What it’s like to be a writer for “The Powerpuff Girls”
Haley Mancini is an Emmy-nominated staff writer for The Powerpuff Girls reboot on Cartoon Network, and she also voices Princess Morbucks on the show. Basically, she is living out our childhood dreams. Haley lives in Los Angeles and is quite the multitasking entertainer. In addition to her role at The Powerpuff Girls, she is a performer and writer for the Upright Citizens Brigade Theatre, a voiceover artist, and a TV actor.
8:30 a.m.: Wake up… an hour after my alarm went off the first time. Last night, I shot a sketch with my friend, Molly, and her awesome director friends, Liam and Benji, and we worked until 10 p.m. (and obviously I had to watch “Game of Thrones” once I got home). So I was too burnt to wake up on time. But I’m also generally unable wake up on time. Never have, possibly never will.
9:30 a.m.: Shower, feed my cat BB (as in BB-8!), water the garden (I keep a small one that I can admire on the days I write remotely), pack my makeup and gym clothes, and head out to grab some breakfast on my way to work. I don’t function without breakfast so I never skip it. Usually, I’ll make my breakfast at home, but my place is a mess right now so it’s just not happening. Wow, I made a big point about breakfast. You’re welcome, Mom!
10:00 a.m.: Get into work, answer some emails, and head into the first meeting of the day. We’re “handing out” an episode we’ve written to a storyboard team. We are a “storyboard driven” show, so we write a detailed outline that then goes to the (incredibly talented) storyboard artists, who will flesh it out. In a “handout,” the writers, showrunners, board artists, and director all read the episode outline together. Then we discuss how to visually communicate the story arc effectively, and figure out the beats and any story problems. This one goes to our wunderkinds, Alicia and Grace. (Heck yes, all-girl storyboard teams!)
12:00 p.m.: While I wait for my lunch meeting with the showrunners to go over the new episode I wrote, I print and review scripts: one for a voiceover audition later today, and one for a shoot I’m doing with Cracked later this week.
12:30 p.m.: The writers and the showrunners go to lunch and discuss the first draft of my episode. I got some larger notes on Act I — but hey, that’s how it goes. I’ll work on the edits first thing in the morning because today is just too busy. Then, we break a new episode (“breaking” pretty much just means working out the plot) that I’ll co-write with the other writer, my friend Jake.
4:00 p.m.: Jake and I go over notes for the latest issue of The Powerpuff Girls comic book, which we co-write. It is illustrated by Derek Charm and edited by Sarah Gaydos of IDW Publishing!
5:00 p.m.: I head to a studio to record my voiceover audition. This audition is a bigger one, so I’m trusting my booth director pal, Artt, instead of using my home studio.
7:00 p.m.: Drive back across town to shoot a short greenscreen clip with my sketch team, Baseball, for our monthly show at The Upright Citizens Brigade (aka UCB) on Wednesday!
8:30 p.m.: Grab some pizza because… I’m going to work out? Eh, whatever. No regrets.
9:00 p.m.: Hell yeah! I made it to the gym! I’m committed to making it 3-4 times per week because, while I’ve always been an athlete, I became pretty sedentary after a breakup last year. I quickly developed sciatic pain, but just hitting the gym again for an hour 3X a week immediately got it back under control. Guess all those scientists weren’t lying, after all.
10:00 p.m.: Grab some groceries, shower, finish emails, etc.
11:00 p.m.: Drink red wine, pet BB, call my boyfriend, and read my book!
12:00 a.m.: Bed time. I gotta figure out how to make an exploding blood packet tomorrow! This Economics Major is really paying for itself!
8:15 a.m.: Wake up. BB decided to meow and jump on me at ~5am, so I didn’t sleep that well. THANKS, BB. Again, my alarm was set for earlier, but I CAN BE HELD BY NO ALARM!!!!!!
8:30 a.m.: Leftover pizza for breakfast!!! ??? Glad I got a novelty-sized slice. Also glad I showered last night. First meeting today is at 9 a.m., so no time for that now!
9:00 a.m.: Board pitch! Jay and Lele, another one of our brilliant storyboard teams, pitch us an episode that they’ve boarded. Storyboard teams pitch to us at three different phases of the creative process: thumbnail, check-in, and clean-up. This was a check-in pitch, so the drawings are pretty developed, and we focus on any beats that can be beefed up or cut down. Jay and Lele (as usual) knock it out of the park. I wish I could draw like them! I also wish I could post pictures of the office, but I can’t! Since The Powerpuff Girls is a visual medium, anything you can see in the office is pretty much a spoiler.
12:00 p.m.: We have a lunch meeting to go over the recording script for this week’s episode. We have to make sure the poses and artwork from the final pass match the jokes. This is different on a storyboard-driven show — rather than a script-driven show — because, essentially, the visual “acting” is done before the actors record their voices. We also go over premises for new episodes.
2:30 p.m.: I get a few minutes to answer some emails because I’m going to Annecy, an animation conference, in France next month. Then I run down the street to buy fake blood for my sketch show tomorrow. Fake blood is more expensive than I thought! How much of this stuff am I supposed to use? My guess: a lot. Am I right about these kind of things? Not often.
3:00 p.m.: Jake and I review more scripts, as well as the exclusive issue of the The Powerpuff Girls comic for ComicCon.
6:00 p.m.: I run to pick up some final props for my sketch show tomorrow night and head to its final rehearsal. I packed myself dinner this morning so that I won’t wither away and die. Hooray for forethought!
10:00 p.m.: Rehearsal done! I go home to pet BB and work on some script stuff for my sketch show. Then, I make exploding blood packets and test them out. I really should’ve taken pictures of this experiment — it was amazing. I filled sandwich bags with fake blood and a bit of water, tied them off with rubber bands, and went outside to test how to properly squeeze them to get the ideal “spray and ooze” effect. In the process, I made myself look like Carrie, and then I hosed down many exterior walls of my apartment building’s front garden. Oops.
12:00 a.m.: My boyfriend comes over! I didn’t think I’d get to see him until tomorrow, but he’s being insanely supportive of my crazy schedule this week. He stops by to help me get small things done around the house so that we can chill and play with BB. Oh! If you haven’t figured it out yet, I’m obsessed with my cat.
1:30 a.m.: Sleeeeeeeeeeeep.
8:30 a.m.: Wake up. Today is intense: I have to do some serious edits for my latest episode of The Powerpuff Girls based on the notes I got earlier in the week. Then I have two back-to-back shows at UCB tonight. I shower, dress, and dive into editing. My amazing and helpful boyfriend gets me breakfast and a triple shot cappuccino to help me get through the day.
10:30 a.m.: Head into work to finish the edits. Man, am I tired.
12:30 p.m.: My co-writer, Jake, brings me lunch because he is awesome. I had to work through lunch to get these notes knocked out before our story meeting.
1:30 p.m.: Edits done! Story meeting starts! The showrunners like how I’ve implemented the notes! Yay! Just a few more minor notes, and I can send it off to network for final approval. We finish breaking the story for the episode we discussed yesterday.
4:00 p.m.: Jake and I go over more ideas for The Powerpuff Girls comics. I sit down to start memorizing the script for the Cracked shoot I’m doing tomorrow.
6:00 p.m.: I run home to get props and costumes for the show(s) tonight! I also slam a prepackaged salad I had lingering in the fridge. I’m not gonna have time to eat later, so I have to eat now. I also make my exploding blood packet and think about how weird my life is.
7:30 p.m.: I get to the UCB theater to rehearse the show with the actors and our director. We have to iron out some small changes, and an actor thankfully gives me the heads up that my blood packet is waaaay too big. I go to the theater bathroom to pour most of it out, making the whole place like a crime scene. But other than that, we’re good to go!
8:30 p.m.: Showtime! I’m just a writer on this team, but I am in a sketch tonight! I pop on my favorite “Professional Lady” wig and head out.
9:30 p.m.: The show went terrifically! Our writers, actors, and director are simply the best. My blood packet sketch went well… and my friend who had warned me that the original packet was too big was VERY correct. The tiny one still created a pretty nice blood effect.
10:30 p.m.: Second show! It also goes terrifically; our guests Jeff, Steve, Inessa, and Natalie, and my co-host, Mike, are hilarious.
11:30 p.m.: Say hi to friends that came out to the shows and hustle out of there!
12:00 a.m.: My boyfriend drives me home and helps me get all of my props inside. I’m still coming down from the energy of the shows, so I review my script in bed and try to fall asleep. I have to get up at 6:30 a.m. to make my 8:00 a.m. call time tomorrow!
1:00 a.m.: Sleeeeeeeeeeeeep. I can’t wait for the weekend. I plan on doing exactly nothing.