articles and interviews archive


don entering room
orodreth: Woo!
fiveyearwinter: ::claps::
stevo: hiya don!
nofetusjesus: oh crap
joeibanez: gasp
doomedmonkey: OMG
don: hey
elgee: Welcome Don. :)
zach: yay!!
shandlanos: *bows down*
hbthingy: Yay!
nofetusjesus: he does not exist
zach: hi don!
shandlanos: welcome god-errr don
liam: ...
don: how is everyone
zach: good
shandlanos: quite well
elgee: God
shandlanos: et toi?
stevo: doing great, how about you?
thenorman: groovy
k~w~m: Heya Don, we're great!
hbthingy: great ^^
elgee: Good
don: i'm in a really good mood today
aleal: Quite well.
don: who wants to make out?
shandlanos: weeeell
zach: meeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee
aleal: Ahem.
doomedmonkey: I'm having a heart attack
fiveyearwinter: I would but I don't take sloppy seconds.
don: tim are we ready to rock?
hbthingy: Sorry but you'll have towait in-line after elgee lol
shandlanos: I am ;)
stevo: rock and roll!
shandlanos: rock me
tim: sure thing
shandlanos: er
shandlanos: I mean
shandlanos: <3
tim: shall we go mod?
don: ok
nofetusjesus: this is intense
elgee: Please
tim: here we go
fiveyearwinter: he can't hear you

*** The Chat Room is now MODERATED ***
don: cool
don: ok
don: ahem
don: i think tim will let the questions rip in just a second..
don: but before that some news
tim: Don did you want to say a few words before we start, or shall I bring on the questions?
don: the new film is called "the meaning of life"
don: picture is about 90% locked right now
don: it looks like the running time will be about 12 1/2 minutes
don: over the past 4 years i've shot about 45 minutes of material for it
don: embarrassing
don: but i think i can say without much hesitation that this could be the best short film i'll ever make
don: it's looking very strong and i'm getting really comfortable with it
don: right now we're working very hard to complete it in time for a january premiere
don: after that, it will be tour with the animation show year 2, which will open in february
don: (and will hit the traditional film festival circuit too)
don: animation show year 2 will probably premiere in the seattle/portland area
don: i'm not sure how much travel i'll do with the show but i'm eager to get out there
don: i just saw mike yesterday and we're very close to finalizing the program for year 2
don: can't confirm or deny what else will be in the show just yet
don: but incidentally i'd like to mention that we've scored artist tim biskup to the poster art this year
don: which i'm really excited about
don: you can see some of his artwork here i think:
don: would you like to see a few pictures from the new film?
don: rhetorical
don: tim let me know if these don't work, ha ha
don: here's another
don: and here's another..
don: i have a couple more in the back pocket but we'll share them a little later tonight in case there's a lull in my interrogation maybe
tim: the links don't appear to be working for anyone
don: oh my
tim: do they look like links on your chat screen?
don: sorry
don: i mistyped them
don: ok here we go again
don: it's not my fault
don: i am partially retarded
don: ok
don: tim i think we're ready for Q+A
tim: we are getting happy "wows" and such so I think those links are working
don: cool
tim: OK questions folks
don: did i forget to mention anything rob? i think that was most of it
tim: stevo says: wow, I have wanted to see what the star shots actually look like, very beautiful
don: thank you... i'm really really happy with the space shots...
tim: thenorman says: Can we expect another intro/interm/ending to go w/next year's TAS?
don: i think we'll have a disclaimer at the end of the film, "no computers were used in the photography or animation of this motion picture"
tim: liam says: Will the other 32.5 minutes of "The meaning of life" ever be released?
don: i think you can expect an intro and outro to the next show, but not by me.. i've got my hands full wrapping up MOL
tim: robert says: I think you got everything.
don: the other footage for MOL is failed experiments and many, many reshoots (most of it)... i think it comes to a 3:1 shooting ratio which is a bit unusual for animation
don: many of those reshoots is space things as i made up the "technology" as i went along, others lighting experiments and such
tim: monkeyforahead says: okay, I must know, does Meaning of Life have an un-obvious underlying moral and lots of randomness on the surface? or will it be almost serious?
tim: shandlanos says: Is the title a homage to monty python?
don: tim i think you unmoderated the room by accident
don: this place needs new carpeting
tim: woops
tim: no private chats please everyone
don: i'm not sure how much of a comedy the film will end up being..
don: thats a very good question
don: its definitely unlike anything we've done before
don: theres comedic moments but overall i'd say it's "serious", but not in the ugly sense of the word
tim: doomedmonkey says: What sort of pens do you use?
don: the title is a python coincidence although i feel lame about it. unfortunately there's really nothing else the film could realistically be titled
tim: nofetusjesus says: what inspired you to do the film?
don: and so i stuck with it
don: i use sharpies actually... not very professional.. MOL also has a bunch of pencil and paint and weird lighting elements
tim: shandlanos says: Does it rouch at all, directly or indirectly, on your religious beliefs?
don: religious beliefs? i don't think so. maybe philosophical beliefs?
don: i'm not sure where the film came from..
tim: broken says: Don, I just finished a 51 minute animated movie all by myself, any advice on where to go from here?
tim: liam says: What is the meaning of life?
don: a central scene was something i've wanted to animate for maybe 10 years and never had a place for it (also i did not think it would be possible to do without computers)
don: i eventually discovered i could do it without computers, albeit it would take 4 years
don: and quite a few brain cells
don: it was a very rough time
tim: the gaucho says: Im going to graduate in 8 months from UCSB film. How important do you feel the degree was to you (w/ the small-print theory and what not)? Did you take any grad school?
don: particularly the 2-3 year period in which you start to hate yourself for getting into this, as well as wondering if it's going to be any good anyway after so long
don: i didn't take any grad school.. honestly sometimes i feel i learned more about film from the theory and history courses than the production ones
tim: shandlanos says: Do you expect/hope for an academy award nomination for the new film?
tim: monkeyforahead says: is there any particular reason you wanted to do it without computers?
don: right now i just hope that it will completed on time and will be worth seeing
don: no particular reason, other than i like how film looks and it's how i learned
don: and i'm convinced there are many, many things you can capture on film that you simply cannot with a computer
tim: thenorman says: What do you do in your spare time---when not working nonstop on TAS, films, etc.?
don: i don't have much spare time but hopefully i will again soon... i'm looking forward to the travel and the tour...
tim: elgee says: What are your plans for the MOL-DVD? Will it be a single, like "Rejected", or does it go into the "Bitterfilms Collection DVD"?
don: OH YEAH
don: good question elgee
don: i forgot to mention something
tim: zach says: Don, how do you feel about people downloading your movies from KaZaA or Morpheus or other P2P programs?
don: bitter films volume 1
don: we're going to get started on that hopefully soon after MOL is in a theater near you
tim: aleal says: M. Hertzfeldt: How much of the exaggerated violence, as seen in Rejected, will be in Meaning of Life? May one presume it would serve a different purpose here?
don: the DVD could be completed as soon as, well maybe a year from right now
don: we'll keep you posted on that
don: ok
don: where was i
tim: mel allen sink says: can you explain why film is better than computer?
tim: doomedmonkey says: Do you think you ever want to draw a realistic movie?
don: i never thought of my other ones as "violent" but i guess when you think about it you have a point... altho i think "lily and jim" is rather peaceful and serene
tim: orodreth says: Do you think that aspiring animators should start with film or computers?
tim: stevo says: What kind of 35mm film do you shoot on?
don: i think aspiring animators need to start with whatever they can get their hands on... whether its videotape or super 8 or higher end stuff
don: getting experience and getting your work "moving" is the first step
tim: broken says: Don, will you ever attempt a feature-length animated film?
don: i shoot on kodak 5248
tim: nofetusjesus says: would you say that you learned more from experience or from being taught in classes?
don: i'd love to do a feature but i couldn't possibly do it solo. i animate on 2's and 1's without a crew, which means 12-24 drawings every second. i'd rather do other things in life first.. or get a studio behind it
tim: zach says: Is there anyone specific that has particularly inspired you?
don: i used to commute to LA for many feature meetings but got discouraged real quick with what they were after
don: i've learned more from experience for sure... on the other hand, i've never taken an animation class
don: which i sometimes regret
tim: garett strickla says: don, will we ever see bill again, or any of the other anesthetics material, for that matter?
don: i think i get more out of kubrick's films than anyone else's..
tim: shandlanos says: Would working through a studio infringe on your creativity?
don: there is a particular cut in MOL that rebecca and i worked on yesterday that hit me upside the head as particularly kubrickian..
don: but i'll leave it in
don: from what i've heard working with a studio would drive me to suicide
don: but you never know
don: i think the anesthetics comic is through... but i think you will see bill again
don: there is somebody at my door but i'm going to ignore it
tim: brachavich says: I read that you wanted to be an animator but thought you couldn't draw (I disagree) you help me to address my daughter who wants to be a choreogapher but wont take dance. Now I say "Just go for it!"
don: if you see me type gibberish in an attempt to hit the H-E-L-P keys please call the police
tim: broken says: Have you ever thought of collaberating on a film with someone like Bill Plympton?
tim: shandlanos says: What hapened to your plans for an Anesthetics book?
don: bill and i collaborated on a mini tour of our films called the don and bill show back in 2001... i also did a voice for his new feature..
don: i dont see much point in doing stuff with other artists like that, particularly ones so established... to each their own voice
don: and stuff
tim: hbthingy says: Will the fluffy thing make another appearance again in the coming years?
don: er, that is...
don: wow i'm really out of it today
don: that is, i don't see much point in collaborating beyond that
don: because a guy like bill has creativity to spare and doesnt need it
don: i think the fluffy things have come down with a blood disease and have died
tim: thenorman says: Will you be voting in this upcoming election?
don: i dont need to see those things again for a very long time... we are all quite sick of them here unfortunately
tim: ben says: I can't afford to produce film, but i'm interested in experimenting with animation. what type of camcorder did, or do, you use to get single frames on pencil tests?
don: ..if only i had the time i would have loved to do a new series of shorts for TAS with those things... in the first episode one of the fluffy things is coughing... in the 2nd he is losing tufts of puff... in the 3rd they are in hospital beds
don: it wouldnt be comedic or entertaining or anything... they would just slip away at the end of the show...
don: yes i will absolutely be voting. and so should all of you
don: otherwise we may have to relocate all of our offices to canada
tim: garett strickla says: don - i really enjoy the 'rrrrrr' page. i'd love to see you do something more with it as an idea - perhaps as a book or some such thing. have you given any thought to something like that?
don: ben - i would try to find a video recorder that has a "time lapse" or frame by frame function... these may be hard to find these days.. but i had one of those when i was 15 and thats how i taught myself movement
don: you need to find yourself a cheap and easy format like video tape to do your pencil tests on
don: i would also recommend something called a "video toaster", which i think mike used to use and would recommend, tho i have no experience with them myself
tim: aleal says: Speaking of voting, what's your view of filmmaking in general and animation in particular as a tool to present political ideas? Have you considered doing such a thing with your work?
don: (is that the right word, video toaster? i think so)
don: i like the rrrr page too.. one day it will be an entire screen of white text blotting out the background and things to click on for a lifetime
don: there was a time i was doing a book of stuff like that and drawings but it got put on the shelf sort of...
don: at the same time i figured what do i know about writing a book, why not adapt this into the next film somehow..
tim: zach says: do you ever fear your films will ever get too popular (I've seen more and more shirts of "my spoon is too big")
don: um
tim: broken says: I have a 51 minute animated film, any advice?
don: 51 minutes is a very strange running time for any film...
don: its not a feature and its not a short, its a limbo area that many filmmakers try to avoid
don: i would try to either make it longer or shorter somehow
don: backtracking a bit to a question i did not answer..
tim: mel allen sink says: what's you feelings about flash animation?
don: the meaning of life will be on the bitter films volume 1 DVD
don: it will not be released as another "single"
don: i don't know very much about flash animation
tim: joeibanez says: do you think film school is essential to the success of a filmmaker?
don: i'm a little wary of flash animation on television or (cringe) blown up for movie theaters, because that is not the format it was created for
tim: aneurysm says: Doyou ever get distracted with other things when trying to work on a film? If so, how do you get yourself back on track with production?
tim: george says: Are you more afraid of death or going bald?
don: i don't think film school is essential, no.. but education is never a bad thing. at the very least you might meet some very great people.
don: i am frequently distracted by invisible bats and miniature toads
tim: ghoest says: How many people work with you at biter films?
don: tim here mixes soundtracks with me. rebecca edits the films with me, and rob often does vocal work
tim: george says: Any concerns that high definition will force a change in the production tools you use?
don: thats pretty much the extent of it, save a few friends who help out with the website and assorted side things (not film production related)
don: would you like to see a couple more pictures from "the meaning of life" ?
don: again, rhetorical
don: i'll try not to type them wrong like a 3 year old again
don: ummm ok..
don: there you have it..
don: new technology like high definition so far has been only helping us..
tim: shandlanos says: Would you consider taking on an indetured servant?
don: rebecca and i are editing for the first time with final cut pro rather than on a flatbed, which allows us to cut the film without having to physically cut it... it has saved a lot of time and we can get the negative cut much quicker
tim: ghoest says: these look truly bizzare are you trying for a more experimental feel with MOL
don: i don't think digital technology is going to hurt film or force it into extinction... you are more likely to see an eventual happy hybridization of the two
tim: doomedmonkey says: Do people stop you on the street and say "Hey, you're Don Hertzfeldt"
don: no they usually say "hey you're johnny depp" and then i sign an autograph
tim: stevo says: Is there a reduction in picture quality when using computers to edit?
don: but soon i will be fat and bald
don: no the film is not effected at all by the editing process
tim: garett strickla says: do you think you'll still be making these shorts when you're 50? is there any desire to more on to bigger and/or better things?
don: the computer simply generates a cut list that we hand to the negative cutter.. the rest of the process like making the film prints, is identical for us as if we edited on film
tim: mel allen sink says: what are those things that you can do with film that you can't do with computers?
tim: zach says: what size (of paper) do you usually work on?
don: for one thing, i don't think any of the new film's space shots would look nearly as good as if they were done in a computer
don: granted it took me 10x as long to create them on film traditionally (with pinhole lights and diffusion and stuff), but there's something about real light hitting a real camera lens that i've never seen a computer able to simulate
don: ok tim i think we have time for a few more questions...?
don: i hope you all have been saving the real firepower
tim: liam says: how are you funded / how are you able to eat?
tim: broken says: What film festivals would you recommend a new animator?
don: so far, luckily, each film has been successful enough to finance the next and to buy me food. our online shop has also been a great help in the last 4 years to help fund everything
don: the trouble with this is, as soon as i make a film that tanks it will be extremely difficult to make another one... this is the way of the independent (spoken in spooky indian voice)
tim: aleal says: Regarding Animation Show Year 2, any probability that offbeat, older animation (like Ward Kimball's Mars stuff in Year 1) will be included?
don: i'd recommend any film festival for a new animator - any place anywhere that you can get your film seen is a blessing. exposure is very very important... enter your work everywhere without discrimination. and get started on the next film as soon as you can as well. it's important to create a body of work so that the film festival people will recognize you next year
tim: zach says: where do you stand on the subject of anime? good? bad? stupid?
don: i am chomping at the bit to get older titles in animation show 2.. so if we are not able to pull it off at least know that i really, really tried :)
tim: garett strickla says: do you get nervous about being pigeonholed as 'that guy who does the stick-figures'? have you ever considered expanding or altering your aesthetic?
don: i am a bit unlearned the ways of anime... i know a little bit but not as much as i'd like to.
tim: broken says: Any advice on how to get a distribution deal?
don: i think after the new film is out i won't be very easily pigeonholed as anything anymore..
don: and that is a happy thing
don: ok tim
tim: had enough?
don: yes please :)
don: i must get back to work here
don: thank you to everyone for being here and for being so patient
tim: everyone sends thanks
don: i feel as though a gigantic cloud made of rocks and bark is being lifted from my head

*** The Chat Room is now UN-MODERATED ***
bye bye don, its been a pleasure!
elgee: Bey Don!
hbthingy: Thanks for everything Don ^^
zach: bye don!
broken: peace outties
shandlanos: much <3
aneurysm: laterDon!
ben: ciao
k~w~m: See ya Don!
thenorman: Don, if you come back to TX, i will be happy to make out w/you
sean: later don
doomedmonkey: Bye don
bluevinyl: keep up the good work
monkeyforahead: break a leg on MoL!
liam: hello?
sean: your my HERO!
shandlanos: you are my favorite god :)
thy: thanks don!
don: and i hope to see you all next year on the road with the new film
broken: fo sho
zach: keep up the awesome work!!!
nofetusjesus: take care
shandlanos: definitely
shandlanos: come to Omaha!
doomedmonkey: You're the greatest person ever, thank you.
stevo: ohh you will
monkeyforahead: if I could afford to come to the US, I'd be there :\
elgee: Come to Sweden!
shandlanos: I won't make out with you but I know many underage girls who will!
don: cheers and love
thy: looking forward to your next resurfacing!
don: bye
don leaving room