I am currently shopping my animation project, The Pumpkin Smasher, based on Anita Benarde’s charming 1972 picture book. Grab yourself a piece of pumpkin pie or a pumpkin latte, kick back, read about the project below, enjoy the screenplay and the concept art, and drop me a line (professional inquiries only) if you or your company would like to talk further about this project.
The Pumpkin Smasher is the story of a Halloween in the small village of Cranbury. The children and adults of Cranbury love celebrating the holiday, as they proudly decorate their homes, make their own costumes and carve pumpkins to decorate their village streets. When the citizens of Cranbury awaken to find all of their pumpkins smashed just days before Halloween, Billy and Jilly, clever and mischievous twins, take it upon themselves to unmask the mysterious pumpkin smasher and save the holiday.
The book has been stuck in my mind for decades, since the mid-1970s when I first encountered it as a very young boy. Not only because it’s a simple and fun story at its core, but also because the (not remotely scary) book scared me as a tiny kid. Here’s how I pitched the idea of an animated holiday special for families to Anita:
“I grew up in the age of not only your book, but the great Rankin/Bass TV specials (Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer, Santa Claus is Coming to Town, etc.), and since about 1995 I’ve dreamed of seeing your story told in animation of the nature I delighted to as a young boy.
“A bit of background on my experience with The Pumpkin Smasher. I first read the book in about 1976. I was four years old, and everything under the sun and especially the moon terrified me, as is the case with most children that small. I read through the book with incredible trepidation, fearing the big reveal of the shadowy figure who’d been destroying Cranbury’s jack-o’-lanterns year after year. The moment I saw that horrible witch near the close of the story, I committed a great crime against your work and storytelling in general. I ran behind my mother’s green velvet swivel-chair (this was, after all, the tacky 1970s), and without daring open my eyes, I tore the cover off the book, ripped it apart, and then continued to tear all of the book’s pages to shreds. I pushed all of the remains of your book under that chair, and ran upstairs to my bedroom to hide.”
From that act of destroying creativity, I’m excited to rebuild Anita’s story with her in a new way.
Anita loved the idea, and we’ve been working diligently on finding financing/and or an production company/studio that embraces our vision for this animated Halloween special. It’s great fun, and we’re sure it’ll become an annual holiday favorite.
What follows is my screenplay, including lyrics for three original songs, plus character concept art created by Teemu Juhani, a very talented artist from Finland.
The Pumpkin Smasher Screenplay [PDF file]
All The Pumpkin Smasher content is protected by copyright and/or registered with the Writers Guild of America (WGAw) (#1796093)
The Pumpkin Smasher, by Anita Benarde. Copyright © 1972, Renewed 2013, Anita Bernarde. All Rights Reserved
The Pumpkin Smasher, screenplay, songs and concept art Copyright © 2015, Steven Awalt. All Rights Reserved.