What’s Going on with Phil and Big IDEA?

Why does Phil need his own website?
What’s going on at Big Idea?
What about YOU, Phil? Did you sign up with Classic, too?
So are you gone from VeggieTales forever?
Are Phil and Mike still friends?  And what do you think of Classic Media?
Are the people in charge of Classic Media Christian?
Which VeggieTales characters does Phil voice and which episodes has he written?
What kind of vegetable is Mr. Lunt?

Big Idea Archive

Click here to go to the Big Idea Archive.

What’s Phil Up To?

What’s Phil working on now?
How can I get Phil to come speak at my church/event/house/birthday?
Where can I get a copy of what Phil said when he spoke at ___?
Where can I snail mail Phil?

Job Opportunities/Career Advice

I have the next greatest biggest most awesome idea ever!  Can I send Phil my ideas/stories/screenplays?
Where CAN I send my ideas/stories/screenplays? 
How do you find the right investors?  Would Phil be willing to produce or invest in my project?
I want to do voice over/illustration/writing/animation work for Phil/Big Idea and/or anyone else.  Suggestions? Can I intern for you?  I’ll work for free!  How can you turn that down?
I’m interested in starting my own production company.  Can you suggest any books, resources or contacts?
I’m interested in Writing/Directing.  Can you suggest any books or resources?
I’m interested/My child is interested in 3-D animation.  What books and software would you recommend?


Got a question that you don’t see answered in our “Questions” section?Contact Us Here! Phil may answer you directly, or may post your question and the answer for everyone to see.


Q:Why does Phil need his own website?

A: In the past when I’ve wanted to communicate with fans I’ve used all of Big Idea’s communication vehicles like BigIdea.com, Big Idea newsletters, events, video inserts, etc. But as you may already know (or are about to find out), that isn’t really an option anymore. So I’ve launched this site as a new platform to talk to folks who are interested in my work. This question, of course, leads rather directly into the next question…


Q: What’s going on at Big Idea?

A: If you haven’t heard, there have been big changes at Big Idea over the last year. Technically speaking, Big Idea Productions, Inc., the company I started in 1993, no longer exists. It was dissolved in bankruptcy court in November of 2003. Yes, you read that right. Due to a whole host of unfortunate events (which I will detail more thoroughly on this site in the future), Big Idea fell into bankruptcy in mid-2003. All the assets (characters, films, songs, file cabinets, Sharpies… everything) had to be sold through a public auction process governed by the court to try to repay as many of Big Idea’s creditors as possible. While a whole host of interested parties showed up to place bids, the winning bid came from Classic Media, a NYC-based media company that owns a trove of classic characters like Lassie, the Lone Ranger, Casper, Rocky & Bullwinkle, and Underdog. Classic formed a new corporation called “Big Idea, Inc.” to hold these assets, and hired about 30 former Big Idea Productions employees to continue producing more VeggieTales videos and manage the business on their behalf. Some key folk like Mike Nawrocki, Kurt Heinecke and Tim Hodge have joined Classic and will remain involved with VeggieTales.


Q: What about YOU, Phil? Did you sign up with Classic, too?

A: Well, that part was a bit tricky. The Classic guys are decent enough fellows, and I really didn’t want to abandon the characters I’d created or the fans who’d grown to love them, but there was a catch. First, they had no interest in letting me run Big Idea (which, given the state of the company when they found it shouldn’t really surprise anyone). Second, if I had taken a staff position with Classic, not only would they have owned VeggieTales, but they also would own by default any new ideas I would create while under their employ. So Lisa and I would have lost ownership and control of everything we created in the past, and everything we would create going forward. Since we consider our work a ministry first and a business second, we really feel called by God to maintain as much control as possible, so our ideas can always stay true to God’s call and any profits they make can be reinvested into more ministry work. A staff position with Classic Media, unfortunately, would have made that impossible.


Q: So are you gone from VeggieTales forever?

A: No. I worked out a deal with Classic Media where I will write one VeggieTales episode for them each year, and give notes on up to two more that are written by the in-house creative folk or other writers. In addition, I’ve agreed to continue performing voices for my little troupe of veggies (rather vital, since I voice about half the characters). I’m doing this work in exchange for creative fees, plus an ongoing participation in the profits from VeggieTales videos, which Lisa and I can reinvest in new ministry work.

So God has really done something interesting. He has taken a situation that started out as a complete disaster (literally the loss of everything I have done in my adult life), and brought out of it an opportunity for me to return my focus to new stories as he directs, while allowing VeggieTales to provide the funding. To be honest, trying to run a ‘big company’ didn’t fit my personality or gifting in any way. I was pretty darn miserable as Big Idea’s “Top Tomato.” And the bigger the company grew, the less time I had to use the creative gifts God had given me. I was so convinced that God wanted me to be “Walt Disney” that I kept banging my head against that door, even as the company was unraveling around me. And amazingly, God used the disaster of Big Idea collapsing to gently whisper, “I don’t want you to be Walt Disney. I want you to be Phil.” To which, of course, I replied, “But I’m not sure I know who ‘Phil’ is!” And then he responded, “Just slow down, take a deep breath, and I’ll show you.” Pretty cool, huh?


Q: What’s Phil working on now?

A:I’m working on a whole bunch of new ideas for Christian ministry to families – too many to detail here.  But the first two are already up and running. You can find out more about JellyTelly at www.jellytelly.com and more about my new What’s in the Bible DVD series at www.whatsinthebible.comAs more projects come out, you’ll hear about them first right here at philvischer.com.


Q: What kind of vegetable is Mr. Lunt?

A: A decorative gourd. (And a rather feisty one, as decorative gourds go.)


Q: How can I get Phil to come speak at my church/event/house/birthday?

A: My schedule only allows a few speaking engagements a year, but those that are booked are done so through my management company Creative Trust.  You can contact them at this email address.


Q: I have the next greatest biggest most awesome idea ever!  Can I send Phil my ideas/stories/screenplays?

A: Due to legal reasons, we cannot accept unsolicited material.  I’ve also got my plate full working on my own projects right now with my new company Jellyfish Labs and am not accepting outside material at this time.


Q: Okay, then where CAN I send my ideas/stories/screenplays?

A: As a general rule, production companies don’t accept unsolicited submissions.  If you want to pursue writing seriously, you should work with an agent to develop opportunities for your work.

Q:What about finished projects? Like DVDs?
A:We try hard to make time for reviewing outside content for use on JellyTelly, but since we get so many submissions and requests we aren’t always able to check them out in a timely fashion so please have patience with if you send something in.


Q: How do you find the right investors?  Would Phil be willing to produce or invest in my project?

A: At Jellyfish we are not set up to invest in outside projects.  Typically investment for media projects – especially from first-time producers – comes from friends, family and other acquaintances.  Check your circle of friends and family and see if anyone would be willing to support your project.  If none of your acquaintances have money to invest, you should probably focus some effort on expanding your circle of contacts through networking.  A group of investors who know you and appreciate your work will be an invaluable asset.


Q: I want to do voice over/illustration/writing/animation work for Phil/Big Idea and/or anyone else.  Suggestions?
Q: Can I intern for Phil?  I’ll work for free!  How can you turn that down??

A: Jellyfish Labs is pretty set right now so we’re not currently hiring, but if that changes, we will post all information regarding job opportunities and internships www.jellyfishland.com so stay tuned!  Big Idea can be contacted at www.bigidea.com, and other opportunities in the animation business can be discovered through websites like www.awn.com and www.animationmagazine.net.


Q: I’m interested in starting my own production company.  Can you suggest any books, resources or contacts?

A: You may way to check out my book, Me, Myself & Bob, which details the development and launching of VeggieTales in great detail.  Subscriptions to B&C and Variety are helpful too, along with websites like www.awn.com and www.animationmagazine.net.  I will also be writing articles on occasion for this site that may provide guidance.


Q: I’m interested in Writing/Directing.  Can you suggest any books or resources?

A: “Story” by Robert Mckee and “Making a Good Script Great” by Linda Seger are great for writing.  Judith Weston’s “Directing Actors” and “The Film Director’s Intuition” are also good.


Q: I’m interested/My child is interested in 3-D animation.  What books and software would you recommend?

A: Just about anything can be researched online these days.  Start with www.awn.com and www.animationmagazine.net, but almost any question typed into Google’s search box will yield plentiful resources.


Q: Where can I snail mail Phil?

A: Jellyfish Labs
401 S. Carlton Ave
Suite 200
Wheaton IL 60187


Q: Where can I get a copy of what Phil said when he spoke at ___?

A:Phil has spoken at a myriad of events. The best way to track down your own copy of his talks would be to contact the venue where Phil spoke. To get you started though, you can check out iTunes and Willow Creek Church. Willow Creek Church has a few different talks of Phil’s and they can be reached at www.willowcreek.com And iTunes has a free download of Phil’s talk at Seattle Pacific University titled “My Life as a Tomato.”


Q: Which VeggieTales characters does Phil voice and which episodes has he written?

A: Well there are quite a few…including but not limited to: Bob the Tomato, Archibald Asparagus, Mr. Lunt, Jimmy Gourd, Mr. Nezzer, Phillipe Pea, Pa Grape, Tom Grape, Grandpa George, Goliath the Giant Pickle and Frankencelery.

As for the episodes, feel free to check out the list on www.imdb.com.


Q: Are you and Mike still friends?  And what do you think of Boomerang Media?

A: Mike and I are still friends and I’ve got a good relationship with the folks running Boomerang Media.


Q: Are the people in charge of Boomerang Media Christian?

A: Boomerang Media is a secular media company and, to my knowledge, the current leadership is not Christian.