An oblivious duo are closely monitored after their daring escape from a high security space prison.

You’ve surely seen Floaters, and if you haven’t, you must. Joseph Roberts and Karl Poyzer return with their much anticipated second instalment, this time starring the hilarious Zach Braff and Joel Fry.

The second instalment does what any overly ambitious sequel does… FLOATERS GOES TO SPACE!

This time we follow two more idiots – voiced by Zach Braff (Scrubs, Garden State) and Joel Fry (Yesterday, Cruella, Plebs, Game Of Thrones) as they are closely monitored after a daring escape from Sunny Oaks Orbital Prison.

Combining Karl Poyzer’s Retro brutalist art style is inspired by the works of folks like John Harris & Syd Mead while Joe’s comedy stylings are rooted in banal observations and day to day eccentricities inspired by Armando Iannucci and Jesse Armstrong. Floaters is a conscious clashing of these styles, referred to by Karl and Joe as “Kitchen Sink Sci-Fi”. Following in the footsteps of our futuristically futile forefathers, Douglas Adams and ‘Grant Naylor’.

Ahead of the release we connected with Joseph and Karl to pick their brain on their process. Read the exclusive interview below:

Can you tell us what inspired you to bring these stories to life?

Joe: We’ve always liked the strong contrast between science fiction and bone dry, deadpan comedy. The high concept, soft world building of Karl’s artwork and smashing that together with petty dialogue, idiotic exchanges and the inescapable stupidity of human nature. It follows in the footsteps of our futuristically futile forefathers, Douglas Adams and ‘Grant Naylor’.

What is your process from concept to developing the idea in these particular films?

J: We always start with the script. We think of mundane situations or modern day annoyances and see if there can be extrapolated in the “Floaters universe”

Karl : I get sent the scripts. That is always the starting point but it’s very difficult to not let my imagination run wild from the first read. That’s the fun thing about designing, lighting and animating this stuff, you can go as far down the sci-fi rabbit hole as you’d like. The reason I keep coming back to it is because we are either about to record some amazing and hilarious performances or are coming off the back of doing so, and there are few things that keep the wind in my sails as consistently as that!

J: yeah, the script and performance have got to be really funny from the off or you’re walking uphill for the whole thing. The very talented Rowan Bancroft and myself sit down with a ton of ideas and lots of short scripts / long jokes and try to condense and combine as many ideas into each one of these scripts.

The recording session is over a video call, in which each of the performers record themselves locally. Then I make an audio edit (or ‘radio play’ as I heard someone who knows what they’re doing call it once) I do this in Premiere. I try to make it as tight as possible while still funny and coherent. While I’m making the radio play, Karl is usually developing the look and feel of the animation.

K: Yeah I normally have a long list of things I’d love to try visually, so often it’s a case of picking something out of the increasingly large net. I had known since doing the first episode that perspective was something I was obsessed with and the CCTV idea had been something I wanted to try since the start. What I hadn’t considered was the sheer number of assets this would require and although the majority of what you see is a 2D painting, we had to create a lot of stuff to make the room feel real!

J: Then Karl and I sit down over discord and begin blocking the action, storyboarding within Blender. Setting up cameras and deciding shots. This time however because the action plays out over different screens within a guard room, we storyboarded the action inside the screens first (the escape pod’s journey), and then storyboarded the cameras within the guard room, essentially blocking everything twice.

How did you go about casting Zach Braff and Joel Fry?

J: I don’t think you cast people like Zach and Joel, they cast you!

Karl and I both love Plebs and we approach Joel’s agent with Floaters 1 and the script. Joel was gracious enough to read it and even more gracious enough to lend his voice to the project.

Karl sent me a screenshot of a Direct Message he received from a “@zachbraff”. I immediately called bullshit and referred to the popular MTV show CatFish. But it turns out it was really him and we set about trying to set up a virtual recording session.

K: Yeah exactly what Joe said, absolute madness.

How far do you let the actors veer off the script?

J: I always quote Scorcese (because it makes me look more intelligent than I am). He gets attributed with the quote: “Directing is 90% casting”, so I believe when you find the right people, you just stay out of the way. We start the voice sessions with a few run throughs of the script, work away at landing those jokes, then once we’re happy we have that then we do a good couple of takes where the actors just freewheel. We cherry pick the best bits from all those takes and inevitably it’s the improvisation that makes us laugh the most so it stays in.

What is the most challenging element in putting this film together?

J: Stay motivated, sticking with it, always trying to push to make things as good as they can be even though the doing of it is ultimately very boring (for Karl).
We have to approach animation and comedy very differently. With comedy, there needs to be a lightness of touch, nothing too overworked or sweaty. It has to feel off the cuff. Where as with animation you slave over the details. It’s hard not to overwork the comedy and underwork the animation.

K: F****ng screens. What I hadn’t considered when I had this bright spark idea was that it would require a lot of screen replacement. Go Figure. Some of these shots required upwards of twelve screens to be composited. I had assumed at the start that we would just have the same thing playing on every screen but Joe rightly pushed for us to make each screen it’s own world. This meant animating the pod, prison hallways, schematics of the prison, schematics of the pod and more and then design user interfaces to go over the top. We realised about half way through that this was a stupid idea.

Do you have any favorite short films?

J: Whenever Your Ready by Craig Ainsely featuring Rachel Stubbings.

K: The Owl by Simon Pontén & Joakim Behrman

J: Also Mondeo by Rosco 5.