An Evening with Don Hertzfeldt

Categories: Animation

You know Don Hertzfeldt. He's the genius animator behind Billy's Balloon, where the world's children are suddenly attacked by their helium-filled companions. More likely you've seen his Academy Award-nominated film Rejected, where his trademark stick figures act out a series of fictional advertisements for the Family Channel and birth the phrase "My spoon is too big."

Tonight, Hertzfeldt will be showing his most epic work, the Bill trilogy, in its entirety at the Alamo Drafthouse Mason Park, including the not yet released finale It's a Beautiful Day. The three films, each running around 20 minutes, chronicle the life and breakdown of a man named Bill as he ponders the meaning of his existence through the filter of an unnamed illness in a series of short vignettes that incorporate Hertzfeldt's stick figures with brilliant, innovative multimedia footage. The first film, Everything Will be OK, was the second Oscar nomination for Hertzfeldt, and though we've seen only pieces of the middle film, I Am So Proud of You, what we've seen continues Hertzfeldt's unbroken streak of surreal excellence.

It's a Beautiful Day is Hertzfeldt's longest and most ambitious work thus far, and was filmed using one of the last remaining 35mm animation cameras in existence. This screening at Alamo may be one of the few opportunities we'll have to experience the brand-new prints of the whole existential journey on the big screen, not to mention that Hertzfeldt himself will be on hand to answer audience questions.

In the meantime, we had some questions of our own for him. Note: Hertzfeldt's answers appear without editing as per his request.

Art Attack: You continue to add more and more techniques and tricks to your work, yet you always retain the same basic stick figure forms. What is it about the figures that makes them such perfect stand-ins for humanity?

Don Hertzfeldt: thanks... i don't really know... it's just the way i draw, more or less, and maybe it's easier to project yourself into something that's sort of minimal and flawed... i think imperfections are comforting, it's hard to empathize with something that's slick and chrome, you know? there's also so much going on in these movies, with music, special effects, editing, the narration all coming at you, they'd probably be really intolerable if bill was also some overly complicated photorealistic thing. you need to give the audience a bit of space somewhere. to be honest though, i don't spend a lot of time thinking about this sort of thing... there's very little calculating, each movie just sort of comes out clumsy and new as whatever it is, and i try not to analyze it too much as i knock it into shape. so when i get asked a question like this, i often sort of have to look back at the movies myself and figure out what i was doing.

Location Info


Alamo Drafthouse Cinema - Mason

531 S. Mason Road, Katy, TX

Category: Film

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Wow! How cool that you got to talk to Hertzfeldt. My wife and I are big fans! Thanks for this, Jef.

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