Andrew Harmon



Death Row Diet

Q. Talk to us about Death Row Diet . What is it about?
A. It’s a cartoon short about a man who is on death row and Weight Watchers. Watch it for some laughs. Jonathan Katz (the star) puts it best when he says, “It’s not for everyone – it’s for everyone else.”

Q. This film was in last year’s Urban Suburban Film Festival. What type of exposure did it give you? Did you get a chance to meet other directors who had films in the festival?
A. I did not attend, as I was working on a lot of animation for a children’s show, but I was delighted to find out that it won the award for Best Animation!

Q. Walk us through a day in Mike Salva’s shoes.
A. I spend most of the day working on one thing or another in front of computers, so sadly, there is very little walking in my shoes. Rather, there is the onset of hypertension.

Q. So you’re into animation? What is that like?
A. Spending a little bit of time with some people in front of microphones, and then spending a LOT of time working by myself, in front of computers, making silly little pictures look like they are moving. (See answer to the above question for more about the hypertension.)

Q. What are some of the difficulties of doing movies in animation, rather than having real actors?
A. We still have real actors, but their performances take place in front of a microphone. The performances are still real and they work very hard. (I once heard Tom Hanks say that his work on “Toy Story” was the hardest work he’s done as an actor.) What’s different is that some of the performance comes from the pictures that are later made by an animator. It can get very monotonous listening to the same audio over and over and over again, usually in slow motion, making sure there is a picture of a mouth to go with every sound, every syllable, every consonant.

Q. Is there any better feeling than seeing the finished version of your film?
A. Plenty. By the time I’m done with a film (see above) I am sick of it and I am convinced that it is awful and need to get away from it for a while because I’m tired of seeing and hearing it.

Q. What is your favorite animated movie?
A. Just one? You’ve got to be kidding me. How about 14, in no particular order? Pinocchio, Aladdin, Yellow Submarine, The Incredibles, Toy Story 2, Lady and the Tramp, 101 Dalmatians, Jeux des anges (Game of Angels), Teacher’s Pet, Flushed Away, Coraline, Sita Sings the Blues, Prince of Egypt, Fantastic Mr. Fox? I’m sure I’ve left out plenty. How about the TV series Samurai Jack, which had the best-looking animation ever produced for television? The first two or three seasons of The Venture Brothers? The first two or three seasons of The Simpsons? How about Loony Tunes shorts like What’s Opera Doc, One Froggy Evening, and Rabbit Seasoning? MGM’s King Size Canary? Or Bill Plympton’s Hot Dog?

Q. If you could go back in time and be a part of the production of any movie, which one would it be?
A. That’s easy – the first Star Wars film. I’d talk George Lucas into abandoning the entire project and buy him out, making me into a now-multi-billionaire. And I wouldn’t have used computers to change the original trilogy – no new monsters, no digital Jabba, Anakin’s ghost is not Hayden Christiansen, and Han Solo ALWAYS shoots first! (Those references will make sense if you are a nerd.)

Q. During the period between projects, what are you doing?
A. Mostly I’m trying to keep my kids from doing something stupid that will get them killed. Sometimes I am working on other projects, or trying to get them seen by an audience (my cartoons, not my kids). I just finished a 13-minute cartoon, Pound Dogs, with clay animated characters, and (warning: shameless plug) you can see the trailer here:, which was an award winner at the 4th Annual Urban Suburban Film Festival in Philadelphia.


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