Wednesday, October 13, 2010


After watching the cartoons in week five, I felt I needed to use “Rejected” as my post for this week. Many of you might already know about this work, or maybe none of you have heard of it before. Either way, it is a wonderful piece that makes me laugh every time I watch it.

“Rejected” is an animated short comedy film created by Don Hertzfeldt. Don released this fictional story of a failing animator at the San Diego Comic Con in 2000. Since then, “Rejected” has become a cult classis that has won 27 awards from film festivals around the world.

Before “Rejected”, Hertzfeldt was offered many commercial jobs by television companies. Don being the anti-corporation artist that he is, turned down all of the offers he received. According to Wikipedia, he would joke about making the worst cartoons he could for these companies, and seeing if the companies would air them. This became the bases for “Rejected”.

What attracts me at first is the humor. (Everything I have seen of his work has made me fall to the ground laughing.) I would be lying if I said his style did not play a part in my liking of his work. His use of pen and paper and shooting with a 35mm camera gives his work a more traditional animated look that just pulls me in. I find it interesting and awesome that Hertzfeldt can create such a striking piece by himself while companies like Pixar use hundreds of people to make their blockbusters.

In 2004, the Internet Movie Database ranked “Rejected” 3rd best short film of all time. When looking at the awards it has won, its cult following, and the many pop culture references it has had, I would say that “Rejected” has been a very success piece.

In an interview, Hertzfeldt said, “I don’t know why these things are always framed as a big dumb cage match: Hand-drawn versus computers, film versus digital. We have over 100 years now of amazing film technology to play with, I don't understand why any artists would want to throw any of their tools out of the box. Many people assume that because I shoot on film and animate on paper I must be doing things the hard way, when in fact my last four movies would have been visually impossible to produce digitally. The only thing that matters is what actually winds up on the big screen, not how you got it there. You could make a cartoon in crayons about a red square that falls in unrequited love with a blue circle, and there wouldn’t be a dry eye in the house if you know how to tell a story."

Do you agree? Does it matter how we get to our final work?


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  2. I love Don Hertzfeldt's cartoons. The way that he makes them is probably what I love most about them. He uses and antique camera and paper drawings. I think he's right when he says that he couldn't get the effects he does if he were to do it any other way.

    I think the method is just as important as the madness, but you should use the method that best suits it. And the newest way possible isn't always the right one.

  3. To be honest, I'd never heard of Don Hertzfeldt. I get that the concept of his project, and props to him for pushing the limits of what's acceptable, but despite that, I really didn't find his work funny, other than the funny hats bit.
    However, I do appreciate his argument that it's not a cage match between new and old. Both traditional and digital styles have their separate strengths, but there is no clear distinction of which is "better." I think it's important to understand when one method might be more appropriate, but as long as you, the artist, are satisfied with the end product, it doesn't matter how you got there.

  4. I've always loved "Rejected". I saw the film when I was in high school and became temporarily obsessed with Hertzfeldt's work.

    I agree with Hertzfeldt's minimal approach to his work. The humor is still there and, to me, the primitive drawings actually give a different sort of feeling and character to his films. I also feel as though the concept of "Rejected" is made funnier by the crude animation as it is a film about FAILED advertising ideas. It adds a different dimension to the character animator as if he never really knew what he was doing.

  5. I’ve seen a lot of his work before, and I’ve seen parts of this animation of his, but I don’t think I’ve ever seen it as a whole before. Anyways, I never really knew that his work was that admired and never thought to really look deep into it, really happy you did cause the fact that his work is THAT big surely is inspirational to me. I remember the first time I was introduced to his work, at first I thought it was going to be just some stick figure animation and I wouldn’t be interested, but what he does with his illustrations and narrative is pretty geniuses. And I also enjoy how it’s like he does what he does more for himself then to please others whether they’ll like his work or not. And if I think I understand the question and him right, I agree on it not mattering what happens prior to the final piece, or what you use as long as there’s a final outcome that you are happy with. Just because the world is changing and advancing doesn’t mean your work has to go along for the ride, if you are content to where you are and how you do things. Like me, being a digital artist, I’m content with using a art programmed with limited brushes called SAI, cause it gets things done how I want, more then advanced programs. So myself and others are still happy with the final results I accomplish. Now if only I can get past my pleasing others factor in my work.

  6. Like Frank, I saw this in high school and thought it was the greatest thing. I remember quoting it non stop and was pleasantly surprised to see this earned Hertzfeldt an Oscar nomination. Especially for how insane and obscure the humor is.

    It's also interesting to see the influence Hertzfeldt has created when you consider how crude his style is. Anyone remember those old Pop Tart commercials that were a blatant ripoff of his style?

  7. The first time I saw Rejected I could not stop laughing. The animation is so simple, yet far more hilarious than any big budget animation. I think Hertzfeldt has proved that you don't have to use the latest technology to make something good.