns similar to The Far Side quickly shifted into new light when the brothers began setting their sights on pitching the show to television executives. However, the two brothers quickly found that they needed more than just a clever ideas to pitch to networks.
“One of the things that they mentioned was to get some animation work done, spit it out, and create a buzz with it,” Lee Goldstein said.
“Basically, we found after meeting with a bunch of executives that you pretty much have to do all of the legwork yourself nowadays,” Mike Goldstein said. “You can’t depend upon your concept to be the driving force anymore.”
Mike and Lee have already began writing story lines about life at “New Kingdom College” and developing characters like Hunter Redmond, a fox and Zoo University’s equivalent of Jerry Seinfeld mixed with Zack Morris. Some other characters include a giggling hippie hyena, a promiscuous pig, and a donkey with a John Belushi persona.
Even after creating this fictional world where animals learn to act like humans, the Goldsteins are still building a “strong web platform.” The purpose of the Kickstarter is to fund the animation of digital shorts and pilot episodes that show the brothers mean business.
“The biggest thing is to be able to have brand awareness and have people see what we are trying to do,” Lee Goldstein said. “We’ve been hustling and meeting the right people. This is the next step that we feel we can do.”
Mike and Lee hope to raise $4,000 with their Kickstarter by April 22, 2014. As an incentive, they are offering many rewards for anyone who donates $5 or more, which gets you a digital download of the pilot episode.