Postmortem: Big Idea Productions (Veggie Tales): What really happened...

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  02 February 2013
As well as the article, Phil wrote a book about the rise and fall of Big Idea Productions called "Me, Myself and Bob" (Bob the Tomato being one of his main Veggie Tale characters). I don't have it nearby so I can't refresh my memory as to specifics, but I got the impression that, while being an artist, he had a strong interest in business as well as very good business sense; it's just that his strengths in these areas were undermined by his weaknesses in other areas.

A big problem in his view was that he was insecure, therefore afraid to cause offence. This lead to trusting particular people too much (they had more experience, therefore he shouldn't question them), and being afraid to confront people when he found some of them building up huge expenses (such as hiring a lot of non-production staff in preparation for the success they seemed to think was inevitable).

In regard to why he kept the business growing too fast and far, one reason he gave was that he had a very deep but largely subconscious desire to be like Walt Disney. One of Phil's conclusions was that 'dreams make dangerous friends'. Not that dreams are bad but they shouldn't take over. His dream of being like Walt was too strong and led to Phil overreaching himself.

In regard to his Christian faith, Phil gave examples of how he'd assumed God was going to act in certain ways, but with hindsight he came to believe that at least some of these assumptions merely came from what he wanted to be true, and they sometimes kept him going when he should have pulled back. A lot of the key reasons he gave for Big Idea failing, though, were directly related to general, practical choices that a lot of people could learn from (Phil has my respect for how he learned these lessons himself, when he could have resorted to blame and denial).

There's a lot more to it than that, and these are just my personal impressions based on what I remember of the book. I enjoyed it a lot and recommend reading it (even from the point of view of CG animation history, since Phil apparently started in the 'pioneering' days), although it'd be interesting to get the views of other people who were involved as well.
  02 February 2013
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