Spike & Mike’s Festival of Animation and then later Sick & Twisted Festival of Animation was started by two unlikely characters: Spike Decker and Mike Gribble. From their humble beginnings of Rock band promoters and special screenings of horror films and some classics, the two used never-before-seen or used innovative grassroots promotion to create a culture and build what became a launching pad for some of today’s most successful animators of our time.
Animation Outlaws tells the story of two geniuses with an eye for talent who would turn the world of animation on it’s ear and catapult yesterday’s unknown talent to today’s most powerful creatives in the field. Interviews include Spike Decker, Weird Al Yankovich, Seth Green, Nick Park (Wallace & Gromit), Will Vinton, David Silverman(The Simpsons), Andrew Stanton (WALL-E, Finding Nemo), Peter Docter (Up, Monsters Inc.), Libby Simon (Ren & Stimpy), and many many more.
Mike Gribble died from cancer in August 1994. Spike Decker continues to produce touring theatrical festivals of animated short film collections.
Q&A Interview with Animation Outlaw himself – legendary Spike!!
Joanna: What came first: your passion for promoting, or your passion for indie animators?
Spike: Promoting came first. Back in Riverside, a neighborhood kid named Jerold Katz and I created carnivals in the backyard. We would ride around on bikes to promote our carnival. We invented games. Kids would pay a 10 cents to play the games. We would make 75 cents. Then later, a few doors down, I met Bob Scarano of Sterno and the Flames. I became S&TF bodyguard and bass vocals. I learned promoting through entertainment
Q: What are some of your secrets for spotting talent?
Spike: It was a natural ability about knowing and judging by humour, story, timing or accessibility. Getting to know your audience very well. It became ingrained in me as a small boy because my family was into collectibles. Things like dolls and toys. I learned to spot something that has value.
Q: What do you think makes an extraordinary animated story?
Spike: Character design, accessibility, storyline with a beginning middle and end. Not making credits too long.
Q: In 30 years on the road, what was the most shocking and/or funny thing that you can remember?
Spike: The most shocking thing is seeing year after year on Haight street in SF, the strung out kids and when we came back a year later, they were still alive.
The funniest was Scotty(my dog) getting a standing ovation at Palace of Fine Arts. He had shredded ballons and a blow up toy and then dragged it off stage. The audience went wild.
Q: What has significantly changed in operating now without Mike?
Spike: The sound of one hand clapping. I’m on my own. No one to share an exciting film with. No one to confide in. No one there to bounce an idea off.
Q: How many years after starting the first animation festival did it become profitable or feel stable?
Spike: Profitable the first show we did in 1977 in Riverside. By 1978 you were really making a profit. So in our second year, Festival of Animation was profitable. It was stable when our shows that ran for 3 months and sold out all those nights.
Q: It’s gotten harder over the past decade to get people to go to live events. How have you dealt with that? And are you looking for a new crew who knows how to do what you did, but online?
Spike: People like the live events because you can’ t have that on the internet. There is nothing like a big screen. It is like going to a live concert. I am looking for somebody to take the Festival of Animation over. Learn from we did. Take it to new levels.
Thanks out to Spike for the interview!
Here the trailer on Animation Outlaws: https://vimeo.com/263366821