Last night we went to experience an evening with animator Don Hertzfeldt. Most folks are aware of Hertzfeldt's work through his cult-classic cartoon, Rejected. If you have not seen this, see it stat. His cartoon style is basically stick figures with wavy, hand-drawn lines. A simple structure that incorporates incredibly well-done editing and sound design which is added to odd dialogue and twisted situations. This combo creates an experience that is very surreal. Don draws, shoots, edits, etc. etc. all his cartoons himself with a small staff of other key players. He even, in many cases, does the voice acting.
Last night's show presented a number of Hertzfeldt's movies. The show started with "The Meaning of Life" and then went right into "Rejected." I figured it would just be ho hum to see "Rejected" since I have seen it countless times at this point. But, I'll be damned if I wasn't giggling the moment I heard "My SPOON is too big!" and practically guffawing like a jackass by, "I am a BANANA!" The guffawing continued all through the short film. It really was awesome to see it on the big screen. After "Rejected" came "Billy's Balloon" and then "Everything will be ok" and, the latest film, "I am so proud of you." These latest two definitely show growth and maturity. They are much deeper movies, that, if not done in Hertzfeldt's easy style, would be really depressing and hard to digest. But, his odd drawing style and use of awkward long moments and strange events helped keep the films light.
Following the screenings, Hertzfeldt himself came out for a bit of Q&A. I knew he was about my age since "Billy's Balloon" was a school project and that came out in '98. But I was still shocked to see how young he was. But he has such a strong head on his shoulders and an incredible business sense. It was interesting to hear about his work process and his love for what he does and other odd tidbits he mentioned. I particularly loved the story of how proud he was of the vacuum sound effect in "Rejected" and how during the first ever screening of that movie, the crowd was laughing so hard that they missed it and he was mad that they missed it. I found that really endearing. Another bonus to the evening, Bill Plympton was in attendance. I'm not sure if the two are friends, but you could tell when Hertzfeldt pointed him out in the crowd that he still maintained a bit of starstruck giddyness about Plympton and even made mention to him being the Velvet Underground of animators... as in the animator that launched a thousand more. Check out Plympton's work also if you never have. His lastest, "Idiots and Angels" was awesome and I was lucky to catch it at Tribeca Film Fest this year.
The whole evening was very enjoyable. I particularly loved the "intermission." Picture THIS on the BIG screen.:
Don would likely be mad that I'm showing something that is on illegally on YouTube, so I'd like to add the message to check out his work and buy his dvds and products so that he can continue to make these AWESOME pieces of animation for all to see. Frank and I are already proud owners of "Rejected" on dvd as well as a t-shirt. But perhaps it's time for us to buy some more: