The Kevin Altieri Interview

Kevin is a director of animated shows like Batman: The Animated Series, C.O.P.S, and Stripperella. Melissa sat down and picked his brain about career and life. Sit, relax, and listen in.

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Kevin Altieri – Interview

 This is spoiler country and I’m Melissa surgeo today on the show. I’m thrilled to welcome director and storyboard artists.

Kevin, Alteri welcome to the show.

[00:02:00] Kevin Altieri: Glad to be here. Hi,

Melissa: how are you? How’s everything going?

Kevin Altieri: I, I have the advantage over a lot of other peoples that I’m such a geek and nerd that when I’m stuck in the house, because of COVID-19, I’m actually stuck in a Museum toys, shop library right through all of the books and all the old comics I’ve actually dug out comics from when I was a kid and I’ve been reading them again.

And

Melissa: Yeah. Yeah, no. And I think, yeah, the pandemic has had interesting effects on everyone. You know, people like yourself, you’re actually probably busier because you’re at home and finding more projects.

Kevin Altieri: Yeah. No, it’s very strange. You know that as you said, it’s like, you’re there, there’s more things going on and it’s like, you don’t have a crew attached to you there.

Every, everything is going through zoom and through Skype. So yeah. It seems like you’re more on yeah. It’s like, we’re, we’re more in demand than

Melissa: ever. [00:03:00] Yeah. And it’s like the new normal now too. Yeah.

Kevin Altieri: Yeah. But mostly I have an advantage and it’s like some of the things I’ve been talking to people about doing, getting productions going.

I have the advantage of like, I’m one of the few people that actually has been working remotely in the past. Back before cell phones and all that jazz,

Melissa: right? Yes. Long time ago

Kevin Altieri: we’re using the mail and faxes and the telephones and things like that. Yeah.

Melissa: Yeah. I remember actually sending my dad a singing telegram people probably don’t know what those are anymore, but way, way back in the day.

So those things are you know, I guess time capsules now. Yeah. So, so you’re, you know, you’re in, into film and animation. And how did you get started? You’ve been in the industry for a long time. How, how did you get started into

Kevin Altieri: animation? Well, I got into animation actually. I moved out to California [00:04:00] in 1979 and proceeded to starve to death, you know, I never, I never really.

I always wanted to I wanted to do comics. I wanted to do, you know, I wanted to do illustration. I wanted to do comics. I wanted to do stop motion animation. I wanted to do special effects. I love monster movies and I loved cartoons all at the same time. So I wasn’t really, you know, I was just looking for a job when I got out here.

And back then there was very little training that you could get. Oh, yeah, but I was very fortunate that I was able to, I made friends with people like Jean was already and Steve and Charlie Chiodo you know, we’re doing a lot of models and effects and for real cheap movies

and guys like Dave Allen gave me a break. That’s great. I did storyboards for a lot of special effects [00:05:00] movies, like robot jocks, Charlie band productions, and just infer. Intervision a lot of TV commercials and things like that. And I would and the art director at  Tim Donahue actually kind of took me under his wing and trained me on basically doing, you know, storyboards and designing Sets in designing for special effects.

And so I was doing a lot of that. And then there was a period where inspector gadget came out on TV. And I really, I was ever, since I was a kid, I was a big sucker. For a Japanese animation before it was called anime. You know, it’s like, I mean, when I was a little kid, I lived for a gigantor and asked her a boy and especially eighth man.

And, and of course, you know, something that always stuck with me, it [00:06:00] was like Johnny quest action, adventure cartoons that were kind of made for me, you know, a young, young boy. And well, anyway, so I saw inspector gadget. And at that time, if you, if anyone remembers out there, I mean, everyone’s probably a lot younger than that, but there was a real dearth in quality of animation.

Even in feature animation, it was all, it was all pretty bad. Were glimmers of hope there, you would see the occasion like, like rag, raggedy, Ann and Andy by Richard Williams and Richard Williams. And Chuck Jones would do like these TV specials, like the Christmas carols special. So there was, there was little bits of animation that were really exceptional.

Back then, but not much. And then I saw inspector gadget and it had this really great sensibility of a Japanese animation.

Melissa: Yeah. Do you think the the animations [00:07:00] improved due to technology or, or just, you know, skill of the people involved or a little

Kevin Altieri: bit of both? A little bit of both, but I think it was the, it was the skill of the people involved because the Deak.

Which was the company that I ended up working with and they didn’t inspector gadget. And reason why I noticed them was that they were a French company that worked with a Japanese company. So it’s like, it was a, it was a, it was a Japanese French company, but they moved into Los Angeles and they were doing inspector gadget and other shows.

And they were like trying to crack the American market. So I found out that they opened up an office here and I just kinda, I literally, it was a storefront that they were renting, no city three 84, and I had a special effects storyboards, like storyboards that I had done [00:08:00] for a, Harryhausen like a movie, a Harryhausen movie that ended up here.

He has, and then ended up retiring instead. But I had action adventure, you know, storyboards of me. That were for live action. And I walked in and they, you know, these guys there, there’s two guys in the room and I literally not on the door and went, are you guys does this Deek? And it’s like, yeah. Are you guys hiring?

Yeah, you draw. And it’s like, well, I got a portfolio here. Well, let’s take a look. And then about a half hour later, they said, well, can you start. And I’m like, what now? And it’s like, yeah, now we need your help. And that’s how I got started. Wow.

Melissa: That’s a great story shower though. Yeah. Well, one of your shows is actually I just started streaming, I think on HBO you know, Batman mask of the Phantom Phantasm, [00:09:00] sorry.

So, you know, you w when did you work on that that’s has been around for awhile, has been not

Kevin Altieri: a Batman, the animated series.

Melissa: Yeah. Yeah.

Kevin Altieri: That was that I got involved with because I, the last animation job I was working at Disney and development on lion King and treasure planet. And. I kind of left that job and I was doing comic books of buck Rogers, comic book Blackburn.

And I got a phone call from Bruce, Tim, who I kind of knew from a Deek cause he worked at Deek for a while and he actually worked on a show that I was the director on cops. Yeah. As a character designer, really, really good artists, really good artists. Anyway, he had been working on tiny Toons and I had heard that they were going to do a new Batman over at Warner brothers, but Warner brothers really wasn’t like an up and running company.

And I liked, I liked tiny Toons, [00:10:00] but then I thought, you know, that the Batman they were gonna do was going to be like a goofy, again, a goofy cartoon, like tiny Toons, which is a little how, you know, super friends, all that stuff, you know, and So they were trying to find people who could do action adventure.

And at that time there was very few people who had done any action adventure at all. And you know, it just cartoons were not that Saturday morning was not that, I mean, I had worked at Deek on stuff like cops and, and star come. And, you know, those are action shows, but they’re not there. So kid-friendly.

That there’s no edge to them, you know? Yeah. And so, you know, I went over and I talked to Bruce and at that time there was really literally no one there except for Bruce and Eric Radomski and an lighting production manager and Haven Alexander, I think just the [00:11:00] production system. And Bruce showed me this test reel that they had done and it looked, it just reminded me of the Fleischer.

Superman’s. Okay. And from then on, I was like, Oh yeah, yeah. But this animation’s great, you know, and I, you know, it’s like, yeah, sign me up. But is this going to be another goofy cartoon? Gave me the script, the first one, which was on leather wings, which was man bat. And it’s literally like a horror film, right.

22 minute horror film. And I was like, okay. These guys are serious and got it. I’ve got to do this. And it’s like in doing Batman is kind of like a dream of a lifetime.

Melissa: Yeah, yeah. I can imagine. And, and because, you know, it was such a, you know, darker you know, narration of it, I guess you could call it that must’ve been more exciting for you creatively.

Kevin Altieri: Yes. No. And well, even like, I mean, guys that ended up working on Batman with [00:12:00] me, like Dan Reba and Brad Rader, Mike Gogan, you know, over a Deek. We all were working at D and we all knew each other, but all the time we’re there, we’re like looking at these really lousy VHS copies of the Fleischer Superman’s and, and, and we’re all Miyazaki fans and we all love Japanese animation and we’re just.

When are we going to get to do this cool stuff? And literally this was our chance, you know, it’s like, you know, be like, yeah, I called up Dan immediately and Dan was already knew all about the show. I didn’t know anything. And Brad was, another guy came on board, you know, it’s like, so it’s like, so there’s a group of us that were just.

Literally, you know, trying to put, to work all the stuff that we had been dreaming of doing for our quite ever since we all got into animation. Yeah. Oh

Melissa: fun. [00:13:00] Yeah. That’s awesome. And when you’re directing a film, that’s animated. So, you know, obviously we know what a live action, you know, I think most people know what a live action director does, but I don’t think a lot of people know, you know, when you’re directing an animated film, are you just directing the actors and the voiceovers?

Are you directing you know, the actual creation and, and slides of animation that are being put forward?

Kevin Altieri: You’re actually in my experience, in my experience working in live action The way that I work, not necessarily everyone does it the same way, but you are, hands-on on every aspect of the production, your drawings, what you draw actually comes to life, you know?

So a lot of the things that are going on, it’s like it’s coming right out of your mind, down your arm, out through your hands. No onto the page. So to speak nowadays, even if, even if it’s computer, even if it’s Santiq, it’s [00:14:00] still the same metric, it’s still the same creative method of, you know, of coming up with things, whereas live action.

And this is not to say anything different with how actors are voice. Acting’s a bit different. But when you’re doing live action actors bring. There’s a, there’s a different dynamic between what the director does and how the final visuals happen. Like an actor brings a lot to the role, whereas an animation the actor’s performance happens and then you’re doing drawings based on what happens in the sound recording studio.

Stuff. Yeah. Whereas in live action, it’s kind of like the same thing happens, but it’s much, there’s much more going on, obviously with the actors, whereas an animation. I mean, the way that I do it, it literally is your drawings coming to life. And there’s like a real beauty and a joy to that.

[00:15:00] Melissa: Wow. Yeah, I bet.

Now what, and when you’re doing storyboards, how are you coming up with the ideas for that? Like what, what’s your process like?

Kevin Altieri: It’s the animator’s brain, you know, I can’t really, it varies wildly. But I mean, I was, I mean, I’m dyslexic. Okay. And, you know, left and right or something that is always stupid in my head.

You know, like, like my, my brain says, you know, why is this left now? It wasn’t left a half hour ago. Literally. That’s kind of what my brain says. And like typing, you know, every time you come up to a keyboard, it’s a whole new experience. And that kind of is probably why I. Started drawing. And it’s like that weird thing that my brain does.

So it lends itself to animation because the way that my whole life has been is like to learn, to [00:16:00] read, to learn how to do things that when I was a kid, even learning how to tie your shoes, you have to invent a method. And and it’s like a progression. And for some reason that progression that my mind goes through every time lends itself to animation.

And it’s like, it was weird because, you know, it’s like, I’ll meet someone and, you know, and it’s like, Oh, you’ll forget their name almost immediately. You know, I would, I found that I would be on a movie and I would remember the damnedest thing that the directors and the art directors completely forgot.

Interesting. It’s like, so there’s just, there’s just something about the process of animation that just works for me. And yeah, well, as far as coming up with stuff I mean, it’s like when I read a script, if it’s a really, even, even if it’s a script that you’re not really entirely [00:17:00] happy with, you start reading it and then.

You start visualizing it. And you just start drawing, you just start sketching, you start coming up with ideas and you start coming up with scenarios. And that another thing that and it’s, this is like something for all aspiring animators or aspiring, especially if you want to do storyboards. Anything for aspiring artists that want to get into the field?

There is something that happens when you are young and you start drawing. And if you don’t draw everything, say you gotta be in order to do storyboards drawing a skyscraper. Can not be impossible. You have to be a master of a perspective and you have to be able to draw bicycles and cars and dogs and cats, people of all sorts so that you don’t have to go and like get referenced for everything that you’re doing.

Cause that’ll just take you [00:18:00] forever. Yeah,

Melissa: that makes sense. Would you encourage people to take classes or go to school for it? Yeah.

Kevin Altieri: But I would say in those, and there’s a, and this is, this is the shame of the age that we’re in now is that only the very rich get to go to like the really good schools.

Right? Know, otherwise you go into insane debt that you’ll never be able to pay off on, you know, But, yeah. So if anyone, I mean, yes, you do have to take classes. There wasn’t much that I could do as a young man. But I ended up, I did go to the Kubert school and I went to one year of school in the arts Institute of Boston, but I was so poor that I was starving to death.

Melissa: That sounds about right, right.

Kevin Altieri: But what I did get was invaluable. So in the thing is, is like when you run into you’re going out, looking for, to draw, especially life drawing is so [00:19:00] important. One thing that you really have to do is life drawing, but if you go and take a class look at your teacher’s drawings, and if that teacher’s drawing the instructor.

And if his drawings, you, you look at it and you go, Oh my God, I am never going to be that good. What am I going to do? That’s the right class. If you go in there and you see the teacher’s drawings, you’re like, Oh, hell I can do that. Right.

Melissa: That’s a good

Kevin Altieri: sign, whoever that

Melissa: is. Yeah. You don’t, you don’t want someone teaching you that you could literally, you know, be better than in three days.

Kevin Altieri: Yeah, no. And it’s like, I had one life drawing teacher in Boston who actually wrote, wrote a really brilliant book on life drawing and it just on drawing in general and Nate Goldstein and, you know, he he scared me, you know, it’s like, he, he, he saw. My life drawings. I was like, what [00:20:00] was I 17, 18, 18 that I was doing life drawing, you know, under his instruction.

And he actually came over and he looked at my drawings and he says, okay, I want you to go to the Stewart Gardner museum. And I want you to go to this back room and you’ll think it’s a pantry, but it’s not a pantry, but it may have been a pantry at some time. Yeah, Isabella Stewart Gardner’s house. It’s like, it’s one hell of a house.

Let me tell ya still there. But he said, I want you to go and look at the Rembrandts, open up these you’ll go into this pantry and open up the cupboards. And in those cupboards are all these etchings and drawings. So I went there and I studied. Like Rembrandt drawings and Albert  drawings and just all these Whistler was there.

And the just, and you know, and there’s been, you just study these guys that you just [00:21:00] feel like you never will ever be. Like, those guys felt the same way.

Melissa: Oh, yeah, I’m sure. Yeah. I mean, you gotta start somewhere and it’s like anything whether it’s writing or drawing, you only get better if you keep doing it and, you know, learning.

Kevin Altieri: Yeah. So that, that’s all, it’s like, just study the I mean, in another one thing that was really important to me was Howard Pyle from when I was a little kid and I grew up in new England. I would go to the library and I’d pull out the Scribner classics which were NC Wyatt’s drawings and illustration and all the Howard Pyle illustrations and Howard, pile’s just a master at just staging and storytelling in just one beautiful image.

And so like composition and storytelling. Was another thing that I learned, but that was like stuff that I learned on my own, you know, just artists that really [00:22:00] amazed me.

Melissa: Wow. And that seems like it paid off because you’re doing pretty good.

Kevin Altieri: Yeah.

Melissa: Well, I, you know, I was reading you, you have a scifi comedy called killer bowl.

Yes. Yes. What is that about? And when can we expect that to be released?

Kevin Altieri: Well, that is just getting into development right now. I started. And I was actually started I was approached to work on this and I’ve been working with Sam Humphrey who, I don’t know if anyone out there knows him. He was in the greatest showman played Tom thumb.

Oh yeah. Yeah, really good actor, great guy. And I’m actually doing, we’re actually doing, this is from a script by Gary Wolf who created Roger rabbit. Oh, how fun? Yeah, no. And it’s like, it’s really in the script, came to me through Eric . And he [00:23:00] was a producer guy out here in Los Angeles and it’s really the thing I really liked about it was.

It has it’s, it’s kind of like a, what would I say? It lends itself to animation because it’s a future world. That’s very similar to ours right now, but it has kind of a cross between rolling roller ball and blade runner. And just the world that you get to create is just it’s just going to be so much fun, but that’s just starting.

Melissa: That’s just starting. Okay. So that’s going to be your, your next thing that you kind of tackle. And how, how typically long do you expect something like this to, to to film and then post production till it gets to the public? Like, how does that work

Kevin Altieri: once it’s financed? It’s you know, we’ll probably be in production for, is a feature film probably a year, probably a year.

[00:24:00] But the feature films are a little different than anime than doing a Saturday morning animation or, or even, you know, one show. But I just got through doing that. It’s on a crunchy roll right now. Onyx Equinox. I was a director on that. Great.

Melissa: You directed four episodes? Yeah.

Kevin Altieri: Yeah. Awesome. And hopefully there’ll be another season, but I don’t know what’s going on with crunchy roll after the 18 T or the Sony, there was an 18 T acquisition and Sony I think is now in charge of crunchy roll.

Melissa: Oh yeah. I definitely read about that. That’s that’s interesting. Do you think it’s going to have a positive impact on it hopefully, or?

Kevin Altieri: I don’t, I don’t know what it means for the studio in Los Angeles because it’s Sony is a very big company. And I haven’t really talked to anyone about it. I hope, I hope I hope they continue with the whole Los Angeles office.

Cause that’s actually a really great idea. Yeah.

[00:25:00] Melissa: It seems to be very popular.

Kevin Altieri: Yeah. Yeah. But it’s, it’s like, again, crunchy roll is, you know, it’s mean it’s main thing is distributing and producing things in Japan.

Melissa: No. Okay. So it’s different. It’s a different market here too.

Kevin Altieri: Yeah. It’s a bit different. It’s a bit different here.

And it’s like, that’s the one thing that I liked about the shows that they were doing here. Like Onyx was well, Honix Equinox takes place in ancient Mesoamerica, and it’s a real, you know, it’s a real horror story adventure, but it really, and the thing I love about it is like, it takes place in the ancient world.

And I’m also a student of history. I love ancient history and just studying.

Melissa: It’s so fascinating.

Kevin Altieri: Yeah. And it’s like that. And you re I rarely get a chance to do that, you know, come up with, like, what did the ancient world really look like?

Melissa: Yeah. Oh, that’s awesome. And where can we [00:26:00] watch Onyx Equinox is that streaming anywhere?

Kevin Altieri: It’s streaming on crunchy roll right now.

Melissa: Okay. So the first season. The first season is streaming right now. Okay. So you’re just kind of waiting to see if you’re going to get approved for the second.

Kevin Altieri: I’m not waiting, but it’d be, it’d be nice. Actually, but in the meantime, it’s like I’m working on things like killer killable and another, another Gary Wolf, project ranger raccoon.

Yes.

Melissa: I was going to ask you about that one as well. Is that one. That is, or is that what you’re just still working on the process of it? I

Kevin Altieri: I’m just starting, I’m only one person I’m just starting development on that. And that one’s going to be that, that one is actually another, it’s a science fiction action adventure story, but this one lends itself more towards a text, Avery animation style.

And that’s what I like about Gary [00:27:00] is like, as a writer, He, you know, it’s like he did, you know, Roger, rabbit’s one thing, but he writes novels like space vulture, which is very buck Rogers, science fiction.

Melissa: Yeah. I’m very, very different from Audra.

Kevin Altieri: And it’s like totally a totally different thing. And then he writes Keller bowl, which is, which is a more serious science fiction.

You know, it’s almost a science fiction superhero story, and then you have ranger raccoon. Which is really does lend itself to like animation, slapstick stuff. And the lucky thing with me is I like doing all of it.

Melissa: You’re well rounded. Yeah.

Kevin Altieri: And I just finished doing a comic with Paul Dini.

Melissa: That’s ready.

We were talking about that earlier. Yeah. Tell us more about that.

Kevin Altieri: Yeah, well, no, it’s for a DC. And it’s Harley Quinn. I mean, I can talk about it, I believe because they announced they made an announcement, but it’s coming out in a few [00:28:00] months in the tabloid of Harley Quinn, black, white, and red.

Melissa: Cool.

I love Harley Quinn is one of my favorite characters.

Kevin Altieri: Oh yeah. No, that that’s. That was like, she was my favorite character. I mean, in Batman, the animated series. There’s so many characters that are so much fun to do and, you know, from poison Ivy to, to face. But Harley just, you know, kind of steals your heart.

Melissa: She does. Yeah. She’s so, I mean, you know, whimsical and Racquel class, but you just never know what she’s going to do next. And then at the same time, she’s like adorable and endearing in a weird way.

Kevin Altieri: Yeah. And, and I won’t say what the plot is. I won’t spoil plot. You have to go out and buy the book, but it’s a 10 page story I just did.

And it’s like, it’s just Paul beanie at his best. It’s just, it was just a, it was just a lot of fun to draw. And it’s like, and that’s another [00:29:00] thing is like, I just love drawing Harley. Yeah,

Melissa: no, she’s, she’s just such a fun character to look at as well. You know, that’s I can imagine that would be a blast to be able to put your own spin on it.

Kevin Altieri: Yeah. All I’ll say about this one is it isn’t just Harley. Okay.

Melissa: Interesting.

Kevin Altieri: Hopefully the enter a Harley and friends is all I’ll

Melissa: say. Okay. So I’m thinking either joker or birds of prey, but I’ll wait, I’ll wait.

Kevin Altieri: It’s better than

Melissa: both of them. Oh my God. Okay. I’m very excited now. And this comes out in a few months. Yeah, yeah,

Kevin Altieri: no, it was just, it was a food. It was a lot. It’s a lot of fun and it’s just a great script. Just a great fun story about Paul

Melissa: that’s. Great. And is that an ongoing series or just a certain amount of issues?

Kevin Altieri: Well they’re the Harley Quinn, black, white, and red is an ongoing series. But there, you know, different artists, [00:30:00] different writers and stuff. Okay.

Melissa: So they’re going to keep, keep it going then. It’s not like it doesn’t have an end date.

Kevin Altieri: No. This one story this cast of characters that Paul’s created, I would, I would really like, just keep doing these, this, this, this is just me.

This is just would be a fun thing to do.

Melissa: That would be awesome. Well, you never know. Right. We’ll still have to see what the response is and everything, and you know, if the fans want it, I feel like they do tend to continue sometimes.

Kevin Altieri: Yeah, no, I just hope my drawing meets everyone’s approval.

Melissa: I’m sure.

I’m sure it will. Another one I wanted to ask you about that. I think you have coming up as well as the act saloon. The legend has what’s the status on that one? Again,

Kevin Altieri: I’ve done develop on it and that’s another one that’s out there. And that one is again, you know, I’m actually Sam Humphrey again, he’s very interested in coming on to that as producer.

So that [00:31:00] we’re getting we’re getting traction on that one, but ax saloon, which I’ve done development for And I actually really enjoyed doing it. This one has, it’s written by Eric on Wonka, hopefully. And Eric, forgive me if I’m mispronouncing your name,

it’s kind of a liking name. Yeah, it sounds like it, but Eric he, he wrote this story with the blessing of the Chumash nation out here in California. And it’s a story. It’s basically this isn’t going to give away anything away, but this is my pitch for it is it’s Romeo and Juliet in the West breast.

Yeah. And it’s like the love story. You know, the tangled love story between a Chumash boy and this immigrant English girl. And you know, they fall in love and it’s like, you know, it’s, but it takes place [00:32:00] right here in Southern California, like Mount Baldy.

Melissa: Okay. And it, but it’s in like the wild West days or

Kevin Altieri: it’s in, it is in the wild West.

Melissa: Nice. I like that. It makes it more exciting.

Kevin Altieri: It’s guns, ablaze and in the wild West. And, and we are, we are doing it as factual too. You know, To the actual time period will be. And yet, and yet there’s still a very spiritual aspect to it also a lot. I mean, if I was to, it was to go and say, you know, what would be an inspiration for me to do it?

It would be you know, me as Xochi. Okay. No, I wouldn’t, I wouldn’t say spirited away, but you know,

Melissa: interesting. Yeah. And that’s, and that’s what, when is that going to release? What’s the attitude of the list?

Kevin Altieri: Just to add it to the list [00:33:00] since, since the lockdown has happened. Yeah, these things have been coming to me and I’ve been I’m in development on all of them and they all came about the same time.

So we are, you know, they’re all in negotiations and development now

Melissa: challenging for you to switch between projects or do you have the ability to sort of be like, okay, this is I’m in this story now.

Kevin Altieri: Maybe it’s just the training, but it’s like, not really, for me, it’s like, I’m able to, again, you know, it’s like my, my wacky, the way my wacky brain works it was kind of like back at Deek or even just doing a series like Batman.

You are, you have to have the ability as the director, especially if you’re hands-on and actually drawing and doing the storyboards. You have to be able to jump from show, to show, to show like when I’m [00:34:00] doing an actual drawing production of one episode, another script is on your desk and you are while you’re on the show before that.

The animation has come back. And now you’re in the editing Bay editing that show you are now art directing the next episode, and then the one in the future you’re working on and handing that out and working with artists

Melissa: constantly going. Yeah. So

Kevin Altieri: that’s kind of the nature of animation, or that’s been my experience in animation.

I mean, if you’re working on nothing, but like a feature, I’d say Disney. You’ll be on one project and you’ll have one job for several years.

Melissa: Right, but you’re kind of freelance. I mean, essentially, I don’t know if that’s the right word for it. Yeah.

Kevin Altieri: Yeah.

[00:35:00] Melissa: And I wanted to ask you about something. You know, totally different, but kind of in the same realm, but you you worked on the Pearl jam music video to the evolution. Yeah. I mean, you, you did it and how did you end up getting that gig?

Kevin Altieri: No, the Pearl jam video. That’s like looking inside of my head.

Oh, okay.

Melissa: Awesome. That’s a cool

Kevin Altieri: video. Well, thank you. No that was God, I was. That was like, I got, actually got a phone call from Joe Pearson epoch when it was like, it was a very small studio, you know, that was over here in Los Angeles and Santa Monica actually. And I known Joe from Deek and Joe called me up and said, Hey.

You know, I was talking to Todd McFarland about doing this video for Sony know, and I was like, Oh great. Sounds awesome. And he’s like, yeah, it’s a music video. But the problem is. We only got 12 weeks and I’m like, and I’m like, what do you mean 12 [00:36:00] weeks? Where that’s all you got for pre-production in, Joe’s like, no, no.

12 weeks to air date. Oh, wow. And I’m like, what in the heck are you insane? You know? Please, please just bear with me, you know, I know, I know you can do it. I’m like, well, geez. I don’t know. I mean, it Deek, we pulled off a lot of overnight stuff, but it’s like, Oh my God. You know, and, and I, you know, and I talked to Todd on the phone, Todd McFarland and for whatever reason, they really hadn’t gotten anything done.

It was like a job that they got from Sony a while back. And for whatever reason, you know, they were in the other projects, it just never was developed or got done. And so I went out that day and I went out and bought the Pearl jam the album yield. Yeah. I got the CD [00:37:00] and I’m like, man, you know, it’s like, just please, you know, my brain is going like, you know, just, I don’t, this isn’t possible.

I don’t know what we’re going to do. And you know, I just thought, well, if it’s a lousy song yeah, of course. Damn. So how can it be lousy? It just can’t be, you know, if it’s just Eddie, that’ll carry it. You know? Exactly. I played a song and as it’s playing in my head I started just seeing things and I’m like, Oh no, I’m sunk.

And then when I get to the hallelujah chorus and the song. My brain goes. I just think like, you know, and I, and I saw it clear as day. Wow. Little girl running in the field. She’d just be having, if she was the little French girl in 1913 would be having this pair of despicable, beautiful life. And then in 1914, it all changes [00:38:00] and it just becomes hell on earth.

Yeah. And then from then on, it was like, I was just thinking. Yeah, it’s history. It’s just, I do the evolution. It’s like literally we can show the big, you know, the beginnings of the world and mankind and go all the way to it’s suppose it end and show not as a prediction, but just to show what we’re, where we’ve been, what we’ve done wrong and where we’re going.

If we don’t correct ourselves.

Melissa: Yeah, it’s relevant today. I mean, you know, the video was, was done years ago, but it’s the message is still very relevant.

Kevin Altieri: Oh yeah. Oh my God.

Melissa: Even more, maybe

Kevin Altieri: it’s like, I got so much crap because I put, like, I put the politician in there, you know, I’m a thief, I’m a liar. No.

Here’s my church, I’ll sing in the choir and [00:39:00] everyone’s like, Oh, you, you made that you made the politician, you know, it’s like, you know, an in depth is of course the puppet master. And it’s like, well, look how true it is.

Melissa: I mean, it’s like per you know, per prophetic almost.

Kevin Altieri: Yeah, no. And, and I, and it’s like, again, how could a small little student, I actually talked to Todd about this?

And I said, you know what? It’s like, I’m not going to say that this is impossible because we’ve done things like this in the past. And we are going to have to hit the ground running and we’re going to have to cut some corners in the process of doing animation. So what we did was we just launched in and Joe had some pretty talented people over there, you know, like Brad Coombs and young noon you know, Jim Mitchell just good artists, good storyboard artists, you know, so we just hit the ground and there’s Adam van Wyck.

Who’s now like, you know, Adam van white. There’s another guy that was [00:40:00] on there turned into a great storyboard artist back then he was just a kid just learning. Yeah. I won’t say I was a kid, but I was a lot younger, but anyway, we just hit the ground running. And one thing that I thought of doing was making black, our friend.

Because black, the, the, how fast the animation overseas had to be done. Black could cover up a lot of mistakes and actually that we, by deciding to use a lot of black, that kind of makes it all look really cool.

Melissa: Yeah, no. And, and did did any of the, like Eddie better or the band members have any creative input of their own during this process?

Kevin Altieri: Eddie Vetter, for sure. Yeah. No everything had to go through the band. Eddie was the only one that showed up in person though that I actually had any dealing with. But yeah, I, I mean, the Sony had to have approval, but the. [00:41:00] Truthfully Sony, there was a lot of, there was like, we just drew like all these scenarios, you know, all these soundbites story bits, and we tacked them up on the wall, like you do at Disney and went through and eliminated stuff.

And, you know, came up, came up with basically. Yeah, this is a good one. Came up with this. It’s like I’m sitting there in the conference room and we’re pitching it. And Eddie is on the phone and I’m pitching like the storyboards, which are across the walls and describing them moment by moment by moment and you know, the song and then we get to the end and I just go and say, yeah, it’s kinda.

History of mankind in four minutes. And then I hear from the speakerphone that he better goes for stoners.

Melissa: Of course.

Kevin Altieri: And Eddie Vedder says history of [00:42:00] mankind in four minutes for stoners. That’s

Melissa: great. And so, yeah, apropos for the nineties. Really? Yeah.

Kevin Altieri: I’m actually, I it’s like I was, and it got a Grammy nomination for best video.

Oh, wow.

Melissa: Congratulations on that.

Kevin Altieri: Yeah, it was just the nomination.

Melissa: Yeah, but still, I mean, not everyone gets, you know, a Grammy nomination.

Kevin Altieri: Oh no, that’s true. And I think Madonna won that year. Of

Melissa: course she did. All right. Have you have you thought about doing any more music videos or is that yes, of course.

Kevin Altieri: Yes. There’s. I mean, I would love to do more. It’s a, you know, Those things don’t fall out a tree. Isn’t generally, you know, there’s the bands that want to do music videos. Especially, you know, they, they have their own friends that they do the animation of it, you know, so,

Melissa: yeah. I always [00:43:00] remember there’s a band called the gorillas that always had great animated videos.

Kevin Altieri: Yeah, that one pisses me off.

Melissa: Really? Why? Tell me why

Kevin Altieri: I was a big tank girl fan and Jamie Hewlett who is the creator of tank girl. And it was like, it actually, that was like 92. Yeah. It was like about the same time that we were doing Batman and I was just in love with this new artist, you know, fuel it.

He was great now. Yeah. And then he did that one gorillas video and it’s, you know, it it’s his, his drawing. It’s his aunt. He doesn’t do anything else. No, he doesn’t. He stop doing the comic book.

Melissa: That’s on fire. Unfortunate. So

Kevin Altieri: there are gorillas videos, but it’s not the same. I really want those comments. I want him doing comics so mad.

Melissa: Hopefully he’ll listen to this episode and [00:44:00] we can spur him on

Kevin Altieri: such a good artist, such a good artist. Yeah.

Melissa: That’s great. Well, before we let you go what I’d love to know what’s on your bucket list is as far as creatively, like what is, you know, something you would love to do in the future? I mean, I know he’s got a lot going on right now, but what’s like your dream, you know, dream job.

Kevin Altieri: Well, Jeez.

Melissa: It was probably a lie,

Kevin Altieri: actually. One of the dream, one of my dream projects to do, and I actually have done a lot of development on it and, and it might surprise people, but it’s one of the dream projects that I really would love to do would be an adaptation, an animated adaptation of the red badge of courage by Stephen Crane.

Melissa: Yeah. Interesting.

Kevin Altieri: Yeah. It’s just one of the most well-written books. And I don’t know why, but it’s kind of like the racial ghoul comics I read when I was [00:45:00] 13 that this book, you know, when I read those comics by Neil Adams and Denny O’Neil for whatever reason in my mind, I just wanted to do an animate, do Y animation of it, you know, I was 13.

What do I know? Right. How can I get out of escape from Connecticut, you know, and do animation? I don’t, I had no idea. When I was 13 in a red, the red badge of courage for the first time, it really had a profound influence on me because it wasn’t just a story about combat and about war. Hmm. It actually is a lot about just the nature of cowardice.

Yeah. So it’s about the nature of relationships of people. And it, it’s just a magnificent story and it’s just visually so rich and it’s, it’s terrible and beautiful at the same time. And it’s [00:46:00] just, it’s just one of those, it’s just one of those things. And here, here we are living in this age and it’s like, yeah, dealing.

We are still dealing with the issues that we dealt with during the American civil war. Yup.

Melissa: That’s fortunately. Yeah, it doesn’t go

Kevin Altieri: away. No. And I really would love to do that and it’s like, I’ve done a lot of development on it. People come to it and then it goes away, you know, it’s just, that would be a dream project to do that.

That’s

Melissa: awesome. And is there, as far as doing the adaptation, is there any kind of like, hoops you have to jump through as far as like acquiring rights or anything like that? Or

Kevin Altieri: no? No, I don’t think so. I mean, it’s, it was written so long ago,

Melissa: so it’s like considered the, what do they call it? Like royalty free or whatever.

 

Kevin Altieri: Yeah, classic literature. It’s kind of like, another book, another one I’d love to do is Dracula. You know, [00:47:00] I would love to do, and it’s like, I don’t know why we’ll just do, although the BBC did a pretty good to you, Louise or done version of Dracula, Dracula, again, another Brahms Stoker it’s public domain, you know, it’s been out there so long, but no, one’s actually done the story.

Melissa: You know, it’s funny. I interviewed Dacre Stoker, the great great grand nephew of Bram. And he’s actually, he wrote a prequel to Brown Stoker Dracula called draw. Cool. Which is a really good book. And he’s got a lot of stuff in the work side. Kind of keep my eyes on him. He’s trying to kind of revamp the whole, you know, Dracula name.

Kevin Altieri: Oh yeah, no. And again, it’s. I mean, I read again, that’s another book that I read when I was like very young when I was 13. So it was like fashionable. The thing that nobody breaks,

Melissa: I know, I know right. For the

Kevin Altieri: Hammerfield the hammer film. When, when Peter Cushing is van [00:48:00] Helsing. He nails it.

Melissa: I don’t think I’ve seen that one.

Kevin Altieri: Oh, the horror of Dracula.

Melissa: No, I’ve never seen that. I have to

Kevin Altieri: write that down. Well, yeah, no, no. The hammer films it’s like in, in the second one, the brides of Dracula, but the character of van Helsing there is in the thing that no one really gets is that these are modern. This is modern man. Yeah. Within one of the guys, I mean, Coppola kind of did it.

Koblick kind of did it, but it’s like, but the thing is, is like you have, like one of the heroes, Quincy Harker is a straight up cowboy. What are the Winchester? You know? And you know, and the thing is, is like, this is modern man meeting the horrors of the ancient world. And that’s battle is, and, and that, that really is never dealt with

Melissa: you’re right.

There’s so many different [00:49:00] possibilities and angles you could take, you know, in a re-imagining of Dracula. I think there’s so many great characters and some of lore and mythology in it. Yeah.

Kevin Altieri: Just the steam engine enables them to chase Dracula down, you know, things like that, you know, that’s, I mean, it’s like, you know, a Coppola that people touch on it, but it’s never really.

That that cause when I was reading it and I was a kid and I guess it’s serialized again, that’s it? It was just a, it’s a, it’s like an adventure. That’s just, you know, whereas as a horror movies, you know, again, the horror of Dracula comes pretty close in the atmosphere and feeling. But Peter Cushing nails it and

Melissa: I’ll have to check that out because I was not familiar with that one.

Yeah.

Kevin Altieri: Well, if you’re a Christopher Lee fan, you have to.

Melissa: Yeah, absolutely. I’m trying to kind of track that down.

Kevin Altieri: Yeah, no, Christopher Lee is [00:50:00] magnificent is Dracula.

Melissa: Oh, okay. Yeah. I mean, I’ve, I’ve seen the, the Coppola one which, like you said, it was, it came close to giving it yeah. But then y’all in town.

Kevin Altieri: It’s like, but then it’s like, Oh, it’s gotta be a love story. And it’s like, Oh, why are you doing it?

Melissa: Yeah. Reincarnation, I think type of love story too, which was interesting.

Yeah. Then there was the, the Dracula movie that came out. Not that long ago with Luke Evans. That was actually pretty good. I liked it. Yeah. But they’re not going where they could

Kevin Altieri: go. And I think actually animation wise, you could really make that period come to life. And you know, you wouldn’t be tied down to how an actor looks or anything.

Melissa: Yeah. You have a more I think probably what creative freedom and in doing animation with it. Yeah.

Kevin Altieri: That’s I mean, things like that, I got, I’d love to do that to courage. [00:51:00] I’d love to do courage. It’s like, yeah. I would love to do that as like, you know, yeah. The red badge of courage would be the veteran’s day, Memorial day, 4th of July.

Special and then directly would be the Halloween special. Yeah,

Melissa: that’d be awesome. Well, I hope you can get around to doing that. I mean, I know you’re super busy, so you can just add it to your list.

Kevin Altieri: Just another thing to do.

Melissa: Well, you’ll have to come back on once some of those other projects start releasing so we can, you know, talk about them and, and get more information about them.

Kevin Altieri: Yeah. Yeah, no, it’s like right now, I can’t really talk. And, and of course, and there’s, Oh my God. There’s another one that another project that actually I’ve written with my partner bill in Boden and that’s, Oh God, it’s like, I really want to announce it. And that’s also another one that’s in development, but I really know Melissa.

I [00:52:00] mean, now, Once, once something starts happening with it and I get financing for it, then I’ll. Start talking about it, but it’s just a kind of thing that could just be ripped off too easily.

Melissa: Yeah, no, totally. Well, I hope you come back on and talk to us about it first. I will. Yeah, that would be great.

Kevin Altieri: I can get a release on the, you know, and I can talk it.

I’ll get you.

Melissa: Perfect. Awesome. Well, I appreciate you talking with me tonight. It’s been a lot of fun getting to know you and, and chatting with you tonight.

Kevin Altieri: Okay. Yeah, no, it’s a pleasure.

Melissa: Yeah. And so for everyone listening, you know, you’ve got lots of stuff to keep an eye out for a killer bull range of raccoon Oxley in the legends, a new Harley Quinn story from DC.

Got lots of staff to, to look forward to from you. Thank you so much. You’re welcome. Hold on one second. They’re great.

 

 

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