hi reddit, i'm back for round 3. the last time i was here was 2012. how are you? your hair looks different but i like it. 3 years is kind of a long time. here are some things i've been doing since then:

  • "it's such a beautiful day," my first feature film, is now playing on netflix and other places

  • in 2013 i made a meandering graphic novel that nobody has heard of called "the end of the world." i drew it entirely on post-it notes: http://www.bitterfilms.com/EOTW1.html

  • in 2014 i was a guest on "the simpsons" and created a two minute couch gag for their season premiere: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=m78gYyTrG7Y
    it features a squid homer that i still hope they make a plush doll out of.

and just a few days ago we released my new animated short "world of tomorrow" on-demand. it'll continue to play in theaters throughout the year, but as this was the first time i've animated anything digitally, after years of working on film, it made sense to extend the digital experiment to a digital release. it's a bit of a risk, i've traditionally funded everything else through theatrical tours and dvds, and most people will tell you there's no market for shorts online. but if we continue to believe that without ever trying to do anything to challenge it nothing will change, right?

you can find "world of tomorrow" here: https://vimeo.com/ondemand/worldoftomorrow

if you like this sort of thing, please support it. maybe tell a friend. as an independent, each movie pays for the next one. think of it as a revolutionary new twist on kickstarter, in which a project is actually created first and then sold <3

OK let's go!

proof: https://www.facebook.com/pages/don-hertzfeldt/57893981990

selfie: https://twitter.com/donhertzfeldt/status/584443371977973761

EDIT: thanks everyone for spending a bit of your saturday with me. it was oddly quiet today. i have to go but i hope it won't be another 3 years again before i'm back. see ya

EDIT: OK the questions keep coming and i am back for a little while longer what do you have

EDIT: ok i really gotta go this time ✨💫💫✨💫🌟✨ thanks again everyone and take care ♥️♥️♥️♥️♥️

Comments: 889 • Responses: 91  • Date: 

stevenxdavis242 karma

Hi, Don. We met one time. I'm sure you remember.

Most people who review your work or interview you tend to focus solely on your animation skill and technique without dicussing your abilities as a storyteller, but I feel like your movies have always impacted me more as narratives than visual exercises. Do you ever feel like viewers are missing the point when they focus solely on your technique? Honestly, it seems like no one can mention your name without saying that you work alone and (used to) use old-fashioned animation equipment. How can you keep answering those same questions without exploding?

You often mentioned in interviews that you've been fortunate enough to be able to support yourself financially throughout your 20-year career as an independent animator. Now that there is a vast ocean of independent animated short films online, most of which are free to watch, do you think that aspiring animators will be able to support themselves the way you have? What advice would you give them?

donhertzfeldt459 karma

for the survival of young short filmmakers and aspiring animators today, we really need to begin training people to pay for short films. theatrical tours and dvd sales and the old models that i relied on are not going to be realistic much longer for them (or even for me). i know everyone is used to the free youtube model but without a viable market for shorts online, it is really going to continue to hurt them. right now these artists are basically being taught that their work has no value.

for a young animator, their short film is seen as a silly "personal project" that should be dumped online for free... and if they're lucky it will attract an advertising gig to pay the bills. and maybe make one more "personal project" that they can do on the side again. it's not a good cycle.

i was on the sundance jury a couple of years ago and saw amazing short film after amazing short film. and many, if not most of them, are still not available online. these are wonderful films that are disappearing after a few festival screenings because many filmmakers aren't even bothering with the internet... "getting exposure" doesn't fund films.

when you pay to see a movie you are casting a vote. you are saying, hey please go make more of this sort of thing. it's strange to see people bemoan current releases in theaters but then see them go line up for them on opening weekend anyway. they seem to forget they have a choice. hollywood wants to make lots of money, they are not very complicated. if they can keep making lots of money from us by continually selling us junk, they have no motive to sell us anything else.

there's even more at stake in the independent world. when you pay to see an independent movie, you are casting a vote that says, hey i'd like you to actually have the chance to go make another one.

ImRichieDagger210 karma

Were you contacted to do your Simpsons couch gag, or did you try to get on the show? I love your work.

donhertzfeldt571 karma

you won't believe this but one of the directors actually wrote to me through facebook.. i guess they didn't know how else to reach me. they invited me to do a thing if i had any ideas... the process was very normal, please send us a synopsis for approval, then send us storyboards, then an animatic, etc... and i sent them a synopsis in a couple of paragraphs which probably made no sense whatsoever, but to their credit they were cool with it, and then i said, guys listen i don't really do storyboards and have never even made an animatic before, can i just plow through animating the thing and if you don't like something i can change it? i don't know what a storyboard would have even said.... "lisa-blob says, ARARARRRARRUUGHH" it is more about timing and energy than shot selection. i'm also not really at my best until i'm in the middle of something and playing around in it. i don't like to calculate too much. and they were cool about everything. it wasn't even supposed to be as long as it was but they gave it the extra time when it grew. i still haven't met any of them, oddly.

evacipated149 karma

Couple of questions:

  1. You've mentioned on Facebook that you'd talk about why World of Tomorrow is rent only. So: why is World of Tomorrow rent only?

  2. Does Antarctica follow a similar character design to that of It's Such a Beautiful Day and World of Tomorrow?

  3. Not a question, just a comment: It's Such a Beautiful Day is one of the few movies that my enjoyment of it has grown over the years. I think about it often, and I feel better for having seen it. Thank you for making it.

donhertzfeldt373 karma

  1. the movie was naively made by someone who gave no regard to how his complicated shots might actually look later on when compressed... and as a result it's now a bit of a compression nuisance. the movie plays perfect in theaters of course, but the DCP is about 11 gigs.

even when we push the limits of vimeo's maximum bitrate + filesize guidelines, the compressed video breaks up in a few spots where the screen is very busy (or where the background textures are really flying by).

so the short answer is: downloads aren't available because i just don't want to sell you something semi-permanent that isn't perfect. we're still working on it behind the scenes with vimeo's wizards so i don't know if it will turn out to be possible. i can export a great-looking quicktime of course but it's real oversized and just not easy to deliver (or to own). incidentally this is also a reason i can't imagine the film ever appearing on a standard def DVD... the resolution there just falls apart. this movie needs to be crispy.

on vimeo i have the nice ability to seamlessly replace the existing stream with improved ones over time... so when you're signed up to the 30 day rental, i can be upping the picture quality with better-compressed uploads along the way, which is great. or i can replace it all with artsy footage of relaxing underwater reefs. cool.

as a side effect, in a weird way i've actually kind of grown to like the limitation of the 30 day viewing period. think of it like a 30 day cinema ticket. it's long enough to rewatch a film and get more out of it, but it's short enough that you still know your time will eventually end and the film will be gone. it's nice and transient. it's kind of poetic. why do we need to "own" everything? what if after the end of the 30 days i deleted all of the master files and removed it from theaters and the film will forever only exist in our memories? isn't that kind of beautiful? ok i won't do that.

TorQuestionMan15 karma

Encode it in 10bit x264 and sell it directly from your website perhaps. It will get the size down while simultaneously maintaining quality.

donhertzfeldt36 karma

yeah... or bluray... i don't know yet. half the time everyone in the industry is just trying to figure out how people want to watch things. most people are saying stream, stream, stream... i think they find it kind of pesky to have to save a file.

nspacefire129 karma

How well is Vimeo on Demand working for you in distribution/sales of your latest movie? Are you happy with it? Would you recommend it for other filmmakers?

donhertzfeldt280 karma

vimeo gives the filmmakers a 90% share, which i think is unprecedented. they also seem to genuinely care about presentation. youtube gets more traffic than anybody, but they are sort of eating themselves alive with advertising.

donhertzfeldt128 karma

someone wrote about being at bonnaroo in 2013.... i got to see paul mccartney that year... and we were sort of stuck on these bleacher things surrounded by the stupidest people in the world. they wouldn't stop talking. and every now and then paul would start a new song and this stupid woman would say "omg i can't believe he wrote this one too?!!" it was like a perfect mix of heaven and hell.

A_Jewish_Milkman124 karma

Hey, Don. I'm a huge fan, ever since my friend showed me Rejected on YouTube, and I thought, "What the hell, who is this guy, and how can I see more of this?" I bought and watched World of Tomorrow and it's great!

I was just wondering, what films are your favorite, and what films/filmmakers have inspired you the most?


donhertzfeldt343 karma

you know, i've probably answered that question a million billion times before and i've been thinking about it lately and whenever a filmmaker is asked about inspirations, they usually list people like john cassavetes or something because they think it makes them sound more like a badass. and today i am going to say steven spielberg. i don't know why filmmakers never seem to want to list him. maybe it's considered uncool because he's so popular, but nobody else moves the camera like spielberg. i grew up watching everything he did, he is mozart to kubrick's beethoven. i remember when "saving private ryan" came out i went to the theater two days in a row, the second time just so i could study the technique.

RNGd_in_the_womb120 karma

hey don, i really love its such a beautiful day. it has impacted me in ways that i still don't fully understand. i really want to watch world of tomorrow but theres not an option to enable english subtitles on vimeo, and im deaf. any plans on adding english subtitles in future releases?

donhertzfeldt142 karma

sorry, still working on that. if you'd like to email the website in the meantime though we can send you a dialogue list EDIT: english captions are up now

BeTheVoid1111107 karma

At the Boston screening of ITS SUCH A BEAUTIFUL DAY, I had to pee incredibly bad and I thought another short would be inbetween I AM SO PROUD... and ITS SUCH A BEAUTIFUL DAY, so I ran to the back of the theater after I AM SO PROUD... only to look up and find myself face to face with YOU. My only response was saying "SHIT!" really loudly in your face before I kept running to the bathroom. I came back and found out that I missed 3 minutes of the new piece.

So I guess my question is, What's the deal man? You couldn't give a guy the heads up that the new one was about to start?

Nah I'm actually not that worried about it. but uhh umm i guess: What question do you hate answering about your films?

donhertzfeldt185 karma


no i don't really remember that

BeTheVoid111155 karma

i didnt expect you to remember that. but still next time be like "hey sit down the films about to start, dummy"

donhertzfeldt156 karma

i probably just assumed you were leaving because you hated it all

kijib67 karma

why haven't you sued the Pop Tarts people yet?

donhertzfeldt194 karma

everyone keeps asking me this. you know what would honestly be more effective? if you guys boycotted them. don't buy their garbage. consumers wield all the power in the world.

also did you know that pop tarts are made from compressed human ashes?

JohnDemme66 karma

Is there any hope of It's Such a Beautiful Day coming to Criterion?

donhertzfeldt123 karma

tell them you want it. i'll throw world of tomorrow on the blu ray too :)

CmonTakeTheStairs59 karma

What was David Lynch like when you met him? From what I've seen in interviews and press conferences, he seems like a very sweet and endearing man. What were the circumstances that led you to meeting him in the first place?

donhertzfeldt84 karma

sweet and endearing is right. and very, very funny.

burntfacedjake46 karma

I've read in past interviews that you don't/have a hard time reading fiction. What is it about fiction that doesn't do it for you?

donhertzfeldt114 karma

i just don't feel like i'm learning anything :(

burntfacedjake39 karma

Really? You don't think you can learn about humanness? What it's like walk around in another person's mind for a while? I'm just surprised since your films, at least in my opinion, are all about the human experience, little (or big) things that connect us all, and i think fiction does that well too.

donhertzfeldt83 karma

it's hard to explain

the_neverhood_45 karma

Would you ever consider making a claymation film?

Thank you for doing what you do. There's no words to explain what your work means to me and how in touch it is with the way the brain works. You're my go-to whenever someone says animation is only for children and they need to be proved wrong. Thank you, thank you, thank you (thank you).

donhertzfeldt74 karma

i did when i was 15, does that count? on VHS <3

Hootja39 karma

Hello Don. I noticed in an answer to another question that you said you are a very nostalgic person. The Japanese animator Hayao Miyazaki also says he is a nostalgic person and wrote about his thoughts on nostalgia in his book "Starting Point". He says nostalgia is a "yearning for lost possibilities":

“[nostalgia] is something all of us, regardless of age, actually experience…Human history exists in a continuum encompassing both the past and the future, but the moment someone is born into this present instant…he or she has already lost certain opportunities or possibilities, including the chance to be born in other ages…And this yearning for other, lost possibilities may also be a major motivator for those of us in the [animation] industry” (18).

Do his thoughts on nostalgia line up with yours? What do you think of this?

donhertzfeldt92 karma

i think for me it is often sort of this awareness of time passing (not good when you're an animator) + awareness of everything eventually coming to an end. which means if you're not careful you will feel like you are constantly saying goodbye to everything, instead of experiencing it

thedurutticolumn36 karma

hey don! first and foremost, thank you for doing what you do! i absolutely loved "world of tomorrow", and i don't think anything has ever moved me as much as the ending of "it's such a beautiful day".

two questions:

  1. how much of "world of tomorrow" was shaped by random things your niece said? one of my favourite things about the film was the way it was so spontaneous, and her role in it seemed to play a large part in that. like, the whole "i drew a triangle"; "i drew a snakeboy" bit was simply wonderful and i loved that.

  2. what music have you been listening to lately?

soo thanks for doing this, and all you do, and lots of love from portugal!

donhertzfeldt81 karma

  1. thanks! and quite a bit! i don't know why i was ever under the impression i could direct a four year old. she wouldn't even recite lines back to me. everything she says in the film is just her being herself while we hung out and talked about the world. i got an ipad app that i could record her with in a non-intrusive way. it was sort of like working with a half-crazed improvisational actor. rewriting the story a little to match her reactions and thoughts was really kind of fun. somehow i appreciated having those limitations... all you have is this brief set of recordings so find something in there that works, you have no other options. simon was the name of one of my mother's cats.... he walked by at one point and winona said, "simon!" and therefore that became the name of the monster. just little things like that. it also felt like it took a lot of pressure off me as a writer because i no longer had no come up with everything from scratch but had a little contributor to puzzle with

loldongs9532 karma

Don, I just wanted to say, I just finished watching The World of Tomorrow for the fourth time and I've probably seen It's Such a Beautiful Day too many times to still be considered sane.

I wanted to know, how to you touch on so many philosophical topics in the span of one film without it feeling cluttered? Do you have a method to your pacing or do you just write whatever you come up with?

Thanks a lot, your art blows my mind every time.

donhertzfeldt126 karma

i did an interview with the avclub the other day and i was really disappointed in myself because i've had this dopey head cold and i kept losing my train of thought. and i think he asked me a similar question about writing and pacing, and i started to try and describe my writing process by saying, "it's sort of like you're floating in an ocean.." and then i think i went off on some tangents and never returned to it and i probably sounded like a hippie. what i was trying to say is, it's like you're floating in an ocean, and you want to build a raft. so you just float there and you wait and wait. and eventually this little piece of something comes drifting by, maybe a memory, and you hang on to it, and then another little piece comes around, it is unrelated, maybe it's a funny sentence you overheard somewhere. and you keep collecting all these little things that just sort of drift by... a dream, a beautiful sentence in your head that just appeared while doing the dishes, an anecdote you stole from your old diary... and eventually you find connections between all the things and with all these parts you've gathered up you now have enough stuff to build a raft. and then once you have the raft you can remove all the bits that don't quite fit anymore, the spare parts that you didn't need after all, you toss them back or maybe save them for another raft later. when i write, there isn't a lot of active effort or swimming around, or calculation... for me that can be very poisonous to creativity. the big ideas won't happen right when you mentally stress on them... it is more a matter of being patient and being open to all the things that just drift in

operation_hennessey26 karma

Do you have any guilty pleasures?

donhertzfeldt87 karma

when i was a teenager in the bay area there was sort of only one radio station that played what was then-known as "alternative" music like morrissey and depeche mode and the rest, live 105, it is probably still a station but god knows what they play now, but anyway if you were a cool kid you would listen to that in high school. and they had this thing where you could send them a playlist, your "PICK SIX" - by FAX MACHINE - and maybe they would play it. so i did that once and then a few weeks later they sent me a box of promotional cds! they were all cds i would never have bought but it was cool. and one of them was this erasure cd. erasure was never really on our high-school-cool-music-radar but whatever. anyway i sort of forgot about it until recently somehow that dumb erasure cd wound up in my car and somehow now i am belting out erasure songs when i go to the grocery store at 2 in the morning.

operation_hennessey26 karma

Can you tell us something about yourself that we may find surprising?

donhertzfeldt125 karma

i am extremely nostalgic.... almost cripplingly nostalgic. not really even about my own past. that line in "world of tomorrow" i gave to emily, "you will feel a deep longing for something you cannot quite remember," i sort of feel that constantly.

Sheepgod25 karma

Don, you're a legend. I was a changed child after I saw Rejected for the first time in the 4th grade when it was released and the first volume of The Animation Show makes me lose my shorts every time I watch it.

What I would like to know about you is what is your daily routine like, if there is one at all?

donhertzfeldt114 karma

get up, feed cat, look at ipad, write to people, remove syringes from cabinet, do heroin for 4 hours, go to the post office, animate, more heroin, write a letter, eat a dinner, heroin, bed

JackMPrice24 karma

Hi Don,

I was curious if there were any leftover scenes or moments from World of Tomorrow (or It's Such a Beautiful Day) that were very dear to your heart, but you had to cut them for pacing reasons/etc? With animation in general and your own creative process, are deleted scenes even a thing?

Thanks again for all your amazing work. You're like the second coming of Kurt Vonnegut :)

donhertzfeldt38 karma

i had a really beautiful recording of my niece sitting in a garden, and she says, almost to herself, "what a lovely day outside." it doesn't sound like much, but the way she says it... anyway it's just a 2 second line and i always sort of wanted to animate a 2 second shot after the end credits, of emily sitting on a grassy hill in the sun or something and she says that. i thought maybe i would do it after sundance for later releases. but then the movie won all this praise and stuff and i thought ok maybe i shouldn't change a single thing now.

Skinnygold22 karma

What's your favorite science fiction film, Don? Thanks for doing this AMA!

donhertzfeldt67 karma

ohhh.. ummm.... the pressure... i don't know if i can name just one.... bladerunner, 2001, forbidden planet, the empire strikes back, close encounters of the 3rd kind... is eternal sunshine of the spotless mind considered science fiction?

mrderpaderps22 karma

When is Antarctica going into production? Is there anything holding it back?

Also, you mentioned writing something new on your journal. Is this for Antarctica or for a new short?

donhertzfeldt20 karma

the only thing holding it back is paperwork. i think it's going to take a long, long, time. i am going to continue to make shorts like "world of tomorrow" here at home just to keep myself from crawling up the walls. so there will be more shorts before there is another feature

granolafication22 karma

What are some of the thoughts you have while you animate? Thanks for participating in an AMA!

donhertzfeldt59 karma

"god i wish i wasn't animating right now"

Diecen22 karma

Hello Don. First of all I'd like to say that referencing Rejected with my friends is one of my fondest memories, thank you for that amazing film.

When I later rediscovered you I found your newer shorts to be more serious than the classics. When did you feel inspired to make the change from dark humor to facing existential dilemmas head on? Sorry I couldn't think of a more interesting question, I just couldn't pass up the asking you something.

Thanks for reading.

donhertzfeldt55 karma

i don't actually think there is that large of a gulf between dark humor and existential dilemmas?

inkdvenus19 karma

how often do you use the internet? do you spend more time actively broadcasting or passively observing?

there were a few lines in WORLD OF TOMORROW about technology, digital memories, and loneliness (getting lost in the outernet, downloading digital consciousness) that sat—has been sitting—with me for several days now.

donhertzfeldt74 karma

i am a frequent reddit lurker

CmonTakeTheStairs18 karma

I assume you've already got the financing in order for your next project, "Antarctica", but what are your thoughts on getting financing via crowd-funding? Kickstarter one day?

donhertzfeldt71 karma

i don't think there's anything wrong with kickstarter but i think it's frequently misused and fans taken for granted. i've seen animated shorts on there, with quite popular names attached to them, get kickstarted with budgets upwards of hundreds and hundreds of thousands of dollars... i think one of them was around half a million dollars. listen, in no universe should an independent animated short cost half a million dollars. if that is your budget, fire your producer because they are doing it wrong. i think kickstarter to some people means "free money".... and if you can get it funded anyway that's all well and good, look, people can spend their money on whatever they want.... but it worries me that some student animator will see these embarrassing inflated budgets and think, jesus christ! it costs half a million dollars to make an animated short? and then not even bother.

Freewheelin17 karma

Hi Don, It's Such A Beautiful Day changed my life, etc.

You've previously (in an interview at some point) said you've always considered yourself essentially a live-action filmmaker who happens to animate, and that your heroes are mostly live-action filmmakers. Why is it that you decided to take the animated route? Is it a route you'd recommend for aspiring writer-directors, regardless of their technical ability?

Also do you have plans to make something entirely live-action? Sorry if it's already common knowledge that you are/are not, I'm bad at keeping up with this kind of thing...Thanks!

donhertzfeldt32 karma

it's mainly a route i took because in film school, in the 90s, it was all 16mm and i couldn't afford to buy all the film stock necessary for live action :\ but if you animate your student projects, you only need to buy like one or two cans of film.

derpyco16 karma

Hey Don,

Just watched your film "It's Such A Beautiful Day" for my animation class. One of the best films I've ever seen. We also screened World of Tomorrow. I have a few questions if that's alright!

  1. Just how did you incorporate film in It's Such a Beautiful Day? What were some of the more obscure effects you used?
  2. For World of Tomorrow, what were some of your sci-fi influences? Any sci-fi works you're particularly fond of?

donhertzfeldt31 karma

  1. i love the futurism of the old 1930s world's fairs, the modern 50s design of sci-fi pulp magazines... the jet packs and the monorails. the "tomorrowland" disney DVD that comes in the silver tin is full of mind-blowing fantastic stuff from the old 50s disney tv show. we don't have a lot futurism now, or when we do it's all grim and post-apocalyptic, you know?

MoopleDoople16 karma

The End of the World was a wonderful read, your stumbling narrative style was really immersive, as with all your work I felt like a true observer, watching beautiful events unfold that I cannot quite comprehend.

What are your biggest influences? Especially in terms of writing structure and artistry.

donhertzfeldt23 karma

oh, thanks. it is kind of a frustrating read for me but i like the physicality of it. is that the right word? i didn't sleep much. i like the design of the book.

for that book the biggest influence had to be edward gorey. in fact it got to the point where i started to be afraid it was too much edward gorey. but usually when that happens i find it is best to just keep running in that direction rather than fight it and try to pretend it is something it's not.

britchesss15 karma

Do you have any certain types of music you listen to while you animate?

donhertzfeldt48 karma

i used to put the ipod on shuffle so i wouldn't have to worry about it but i think that actually makes me kind of flighty. for some reason when i put on an album it settles me down more and i don't want to get up and search for snacks every five minutes. lately i have sort of rediscovered spiritualized and it breaks my heart

Fillywhigs15 karma

Would you advise against getting really baked before watching world of tomorrow?

donhertzfeldt30 karma

nah go for it

Vivacious-Vixen15 karma

You probably won't see this. But, what do you think of the number 4?

donhertzfeldt57 karma

you mean like on a scale of 1 to 10?

therealchriswei13 karma

Hi! I love your films. I really love your new one; I've watched it a couple times and keep telling others to watch it, too.

Will there ever be a Blu Ray collection released? I know streaming media is the way of the future but some trogolodytes (like me) still really like collecting physical media, and I'd love someday to have a good Blu Ray release of some of your stuff, especially the "It's Such A Beautiful Day" film and the "World of Tomorrow" short.

donhertzfeldt21 karma

i would like to do a bluray but it's a repeating problem.... the more time i spend working on rereleasing or remastering the older stuff the less time i have for new stuff. and my energy is always flying towards the new stuff. so i don't know, i am always battling for more time

the-other-shoe13 karma

have you ever thought about taking a break from animation and doing a live action feature or short? Also, will you be taking World of Tomorrow on tour this year?

donhertzfeldt26 karma

no i'm not going to tour this time but "world of tomorrow" will be all over the place in theaters on its own. i would rather stay home and start something new and stare at the cat

burntfacedjake11 karma

What kind of cat do you have? Name?

donhertzfeldt40 karma

this is him https://twitter.com/donhertzfeldt/status/584477944707289088 his name is bucket. it's a long story

BeTheVoid111113 karma

What is the name of the software you used to animate WORLD OF TOMORROW?

donhertzfeldt32 karma

haha it's called "photoshop"

three programs were used for entire film: photoshop, final cut, and protools for sound

when getting started, all of the animation-centric software that was recommended to me to try, i couldn't stand them

irlcheologist12 karma

have you ever considered shifting your animation work from cinema into something like video games or interactive stuff?

donhertzfeldt45 karma

i would love to do a video game. yes. i even have ideas for one. but it is something i know absolutely nothing about. i love video games but i can't play them very often because in all honesty they are a time hole. and i think everyone would be upset with me if i said, sorry, there is no new film this year but look i am level 30 now and i've earned the purple helmet.

irlcheologist6 karma

maybe think of video games as basically interactive animation experience zones?

also maybe get in touch with David Oreilly?! i'd imagine if you two came into contact there would be a flash of light and cities would be leveled for miles, and out would emerge some sort of ungodly mutant spewing out eggs with critters resembling things found in those vending machines at pizza shops

donhertzfeldt18 karma

ive known david for years we send each other cat fotos

bodaciouscrustaceous12 karma

Hi, yes, I don't have a real question, I just wanted to say you are awesome. And I love your work :)

What did you have for breakfast this morning? And is that a usual breakfast for you?

donhertzfeldt24 karma

cereal.... usually two cereals mixed together, which is an art and science. and a banana. but the banana does not go into the cereal because come on.

KrissiKatastrophe12 karma

What has been your biggest inspiration? Who are your role models? Also, can you tell us something random about yourself that you bet we don't know?

donhertzfeldt31 karma

i murdered an old man in 1993

xanvians12 karma

Hey Don. Thanks for visiting! How you so awesome? Cheers!

donhertzfeldt26 karma



Hello Don! I'd first like to say that I am a big fan of your filmography throughout the years. I remember watching "It's Such a Beautiful Day" for the first time, and after I finished, I walked outside and it was a horribly rainy day. Yet I found a sense of beauty that had gone unnoticed by me until that day. That experience was and always will be one of the great cinematic landmarks in my life, and I thank you for that.

Now to a question: With World of Tomorrow, what was it about the relationship between Emily Prime and Emily that fascinated you?

donhertzfeldt24 karma

i loved the doom and gloom worldview of an adult contrasting with the sunshine of this little girl. it's amazing to see the world through my niece's eyes. when she was three, taking a walk would take forever because she'd stop every few moments and say, "look! a tree! look! a bird! look! grass!" and just be thrilled by it all. it reminded me of bill, and exactly the sort of thing you're saying. it's something i think we all wish we could get back to, seeing the world that way.

i also liked the idea of how, if we had the chance, we'd all advise our younger selves to do all of these things in life... we'd have so many things to tell them that all seem terribly important, but the younger self would probably not listen anyway.

Gristopher12 karma

Kirk or Picard?

donhertzfeldt20 karma


Madejyalook11 karma

I've seen various artists and creators debate on whether motivation and inspiration or discipline is more important in the creation process; e.g. if you don't have natural motivation your work will be of lower quality vs you can't rely on natural motivation and must schedule yourself to be artistic/create something regardless of whether you feel like it.

Do you fall on either side of this argument with your workflow or do you consider it a false dichotomy?

donhertzfeldt19 karma

i think you have to split this up into two different things. anything creative is going to take a ton of work.... like actual daily work, animating, or constantly practicing your guitar, or whatever it is. that's 95% of the job...the really boring busywork that you grind out. for the animator, it's telling a story one frame at a time. and that i often have to force myself to do because it's often so boring or lonely. i know a lot of animators get pleasure out of animating but for me it's sort of like connecting the dots.

the inspiration part of it all is the other 5%. and it is very important but if you don't do all of that other work, it doesn't matter how great your ideas are. this is also the part that can't really be forced. you can't force yourself to write or come up with ideas. it's something that comes naturally. if this is a thing a person has to always force and fight against and struggle with, that person probably is not really an artist. luckily, while you are grinding out the other miserable 95% of the job, it provides for a lot of time for those ideas to come drifting in.

dandroid303011 karma

Are you familiar with David O'Reilly's work?

donhertzfeldt43 karma

yes i love david he is oreilly great haha

ThatSomeGaming10 karma

Don, when you are directing a film, do you focus more on story or cinematography?

donhertzfeldt37 karma

story story story

ermonas10 karma

What do you think of your fans? Do we scare you sometimes? (I know this question is incredibly unoriginal, but I'm truly curious) (sorry if this has been asked before)

donhertzfeldt17 karma

i am probably only going to be scared if i find you in my backyard. no, wait... also the front yard.

TheTedH10 karma

Hey Don, I've been a big fan of your work for many years, and I have come to appreciate your work more and more ever since I saw you at a showing in Cleveland.

My question is: did you have much trouble going from all-analog to digital? What habits did you have to drop/adapt to the digital format?

donhertzfeldt30 karma

the first thing that struck me was how things that used to be really easy were suddenly very difficult, and things that used to be really difficult were suddenly very easy. the only thing that stayed the same was the actual act of hand-drawing the animation, though of course animating on the cintiq was incredibly speedy-fast compared to working on paper, which i really loved and took to quickly. it allowed for more precision too.

so the easy/difficult stuff you adapt to, it's just playing to strengths of different format, but that speed is what i really fell for. i didn't want to fuss over "world of tomorrow" and i storyboarded nothing. i think i even animated it in more or less chronological order. each day i'd pick up the script and say, ok they're in this cave today, what does that look like? design everything from scratch until i liked it, move on. it got to be where if i couldn't power through a shot every day i would start to get sad

MrX1610 karma

World of Tomorrow is great! I was curious if now that you've started working with computer animation do you think you'd go back to traditional animation at any point?

donhertzfeldt17 karma

thanks! and i don't know! i am not a very good advance planner. i am usually only operating with the next immediate thing or two in my head. i still have the two big 35mm cameras in my house, though i wonder how many more years film will actually be around to run through them. i'll just use whatever format best tells the story.... for "world of tomorrow" that was obviously digital

Tim_Teboner10 karma

What was your in speciation for the masterpiece that is "Wisdom Teeth"?

Edit: meant inspiration, autocorrect made that into in speciation.

donhertzfeldt21 karma

my what? my inspeciation? my inspeciation was a scruffy comic strip of the same name that i drew ages ago. i needed to animate something stupid and relax for a little while but when i started it i realized that the dialogue just wasn't as funny to hear as when you read it. i don't know, from the comic strip i was just used to reading those lines. so i invented a fake language for them to speak just as an excuse to have subtitles and make everyone read the lines. and i thought the weird fake language thing was kinda funny in itself. but so many people seemed to assume it's just a film from germany something. i don't know how you could think that's a real language but they do. and so they seem to miss out on over half of what i think is funny about it. so, i don't really know what happened there

Astronanas10 karma

Hey, Don. Big fan here (by height... but no, really, I like your stuff)

What is your favourite flavour of ice cream?

donhertzfeldt15 karma

rocky road

Liviathan10 karma

When you're bored, what are your doodles composed of?

donhertzfeldt44 karma

i am embarrassingly late to the party but i really like that drawsomething app


-albedo10 karma

Thanks for doing this!

I watched It's Such a Beautiful Day about a month ago and it was the most amazing film experience I have had in the last three years. It was so moving, funny, beautiful and sad and it navigated around this complex emotional landscape with such incredible ease. It was one of those overwhelming experiences where you can't really speak afterwards. Now I can't shut up about it and I recommend the film to everyone I know would appreciate this incredible peace of art.

What was the last film you saw that left you speechless?

donhertzfeldt24 karma

thank you.... and hmmm.... HMMMMM.... i think the last film that left me a bit speechless was the documentary "the look of silence"... which is the sequel to the also-speechless "the act of killing"

Aswad0010 karma

Hi Don Hertzfeldt. Do you have any good ghost stories?

donhertzfeldt30 karma

yep EDIT: actually no not really

Okichah9 karma

Im trying o make a grilled cheese but cant find the bread? Where did i put my bread?

donhertzfeldt33 karma

it's right where you left it

ejhdigdug9 karma

How long do you spend planning your films before making them or is that all the same for you? Do you show your progress to anyone for feedback?

donhertzfeldt13 karma

i don't like to plan very much or at all... my motors don't really start to fire until i'm in the middle of actively working on something. do motors fire?

ryanpatrickcrowley9 karma

Is reddit's logo character influenced by your work?

Did you intend to make the phone in World of Tomorrow to look like a man with a boner?

Were some of the little girls (Emily prime) lines in World of tomorrow improvised?

You're early work was rather blue (under the definition as bawdy).

You're current work is rather blue (under the definition as dejected).

What has inspired this change?

Will you're future work be rather blue (under the definition as azure)?

Mrwrighting5 karma

Haha I thought the same thing about the phone!

donhertzfeldt33 karma

what is it with you people

Xerodo8 karma

A few years ago I got to "It's Such a Beautiful Day" when it first came out. It was great. You were great too and the QA and you did was really low key and fun.

As a professional art-person what kind of advice do you have for someone currently trying to become a professional art person? I graduated in June and I've had a hard time trying to juggle making art and doing more productive things like making sure I can pay for food and stuff.

Was there a time where you had to deal with that? How did you get through it? I have so much stuff I'd like to get to and I hate coming home and just not feeling up to it.

donhertzfeldt29 karma

i am guessing you are young, well, assuming you are young, it is difficult... but you have to bear in mind that now, when you're young, is your primetime in life to be creative. it may sometimes seem like you have all the time in the world but it is a terrible illusion. before you know it you may be working a lousy job and you will be too tired to work on your creative thing, you may find yourself raising kids, paying for a mortgage, whatever it is... when you are young you have that little window of freedom and irreponsibility to explore and be in a band or write a book or make a film or whatever it is that interests you. and that time can slip away really really really fast and never, ever come back again. so my best advice is to really push yourself and not let it go. if it's really what you want you need to work harder than everyone else and not lose these years, not even a moment ♥️✨💫✨🌟

Dark_magician_girl8 karma

Hey! I'm a recent big fan!! I have a question I hope you can answer (I hope it's not too late!) I was wondering if you're generally a happy person? Would you say that you spent a lot of time depressed? Just curious because I love your work but it's always a comfortable mix of happy and sad for me. I hope this question isn't too personal! :)

donhertzfeldt17 karma

everyone is asking me if i am depressed. a really depressed person is not really functional. you can't make a movie if you're depressed. you can barely get out of bed. but thanks for the thought

CmonTakeTheStairs8 karma

You did the hour-long narration for "It's Such a Beautiful Day" yourself. From watching the Q&As and interviews you've done, I noticed that, compared to real life, you sound slightly different in that film. Were you going for any particular tone of voice/character or was that just accidental?

donhertzfeldt15 karma

haha.... i don't know if my tone was very different... but i hated doing the narration so maybe you are hearing my hate. i am trying to remember, i wasn't trying to do any character or sound different, i think really the main influence for the delivery was rod serling and ferris bueller. i wasn't trying to SOUND like them, it was just sort of something i had in my head when i approached the narration, or performance, or whatever you want to call it

Oatmeel8 karma

Don, would you put your brain into a robot body?

donhertzfeldt13 karma

what does it look like?

filmbuff1018 karma

Hey thanks for doing this! I am a student at NYU and wrote a paper on your film It's Such a Beautiful Day for my sound class. I was curious if you did all of your own sound design and how you go about creating those sounds?

donhertzfeldt22 karma

yeah, i think i've done all the sound design alone since.... errr.. "everything will be ok"... and before that i had a buddy who helped me out with the mixing part of it. and "world of tomorrow" was the first time i did a 5.1 remix for theaters solo... strut, strut.... the sounds are a mess of experiments... i don't know where to begin... but i know i like very realistic sound effects, i like to approach it like i'm mixing a live action movie. i hate, hate, hate cartoon sound effects. boioioioioinng.

MTB108 karma

what is your definition of art?

donhertzfeldt26 karma

anything artificial that is intended to produce an emotional reaction

Cybershell7 karma

Hey Don, love your work, sorry this is such a lame ass generic question but I asked it last time you did an AMA and I want to know if the answer is different: Which of your works is your favorite? Which is your least favorite?

donhertzfeldt12 karma

my least favorite are my student films because they are terrible but i do like the energy of them and how you can clearly see every single thing existing on the screen being a constant struggle

tinylobsta7 karma

Hi Don! Big fan, etc. While I love all your other work, It's Such A Beautiful Day really hit home with me and I wanted to thank you for creating a film with such an interesting narrative structure. You did an amazing job of embedding the subject matter into the actual medium, and the effect is beautiful.

Okay, to the question: how do you deal with the enormity of completing a project as a mostly solo endeavor? I'm a one-man-band kind of guy, and I've found that if I think about the scope of a large project, it can become overwhelming and I'll tend to avoid working on it. I've also found it can be an incredibly lonely experience.

Thanks for doing this AMA!

donhertzfeldt19 karma

one step at a time. it's a marathon, not a sprint. and yes, very very lonely

jeff_tweedy7 karma

Is the font that you use in World of Tomorrow Eveleth Thin Clean? If so, that is the font I use for all of my films, as well. Just thought that would be neat. If not, check it out. Great font.

donhertzfeldt10 karma

hmm no i can't remember the name. but font is important. you know what is the worst font? everyone says comic sans. but the correct answer is papyrus.

edude106 karma

Hi Don, will we see any more in terms of Bill and his progression or do you feel like his arc is over?

donhertzfeldt15 karma

i'm not sure if there is anything left in that story. i've been sort of curious about his father, his natural father, but that is all

test8226 karma

your 3 part film was a reeeeal motherfucker dude, like wow man wow, when he went and visited his dad and both of them were out of it and didn't know who the other was but just chilled, like wow dude jeez.

autobot will delete this if I don't put a question mark?

nah though man you were a real presence with me and all my friends growing up, we love your shit

donhertzfeldt9 karma

thanks 👍

rocketwrench6 karma

Hi Don! I met you and Don Hertzfeldt in San Francisco at The Animation Show! I asked you why Rejected got pulled last minute from Cartoon Network. In fact, I just found my autographed program from that night. Anyway, my question for you is; have you ever worked outside of animation? I see that you did a graphic novel, but have you ever thought of a live-action feature?

donhertzfeldt11 karma

you met both of us? in one night???

The_Moustachio6 karma

Hi Don. I feel like it can call you Don. I've watched World of Tomorrow every day since I rented it, and plan on continuing for my 30 day rental period. Should I expect any health or psychological effects from this adventure? Why do I still cry when Emily 3 takes the memory from Emily prime?

Also, what needs to happen in order for your shorts to get a Criterion Box Set release?

donhertzfeldt14 karma

i have had a little contact with some of the criterion people and they know i am up for it... they probably need to hear from all of you guys, en masse, to know that you are up for it. because they don't usually really "do" animation for whatever reason

mrmars4206 karma

Ever done psychedelics?

donhertzfeldt17 karma


Sosken5 karma

Hey Don! Huge fan here. I love "it's such a beautiful day," it really helped through a rough phase. My question is about Julia Pott. I also love her work and I was really happy to see you were working together. What do you think of her work? How was it like to work with her? Cheers and keep up the good work!

donhertzfeldt12 karma

julia is wonderful. i met her on a stage at sundance, we were both there with films years ago. we recorded her part in two easy days. she's very naturally funny, she has natural comic timing, she didn't need much direction. i think she "got" the character almost immediately. the only discussion i really had with her about her character was, "you are like mary poppins, but with part of your brain missing."

Draycos75 karma

Don, I'm a huge fan. ISABD is one of my favorite films of all time and I love World of Tomorrow. Thank you so much.

If you could give your past self one piece of advice, what would it be?

donhertzfeldt13 karma

oh... it would almost definitely be female related and i probably wouldnt have listened

suppishguy5 karma

what is your favorite comic or graphic novel?

donhertzfeldt15 karma

i like the independent stuff... anything without a superhero. i am happy to say gabrielle bell is my new penpal

NeverPunchALion5 karma

Hey Don,I'm currently in film school and was wondering when did you gain interest in film,has it always been a passion of yours?

donhertzfeldt8 karma

yes from as far back as i remember. the first movie i remember seeing in a theater was the empire strikes back. i was maybe 5? i don't know if i was much older than 4 or 5. but even then going to the movies was like a special, church-like thing. like i remember being annoyed and shooting other children my age dirty looks if they crawled around or talked during the movie. it was a big deal

mattb105 karma

why don't you capitalize often?

donhertzfeldt12 karma

it slows me down. the shift key feels unnatural

bobmillahhh4 karma

Hey Don! Thanks for coming here. I'm sure you've answered this a million times before, but I've always wondered, cause this video was watched in my freshman dorm building about a million times... How many hours of work would you say went into the final scene in "Rejected"?

donhertzfeldt11 karma

the final scene? actually a lot of that was maybe the easiest part of the movie. it's a bunch of stop motion paper stuff which you can just sort of do on the fly underneath the camera. it looked cool and i didn't have to draw it, double-win!

the_neverhood_3 karma

What's the best advice you were given (film-related or not) that didn't hit you until later?

donhertzfeldt3 karma

hmmm... one good piece of film advice was to not throw away the title. come up with a good title, it's a really valuable and underrated tool. a good title can really alter or affect the story and its interpretation. for instance "house of cards" is a pretty good title... it implies building up to something that's eventually going to come crashing down, right? if they just called it "underwood" or something, you know, boring, awful. so i guess i've hung on that piece of advice.
so many people in film school had the worst titles you've ever heard of... "the gray night"....."forgotten alternatives"...."carpets and tiles"

BeTheVoid11113 karma

What's your favorite Ingmar Bergman film?

donhertzfeldt6 karma

you know what? even though i am half swedish i have hardly seen any bergman. i saw "persona" a year or two ago. and then i read something about his "lighter comedy," "fanny & alexander" so i gave that a try. and as the bad guy was miserably burning to death, i wondered about swedish comedy. i liked the mummy thing though. i don't know. for some reason we saw none of this work in film school and we have never really crossed paths. i should make the effort.

imheretomeetmen3 karma

Don, the first time I ever saw your work was "Rejected" many years ago. My mom actually bought my brother and I the DVD for Christmas one year because we liked it so much.

I gotta ask. When you wrote that short, were all the pieces in place before you animated it? Each of the rejected segments stands on its own, but they flow so cohesively into one another. Did you conceptualize all of that or build it as you went?

donhertzfeldt9 karma

it was built as i went and then re-ordered a few times when editing. somehow there was some sort of logic to the order that needed to be just right

CmonTakeTheStairs3 karma

How much do you read criticism? I know you do to some degree because I've seen you comment on how the British media, for example, was especially kind towards "It's Such a Beautiful Day". Sight & Sound saying that your film surpassed, in some aspects, both Malick and Kubrick was an especially memorable hyperbole. How do you deal with stuff like that?

donhertzfeldt11 karma

i read reviews sometimes but i don't know if i read them because i'm vaguely curious or if i actually care. i'm probably mainly curious to see if the film communicates to a stranger like i think it was meant to. like you said, it is all hyperbole and is just somebody's opinion. you can probably find someone on the planet who thinks one of the "transformers" sequels is better than "citizen kane." none of this is an objective science, you know? it's sort of like winning, or not winning, awards. it's publicity. you can't take it personally. i've probably said this before... if you take the praise and awards personally, when it doesn't happen to you, you will turn into a horrible person. and when they do happen to you, you will turn into a horrible person.

OldschoolMcClassic3 karma

What is your favorite ice cream flavor?

donhertzfeldt8 karma

you are the 2nd person to ask me that today

StrangeSemiticLatin2 karma

Hey Don, what's more terrifying, chinchillas or bunnies?

donhertzfeldt3 karma

aren't chinchillias like bunnies? now i am thinking a chinchilla is a mexican dish. ok i just googled chinchillas. i prefer bunnies

dressinbrass2 karma

Do you miss Mathilda Dr in Goleta?

donhertzfeldt3 karma

haha no but i miss the ocean

bmoore21322 karma

I've used your "Ah, L'Amour" as an item for analysis in first-year college composition classes for over a decade. Thank you. It's a great piece that still makes me laugh as I go through the lesson, year by year. What are your thoughts on this piece from much earlier in your career?

donhertzfeldt4 karma

i kind of can't stand it. but i was only 18 or 19. as far as things in your life to be embarrassed about from age 18, i guess it's not that bad.