Feature: Don Hertzfeldt at the Wex

  • Photos courtesy of Don Hertzfeldt
By Columbus Alive
From the February 16, 2012 edition

Since 1995, animator Don Hertzfeldt has produced a singularly bizarre and inspired body of work. Drawing every frame by hand and crafting effects with low-fi techniques, the Oscar-nominated creator of shorts such as “Rejected” and “Billy’s Balloon” combines rudimentary figures with existential themes and a warped sense of humor.

On Wednesday, Hertzfeldt will visit the Wexner Center as part of a national tour to present his latest short, “It’s Such a Beautiful Day.” Created over two years, it completes a trilogy about a troubled protagonist that also includes “Everything Will Be OK” and “I Am So Proud of You.”

In an email interview, Hertzfeldt confirmed that the entire trilogy will screen at the Wex, in new 35mm prints, along with “a few other odds and ends.” He also shared his biggest filmmaking influences, and the challenge of traveling around the country to talk about oneself.

Do you have a favorite animator?

Most of my movie heroes are live-action guys: silent filmmakers, David Lynch, Kubrick, Monty Python. I love all the old Disney films and have always been way into effects animation, but I rarely watch very much animation. In a weird way, I’ve always felt like an awkward live-action filmmaker who happens to draw.

How would you describe “It’s Such a Beautiful Day,” and how does it fit with the previous two films in the trilogy?

I probably can’t describe it very well without accidentally ruining something. I’ve always been terrible at coming up with synopses for film festival catalogs.

You’ve mentioned in previous interviews that audience interaction is important to your process. How’s that been so far on this tour?

So far, so good, but I’m already getting sick to death of talking about myself. The audiences go a really long way to recharge my batteries, and I wish I could listen to them more than they have to sit and listen to me.

After working on a movie for so long, it’s really critical to get out there and actually see how it works — to sit in the dark and just listen. People make connections with things you never would have imagined. 

Anyway, I’m hoping to jettison a lot of the usual things I’ve been chatting about onstage and see if we can delve into something a little different up there for a while. Maybe from now on, it will be all gardening tips and pet care.