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
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
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:
http://vimeo.com/25646578, which was an award
winner at the 4th Annual Urban Suburban Film
Festival in Philadelphia.