Interview

Jason Steele - Filmcow, Creator of Charlie the Unicorn

If insane kidney-stealing unicorns, murderous police cats, psychotic ferrets and even more psychotic llamas are your thing, then you need to know about FilmCow. The creators of internet sensation ‘Charlie the Unicorn’, FilmCow has gone on to release video after video of dark humour and surreal situations, with ‘Ferrets’, ‘Llamas With Hats’, Detective Mittens’, ‘The Interview’, ‘The Cloak’ to name but a few. They’re not for the squeamish, so expect to see blood by the bucketful, murderous animals a-plenty, and of course, the occasional musical number!

How did you get started creating movies?

I suppose the same way most people do – a massive head trauma leading to identity confusion and nightmarish hallucinations.

What was the inspiration behind Charlie the Unicorn, how did it come about?

The entire Charlie saga is basically just Wuthering Heights with unicorns. “Hey, Mr. Lockwood! Mr. Lockwood wake up, you silly sleepy head!” “Go away Heathcliff! You ass!”

Which of your characters, if any, do you think are most like you?

Probably the squash from “John McCain and his Vegetable Friends.” That squash is a pretty cool dude, and I’d like to think I have a few squash-like qualities myself.

What part of the film making process do you most enjoy?

Probably the cleansing ritual before any project begins. Although I think people are starting to notice how many neighborhood cats are missing.

Your movies consistently deliver a great sense of dark humour, but have you ever worked on something you later removed because you felt it went too far?

My movies really aren’t that dark when compared to the thousands of other “dark” videos and cartoons available on the internet. It’s hard to go “too far” when the line has been moved well beyond the horizon.

Many of your films feature musical numbers, do you enjoy writing the songs, and do the songs inspire the cartoon or is it the other way around?

Usually the cartoon inspires the song. I’ll come up with a project idea that requires a musical number, and then from there develop a melody that I think fits the mood of the cartoon. OneMetalHow long does it take to create your films, and what is the process? It really depends on the project. The cleansing ritual usually takes a few hours, but everything else varies greatly. “A Depressed Whale” only took me about three days, whereas “Charlie the Unicorn 3″ took me a month.

What software do you use for your animation?

I work on a Mac, and edit all of my projects with Final Cut Pro. The artwork is done in either Adobe Photoshop or Flash, and then the animation is carried out in After Effects.

Which of your films are you most proud of to date?

“Gods of Olympus” is a personal favorite of mine. I also did a four hour documentary on Rwanda which was pretty good.

What’s been the film that has given the most problems / challenges in terms of production?

Do NOT interview the Rwandan locals if the message of your documentary is “Rwanda: Sunny African Get-Away.” Those people are way too depressing, I could hardly use any of the footage I shot.

Are there any non-FilmCow YouTube cartoons you are a big fan of?

There’s a guy named Robert Benfer who makes some pretty hilarious claymations, and he’s created literally over a hundred of them. Then there’s Sam T. of Ebolaworld, who I’d easily call “The Walt Disney of the Internet.” And of course there’s Marc M. of Sick Animation, whose cartoons are probably banned in more than a few countries.

What are your thoughts on the Internet as a publishing / broadcast platform, and how would you like to see it evolving?

The internet has not only allowed me to operate completely independently, but it’s allowed me to make a decent living at it too. I think we’re entering an interesting era for art, where projects succeed or fail on their merits instead of their marketing dollars.

Do you think your movies could make the transition longer form, or do you think they will always be shorts? Are there any plans for a full length live-action / animated movie?

I’m very much interested in doing feature length projects, in fact I’ve been working on an animated feature for a couple years now that I am desperately trying to complete. I also really want to get a live-action feature into production as soon as I can work out all the scheduling issues.

If you could have a famous star guest in any of your videos, who would it be and why?

Galician bagpipe player Cristina Pato, because she obviously stole her magic bagpipe-breath from the throat of a slain god, and I’m terribly interested in finding out which one.

Who are your comedy heroes, who makes you laugh?

I think pretty much everyone who does any sort of comedy would list Monty Python and Douglas Adams as major influences, and I’m no different. Outside of them I’d put Logan Whitehurst, and more recently Jackson Publick and Doc Hammer.

What are some of your favorite TV shows / movies?

For TV shows, I’d say The Venture Bros, Superjail, House, Dexter, Archer… and of course I can never get enough “Are You Being Served?” As for movies, everything Jan Svankmajer has ever made is golden.

What are some of your favorite books?

I’ve been on a Richard Brautigan kick recently. I also enjoy reading books about soup.

What are your musical tastes?

Galician bagpipe player Cristina Pato.

Given the overwhelming success of your films, do you feel under pressure to live up to the expectation?

Not really. The great thing about the internet is if you release a movie that sucks it really won’t go anywhere and so very few people will know what a terrible job you did.

Whats been your favorite letter of complaint about your films?

“Please stop animating in my house. I have no idea who you are or how you keep managing to break back in. I have purchased a gun and the next time I catch you working in my living room I’m going to shoot you.”

If you were to suddenly find yourself in a cheap hotel room, wearing a Marylin Monroe costume (including wig) standing over the mutilated body of homeless person with a bloody knife in your hand and the police banging at the door, what would you do?

That depends on the hotel’s plumbing. How long do you think it would take to flush a homeless person down the toilet?

What advice would you give to aspiring animators?

There really isn’t such a thing anymore. Computers have made it possible for someone to start animating within minutes, so anyone who wants to can become an “animator” just by trying. “Aspiring animators” are just animators who haven’t started yet. As for getting paid for it, you’ve either got to practice your butt off or sign a blood oath with Mephistopheles. Or some other prince of hell.

Are you a gamer, and if so what are your games / platforms of choice?

I’m partial to the Atari Jaguar myself. I just can’t get enough Battlemorph.

Will we ever see FilmCow the video game, and even if not, what would it be like?

I have a couple of games planned, actually. The first is a “Charlie the Unicorn” themed game where you walk around New York City kidnapping tourists and stealing their organs. The other is a “Detective Mittens” themed game where you investigate a series of grizzly organ thefts in New York.

Has the Master Collection DVD done well, and how are you justifying the statement ‘200 Years of Excellence‘?

The FilmCow Master Collection has sold decently, especially for an independent release. The “200 Years of Excellence” thing is really more of a guess. We’ve been producing videos for the internet since the early 1800s, but I don’t recall the specific year.

What are FilmCows plans for the Future?

Well, we are building a giant dome, I can say that much. As for what we plan to put in that dome, that’s between us and Mephistopheles.

What questions do you never get asked, or just didn’t get asked in this interview that you wish we had asked so you could give an amazing and insightful response to?

“What questions do you never get asked, or just didn’t get asked in this interview that you wish we had asked so you could give an amazing and insightful response to?”

Thank you Jason Steele

If you need more FilmCow goodness, be sure to investigate the Official FilmCow website, follow them on Facebook Twitter and MySpace, or check out the obscenely well-stocked Youtube channel for plenty of animated carnage.

And if you want plenty of violent yet hilarious Filmcow goodness to soak in from the comfort of your sofa, you can support FilmCow by getting the new compilation DVD, “The FilmCow Master Collection: 200 Years of Excellence.” Stuffed to the gills with the best FilmCow cartoons, it’s also a great way to introduce the world of murderous llamas and kittens to your friends.

Our thanks to Jason for taking the time to speak to us, we at Onemetal towers are huge fans, and we hope you guys are too!