Kickstarting Cheatin’: Interview with Bill Plympton
And how were you approached to do The Simpsons introduction?
I’ve known Matt for a while, in fact, he’s from Portland, and I actually met his father before I met Matt because I was a big fan of his father’s films. He used to do industrial films back in the 50s and 60s, and his name was Homer. [laughs]
He was a brilliant filmmaker. I remember seeing his films in festivals. But I’ve known Matt since the mid-70s, I believe, or maybe the 80s, and he used to make comic strips and we used to hang out. It’s interesting to see how we both got around into animation around the same time — The Simpsons started in the late 80s just as I started doing my animated films. Although we’ve had parallel careers, his career is obviously much more successful than mine. He’s probably one of the richest artists in the world, while I’m still struggling to make ends meet. [laughs]
So we were at the Annecy Film Festival in France, and we were hanging out talking about old times in Oregon, and he came up with the brilliant idea of having me do the intro to the show, and I loved that idea. It was great and a lot of fun. They also gave me a lot of freedom, letting me do what I wanted to do, so that was very nice.
In your work, you often show North American society through their ironies for absurd extravagance and double standard. Do you think independent animation helps people develop an eye to criticise their own society?
I started off as a political cartoonist. So I’ve been in social critique for a long time. So it seemed natural that when I moved into animation I still had these sensibilities.
I noticed the Plymptoons Store carries some of your work, but there’re still people wondering where the best place to get your shorts is, especially for non-US fans. Is Amazon really the best place?
I’m really not the guy to ask this question; however, I would recommend they get all my work from my website, plymptoons.com — that’s where you can get all my work. Even the weird stuff.
It’s more of a personal question, but just to make it clear — your website also allows international orders? Because that’s one of my griefs when online shopping to find out items can only be shipped within the US or Canada.
Yes, in fact we have a lot of fans in Europe and Russia, so we ship a lot of stuff over there. It’s never a problem. We do have to pay extra for shipping — like a buck or two, something like that. I think I’m really big in France, Spain, Germany, and Russia, so we do a lot of overseas shipping.
That’s excellent news! It was a little bit hard to figure out from the website alone. But tell me, are you interested in digital distribution?
Yes, I’m very interested in digital distribution. We believe that the older forms of distribution are shrinking while digital is the way to go for an independent like me. In fact I foresee a time when I’ll have my own channel and as soon as I finish a film, BANG! It goes on the internet and I get my money directly from my fans. No distributors, no agents, no studios, no theaters, no lawyers, no hassles.