articles and interviews archive

February, March, and April 2001
Highlights and excerpts from assorted interviews

How do you respond to industry criticism towards the minimalism in your artwork? That simple drawings must equal a lack of craft?

if you think only the most well-trained technicians ought to be animating, you must also buy into the line of reasoning that guys like bob dylan or mick jagger have made nothing worth listening to because they don't have the technical pipes to sing like pavarotti. there are millions of musicians in the world who were much more skilled guitarists and singers than john lennon.. but it would be stupid to suggest that we shouldn't listen to john lennon because he's not as technically accomplished as a session player. it's the songs. technical chops won't get you very far if you have nothing to say

i'm very attracted to drawings by people who had no formal training, especially children. if you ask a five year old to draw you a picture of a bicycle, he's going to do his best to draw you the best interpretation of a bicycle he can, a really fascinating contraption. if you ask a trained artist to draw you a bicycle, he'll just whip you up a perfect bicycle. there's a billion technicians who can draw perfect bicycles. they're a dime a dozen. but their bicycles are just nouns. all that drawing tells me is, "bicycle". there's layers of psychology going on in the child's drawing, there's more frustrated effort in it and more imagination in trying to make it come out looking right. my point is, when you see the kid's drawing it's already giving you context and a story before the story even begins. it's not just a noun. flaws are always more interesting to me than gloss. i've said it many times before that even if i could draw like a disney animator, i'd still just draw stick figures. they're crucial to the stories i'm telling.

Animation World Network chat
I was wondering if you could share with me your comments on what an Oscar nomination brought to you. A lot of interviews? New offers?

until the nominee's luncheon yesterday, i really hadn't been able to enjoy the nomination circus yet. since the news it's been nothing but a string of interviews, phone calls, engagements, meetings, radio shows, etc... i was losing my voice towards the end of february, couldn't handle my e-mails, and still have to screen all my calls. i guess all that unpreparedness illustrates what a surprise our nomination was. i'm just glad the website hasn't crashed (yet)... the luncheon was lots of fun, it was the first time things finally began to sink in and i was able to relax. i met some really amazing people... looking at the faces around the room was humbling. despite being probably the poorest fellow in the room, i felt really welcome and everyone was really sweet. they even knew our movie pretty well.

Emily Hayes,
Which film festival provides the best venue for showcasing animated films?

any film festival that provides a captive audience for any filmmaker is a blessing. there's so many medias and outlets and distractions buzzing around people nowadays, it's become a mess of content... it's become easier and easier for just anyone to make their own movies, but it's become more difficult to find audiences to put in front of them because of that glut of content. which makes it a lot harder for people to discover the gems within all the junk. it's why the internet's become so popular for shorts, but it's sadly the worst possible medium to watch something.

Santa Maria Times, CA
What were some of your influences growing up?

i watched movies relentlessly growing up, and was largely fascinated by visual effects. my family used to make outings to animation festivals in san francisco every year, so credit my parents for that. i ended up seeing all the classic indie cartoons throughout my teenage years. but animation production for me sort of just happened by default. i've been drawing and writing all my life, and animating my stories was always cheaper to do and looked more interesting than low budget live action.

You are teaching for UCSB?

yes, just one time over the summer [2001] i'm teaching something on animated short cinema. not a production class, but a dissection of how some short films "work"... i'm still in the process of putting it together and i hope it's as interesting as it sounds... this is my very first attempt at anything like this, so i hope the students are gentle

Was Ah, L'Amour your breakout piece, or did you have successes prior to it?

i did a bunch of cartoons on videotape through high school, sort of teaching myself as i went along. i was always "the guy with the cartoons", and teachers let me show them to the classes on days when there was time to kill. i think a couple of the videos won awards but they more valuable as a learning experience. when i got to UCSB in 1994 nobody was using the 16mm animation camera so i made l'amour right away in my freshman year.

SBCC Channels, CA
Is animation the only realm of cinema you wish to conquer, or would you like to someday experiment with the regular Hollywood stuff? Do you think your ideas could translate to feature length films? Do you see yourself as a potential Tim Burton, or do you believe in animation to the death?

no, it really all depends on whichever medium best serves the story i have to tell.

State Press Magazine, Arizona State University
It's obvious where you got the idea for Ah, L'Amour, every guy has dealt with that, and that is why that short is so great - - but where did you get the idea for Billy's Balloon?

always hard to remember.. the concepts for them usually grow on their own from random starting points or dreams or basic images and then kinda evolve into something completely different and unexpected. i almost never write a script and rarely have an ending or third act completed in my head before starting. it's all logged in my head or on notes or in sketches and i sort of just animate "straight through", improvising and plotting out as i go. jokes and concepts get very, very stale if you have them planned too far in advance.. a short can take over a year to complete so by production's end i'd end up hating them. the other way around, i can always improvise and keep things fresh. rejected is an overblown extension of that, where very little was planned from the get-go and we sort of let it all run wild. none of the humor in the film would have "worked" on paper, it's all a result of animating on the run, clever editing, midnight sound mixes, and improvisation.

MAY 2001
Excerpts from an interview with Animation World Network:

AWN:So many indies are so caught up in their 'I am an artist' belief that they sit on their ass and wait for someone to come knocking at their door...

DON: yeah... it can be even more dangerous when an indie finally makes his first hit, and then does nothing more than rehash the damn thing for the rest of his life on tv or in endless little sequels. it's sad but it seems that lots of young artists now just have the singular goal of coming up with a golden goose. i've had so many opportunies to cash in and sign off, the billy's balloon show or whatever... but it just goes against everything i've learned... yeah the money would be incredible, but if i was just interested in money i guess i would have gone to business school or something

...did you study formally?

[my university was] one of the top schools in the country for film theory, history, analysis, international studies, that sort of thing, but with poor equipment not meant for more than some basic experience. so nobody was using the animation camera, and it was more or less all mine for four years and i made four films. but i never formally studied animation, it was all live action at school. and it took me a long time to realize what an odd animal that makes me in the animation industry... sort of like a live action director who just happens to animate. i was telling animation students how it's important not to invest all their money and energy into solely the animation in their films, and the cartoon professionals there stared at me like i was speaking in tongues and tearing up bibles.

Does it matter to you as an animator if the 'big' animation festivals (Annecy, Ottawa, Hiroshima, Stuttgart) may not be as receptive to your work as other festivals?

well, film's a medium for the masses, it's commodity art. the reason you make a film is for people to see it. like music, it literally does not exist unless somebody is engaging it. so i've always been bothered by the hipsters who only bother to submit their films to the largest, 'most important' festivals in the land. it's a really arrogant attitude. their goal isn't to share their film with people, they just want to sell it and cash in as quickly as they can. i really believe that any captive audience, anywhere, is a blessing. especially in this era of filmmaking when any doofus can pick up a camera and make a movie, we're living with a glut of media content buzzing around our heads - - it's easier than ever to make movies, yet harder than ever to conjure up audiences for all of them. so i don't discriminate at all when i submit to festivals, and we're just as likely to play cannes as we are to play toledo. there's too many art elitists in the world. some of the best audiences in the world are in the smaller towns.

and it doesn't bother me either that we may play more traditional film festivals than animation festivals. there's simply more traditional fests in the world to screen with in the first place... all our films have played annecy, but there's not many other annecies out there to go around. i guess maybe i'm not an animator at heart and any venue is a venue to me. and hoestly my background is in regular film, so an "annecy" doesn't really stir my blood as much as a "sundance" does.

JUNE 2001

DH: How was your trip [to Cannes], Jeremy?
JP: My trip was fantastic. I was saddened that your film wasn't there this time.
DH: I was saddened too.
JP: Why wasn't your movie there?
DH: Well, they stress premieres and our film wasn't exactly a premiere back then.
JP: Yeah the French are an interesting people.
DH: How was the heroin in France?
JP: It was pure!
DH: ha ha

JP: So let's get to the questions that all the ladies wanna hear. Boxers or briefs?
DH: (hesitates) Boxers.
JP: You hesitated! Do you wear briefs when no one's watching?
DH: No I was just stammering. I was thrown by the personal nature of the question. No, I can't wear briefs. Not comfortable.
JP: Especially at the animation table.
DH: Yes. Gotta be swishy.

JP: So you got to be on TV for the Oscars. You had that one little moment where your face was shown. What were you thinking? You had the guy [the winner] walking past you.
DH: Well, you're relieved you don't have to go up and talk in front of a billion people. So I got up and patted him on the back.
JP: Did he know who you were?
DH: Oh yeah, yeah. He looked terrified though. It's probably why his speech was so short, he was petrified.
JP: Yeah, but he did win the TV.
DH: Yeah, but he gave it away.
JP: Do you think you would have won the TV?
DH: I already have a TV.
JP: What would you have done with the TV?
DH: Well, the problem with him giving away the TV is that it makes it a lot harder to hate him for winning. He gave it away to charity. He's a nice guy.

JP: Are you doing any animation right now?
DH: The new short's gonna be out next year, probably. Did you meet Nicole Kidman [at Cannes]?
JP: No, but she walked past. But I did meet some cool people like Terry Gilliam.
DH: Really, what was that like?
JP: I met him at the Film Four party. He was drunk but nice. He was interesting. France was fun.

JP: So you got this award tonight. You got the very first award for being an Inspirational UCSB Alumni.
DH: I plan on sweeping. I'm gonna get it next time too.
JP: How do you feel about getting the first award for this?
DH: I feel a bit sparkly. Oh, what's the word. Swarthy. No. I feel new. I feel like a wet babe blinking in the morning sunlight.
JP: Do you feel like going home and doing some drawing?
DH: No I need to go do some drinking. I am actually starving though. Did I tell you I'm doped up on antibiotics right now?
JP: Yeah I think we all are.

JUNE 2001
SILLY QUESTIONS INTERVIEW with BOB LULL, Flippersmack-Culturemag

Let's start with an important question: Boxers or Briefs?

boxers. although i have been told that boxer-briefs are something to try

What's your take on the whole 'Napster' thing?

i was really big on napster and discovered all sorts of wonderful new and rare music on the internet. most of it was stuff i didn't have the option to buy anywhere anyway. i don't see how much different it is from radio, really.

from what i understand, artists make relatively little from album sales, most of their income is from their record deals and from touring. so napster only threatened the corporations financially, and well, i'm all for that : )

but in a perfect world, the artists themselves would have each been able to make the call on whether or not they wanted their material on there, not their distributors. it sounds like many of the artists were keen on the thing before it was shut down, but didn't have any options.

Describe your perfect sandwich.

peanut butter, chunky. jelly, grape. toasted.
i can't cook.
: (

If you could bag any movie star, who would it be and why?

hmm, angelina jolie. do i really have to answer "why"?

If you could beat the snot out of any movie star, who would it be and why?

i'd love to throttle michael bay. although i guess he's not a movie star. it's not very fair to say though, because this answer will change every year to whomever may be directing the current soulless blundering insulting summer film.

Will there ever be any stick figure Ninjas in any of your cartoons? (If not, I'd like to request some.)

well maybe.
probably not.

Do you consider yourself a people person?

not really

Which are smarter, cats or dogs?


Ever done anything that makes you cringe when you think about it now, that you can reveal here? (This interview doesn't count.)

of course. but if i revealed it here it would just make me re-cringe.

In the event of a water landing, would you put your tray tables forward, put your seat-back forward, and use your seat cushion as a floatation device?

you know, there's actually no such thing as a "water landing". the little safety card in the seat pocket in front of you is kind of a head-scratcher because there's this happy diagram of a jetliner safely floating in the ocean. jets don't float. they sink like rocks, trapping everyone inside within seconds. that is, assuming the plane didn't break up into a million little bits upon hurtling into the sea. i don't like flying over water.

Do you play any Video Games? What's your favorite?

yes but not so much lately. we must have played the goldeneye game every day in college, shooting each other in the head. that's almost as perfect a video game as you can get

If you were a porno director, what name would you give to your movie?

obviously, this entirely depends on the age, ethnicity, and assorted genders and economic backgrounds of the characters.

And speaking of porn, if you were a pornstar, what would your screen name be?


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