Madhouse teamed up for a second time with No Barriers Youth and The National Park Services to produce a short PSA that would create awareness about climate change among young people.

Mudkarts kinda feels like Wes Anderson meets Dr. Seuss.

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Challenge Accepted

When we set out to make a short film that involved fictitious go-karts that ran on mud, we had no idea the issues that would arise. Turns out climate change is a hot topic. After realizing that the local racing clubs and tracks would want to steer clear of the project, we decided to pursue the piece as a combination of live action and CG race cars. While shooting on green screen and animating all the race cars and track added a ton of time to the production, it allowed us to create shots that were highly stylized in a way that felt more like a storybook than reality. The “Wes Andersonian” aesthetic paired with the poetry of the script helps bring Mud Valley to life. Who knew that could be shot in Ohio?

Getting The Story Right

We wanted to work collaboratively on crafting the story of Mudkarts. With most projects, that usually consists of us sitting around and talking about ideas and waving our hands to help the others picture what we’re talking about. Mudkarts was a complex enough storyline that we needed to use some other tools so that we could all see the arc of the story and tweak stuff immediately. So we jotted all the plot points down on note cards and spread them out on the conference room table. Eliminating the ones that didn’t work, and trimming it down to a concise narrative.

Filming on green screen

We filmed all the racing scenes in the back lot of our studio. That sounds really impressive, but it’s actually just a parking lot. The kids were eager to take a turn steering our prop turntable car.

Local Talent

Working on a budget, we had to be resourceful when it came to casting. We asked favors from every friend and family member we knew, we put calls out on social media and we drummed up enough auditions to cast a pretty great cast of kids.