6 Days to Air
|6 Days to Air: The Making of South Park|
|Also known as||6 Days to Air|
|Directed by||Arthur Bradford|
Frank C. Agnone II
|Theme music composer||Joe Wong|
|Country of origin||United States|
|Running time||42 minutes|
|Production company(s)||Comedy Partners|
|Distributor||Comedy Central Productions|
6 Days to Air: The Making of South Park is a 2011 television documentary film directed by Arthur Bradford that details the production process of the American adult animated sitcom South Park. The film follows the show's hectic, rushed six-day production schedule, in which a 22-minute episode is completed just hours before its original air date.
The film opens as South Park creators Trey Parker and Matt Stone leave New York City and the 2011 opening night of their Broadway production The Book of Mormon to return to Culver City, Los Angeles to begin the fifteenth season of South Park. The documentary chronicles the production of the season premiere, "HumancentiPad", beginning the Thursday prior to airing. Parker and Stone, alongside producers Anne Garefino, Vernon Chatman, Bill Hader, and Susan Arneson, toss out ideas for the episode. Parker mentions his frustration with downloading the latest version of iTunes, and being forced to comply with the software's long list of terms and conditions. The anecdote leads to ideas, with Parker instructing the storyboard team on how to stage a shot. The film covers various aspects of production, including voice acting, animation, lip sync, communication with standards and practices, character design, and editing.
By the next Tuesday, one day before airing, the staff is preparing for their ritual all-nighter, with Parker and Stone still involved in crafting the episode's plot, and the former still crafting its unfinished script. The episode is completed the following morning near 7am, with audio and picture lock lasting until the afternoon, after which supervising producer Frank C. Agnone II takes the master tape to a nearby uplink facility, where it is sent to Comedy Central in New York mere hours before it airs nationwide.
Bradford was friends with the duo for nearly 17 years prior, and they had worked together on the program How's Your News? Stone declined initially, as they disliked having cameras in the studio, among other reasons. Bradford became involved when they requested he film a documentary based on The Book of Mormon. That documentary "ended up not working out," and, combined with the fifteenth anniversary of South Park, "things kind of aligned at that point." Bradford was a fan of the show prior, and felt a license to ask harder questions behind the camera than he would with the duo personally.
The film received positive reviews. Ramsey Isler of IGN wrote that "the greatest success of this documentary is that it gives a personal look inside the bizarre professional lives of two of the entertainment industry's most successful creatives." Neil Genzlinger of The New York Times opined that "There are almost as many laughs in [the documentary] as there are in an actual episode of South Park." "You have to admire the intense work ethic driving the show's breakneck production cycle," said Harry Sawyers of Gizmodo. "The story of this single episode's genesis will resonate with anyone who has worked on a team accustomed to long hours and a relentless pace." Phil Dyess-Nugent of The A.V. Club was positive in his assessment of the special, noting, "As they stress out and cocoon in their offices and forget what combs are for, you realize how much they must love what they're doing, because nobody would do this just for the money, so long as they already had carfare back home."
The documentary was nominated for an Emmy Award in the Outstanding Nonfiction Special category.
- Charles Webb (October 10, 2011). "Documentarian Arthur Bradford on 6 Days to Air: The Making of South Park". MTV News. Retrieved May 3, 2014.
- Ramsey Isler (October 9, 2011). "Six Days to Air: The Making of South Park". IGN. Retrieved May 3, 2014.
- Neil Genzlinger (October 9, 2011). "Channel Surfing: 6 Days to Air: The Making of South Park". The New York Times. Retrieved May 3, 2014.
- Harry Sawyers (July 6, 2012). "The Making of South Park: 6 Days To Air Proves Crude Jokes Require Incredible Commitment". Gizmodo. Retrieved May 3, 2014.
- Phil Dyess-Nugent (October 10, 2011). "Six Days To Air: The Making Of South Park". The A.V. Club. Retrieved May 3, 2014.