The Big Picture

  • Hazbin Hotel
    started as sketches in creator Vivienne Medrano’s middle school notebook before becoming a full television series.
  • Medrano’s love for deer inspired Alastor, the first character she designed for the series.
  • A24 took a chance on
    Hazbin Hotel
    , resulting in critically acclaimed episodes and chart topping success.

Hazbin Hotel might be one of Prime Video’s biggest series of the year, but did you know it started as an indie animated pilot on YouTube? Creator Vivienne Medrano recently sat down with Perri Nemiroff for an episode of Collider Ladies Night. During their conversation, she revealed how the show went from the earliest sketches from her middle school notebook to a two-year passion project and finally a full show on Prime Video.

The earliest character to be created for Hazbin Hotel was the Radio Demon, Alastor (Amir Talai). Medrano explained:

Alastor I’ve had since middle school
at the earliest iterations. Most of what he is now kind of came about in late high school through college, but he stayed pretty much the same throughout. It was more of just his design. He started out
a deer, just an animal, but he was evil. A cannibal deer
, and then it turned into a cannibal magical deer, and then it was like an evil demon deer. They became the shapeshifter into the human form who also was a deer. Finally, he ended up being a demon who just looks kind of like a deer and has deer aspects because of a backstory I gave him.”

This is fitting for the character as Medrano always adored this particular animal. “I connected with the movie Bambi because I grew up on the East Coast,” Medrano shared. “There’s a lot of deer. I’ve always loved deer and how they moved and just being around them. Seeing a movie where I was like, ‘That’s a cartoon deer. It looks different than a normal one, but it moves like the real one. You can do that? Whoa!’ It kind of blew my mind. I went, ‘Wait, I can combine my love of animals with my love of drawing and with cartoons.’ That’s how I led myself to specifically animation.”

Despite all the deer transitions, there was one part of Alastor that never changed. “He was always kind of this trickster, kind of edgy,” Medrano said. “What you’d think of when you think of a high schooler’s character. He was able to maintain that. That’s why it’s so special that he’s so beloved because he taps into that classic teenage girl, ‘This is the coolest character ever!’ I think he’s the most consistent.”

How ‘Hazbin Hotel’ Went From a YouTube Pilot to a Prime Video Hit

Edward Bosco in Hazbin Hotel
Image via YouTube

The earliest sketches in a middle school girl’s notebook would eventually become a fully realized series, but there was one key stepping stone in between — The Pilot. “[It] took about two and a half years to make that original 30-minute pilot, which is kind of crazy, actually,” Medrano explained. “I’m very proud of it. It was a huge labor of love.” How did the pilot grow into a full season though?

“During that time, my brain can’t ever stop and I feel like I’m kind of a creative shark — I just have to keep moving. With that, it was like, ‘Well, where does this story go? Where will Episode 2 lead? What will it be?’ I was already starting to think about that. Through that,
I actually came up with the whole overall story of the whole series
. I’m very, very excited because there’s a lot that can change. I know the twists, I know the middle, and I know the end, and I know, obviously, the beginning now.”

Season 1 of Hazbin Hotel grew from these humble beginnings. Medrano shared, “What’s cool about Season 1 is that is the story I wanted for Season 1. There are a couple of episodes that made it from those early stages. One of them was the first episode, “Overture,” [which was] the reintroduction. I knew I wanted it to be the introduction of Adam (Alex Brightman) and this season’s arc. Also, the side plot [of Vaggie] making the commercial. I knew I wanted that to be what the first episode was.” She went on to explain, “And the other one was “Masquerade,” which was the episode about Angel Dust (Blake Roman). I knew that one existed. So, those are the two that, as early on as making the pilot, I was like, ‘These two stories exist in Season 1.’”

The Power of A24

Image Credit: Prime Video, A24, and Bento Box

There was one more key factor that helped in the creation of Hazbin Hotel: A24. Medrano gushed about the production studio’s willingness to take a chance on her.

“[A24] came in with this amazing deal right off the bat that was putting me so much in control, and ownership. Based on their work, the things that they’ve produced,
they were so creator-friendly and willing to take risks
and things like that. I felt like if anyone was gonna take these risks with me, it would be them. The amount of faith and goodwill they put forward right off the bat without any negotiation was really amazing. I think that put a lot of trust there, and so I really appreciated them.”

And it was worth the risk — one of Hazbin‘s most critically acclaimed episodes was the aforementioned “Masquerade.” This unique episode sealed the deal with Medrano and A24. “There was content in “Masquerade” that hasn’t really been done that way in animation, really, before, at least in TV in the West,” Medrano pointed out. “Having [A24] not only support that but allow for it was really a big deal to me. While it is a very lighthearted, whimsical show for the most part, I want it to have those really visceral moments. That was really special. I’m really glad that they let that be in the show.” The gambit paid off as Hazbin Hotel has been a smash hit with both critics and topping Billboard charts.

Hazbin Hotel is available to stream on Prime Video. Check out the full interview with Medrano below:

Hazbin Hotel TV Show Poster

Hazbin Hotel

In an attempt to find a non-violent alternative for reducing Hell’s overpopulation, the daughter of Lucifer opens a rehabilitation hotel that offers a group of misfit demons a chance at redemption.

Release Date
October 28, 2019

Vivienne Medrano

Erika Henningsen , Christian Borle , Alex Brightman , Amir Talai

Watch on Prime Video

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