Dave Hood (Creator of 'Real Wheels')
'Immortalizing Tomorrow's Future'
Dave Hood is the creator and star of the hugely successful ’Real Wheels - There Goes A ...’ children's home video series. He and wife Rebecca, along with their four kids, and 7 dogs, live in the country north of San Diego, California. Dave is the President of Dave Hood Entertainment and runs the company whilst at the same time writing, directing, and acting in the movies. Rebecca is Vice President and handles the business, marketing and promotion. She also was a producer on their latest projects, ’There Goes A Tank’ and ’There Goes A Rescue Hero.’
Having had a long distinguished career in entertainment one that began in radio at the age of just 18, Dave has now amassed more than 27 years of experience in commercial radio, television, and production. In fact, Dave's early years were spent as the number one radio personality in Portland Oregon at KGW radio before he moved into broadcast television as host and producer of the highly successful and nationally syndicated PM Magazine.
Dave started his production company in 1987 while still hosting PM Magazine, but in 1990 - when PM left the air after more than 15 years in syndication - Dave left San Diego for Hollywood where he studied acting at the highly respected Charles Conrad Studio in Burbank. In 1994, the idea for Live Action Children`s Video was born and so in association with partner Ken Urman at Power To Create and Warner Brothers, the ’Real Wheels’ - ’There Goes A...’ Children's Series’ were born.
Warner Home Video will release four new titles from this wildly popular live-action children’s series ’Real Wheels’ on September 16, 2003. Two new VHS titles, ’There Goes a Tank’ and ’There Goes a Rescue Hero’ will be available for $9.93 SRP. In addition, ’Mega-Truck Adventures’ and ’Rescue Adventures’ will be released on DVD and priced at $14.98 SRP ($9.95 MAP). In addition, click here and be whisked away to the 'Real Wheels' website!
Chatting one-on-one with the creator himself, Dave Hood, I first wondered why he created the ’Real Wheels’ - ‘There Goes A …’ children’s series in the first place? ”Well, it almost happened as an accident from my stand-point.
I had been doing a show called PM Magazine and I just basically got tired of traveling and was looking for something to do where I didn’t have to travel so much. Meanwhile, my partner Ken Urman, who has kids, was unhappy with what he was seeing and we kinda stumbled into each other. We began looking at the marketplace and felt that kids were either watching the animated cartoons, which were full of a lot of violence actually, or they were watching MTV with their older brothers and sisters – which meant a lot of sex, violence and rock ‘n roll,” he laughs. ”Which is okay for what it is, but not proper for a 2-8 year-old. So, I was thinking that as a kid I was watching shows like ‘Sky King’ and ‘Hopalong Cassidy’ and all those great shows and they were live action shows. And they were live action shows that were done inexpensively, but we didn’t know that as kids,” he laughs again. ”So we thought why don’t we re-invent the wheel and we came up with 'Real Wheels’.”
Describe the ’Real Wheels’ titles to people who’ve not heard of them ”’Real Wheels’ is a live-action show explaining how big equipment works and in order to make it workable for 2-8 year-olds I made it funny and entertaining for them. There’s a lot of physical humor in them, so even a 2 year-old who may not understand what I’m saying enjoys what’s on the screen anyway.”
Was this 2-8 an age group demographic that you had always envisioned for your titles? ”Well, I think if anything it’s expanded as we’ve gone along. Initially, Warner had 3-8 on the package and I think they still do, but what we found was if it’s physically funny and entertaining and then there’s big equipment that they’re naturally interested in, they’re gonna watch it and they’ll watch it a hundred times,” he laughs. ”I mean, these kids will watch it till they wear out the tapes! And then underneath that is a subliminal layer of education. It talks about why things work and how things work and how to work them. Even parents can stand to watch them.”
What aspect of making a children’s tape did you have to be very wary of? ”My approach from the very beginning was, and I told Ken this, if I do a children’s thing I will not talk down to kids. I don’t want that silly, stuffed animal approach that sounds like somebody talking to their little puppy dog. And so I said I would do this as if I was talking to an adult with the only difference being that I would fill it with a lot of physical humor so that it’s funny.”
Tell me more about the ‘Dave’ character ”I knew from the beginning that the ‘Dave’ character would be kid who is a big kid, but he makes mistakes just like kids do and then he gets up and goes on. So, we’re teaching them that it’s okay to make a mistake, that it’s not the end of the world, and to grow from those mistakes and move on. Aside from the obvious there’s a lot of social lessons in these things as well. Dave is famous for saying ‘I shouldn’t have done that!’ and falling down and making a mistake and then getting up and going on. But there’s also how to get along with other kids.”
Were you always going to be the one to ‘star’ in these titles? ”Yes, because from the very beginning I've written, produced and I also do the editing. Ken, my partner, is the Executive Producer and pretty much orchestrates the financial end of things and keeps the projects alive and the one responsible for getting them on PBS, I believe. So, what I’ve done is I’ve tried to control this, because if you go into a studio to make a movie or even a television show, the first thing they do is over analyze it. They bring in too many experts, which may be fine for other projects, but for this I don’t work that way. So, basically I did what I thought kids would like and created this character based on what I thought kids would relate to. And it seems to have worked very well,” he chuckles.
Any plans for new ’There Goes A …’ projects? ”I would like to branch out into other things in the world besides equipment. I would like to cover how volcano’s work, animals, dolphins and whales. All of these other things in the same kind of approach that we use in this series.”
Where did the ’Real Wheels’ and ‘There Goes A …’ titles originate? ”The ‘Real Wheels,’ I believe, was generated by Warner Bros. who decided to label the whole brand that way. The way we came up with the ‘There Goes A …’ titles, is we were struggling with what to call these things and so one day we were discussing it on an outside patio of a restaurant in Los Angles and a fire truck drove by. And either some kid or one of us said ‘There goes a fire truck’ and as soon as it came out of our mouth we all just looked at each other and were like, ‘That’s it! That’s what we’ll call it!’ Because THAT’S what a kid say when he sees a police car, a fire truck and ambulance. And so that name kinda came spontaneously to us while we were sitting outside one day eating lunch.”
So, with 4 kids and 7 dogs and all your businesses, it must be one hectic home life these days?! How do you focus ”Actually, right now I have 13 dogs because one of them had puppies,” he laughs. ”But, we’ll be back down to seven again here shortly. I think yes, it seems like a lot, but the truth of the matter is that we’ve averaged about two or three episodes a year and so that leaves quite a bit of time for other things.”
How long does it take to shoot one of these episodes? ”We generally take about two weeks to shoot and then there’s about a month or two of editing here where I struggle through all the stuff. But, the most difficult part is getting the funny stuff to work and to get the timing just right and most of that does come in the editing process.”
Have your children had enough of seeing their dad on TV by now?! ”Well, I think so,” he laughs. ”But, they’re also getting older as the youngest one is ten right now. So, they enjoy it when somebody recognizes me when we go out. We can’t go anywhere without somebody coming up and wanting an autograph or something. So, I think they think there’s something special going on here, but they’re not sure why or what!”
Do you think that you’ll ever branch out into a different, older demographic and genre down the road? ”Well, I’ll tell you that the problem with that is in this day and age in the entertainment industry , and especially for a teen-type audience, you gotta include a certain amount of violence and sexual teasing and that type of thing! And because our products are so wholesome I think it would be very difficult for us to be able to move into that realm. Believe me, I’d love to because there’s a big market there, but doing these I’m not motivated by the money. I mean, we’ve done alright, but neither one of us is rich! A lot of people create these shows and Disney buys them and they walk away with millions of dollars in their pockets. And that’s just not the way this has happened, so we plug along and sometimes it’s a real struggle. Also, there’s never been any advertising of any kind. It’s all been strictly word of mouth where one parent tells another parent or one kid tells another kid or they check them out at the library.”
What are your hopes and dreams for your series? ”Well, I think because we are now going to be visible on PBS that I would love for the ‘Dave’ character to become a national icon! And if that happens because of a result of this show then that will put me in little bit more powerful position where maybe I can make some other things happen. You know, like I said, with the other type of shows that I’d like to do. But, if not, I’m happy with what we’ve done. I have kinda of an unusual philosophy about it. I always look at heroes of mine like John Wayne, Henry Fonda and Jimmy Stewart and even though they’re all gone they’re still here! You can just turn on your TV and see them anytime. So they have this kind of immortality and I think in a tiny, small way that’s the way I feel about these shows. They’re evergreen and will never go out of fashion. I would like to see a library of 150 or 200 of these episodes that stays beyond my time and that kids fifty years from now are still watching and enjoying. So, I suppose secretly, that’s kinda my way of wanting to be immortal.”
Finally, sum up what these titles should mean to all the kids that watch them ”Funny, educating and I basically want them to love what they do in life for a job.”
Interviewed By Russell A. Trunk
To win a brand new DVD of either 'Real Wheels: Mega Truck Adventures' or 'Real Wheels: There Goes A Rescue Hero', just answer this easy question: Dave Hood appears in every episode except: ’There Goes a Farm Truck,’ ‘There Goes a Tractor,’ ‘and There Goes a Dump Truck.’ So, WHO DOES appear as Host in these episodes?! (Clue: Check out their website!) Then, just send an e:mail to me with the subject title 'REAL WHEELS' and both the answer and which DVD title you would like to win in the text to: