Home Buzz Interview – Animate This! Michael Rianda
Interview – Animate This! Michael Rianda

Interview – Animate This! Michael Rianda


Michael Rianda art

There aren’t enough hours in the day to cram cartoons into our lives! From Anime to CGI, Studio Ghibli to Pixar, we love everything about animation but we hold a special place in our @rcade hearts for those animations that are hand drawn. The time consuming labour of love that is drawing cartoons, is an art form that as of late has been over shadowed by the world CGI and rendered graphics (though don’t get us wrong, we do love our CGI).

Michael Rianda is for lack of a better word, an artist! His animations “Everybody dies in 90 seconds” and “Work” are two of the most popular animations online and it’s easy to see why! With detailed drawing and stories that make you laugh and think, Michael is able to craft a short animation into a truly imaginative and fantastic piece of work.

Taking some time out of his hectic schedule, we have a chat with him about his work and his life as an animator!

Can you tell us a little bit about who you are?

When I was 14, I decided that the most important thing in my life should be drawing cartoons. For some reason I’ve never questioned that decision.

How did you become interested in the world of animation?

When I was a kid I wanted to be in animation, because I loved cartoons. But then when I found out how many drawings were involved for one cartoon was like 100,000 or something I assumed that it was just like Chuck Jones in a basement for two years, making a Roadrunner cartoon. I decided that that was no kind of life, and decided to do something else like astronaut or rock star or something. Then when I got older I sort of realized that one person doesn’t have to do ALL the drawings, and I was too weird looking to be a rock star, so that sort of opened back up the cartooning path, and I’ve been going down that dark road ever since.

You have two videos making their viral way around the internet – Everybody dies in 90 seconds and “Work”. “Everybody dies in 90 Seconds” was your first video upload – what can you tell us about it?

Everybody Dies in 90 Seconds has two major sources of inspiration. One, I have a good relationship with my grandma and we hang out whenever I’m in my home town and I asked her if you knew the world was going to end tomorrow, what would you do today? And she said “I think I’d clean the house.” Which I thought was hilarious. I asked “like you wouldn’t want to say goodbye to your family or anything?” and she said “nope, too sad, I’d just vacuum.” Second, I would do this thing where I would be like madly insanely in love with a girl, but I could never tell them. So I would have these fantasies where “if only the world was ending, then I could tell her I like her, and if she rejects me, the world is about to end anyway, who cares.” I realize that that’s sort of insane, but that’s actually how I thought. So those two ideas sort of morphed together into this stew of end of the world wish fulfillment ideas. It took me like 4 months to do in all.

What would you do if a comet was going to hit Earth and you only had 90 seconds?

The 90 seconds thing was only like a cute little thing to make the film “real time”, like 24 or something, which I failed at because the cartoon is like 2 minutes. So if I had 90 seconds I would probably try to call everyone that was important to me and thank them for everything or whatever. That’s sort of boring though. If I had a day or so, I would try to get all my friends and family together break into the local mall Dawn Of The Dead style and have a big looting extravaganza.

“Work” is your most recent piece that we can watch online and it’s gaining a great following. How long from start to finish did it take to complete?

Work took about 4 months of actual production like drawing everything that appeared in the final film, it took longer than that to come up with the story and stuff. It’s a story I sort of had knocking around my head since before I went to school. The inspiration was that I was this happy-go-lucky, fun, good tempered person before I got my first real world job, which was a data entry job. Then slowly I found myself to be this road raged filled, stressed out, defeated person. Like when I was in my car I would just get this insane road rage and like scream at old ladies walking across the street. And I was just like what happened? Because what I was doing for 8 hours a day was so completely meaningless. Like it meant nothing to me or the good of humanity if these names from membership cards got put into a computer database. So I decided that I had to be doing something I loved for work, and I went to Cal Arts. So I thought it would be funny to throw a kid in the place of an adult just to throw into stark relief how crushing working a 9 to 5 job is.

Michael Rianda picture

Who voiced the little boy and do you think he ever got those shoes?

The voice of the little boy was my nephew, Ben. He’s hilarious, but working with kids is sort of working with high maintenance rock stars or something. Like he would do great but then he would want to play Nintendo and then I was like bribing him with candy and stuff. He told me he wanted 20 percent of the profits for the film.

If you’re talking about the voice actor getting Moon Shoes from his mom. Ben and I both agree that Moon Shoes suck. They’re like the worst toy ever. You can literally jump way hire without moon shoes. But I had a burning desire in my heart for them when I was a kid. If you’re talking about the character from the film, I don’t think he ever gets the moon shoes, and even if he does, he would get bored of them after like 10 seconds, because they suck.

Do you have any more videos in the works – feel like giving us some hints as to what we might expect?

I don’t really know what I would do if I were to make another short. Insanely, I’ve got a couple ideas for cartoon movies, although I don’t think anyone will let me make them, so I might just make them into graphic novels or something. One’s about kids finding a hot air balloon, one’s about a super-nerds quest for love, and I would actually love to make everybody dies in 90 seconds into a movie length version.

Animation has changed so much in the last few years and more and more we see CGI animated movies coming to the front while hand drawn is being left behind. Do you think the day of the sketching and colouring and animating by hand are gone?

No, I don’t think hand drawing will never fully die. I mean it’s a shame there’s not more of it, because I love hand drawn more than CG. But hand drawn I think will be around forever, and movies like Persepolis have proved that you can put together a crew together really cheaply and make a good hand drawn movie outside of the big studio system.

When it comes to other peoples work, do you have a particular favourite animation?

Cartoons: Anything: Bob Clampett, Chuck Jones or Frank Tashlin did in the 40s, Early Foghorn Leghorn cartoons, The Hubleys
Animated Movies: Dumbo, Toy Story, Wall-E
Regular Movies: It’s a Wonderful Life, Raging Bull, Bottle Rocket, The Last Detail, Dr. Strangelove

Where would you like to see yourself in ten years?

In ten years I hope I’m working at a studio doing storyboards and making comic books on the side. I’ve got some megalomania plans to make cartoon movies too, but as I get closer to the reality of actually directing an animated film, it seems insanely stressful and horrible.

Finally, if you were trapped in an Arcade for eternity, what game would you play to pass the time?

I was really good at the Namco gun game Point Blank, so maybe that one. Dance Dance Maniaxx, the dance dance revolution game where you use your hands and stuff I actually really love and will actively seek out, but I would imagine that would get tiring to play for eternity. I’ll stick with Point Blank.