Saskatchewan farm boy living Hollywood dream wins Emmy

Bob Bowen, who has worked on animated TV series such as ‘Futurama’ and ‘Family Guy,’ has added an Emmy to his resume. Bob Bowen / Supplied

There’s a Saskatchewan farm boy with an Emmy sitting atop a shelf in his home office.

Bob Bowen was born in Rosetown and raised on a nearby family farm. Upon graduation from high school, he thought about becoming a newspaper cartoonist and practiced his drawing during lunch breaks while working for SaskPower.

“At 25, I decided it was time to make sort of a bigger change. I wanted to pursue it. I wanted to see if I could get paid to draw … And I discovered what’s called storyboarding, a big foundation of (television animation) business,” he said.

“The first animation job I had, it was on a show called Futurama … a little more than 20 years ago and I like that type of humour.

“I grew up with The Simpsons — love that show — and I knew it was a Matt Groening show. I was excited to get on something like that.”

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Over the course of his career, Bowen has gone on to direct television shows such as Family Guy and American Dad! as well as work alongside American actor/animator Seth MacFarlane.

“The jobs I took to after that — I’ve been lucky — were shows that I would watch if I wasn’t working on. So American Dad!, Family Guy, I was in that machine for about 12 years. I felt very lucky to be there. Shows that I really thought were great,” Bowen said.

“(MacFarlane) is a super talented guy, oh my god. His voice work table reads were a delight. You’re watching a guy changing from three characters on the fly and hit everything just so funny and so right.”

Click to play video: 'Bob Bowen on directing ‘Family Guy’ and working with Seth MacFarlane' Bob Bowen on directing ‘Family Guy’ and working with Seth MacFarlane
Bob Bowen on directing ‘Family Guy’ and working with Seth MacFarlane – Nov 3, 2021

During the 48th Daytime Emmy Awards in June, Bowen and his team won the Outstanding Writing for an Animated Program award with 2020’s Phineas and Ferb the Movie: Candace Against the Universe.

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“I think I’m still shaking my head a little bit … I was genuinely caught off guard when we were nominated and then I was more shocked when we won,” he said.

“It’s sort of the icing on the cake. The movie was fun to do, that we did, wrote. I directed the movie, spent a lot of time on it. It was about a three-year run and it was received well and Disney+ were really happy how it turned out … it’s a little surreal.”

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These days, like many in the animation community during the COVID-19 pandemic, Bowen is working from his home in Simi Valley, Calif.

“My goal is … trying to get a series going on my own,” he said.

“I recognize that I am very fortunate to have ended up doing something for a career that I would probably sit around and do on my own as a hobby … so it’s more of that than say like chasing an Oscar.”

The Saskatchewan Media Production Industry Association (SMPIA) said Bowen’s achievement serves as an example for future filmmakers in the province.

“SMPIA is delighted to hear that the longstanding hard work and talent exemplified by Bob Bowen in animation has been recognized by winning an Emmy,” SMPIA executive director Ken Alecxe said in a statement.

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“Having one of our own achieve their dreams that started on a (Saskatchewan) farm … represents an outstanding role model for others who want to follow in his footsteps in a career in animation and production.”

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While working in show business close to the Hollywood Sign, the 51-year-old said it’s easy to pick out the Saskatchewanians.

“I get excited when I see Saskatchewan (licence) plates cruising through Los Angeles. It doesn’t matter who they are. It’s not very common. I run into Canadians but Saskatchewanians, not generally,” Bowen said.

“I’m told that I’m far too polite as a Canadian. ‘Far too Canadian,’ I often get that.”

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