Dick Figures has been a popular web series for three years, racking up over 350 million views on Youtube. Because of their success they decided to make a film, which they brought to Kickstarter for funding.
We had a chance to ask the director, Zack Keller, a few questions about his film and his experiences and influences that went into its creation.
At what point did you decide that you would make a Dick Figures movie?
The movie came about organically, just like everything else with the show. A lot of what informs of us what to do next comes about by reading the comments on YouTube and interacting with our fans on Twitter/Tumblr. When the fans wanted the soundtracks, we released them. When the fans wanted t-shirts and posters, we made them. For months we had seen comments on YouTube asking for a Dick Figures movie, which was something we’ve always wanted to do too, so we took a risk and spent six weeks planning, and then another six weeks running a Kickstarter campaign. It was honestly one of the most exhausting periods ever for us but we were blown away by the outpouring of fan support and are so grateful that we were able to make this movie. It’s been the most fun we’ve ever had.
How long did it take to bring the movie from writing to completion?
Exactly one year to the day. Our Kickstarter funded July 2012 and at the end of July 2013 we were finishing the final renders. That is lightning quick for a feature animated film, many of which take 3-5 years to create. Thankfully, the team who made the movie had also been working on the show for three years so they were all seasoned pros who were eager to flex their creative muscle. We couldn’t be more proud of the talented people around us, they blew us away at every turn.
Why did you bring your film to Kickstarter?
Dick Figures has always been a show made for the fans, so when we considered doing Dick Figures The Movie we knew we wanted it to be made by the fans as well. Over the past three years the fanbase exploded to over 350 million views across YouTube and after reading all the comments we knew there were tons of people out there interested in a movie. Since Dick Fingers started online, we thought it was only right to keep it there by pushing the boundaries of online crowd-funding and distribution. We hope we’ve done a little bit to help encourage other independent artists and creators like us get their projects up and off the ground too!
After your success with Kickstarter do you plan to bring any further projects up through that style of fund raising?
We definitely think crowd-funding and digital distribution are the future of filmmaking, both for independent and studio movies. This format allows a direct line of communication with the fans which is immensely helpful, but also puts the movie into people’s hands internationally from day one across a wide variety of platforms. We strongly believe that creating entertaining content that’s accessible everywhere not only helps to crush piracy but also allows fans to easily share the movie they love right online. Especially for Dick Figures The Movie, which didn’t have any money for advertising or marketing, we had to rely on our amazingly supportive fanbase to spread the word through social media. Without a single dollar spent, Dick Figures The Movie broke into the Top 10 across several categories on iTunes and that’s all thanks to our incredible fans! Making this movie has been a dream come true and we’re excited to do it again for the next one.
Have you based any of the Dick Figures characters on people that you know?
Absolutely. Red and Blue are our alter-egos, except times a billion. When we write episodes we’re often just joking back and forth together and what comes out is our opinions, what games/movies/books we’ve been consuming and what we think is funny. Pink, Stacy, Broseph and several other characters in the show are based on all the hilarious things our friends do and say (thankfully they’re still friends with us after we put them in the show).
What made you decide on the animation style that you settled on?
Initially … laziness. The original pilot of the show had a much more polished look, but after scrapping it at the last minute and running short on time, the now-familiar scrappy art-style became the only thing we had time to do and it stuck! But animating like this allowed us to create episodes and the movie in record-breaking time and budget but it is also something the fans can draw too! And we’ve come to realize, by accident, that sometimes crappier is funnier.
Which animators/filmmakers would you consider to be an influence?
Though we’re animation directors, most of our influences come from live-action filmmakers. Steven Spielberg, George Lucas, and Christopher Nolan specifically as we’re heavily influenced by action and adventure films. Most of our animation and comedy influences are actually from TV series such as The Simpsons, Regular Show and Futurama. We’re also blown away and inspired heavily by the work our friends and co-online-animation-makers like Cyanide & Happiness and many many others are doing.
What other web series do you enjoy while not focusing on your own series?
There are so many talented animators on YouTube right now: Cyanide & Happiness, Alex and Linsday Small-Butera (who even worked on the film!), Ninja Sex Party, Tomska, Egoraptor, and so many amazing shows at Mondo Media. We hope this new model of distribution takes off so that others have the opportunity to share their creative visions with the world as well!
You’ve been doing the Dick Figures animated series for three years now. How long do you think that the series can last?
In a series that’s about nothing you can do something forever. Dick Figures really is a blank canvas when it comes to what we can do, definitely a challenge in its own right, but that also allows us to take risks and break the rules as often as possible. Red and Blue have plenty more funny things left to say.