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Fantastic 5: Interview w/ WISDOM TEETH creator, Don Hertzfeldt

Few animated storytellers possess the brilliant vision of Don Hertzfeldt. Asburd, honest and always entertaining, Hertzfeldt offers stories that are equally heartbreaking and hilarious. His latest effort, WISDOM TEETH, showed Saturday and can be seen again Monday, Sept. 27th at the South Lamar Alamo Drafthouse.

Fantastic 5: Interview w/ WISDOM TEETH creator, Don Hertzfeldt

Few animated storytellers possess the brilliant vision of Don Hertzfeldt. Asburd, honest and always entertaining, Hertzfeldt offers stories that are equally heartbreaking and hilarious. His latest effort, WISDOM TEETH, showed Saturday and can be seen again Monday, Sept. 27th at the South Lamar Alamo Drafthouse.

Fantastic Fest: What was the inspiration for ‘Wisdom Teeth’ and why did you want it to play at Fantastic Fest?

Don Hertzfeldt: I went straight to work on I Am so Proud of You immediately after finishing Everything will Be Ok and I sort of just needed to blow off some steam and clear my head for a while before starting into the third chapter of that series.  Those are some really difficult shorts on a lot of levels and it would’ve been a long time for me to spend in that space. There’s so much going on. Wisdom Teeth on the other hand is just some sort of weird and stupid abomination that isn’t trying to do anything but make you laugh.  Actually, maybe it’s not even trying to do that.  I’m not entirely sure what it’s trying to do but it was a nice break to make something loud and silly again. I think I cobbled it together in about nine months last year, originally for this big studio thing that fell apart before I was finished…  and I was a bit afraid I’d wind up with this strange homeless cartoon on my hands, but luckily Showtime stepped in to pick it up and they’ll be premiering it in October. Teeth was never really meant to play the film festival circuit and I haven’t been sending it around very much…  but I wanted it to play Fantastic Fest because I only just moved to Austin and am desperate for attention.

FF: What is it about short filmmaking that piques your interest?

Well, there’s no pitching, no waiting,  no studio approval, no huge budgets to raise, and no deadlines. I can write a scene during the day and start drawing it that night.

FF: It’s a broad question but we want to ask given your unique and solid form of storytelling. In your eyes, what constitutes a good film?

DH: I guess honesty.  Not in the sense of telling the truth, but in basic emotional honesty.  Whether you’re trying to make someone laugh, or feel nostalgic, or freak them out… whatever you’re doing to connect with them emotionally you have to mean it.  Many, many, many films don’t really mean it.

FF: What project(s) are you working on and when can fans expect to see the third chapter of the “Everything will Be Ok” series? (I Am so Proud of You played at Fantastic Fest last year and won the short film award.)

DH: Chapter three should be in theaters sometime next year.  I’m over halfway done and now just have to be careful not to screw the whole thing up.  There’s a couple other things that I’ve been pushing back for many years that I’d like to get to after that.  One is a book that may never ever see the light of day and the other is a feature.

FF: You just moved to Austin. What brought about the change in scenery?

I’ve lived in California my whole life and just wanted to try something different. It’s not much more complicated than that. I think i was just getting a bit bored and lazy there.  Also, a lot of people in Austin owe me money.

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