Simpsons director Silverman speaks with UCLA


By David Landau

Published Aug 3, 2007 3:04 PM

DL: Is there a longer director's cut coming?

DS: No, no, I'm quite happy with this cut. There were some scenes that we didn't really want to cut, but the reason we cut certain scenes was that we found with test screenings that they threw the rhythm [of the film] off. It's easy to throw the rhythm off in a comedy; you've probably seen some recent comedies like "Anchorman," where you'll watch deleted scenes and ask, "That was really funny, why'd they cut it out?" But it was probably because it made the film too draggy. In isolation the scene is funny, but in context of the film, it slows things down or makes the rhythm seem lacking somehow. It's hard to quantify. You just have to see it, feel it, and say, "Well, we've got to cut it."

DL: The animation did change a lot from its original form on the "The Tracy Ullman Show."

DS: To be sure, and I think you can see that in most animation. If you look at the early Disney Mickey Mouse and if you look at Elmer Fudd and Bugs Bunny — they've all changed a lot. You learn by repetition, especially when, as we were, making it up as you go along. And we were doing this in terms of the animation and storytelling. You know what's interesting [to do] ? I did this, and it was really quite fascinating: Look at the pilot episode of a live-action sitcom. It feels different. The rhythm is different. The characters' speaking rhythm is a little stilted, not quite fleshed-out. Just like animation, characters evolve over the repetition of doing show after show after show.

DL: Just like science-fiction writers in literature, animators are under-appreciated.

DS: I'm afraid we are. We've always been the bastard stepchild of the industry, and we still seem to be, regardless of that fact that our films, generally speaking, can make tons of dough, and/or if they don't make enough money at the box office, and are considered flops, their shelf-life is always long. I know that "Surf's Up" didn't do well, but I bet the DVD sales will continue to make money year after year, eventually making a profit.

DL: I think anything marketed at kids makes all kinds of money.

DS: Right, and is continual, as there's not a lot to show kids, and unfortunately, the way it's usually set up, both parents have to work or there's a lot of single parenting, and so TV becomes something of a babysitter. Cartoons are certainly not only a harmless way of entertaining children, they can get some real enjoyment and maybe some artistic stimulation from it, at least I'd like to think so.

DL: Yeah, my brother and I were raised somewhat by "The Simpsons."

DS: Right, I wouldn't doubt it. You guys are OK, right? You're not ax-murderers yet?

DL: Not yet.

DS: Good, good. It usually starts in your thirties.



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