January FableFriday: Michael Fogarasi, Associate Producer


Johnny Cash said it best, “Travel, I've had my share, man. I've been everywhere.” And for FableVision’s Associate Producer Michael Fogarasi, it couldn’t be more true.

Michael white-water rafting in Bali with his family. 

“Growing up, my dad worked for the U.S. Embassy, which meant that we would typically spend two to four years in each country before moving on to our next posting” Michael says and explains that he’s lived in five countries. “Besides giving me an insatiable wanderlust, I think it’s made me a very adaptable and easygoing person.”

Michael's wanderlust eventually brought him to FableVision, where his love of a journey is channeled into his work.

“I love the entire process of production—how we can go from a concept on paper into a tangible finished product. It’s a great feeling to play or watch something that you and your team built from scratch.”

No matter the production challenges that can arrive on a day-to-day basis, Michael is always along for the ride with a good sense of humor and a laid-back state of mind.

This month we sat down and chatted with Michael about his background, the culinary adventures he goes on in his own kitchen, and some of his favorite FableVision projects.

Explain a bit about your job here. What’s a typical day in your shoes like?
I like to come in a little early and go over my project log, which is big document with notes for each of the projects I’m on. It’s a great refresher to go over everything that’ll need to be done that day.

Then, depending on what phase of a project we’re on, my typical day involves a lot of meetings with my teams or the client. We’ll typically do status updates, go over plans, and take a look at any problems or snags that will stand in our way.

If we’re in the later stages of a project, I’ll spend a good amount of time on QA. I’ll go through and test our games or websites to make sure that everything is working correctly. If not, then I’ll log bugs and make sure the developers know what’s wrong.

Then by the end of the day, I’ll fill in my project log, so it’s a cyclical process every day.

What is challenging about your job? What feels rewarding?
The biggest challenge is making sure that we’re meeting the needs of our clients. I find the Define and Design phase—where we hone in on concepts for our games or animations—to be the toughest, since we’re making decisions that’ll influence the rest of production. We have to make sure that both sides are on the exact same page or else we could face big problems down the road.

As a producer, a lot of things are rewarding—the first time you play or view a prototype, or hit a major deliverable. Obviously the end of the project is very satisfying, but when we end up with a great product that we are proud of and the client loves—that’s the best!   

What’s your journey to FableVision story?
When I was studying at Boston College, I was heavily involved with our student-run TV station. At that point, I was convinced I wanted to go into TV production, and so I bounced around with a couple internships at local access shows. But then my good friend (and former fellow Associate Producer), Katie Tusch started telling me about her job at FableVision Studios and I was intrigued. I started researching the company and the more I read, the more interested I became. And so when Katie told me there was an opening, I applied and one thing led to another!

You were the associate producer on Zoombinis – can you share a bit about that process?
Working on the remake of Zoombinis has been a definite highlight of my time here at FableVision. Though I hadn’t heard of Zoombinis before we started the project, I quickly fell in love with the game. As we started development, my role evolved into becoming an expert on the original game to make sure we were staying faithful to its signature quirks and whimsy. I got to spend countless hours playing the original game on an emulator learning the rules, strategies, and solutions to the puzzles. There is so much replay value that I never got bored—the toughest levels never get any easier!

The real-time feedback we got from Zoombinis fans via the Facebook page and Kickstarter campaign was another great aspect of the production process. David Libby [Director of Technology, TERC] posted our artwork and designs as they were being created and the fans would respond instantly. The comments and messages from both old and new fans were so nice to hear, especially when they loved certain changes we had made. It was really motivating to get that level of excitement on a project in progress.  

We’re working with long-time partner Classroom, Inc. on the third game in their award-winning literacy learning Read to Lead game series. What has it been like to work with them throughout the years?
It’s been awesome! The Classroom, Inc. team is incredibly talented, both creatively and organizationally, which makes our collaboration fun and hassle-free. Our collaborations have led to a couple of great games that incorporate rigorous assessments into really engaging storylines while keeping students interested. They also offer an in-depth look at the responsibilities and requirements of the featured jobs, which can help get students thinking about their future. I’m very much looking forward to our third game.  

You majored in film production, right? What do you love about film? How do you take that background and knowledge and work it into your work here?
Well, technically it was Film Studies, since the Jesuits would never let you get away without some history and analysis classes, but production was a big part of my studies. I was and continue to be most drawn to film editing—a passion and hobby that I’ve been doing since freshman year of high school.

I was really drawn to the freedom and influence you have as a film editor since you are in charge of piecing together the story. In certain genres, like documentaries, the editor can have the power to create the story itself. But at the end of the day, you still have to answer to the director and make sure that your work matches their thoughts. In a way, it’s pretty similar to my work here at FableVision. We create stories—in the form of websites, interactives, animation, and other media—and have to make sure that they match, enhance, or are in-line with our client’s vision.   

You’re a great cook! What got you into the kitchen in the first place and what makes you keep going back?
I’d say it’s a tie between not wanting to eat my own horrible food and the influence of great cooks in my family. Basically, I realized that if I wanted to eat something better than a sandwich, I was going to have to learn some cooking skills. From there, it quickly became one of my favorite hobbies and now I really look forward to both trying new recipes and perfecting old ones.

Tell us about the fantasy football league you play with. Do you consider yourself a competitive person?
Great news on that front—I won the championship this year! I play with a bunch of college friends and this year the commissioner went all out and bought a huge WWE-style title belt so I’ll be the first one to put it on!


More About Michael

Top three places on your list to live, besides Boston:

In no particular order:

Filbert and Ivy, the Fogarasi family dogs. 

Favorite food: Ribs
Early bird or night owl: Probably more of an early bird, but it really depends on the day
Favorite book: Harry Potter, what else?? Also, anything by Michael Crichton.
Sweet or savory: Savory
Football or baseball: Baseball to play, football to watch
Game to play with your dogs: Fetch with a squeaky rubber chicken—the only thing they won't destroy!

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