Kat Aloshin and Spike Decker spoke with Solzy at the Movies about the recently released Animation Outlaws, which premiered at Slamdance in January.
Animation Outlaws was recently released on VOD. How excited are you about getting the documentary in front of a wider audience?
Kat Aloshin: Besides finishing the film, this moment has been the most thrilling. My goal was to have the audience see it on a theatre, on the big screen so that I could show up and toss out T-shirts and give out stickers and pins. I would even bring balloons. Now that it is available VOD, it is in exactly the right place so that we can get a lot of eyeballs on it.
Animation Outlaws screened at Slamdance in January. If you had known what the next few months would look like, would you have done anything differently in terms of the festival atmosphere?
Kat Aloshin: Slamdance was a hoot and Dan Mirvish, one of the founders is in the documentary shouting “ Sick” “ Twisted”. It was a perfect place to have a US screening. I feel fortunate that we snuck under the radar and were able to have a live audience. We also were interviewed by Leonard Maltin on Main Street, which we may not had a chance any other location.
How was the reception?
Kat Aloshin: I get people coming up to me afterwards, thanking me for showing the roots of the short animation world. Some were too young to experience the traveling show so they enjoyed experiencing the background of what a Spike & Mike Festival was like. I get teachers of animation saying this is a perfect animation history piece to show their students.
Kat, what made you interested in telling this particular story?
Kat Aloshin: I was working on animation titles at UCSD for my students projects and heard about Spike & Mike’s Festival.
I had a small interest in animation at that time. I was also working at the college radio station, KSDT, and Spike and his crew came through and caused mayhem. I instantly knew I could work with these guys. I joined the Spike & Mike circus in 1987 and was helping them on and off through my animation career. I worked with them and met so many artists through them so I was the best choice to make a doc about them.
How long was the initial cut and can you talk about narrowing the film down to its final run time?
Kat Aloshin: With so many years to cover, Erica Jordan, the editor, helped me place the footage in “chapters.” Each chapter uses a flyer from the Spike & Mike Festival to know that we are entering a new phase. If I interviewed Andrew Stanton for 45 minutes, I ended up using 5 minutes of him based on the questions I was asking. After each interview session, Erica would place his answers into the chapters they fit in. There wasn’t a point where we had an initial cut. It grew with each interview. We did have a part we cut out that was about the donation of the 35mm films to UCR and the Academy of Motion Pictures and Arts.
Spike, you’re still touring with the animation festival. In what ways has COVID-19 impacted your work as far as getting the films in front of an audience?
Spike Decker: Obviously, we’re in the same ballpark as everyone else. Can’t wait for things to reopen.
Spike, I know this is a very non-traditional year for film but when it comes to being selected for the animation festival, what are the big things that you tend to look for in a film?
Spike Decker: Humor. Story, a beginning, middle and an end. A finale. Character design. Diversity of techniques and countries represented.
How have things changed with so many filmmakers turning to YouTube and whatnot?
Spike Decker: I’d say two things. Number one: YouTube can never match the special event, cool lives shows that we do. The other one is: even though it’s a new tool for the computer to make films, and we see more films, there’s still a finite amount of great films that come about every year, and in my opinion, it’s still based on creativity.
What do you hope the future will be for Spike & Mike’s Twisted Animation Festival?
Spike Decker: Great question. We’re very much interested in exploring partnerships or possible acquisition as we have a huge library of content and great brands.