Your movie Infinite
Santa 8000 - in a few words, what is it about?
put, it about is a cyborg Santa
Claus fighting mutants and robo-people in
a vast post-apocalyptic wasteland. In the year 8000. With a
heavy metal soundtrack. Yeah, it sounds pretty goofy - it’s easily
the strangest project I’ve ever done.
sure I'm not the first to ask this: Why put Santa
Claus into a post-apocalyptic scenario? And your sources of
inspirations when writing Infinite
Santa 8000 in general?
we get this a lot. In late 2009, Greg Ansin and I had just finished Drive-In
an anthology horror film which is basically Creepshow
a post-apocalyptic drive-in. We were looking to do a new project,
and I am a huge fan of Christmas horror, and Christmas in general for that
matter. From a business standpoint, Christmas films are appealing
because they are relevant every year, so each December your film has the
potential to grow. So we decided to do something in the Christmas
genre. We went through a bunch of ideas, including a Christmas
parody record comprised of wacky Christmas songs, but ultimately settled
We have no memory of how we got to that point, but we’re glad we
made it there. It started as a web series that we released in 2010
on YouTube, and when it attracted enough fans that were asking for more
content we decided to adapt it into a feature film.
though the concept is pretty out there, we take a lot of inspiration from
fairly traditional sources when writing: Mad Max,
- basically any great action-adventure film. We try to keep the
stories very simple. The web series is comprised of 13 short
episodes, so our only rule when writing was to end each one on a
cliffhanger so that the viewer would want to keep watching. Writing
the movie was really different - we wanted it to be bigger, more epic in
scope. A series of cliffhangers doesn’t work in a film - it feels
of the wonderful things about the first Star
is how tight the script is. I’m not talking about the dialogue,
which has received its fair share of criticism, but the structure. For
most of the film, the characters narrowly escape from danger only to be
plunged into another perilous scenario and then another, and maybe they
have a quick moment to breathe before they’re back in the thick of it
again, and so on. A lot of people don’t talk about this aspect of
the film, but we find it very inspirational. It keeps the story
moving and the excitement level high, because as an audience you never
feel like it’s safe to relax for too long. It’s so simple, but
we strongly believe that there’s a lot of power in writing simply.
What can you tell us
about your co-writer and producer Greg Ansin, and what was your
and I have worked together for the past ten years on all sorts of
projects: documentary films, horror, music videos, TV - you name it.
Santa 8000 we
had taken on three big films together: Growing
a documentary about aging, Laban
a documentary about the 1986 revolution in the Philippines, and Drive-In
So even though we had never done an animated project like Infinite
we had so much experience together that we were confident that we could
collaborate effectively even though we were in a new medium. We
approach films and filmmaking in the same way, so collaborating is very
we work together on the storytelling, animation, and production, and we
have many of the same skills, we each come from different backgrounds.
Greg has a lot of experience in audio recording, and I have a lot in
cinematography, so there’s a natural division of labor on certain parts
of the process. And it’s always nice to learn from each other,
As far as I know, Infinite
Santa 8000 started out as a webseries - so how did it get
"promoted" to a feature film eventually?
we put out the web series, we were very flattered at the incredibly
positive response that we got. I’m not trying to sound pompous,
but we had a lot of fervent fans demanding more content. The web
series was season one of a three-season story arc, and we had mapped out
seasons two and three (and written most of it). But it occurred to
us that we could put the story on hold and tell a brand-new story in a
feature film, which could expand the universe and appeal to a wider
audience. As popular as YouTube is, there are a ton of people that
want to watch a feature-length movie and not a web series. By doing
a separate story, we didn’t have to rely on people watching the web
series in order to know what was going on. That said, if you’ve
already watched the web series, you will get more from the film because
you already know the characters and world.
terms of content, Infinite
Santa 8000 is very much over-the-top and extreme whichever way you
want to look at it. So was there ever any line in the movie you refused to
try to keep our world to the realm of Hallmark Holidays - Christmas and
Easter, in this case, although we’re not opposed to any others. Yes,
there is an Easter Bunny in the movie, in case you were wondering. We
don’t want to get involved in the religious aspects of Christmas, which
is why you won’t see Jesus or any other holy figure in the
Santa 8000 world.
Infinite Santa, the character, is the good, jolly old elf that we
see on Christmas Cards, store displays, Coke commercials, etc.
How would you describe
Santa 8000's very own humour?
concept of our film is pretty ridiculous, so we felt like we were missing
out if we didn’t inject some humor into it. That said, we didn’t
want the whole thing to be comedic, so we kept the comedy to the battle
and action scenes in the form of one-liners: “I’ll trim the tree with
your brains!”, “You want a piece of Santa? Come get some!”,
stuff like that. We didn’t have much humor in the web series,
which we played a little straighter. This is fine because the episodes are
so short, but it was needed in the film for a change of pace. Also,
there is so much fighting and action that at a certain point all you’d
hear is grunts and fighting sounds, which gets old quickly.
What can you tell
us about the visual style you went for in Infinite
happened completely organically. When we started on the web series,
we needed to make sure that we had talented artists on board or we
couldn’t do the project. Greg and I animate, but we take images
that are hand-drawn and colored first, because we can’t draw like that!
We knew Nick Flanagan and Jeff O’Brien from Drive-In
were make-up artists) and we thought they would be great choices for the
material. Nick did all of the line drawing and came up with the
character designs with Greg and I, and Jeff did the coloring. So the
characters evolved that way. Nick and Jeff are tattoo artists, among
their many talents, and I think there’s a lot of tattoo influence on the
we got the art into Adobe After Effects, our animation software, Greg and
I had to figure out what to do with it. I had some animation
experience in college (I graduated from Vassar in 1999) and as an intern
at an animation company in 2000, but nothing like this. Neither of
us knew After Effects well at all, so we just started playing with things
to see what worked. As I mentioned, I come from a cinematography
background, so I laid things out in layers as though we were shooting with
a real camera, and used digital lights to light each shot because that’s
what I was familiar with. The style just grew from there, mostly out
of necessity and experimentation.
Do talk about the animation process
for a bit if you can!
each character is designed, we break it up into pieces: head, chest, upper
arm, lower arm, hand, etc. Then we put it together in the computer
and move it like a marionette. For example, if a character is going
to wave, we’ll move the upper arm and lower arm together and we won’t
move the rest of the body at all. After Effects helps our process
immensely, because we can tell it where to start the movement and where to
end it, and the program draws the rest. This saves us tons of time -
there’s no way we could have animated the film, or the web series,
What can you tell us about
critical and audience reception of Infinite
Santa 8000 so far?
been very lucky. As I mentioned earlier, the response to the web
series was so positive that it inspired us to do the film. We had
hardcore fans leaving us comments on our YouTube videos asking when more
were coming out. So far, the response to the film has been
overwhelmingly positive, I’m relieved to say. When you make a
film, you try your best but you never really know if you’ve done it
right until people see it.
Claus such a beloved character, will there be a sequel to Infinite
Santa 8000? And any (other) future projects you'd like to share?
would love to keep going in the Infinite Infinite
Santa 8000 world.
As I mentioned, we have seasons two and three of the web series that
we’d love to do, and we’re always open to a sequel. Greg and I
have written 6000 years of backstory for the Infinite
Santa 8000 universe
(from the year 2000 to 8000) and there are so many tales in that time span
that we would love to tell: where Santa came from, how the world got to
the run-down state it’s in, the origin of Dr. Shackleton, etc. There
are a lot of side stories we’d love to jump into that don’t even
involve Santa at all, about Martha, the Easter Bunny, and a bunch of other
characters that we are keeping secret until we have a chance to reveal
them in future projects.
Feeling lucky ?
any of my partnershops yourself
for more, better results ?
The links below
will take you
have some other things in the works right now but nothing I can talk about
publicly. Fun stuff, though.
movie's website, Facebook, whatever else?
Santa 8000 can
be found at http://www.infinitesanta.com.
The film is available for rent and purchase at iTunes, amazon,
Google Play, Xbox, VuDu, and Cable On Demand. The website has links
to all of these vendors, as well as trailers, exclusive clips of the film,
the web series, our Twitter and Facebook pages, and much more.
you are dying to mention and I have merely forgotten to ask?
you’ve been very thorough!
for the interview!
you! You’re on the nice list. Ho ho ho!