Jan 4th 2018 by donhertzfeldt • 16 Questions • 837 Points
I’m Ken Seeley and I’ve been involved professionally and personally in recovery since 1989. I’m honored to have the privilege to educate millions of people through the television show Intervention on AE since its 2nd season.
This season of Intervention premiering tonight, January 2nd at 9pm, is a special 8 part series. For the first time in series history, we follow interconnected stories of addicts and their families suffering at the hands of the national opioid crisis. Living in a cluster of communities within the affluent Atlanta suburbs known as the “Heroin Triangle,” the families chronicled highlight the desperate need for support and help during this national drug emergency. Each episode focuses on the journey of those plagued by their opioid addictions and their families who are left to pick up the pieces, as well as the city officials who are on the ground fighting as they attempt to intervene and save the lives of those affected while helping to heal the community. I’m joined by my fellow veteran interventionists Candy Finnigan and Donna Chavous. We’re partnering with interventionist and Georgia native, Heather Hayes, as well as new team member, Michael Gonzales. We’re attempting to help these victims of addiction as well as the community it’s impacting.
Watch this season’s trailer: https://youtu.be/cOabfikU2v8
Learn more about Intervention: http://www.aetv.com/shows/intervention
More about my expertise as an interventionist:
As an interventionist, I apply my experience to help transform the lives of those who suffer from the disease of addiction. I’ve changed the lives of thousands of people through my work performing interventions and working with families. I’m Certified Intervention Professional, Board Registered Interventionist Level II, Registered Addiction Specialist, and Certified Addiction Treatment Counselor. Today, I derive the greatest personal satisfaction from the hundreds of interventions I’ve conducted, organized, or facilitated through my private intervention service, Intervention 911. https://intervention911.com
First of all, thank you so much for doing this very timely AMA. I have a few questions:
*How do you anticipate this will all shake out in the end? It seems like the tide of public opinion has shifted (and is still shifting) in favor of legalized recreational marijuana. However, I've seen various arguments from both sides that make at least some degree of sense. One of the more solid arguments from the "anti-marijuana" camp is that "technically it was always federally illegal" because federal law never changed, just shifted to a more laissez faire policy.
*How will this affect medical marijuana? Moreso than recreational marijuana, MMJ seems to enjoy relatively broad support (even among conservatives). Do you think Sessions & Co. will try to avoid the potential PR nightmare of denying epileptic children, those in palliative care, and cancer patients their medications? Or do they simply not care at this point?
*What would the timeline be for a change like this? How long after the directive is given to crack down on marijuana would it actually take for the justice system to start shutting down dispensaries and making arrests? Is this likely (or even feasible) if the states (and their police forces) refuse to cooperate?
I think that's all for now. Thank you so much! <3
How effective are the interventions, and in your opinion does the presence of cameras and being shown on TV seem to help, hinder, or have no effect on the addict's willingness to work on breaking their addiction?
oh no, this is the highest voted question? i guess thanks for the thought. but look, depressed people usually can't get out of bed let alone animate something for years. i think i'm pretty happy. i think i have resting sad face. but yeah i am happy. i mean, i can make the films i want to make, whenever i want to, and i don't have to wear a tie most of the time
1) Our hope and goal is for Congress to take legislative action this year that establishes marijuana as a states' rights issue.
2) As of right now, the Justice Department is still restricted from interfering in medical marijuana laws at the state level. That has not changed as a result of today's announcement. We need Congress to renew that policy, so please call your Congressmen and Senators and urge them to protect state-level medical marijuana laws from federal interference.
3) That remains to be seen. In theory, federal prosecutors and agents could take immediate action against state-legal marijuana businesses.
80-90% of people involved in interventions go to rehab the day of, so pretty successful. It depends on how strong the family in order for the addict is to stay in treatment and stay sober after treatment.
I feel a bit awkward kind of debunking what you said there but as it’s a mental health issue it’s too important to let pass so for the benefit of anyone reading: not at all true that “depressed people usually can’t get out of bed let alone x”.
In fact that is one of the reasons men in particular fail to get help before attempting suicide - the stigma and perception around depression is that if you’re getting up and going to work and doing stuff then you aren’t depressed. When of course ANYONE with any sort of lifestyle can be depressed or suicidal, and it doesn’t show until they try to take their own life. There are olympic athletes with depression, police officers with depression, politicians and electricians and yep animators all getting up every day and living with depression.
If anyone is reading this and needs help, reach out to your nearest hospital or mental health charity (in the UK Samaritans are very good).
What effect will this have on the states that are currently considering legalizing in 2018? Will states like Vermont, where the legislature seems poised to act, slow down in response to this news? How will this affect marijuana on the 2018 ballot in Oklahoma, Michigan, and Utah?
Second, given Session's somewhat fraught relationship with the president, do you anticipate Trump will react negatively to his Attorney General's decision to move marijuana policy in the opposite direction of what Trump promised on the campaign trail (leave it up to the states)?
The Obama-appointed head of the DEA, Michele Leonhart, was an avid prohibitionist. her replacement Chuck Rosenberg was only moderatly or slightly better. Is it hopeless to wait for the executive branch and Congress? Should we continue the strategy of legalizing state by state, given that Jeff Sessions is just the latest evidence of a lack of federal progress?
How do you manage to present the effects of mental illness and emotions so well in your work? I've never known someone who was able to represent things like sensory overload and dissociation so well. It's amazing how relatable your characters are.
I just want to express my admiration and appreciation for what you and the MPP is doing.
I am an Army veteran, and painfully aware of the 23-a-day veteran suicide rate. I've been saved, and so have many of my brothers and sisters, by having access to nature.
How silly is this, that we're still debating the legitimacy of a plant? Anyway, I am doing what I can to help the fight, and have hand-held 4 of my fellow veterans in to getting their MM cards. NJ makes it overly obnoxious and not very approachable to do so, so someone who knows how helps. It's not much, but what else can a citizen do?
Thank you for you're doing, for what MAPS is doing with clinical trials of MDMA-assisted psychotherapy for PTSD, for all of these forward-thinkers that are helping to usher in a brighter tomorrow. With love and admiration, SGT L., US Army 2001-2007
Have you ever encountered any instances where someones finger became in part or totally severed?
What is your favorite line from the crowd of people all saying things in The Meaning of Life?
Why no merch? Im a consumer whore! I want t shirts! Even better: a holographic shirt of Emily Prime waving her arms back and forth, and stickers, and mugs, and an imessage app and and and lasers that shoot the world of tomorrow episode two directly into peoples brains!
How can individuals help to stop this from happening?
I'll just ask the obvious questions while I think of something better:
How's Antarctica going?
Do you have any plans in regards of future World of Tomorrow episodes? The 2nd one was incredible, somehow more poignant and even better developed than the first one. I read somewhere that you where planing on downplaying the Emily's in the future, is this still correct?
Will your organization continue to support efforts of legalizing medical cannabis in Missouri (New Approach Missouri ballot initiative) while all this craziness with Sessions is going on?
With the ease of online distribution, would you recommend a no-budget animator starting out try to enter some major festivals to kickstart their career?
Greetings from the Philippines! The Philippine' Government is on the move of reviewing the Bill which would legalize marijuana in the country. if you're given the chance to be heard by the government, what will you say/ how will you convince them to approve the bill?
What are your thoughts about online financial supports for artists like patreon or kickstarter?
What is different about the new season and What can we expect?
for independents you usually have to go with whatever works. if audiences and artists can find each other on those platforms and everyone's happy then that's great.
i've been a little curious if platforms like kickstarter are feeding into something more interesting about an audience's psychology. i kickstarted a blu-ray, mainly to gauge if there was enough interest in releasing one in the first place. i assumed most people were turning away from physical media and was proven to be super wrong... the kickstarter went incredibly well. but i am also convinced that if i had just went and made the blu-ray the traditional way and tried to sell it, we definitely would not have sold so many so fast. kickstarter seems to take that rush people get from ordering something online (is there a word for that?) and really amplify it.
The new season is really exciting. We’re going into a community and showing people that there is a solution in communities. We’re helping communities along with law enforcement, elected officials, and people that lost loved ones and working as a treatment team.
Hi Don! Thank you for all that you do. It's a real privilege getting to watch the work you share.
What's your favorite quote or scene that didn't make it into World of Tomorrow ep 2? Why did you cut it? Every line was so sharp and felt important. So watching made me realize that you probably had to do quite a bit of trimming, some of which didn't come easily (especially when you have the cutest voice actor around, Winona Mae!)
What’s the best way to talk to preteens and teens about this serious epidemic? I’m afraid they’re not too young at age 9 or 10 to start watching intervention and see how the disease affects not only the person but the family. Thoughts?
yes there were loads of things cut from WOT2. it is probably the most rewritten thing i've ever had to wrangle with because my sort-of cowriter was a five year old and in the beginning, none of the audio i was getting out of her was fitting. there's one sequence i began animating and abandoned early on, and there's loads of things i wrote and recorded julia saying that i ended up not needing... entire monologues.
i began writing WOT2 the summer "inside out" came out and when i heard about its premise i sort of panicked and refused to see it until i had finished writing because both things spend time in someone's head. i didn't want "inside out" to color or poison any of the ideas i was working on. i was also kind of concerned that "inside out" would come out first and if my thing was similar people would think i was doing a satire or something. luckily they're pretty different movies. but the following december i saw my niece again and recorded her some more to get try some supplementary material and she had seen "inside out" by then and wouldn't stop talking about it. so i did have audio of her talking about that movie... and for maybe five minutes i thought it would be kind of funny if emily prime just straight up says mid-film, "this is a lot like inside out". so anyway as difficult as her audio was to work with and write around, i would say my favorite bits that were cut were things winona said.
Teens are already effected and aware of the disease. The more information you can give them about the epidemic can educate them and hopefully help them not go down that road.
Don, what started your fascination with Airport carpet patterns? Love WoT and WoT II, favorite shorts of all time alongside La Jetée!
Do you think that public image of alcohol should change, the same way it changed for cigarettes over the years?
i have to travel a lot to different theaters and stuff around the country and i started to pay close attention to airport carpet patterns. it's kind of fascinating. sometimes you see little subliminal arrows in the designs or pointy aircraft, to inspire movement. i've always wondered if they are designed specifically for that one airport or if there is a big airport carpet catalog somewhere that the people maintaining the terminal have to thumb through and choose.
Yes, especially since so many people die from alcoholism every year. It needs to have that same type of awareness.
first of all, you're my hero, so there's that.
second, where do you see yourself in 5 years?
What do you think is #1 cause of people relapsing with addiction such as alkoholism?
I think it’s a hard disease to recover from so relapse is normal since there isn’t enough consequences in front of the addiction for the addict to stop long term. Families could really help by creating the rock bottom.
Why do you intervene on TV, and not just privately?
yep i just answered that elsewhere actually but yep. a resounding yep.
I’ve been doing Intervention since 1999 and I’ve been doing them privately for all of these years.
Hi Don, I'm a huge fan of your work. I was counting the days to finally watch Episode 2, and expectations were exceeded. I hope that in the future there will be an opportunity to watch a movie of yours on the big screen. I think we live in a good time of animation, with great series and movies, either on the big screen or in communities such as vimeo. Can you tell us what has excited you the most? I loved your movies choices for The Criterion Collection, I didn't know Koyaanisqatsi and blow my mind.
hello and thank you
i am usually real out of the loop but somewhat-recent animated shorts i've really liked lately...
"wednesday with goddard"
"i am alone and my head is on fire"
"pussy" by renata gasiorowska
anything by reka bucsi
"fox and the whale"
Hey, was your niece any more aware that you were recording her for WoT 2 than she was the first time around?
no i don't think she was. i've recorded her annually now between the ages of 4 and 8. there's a lot of audio in the bank. i think she's a little more aware now when the ipad is around that it's possibly recording, but she likes the films so she either forgets about it or is letting me think she does.
What's your favourite film of 2017?
Loved WOT2 btw, beautiful work!
i enjoyed "the killing of a sacred deer"
I went to see World Of Tomorrow Vol. 2 in NYC at the IFC center a few weeks ago, and I'm almost positive I saw you out on the street maybe a block or so from the theatre maybe an hour/hour and half before the show. The show itself was fantastic!! Seeing your films on the big screen, in an actual theater was beyond words! Thank you for taking the time to do another tour!
Afterwards, I REALLY had to use the restroom - sure enough it was located downstairs right by backstage entrance/exit was, and I ran into you again. I didn't want you to think I was some crazed fan, so I just said 'great show' while passing you in the hallway. Pretty sure that's the closest I'll come to meeting any of my personal heroes.
Anyway, I did want to ask you this though: Do you ever struggle with motivation or a lack of energy when making your films? If so, do you have any advice for self motivating and finding a way to keep pursuing a dream? How do you tell yourself to keep going when it's tough and impossible?
and thank you also for not asking me that in the restroom hallway
when things are seeming tough and impossible, try to identify what's so tough and impossible about it. that sounds pretty dumb and simple but very often we are too close to a project to actually see it. step away from it for a few days and look at it from another angle. maybe the drama needs to be a comedy. maybe it should take place 2000 years in the future. do whatever you need to do to make it exciting to work on again. writing is 99% rewriting. don't stop until it clicks again.
animating is terribly dull, at least for me, and it is the least spontaneous way to make a movie. you're grinding it out one frame at a time. finding ways to get that rare feeling of surprise and spontaneity in something that's made so slowly - whether it's my niece saying something unexpected, or suddenly rewriting something i'm already halfway done with - is really helpful for me to stay plugged in.
What do you do for a living? Does being an independent animator really gives you enough for a living?
it does! until people stop buying tickets or renting the titles i guess
they are kind of hard to watch, maybe like re-reading your old diary. not YOUR old diary, my old diary. your old diary is great. the old films are OK but i've noticed how none of my student films ever seem to go away. which is maybe a unique thing about animation, i don't know. but you never hear about a live action filmmaker's student films. like, never. even if they're real famous directors the student films are just sort of forgotten and maybe pushed to one side as a footnote. but for better or worse i can't seem to escape my student films. people still like to rank them and discuss them alongside the other ones. i guess maybe because they're all shorts? but it's funny... someone will ask a deep question about one of them maybe not realizing that i was 19 and barely knew how to make my hair look right let alone operate the camera
hi don, thank you for doing another ama. i have been following your work since the early 00s when i was in high school. in a lot of ways, your work has had a huge impact on my life. i have an "everything will be ok" tattoo. i really don't think that young me watching 'rejected' in poor quality in someone's basement would have believed that if i told her. thank you for continuing to create.
kinda in that vein, my question for you is what is something in your life that you would never have anticipated the effect it would have on you?
thanks again, even if you don't answer, and i hope you have a good day despite the head cold.
you know, more interesting to me than the big things having an effect, like deciding to go here for school or deciding to rent this apartment over that one, are the little things we rarely pay attention to. if i hadn't gone to the supermarket on this one day at this specific time, i wouldn't have run into this person who asked me to do this one thing, which is how i met this other person and X, Y, Z and your entire life has a new path. why did i need to go to the supermarket that day? what was it i needed? what parking space did i find to sync it perfectly for me to meet that one person? the flow of it all seems so tenuous and weirdly easy to screw up. which i guess is life. when i do screenings and a few hundred people show up i wonder what they all would have been doing that night instead, if i wasn't doing a show - and if any of their lives might be that much different now one way or another
world of tomorrow episode two is so beautiful in so many ways. thank you for making it.
there was so much depth in the visuals. everything was eye candy. can you walk us through how you went about creating the worlds and all of the layers involved? the "images of gardens in our heads" was stunning.
thanks! i touched on this briefly somewhere else around here, explaining a cloud tank we built and almost all the other effects came from practical or even live action sources because i'm just not that well versed in 3D animation and i had better results banging elements of shots together from all sorts of different sources rather than building something from the ground up. and from there they were heavily manipulated and composited until it formed something i liked. some shots are so heavy with intentional rendering glitches that i couldn't actually tell you how they were made... often the most interesting things couldn't be reproduced or reverse engineered which reminded me a lot of the weird optical effects and things i used to try on film for stuff like "it's such a beautiful day." sorry this is probably not very helpful since it was more or less "a little bit of everything". but i tried not to storyboard very much in favor of plowing through every shot fresh every day, which is how the first one was made. i tried not to fuss over details until i was able to look at things again from a distance.
Are you ok? After long cycles of work, what do you go to just get the fuck away from everything?
One thing that really interested me from your most recent AMA/your online journal is that you said (something along the lines of) you don't watch many animations, they just are the form that best suits the stories you want to tell in the way you want to tell them.
Do you or would you ever have a place online where you chronicle some of the art/movies/music/anything that have inspired you most? Would be very interested in that.
Also, since I mentioned the online journal, do you plan to sporadically keep that up or has twitter become your go to?
Thank you for making what you have made, It's Such A Beautiful Day just might be the single most important piece of artwork to me and I still can't quite believe how great WoT2 is.
i really truly have to train myself to get back to writing in my journal. twitter should not be anyone's go-to for anything. i just get so busy the journal gets washed out of my mind. but i can say without a doubt that the one thing i'm most proud of writing, ever, is that journal. it's just years of nonsense but it's the only catalog i have of every single production since the late 90s.
when you animate, the days and weeks go by in a very blurry fashion. you don't remember much, at least i don't. i think the brain only forms new memories when something unusual happens in your life. i couldn't tell you what happened at thanksgiving in 2009 because most thanksgivings are sort of the same. but i do remember the one thanksgiving when the toilet broke and everyone had to drive to the jack and the box to use the restroom. and when you're working on a weird project like this for a long time you settle into this sort of routine where not much unusual happens day to day and all of your time sort of smears together. that journal has been the only thing that helps me unsmear it and remember where all that time went
Don, what is the secret code in the front pages of your book The End of the World for?
it wouldn't be a secret code if that wasn't a secret, now would it?
i've never been a coffee drinker
even if you don't end up answering all of the questions I just want to say how much your work has meant to me. I must've watched world of tomorrow ep 1 at least 20 times in one week, not counting all of the times I (occasionally forcibly) sat people down to watch it, and I think about it's such a beautiful day and the end of the world a lot.
question: how did you accomplish some of the effects that you pulled off in WoT ep 2? there were some visuals, especially those trees, that just left my jaw on the floor. are you a wizard?
so i'd always wanted to make a cloud tank. i grew up in love with ILM and would buy a ticket to any movie that they did the special effects for. and i realized recently how much i miss cloud tanks. these days you have digital matte paintings and digital spaceships and a digital version of just about every other classic special effect - except for cloud tanks, which were always such a unique and incredibly surreal effect (see: "poltergeist," "close encounters" etc)
so anyway while i was working on WOT2 my girlfriend was working with terrence malick doing compositing on "voyage of time" and their crew were doing all sorts of amazing practical effects with planets and giant cloud/ink tanks and we were both sort of fired up enough to make a cloud tank of our own for WOT2. so we did: http://www.bitterfilms.com/cloudtank.jpeg
basically, it's half salt water and half fresh water and where those two divide in the tank is where interesting stuff happens and inks and things spread out.
so most of those big swirly backgrounds and skies in WOT2 are organic, coming from this cloud tank we experimented with... sometimes further messed around with by me digitally.
for anyone who caught the little theatrical tour i was just on, there was a surprise animated intro in the beginning... we dragged the cloud tank back out for that to create this purple nebula thing, along with a bunch of cool model planets.
so anyway 99% of the time the special effects are going to be practical like this or coming from some sort of organic background because honestly it's the only way i know how to do it... have really animated 3D.
Were there any major ideas that were scrapped for It's Such a Beautiful Day?
hmmmmmm not that i can remember, no. there were a few deleted scenes from the first two chapters, i think they can be found in the galleries of the "single" DVDs of those, but nothing real substantial. the last thing you want to do in animation is cut a finished scene because it all takes so much long to make.
i think there was only one deleted scene in all of the third chapter, it's very short, a dream about a strange creature on a beach. because it was cut from the movie before the narration and audio work began, when i put the scene on the "volume 2" DVD in 2012 as a bonus feature i dug up the original script for it and found myself narrating again for the first (and last) time since the movie was finished.
my internet speed doesn't really allow me to watch World of Tomorrow part 2 in one go when i rented it, it stops every minute or so even when i watch at 360p, so i was wondering if you're gonna put it for download at some point?
yes it will be available for download but i'm not sure when. it may be a few more weeks still. we need it to perform well enough before everyone steals it and torrents it. but seriously though don't watch it at 360p
Hi Don, I'm an absolutely massive fan of your work. I saw you at the LACMA for World of Tomorrow 2, I've got a signed Blu-ray of your collected work, and I actually have a tattoo of Bill on my arm. I'll go ahead and circumvent the paragraphs where I gush about how much your stuff means to me and get right to my questions.
What is your feedback process like? Do you have people who you go to regularly when you're writing or developing your projects?
The first World of Tomorrow felt much like your earlier work, stylistically speaking, but World of Tomorrow 2 seemed to utilize the digital animation and 3d space in a more pronounced way. Was this a conscious choice going into it, or did it happen naturally? Is it something you'd like to continue to push with your work?
At LACMA, you talked about how earlier this year you were doing development tests in Berkley(?) for a feature concept, but didn't go into any more detail. Is there anything more you can share about that?
Thanks again for doing the AMA. I look eagerly forward to whatever you release next!
i think 1 and 3 were answered elsewhere here but here is 2. i think it was probably as simple as "hey i sort of know what i'm doing now a little bit more." the first WOT was literally the first thing i had ever drawn on a tablet before. i am still really naive to all the digital tools now at my fingertips but in 2015 i was relatively clueless.
the only problem the second time around was the old software i was using kept crashing and exploding beyond its limits because while i was learning new tricks and trying new things, i also didn't want to upgrade anything and do something to make the two films look drastically different from each other. but now that i'm between projects i will get software that was made in this decade.
H Mr. Hertzfeldt, your stories are so unique, I was just wondering if you had any directorial advice? Thank you! :~)
think about all the things in other people's movies that really bother you and then don't do them