Festival of Animation welcomes ‘Simpsons’ Producer David Silverman to La Jolla


By Ashley Mackin

The Spike and Mike Festival of Animation kicked off its 30th anniversary celebration with a guest visit by David Silverman, producer and director of “The Simpsons,” Feb. 9 and 10 at the Museum of Contemporary Art San Diego in La Jolla.

“It’s always high anxiety for me because it’s a lot of responsibility, (and) until we show the films and see the initial response (you never know),” said Craig “Spike” Decker, festival co-founder. “I think every film we picked so far has been a winner; we haven’t had one negative comment.”

Twenty films reflecting the evolution of animation, including those created via traditional hand-drawn cells, clay model 3-D, computer-generated and puppet animation — will screen through March 30.

Silverman answered questions and signed autographs during the festival’s premiere intermissions. Having attended in the past just for fun, Silverman said this time he has enjoyed being a “celebrity director,” and answering questions from the audience.

One viewer asked Silverman if the actors are allowed to ad-lib. “Not only are they allowed, we relish and look forward to them ad-libbing,” he said, adding that now, writers leave spaces in the script solely for ad-libs.

At the Feb. 10 show, Silverman kicked off the Q&A citing the top questions he is asked. “Maggie will not talk, (the kids) will not get older, Springfield is a made-up city in a made-up state,” he told the crowd.

Jill Funk, 8, wondered how the animators draw the characters so well? Silverman explained that the producers use model sheets and construction diagrams to maintain consistency from artist to artist, which help illustrate how to draw the characters. That, and “We’ve been doing this for 25 years, so we kind of figured it out,” he laughed.

One budding animator asked for advice. “I recommend practicing drawing people in action, either dancers or (athletes at) sporting events or something like that. Get a sense of quick gestures (and) a sense of real, strong dynamic poses that have energy and movement,” Silverman advised.

Referencing the films being screened at the festival, he said, “What I like about them (are) the dynamic posing and really, the energy. The way you get there, I find, is gesture drawings. That not only helps your drawing abilities, but also when you start doing computer animation.”

Decker said this Festival of Animation “tends to be more of a highbrow show, if you will. There is a heavy emphasis on humor, art and entertainment — just fun films with a lot of award- winning film styles and techniques.”

For a schedule and tickets, visit