TISDALE — Now living in Los Angeles, Kyle Marshall never forgot his upbringing in Tisdale, going as far as slipping Easter eggs about his hometown in his Emmy winning cartoon Loud House.
Growing up he worked on honeybee farms around the community, and held a paper route.
“I did all the small town things,” Marshall said. “Days were just kind of filled with running around town all day on our bikes. The perfect way of growing up.”
During these years he was a goaltender, but never managed to make the Trojans. He did, however, get the opportunity to sit in the dressing room and wear the jersey when their goalie got injured.
“A year before I tried out for the team and didn’t make it and I thought, ‘Ah man, if I can’t make a AAA team then I’m not making the NHL, so I better think of a new career.’”
While he never had much luck with hockey, he did get chosen out of the Tisdale volleyball tryouts.
“I think everybody that tried out that year made the team,” he said, laughing. “I was a horrible volleyball player.”
After his failure to make the Trojans, he decided he wanted to make movies. At this time he started acting in plays, directing one and even making his own short films. Like most artists, he finds his high school movies don’t hold up today.
“At the time I thought I was the next Steven Spielberg, but looking back on them they’re pretty awful,” he said. “But it’s fun to look back on them.”
Marshall graduated high school in 2001, leaving Tisdale that fall for animation school in Saskatoon when he was 18.
With his degree in hand, he got his first animation job in 2005 at Prince Edward Island.
After a year working there he moved to Ottawa, where he would stay until 2015. At this time he moved to Los Angeles.
When asked which cartoon he worked on was his favorite, he replied that he really loved Loud House.
“I love the crew. The crew that we have in Ottawa do an amazing job and a lot of people that are in Ottawa are people that I’ve worked with like Chris Graf and Dan Elder. Loud House has given me the opportunity to move out and follow my dream to LA. I always wanted to work out here and I was given that opportunity with Loud House and just kind of grew with Loud House.”
Graf grew up in Watson and Elder grew up in Humboldt. Graf and Elder are both special effects animators working on the show from Ottawa with Jam Filled Entertainment.
“There is an episode that has a hockey rink and I tried to develop it somewhat close to an old rink in Tisdale,” Marshall said. “It’s long gone now… I should say it’s what I remember of that old rink. We try to do stuff like that, just put in little pieces of where we grow up in.”
Loud House is about one boy named Lincoln Loud and his ten sisters. Loud has to overcome the obstacles with having ten sisters “constantly in the way of his life”. As the story progresses it expands to focus on each of the sisters as well as the mom and the dad. It’s based in reality with real life situations such as sleepovers and relationships.
Marshall is the supervising producer and director for the show.
“Loud House is all about family and the support that they give their kids and working through things,” Marshall said. “I took a lot from my family, where my family was always super supportive and as I followed my crazy dreams, they always had my back.”
He isn’t the only one on the team who implements parts of his own life into the show, with the plot itself being modeled after the former director, Chris Savino’s, own family.
Even the names of the teachers are all modeled after real-life teachers the team had growing up.
“None of my old teachers are in it, but a number of the writers have put in their people,” Marshall said. “Both my wife and my son I snuck in, we snuck them in an episode.”
In another episode where the characters are watching a Bachelorette type show, Marshall snuck his wife in as one of the bachelorettes.
In 2019, Loud House received an Emmy for “Outstanding Children’s Animated Series”.
“It was great. We’re going into season four now, so the team has pretty much together since the beginning,” Marshall said. “Winning something like this was great.”
The Emmy wasn’t the first award the show received, having been presented the 28th and the 29th GLAAD Media Awards in 2017 and 2018 for its inclusion of Howard and Harold McBride, two supporting characters who are an interracial gay married couple.
“One of the things we wanted to do is we didn’t want to make a huge deal out of it, especially with the dads because we kind of wanted it to feel that this is just regular life. There are all different kinds of families and in the show nobody really looks at Clyde’s dads and say, ‘that’s odd.’”
Marshall said the goal is that when children watch it is it’s presented as a normal family dynamic.
“We’re not the only one doing it, I think it’s becoming more and more common, especially in the arts world,” Marshall said. “In the arts world too I think more people are comfortable coming out with who they feel they really are and they have more freedom to express themselves, and people want to express themselves properly.”
The McBrides aren’t the only same-sex couple on the show, with one of the protagonist’s sisters starting to come out as lesbian.
“She’s starting to come out on the show, she has a girlfriend on the show. A girl she plays in a rock band with.”
He credits the nature with how well the relationships are presented with the diversity of the team, including LGBTQ+ community members.
“The crew is very diverse so we have a lot of people that can weigh in and help, kind of add that colour to the show and make sure we’re not doing something that doesn’t work or doesn’t feel natural.”
Marshall said he was lucky to be given the opportunity to be where he is today.
“My parents were super supportive about what I did. Going into animation in Saskatchewan is not very common and I wanted to do it… They always supported me when I took off on this journey.”
His advice for youth considering a job in animation is that it’s possible, if you’re willing to put in the work.
“There are a lot of jobs in drawing and particularly animation,” Marshall said. “Everybody likes to get entertained – animation, film, T.V. and stuff like that. There are a lot of jobs and a lot of work in it and if it’s something you’re really passionate about, you have to put in a lot of work. It hasn’t been an easy ride getting to where I am now. If you’re willing to put in the work and you’re really passionate about it, this can definitely be a great career for someone. I’m living my dream right now.”
For his own future, a new season of Loud House is being released, and he is working on his pitches.
“I have lots of little stuff that I’m pitching. I’d like to keep creating my own shows and sell them here in the States, and have them play worldwide. That’s kind of a goal, to continue pitching. I also have short film projects, one of them will likely be coming out this summer. Just kind of like little shorts that we put online. Actually Chris Graf and myself made together.”
This is of course, in addition to his goal of winning another Emmy for Loud House.