by Tracy Vanity
In a town that never changes, children must work and adults get to play. But something is really off about this place called “Lantern Town”…first of all, there are only five children in the whole town and their job is to go out every night to look for monsters. The grownups are pretty creepy with painted-on smiles who agree with everything they are told by their sleazy mayor. They drink all day and hang out at the “Lantern House” where shady decadent shit goes down.
Things literally run like clockwork until a strange man comes into town and changes everything. Nightmares are unleashed and the children are forced to face their fears which includes M dot’s signature chaos battles with crazy monsters and epic bosses.
Ever since I came across a copy of We Are The Strange several years back, I’ve been a big fan of M dot Strange’s work. His animation is not only trippy and unique but he’s 100% independent, making 3 full-length feature animations by himself!
Typically, I’m a total pirate and torrent the shit out of movies, TV shows, and music, but when I see an independent artist making something I really enjoy that blows my tits off, I support them if/when I have the money. Thankfully, I had just gotten paid as soon as I am Nightmare Deluxe Edition was officially released so I was able to buy it and watch it immediately. I had been following M dot’s creative process through his Twitter and was really looking forward to seeing the finished product. I am Nightmare did not disappoint. It was great to see how much M dot Strange’s animation has progressed since his first movie, focusing more on story and characters than his previous films, and further developing his computer animation skills with the hours upon hours of practice he’s had.
M dot was nice enough to answer some questions about being a totally independent animator, as well as his inspiration and his nightmares!
1) There is a reoccurring theme in all of your movies with dolls and the underdog having to battle this giant video game-like boss. Is this theme influenced by you being a completely independent filmmaker battling the big boss of the entertainment industry?
Doing what I do the way I do it, I guess I do feel like I’m this tiny speck competing with and going up against this giant scary machine, so that tends to show up in my stuff. Also observing the giant machine that is the status quo pulverizing people day after day can’t help but seem like the biggest most terrifying monster looming over us all everyday- it’s the ultimate bad guy-
2) What inspired I am Nightmare and your other films?
I am Nightmare was really inspired by me having grown up as a kid who thought he knew better with his life choices but was constantly told by people older/richer/more experienced than me that the world was a certain way and that’s how it would always be and that I was foolish to try and do something outside of its rules- to me “reality” is a nightmare here in the United States- what started out as the “American Dream” is now a nightmare that helps terrorize the whole world- meanwhile most people here just go about their lives like everything is great- to some people its a dream-to most its a nightmare- it was also inspired by the Nietzsche book “Antichrist“- what I got from that book was that in order to be a true artist or someone that causes change you have to become what the status quo would call the Antichrist- or a nightmare to their dream as I used it- my other films were inspired by small real life events that I spun into strange fantasy scenarios- We Are the Strange was inspired by a cat crying in a warehouse I walked by at night once- Heart String Marionette was inspired by a dream I had about inanimate objects coming to life as I walked by them.
3) Why did you decide to go gonzo and make your movies independently instead of selling your soul and becoming a slave to some big studio?
I do this because I love doing it- I’ve never done it because I wanted to be rich or famous- it’s just the most interesting thing I’ve found to do with my time and life- I’m trying to make the best stuff I can with integrity- I had my chances to “go Hollywood” but the people I was meeting with from that industry- I found them mostly to be classless, talentless buffoons who only got their positions of power because of who they knew or who they were related too- that’s bullshit- if I don’t like people, or I think they’re frauds, I can’t/don’t pretend, I just walk away. And the people in the power positions in Hollywood seem like a bunch of frauds to me who only care about making money.
4) How do you fund your films?
There’s not much to fund- since I do everything- funding my films involves keeping me alive, having a place to live + utilities, food to eat, and computers to use- and I do that by any means necessary- sales of my various wares- freelance jobs- charity from my family/friends- living cheap- the only nonlife expense for I am Nightmare was the $1500 I spent paying voice actors and I raised that money through donations- so the budget on I am Nightmare was $1500- this past year and a half I put all the money in Bitcoin and other crypto-currencies I hope that continues to grow then I could use that to fund my stuff- this past week I’ve been selling computer parts on eBay for money.
5) You made a promise to yourself and your fans that you would make I am Nightmare in a year and would subsequently make a movie a year from now on. It takes a major studio company several years to complete an animated movie. Why did you decide to do that to yourself?
I realized that even though its a lot of work for me to make one or two or three films- in the big picture that’s nothing to a film fan- I realized I need to have 7-10 feature films out there to get peoples attention- to really get things going for my film career- With I am Nightmare I wanted to see if it was possible and I did it so one a year seemed like a good way to make sure I get a lot of my work out there- but I’m already going back on my word as I am Nightmare hasn’t sold as many copies as I thought so I can’t live off of it for very long at all and I can’t bank on my next film doing that either so in 2014 I’m focusing on starting my own online film school and making and selling video games- once I have that stuff going and making steady money than I can fuck around for another year on a movie- I’m hoping I’ll be able to do another movie in 2015 though- its technically possible for me to make a new movie every year + games + music + a lot of other things IF I have to funding so its my goal to secure that first.
6) You mentioned in your YouTube video that you also want to work on video games as well. You also make music and are known to put out an entire album while working on making a movie. How do you manage to do all that? What projects are you working on right now?
Yeah before I was a failed filmmaker I was a failed musician now I hope to be a failed game designer haha- I love music and films and I’ve always loved a good game- I started with music the same time I started doing films and they just grew with each other as audio/music skills really help film production- now with the video game thing- I always thought the tools were too difficult because I’m not a programmer but in the past three weeks I’ve been teaching myself game design making two joke games already “Dicks will fall on your head‘ and “Robots are dicks” my mind kind of exploded as I got these basic game making skills- I’ve got about 12 different games ideas and I’m working on one now- so this year its all about video games for me but I’ll probably kick out one or two music albums as well as if I don’t make music for too lang I go kinda crazy but yeah I’d like to take the worlds/experiences/emotions I create in my films and make them playable experiences for people as games- I’m really excited by the possibilities now I just need to learn the tools-
7) What is your ultimate nightmare?
Since I’m a control freak… it probably has something to do with slavery- not having my own free will to do what I want- or being a little kid and having some stupid religious fanatic parent running my life…
If you like what you see, I highly recommend purchasing the full movie and M dot’s other movies to help fund his future projects. He is the only person I know of who has managed to create 3 animated features on his own and has 0 interest in selling out to Hollywood! A typical animated feature takes hundreds of people and millions of dollars! M dot Strange is proof that complete artistic freedom and independence is not only possible and a better choice, but based on the shit that major entertainment corporations are shelling out, supporting independent artists is necessary if you want art that will wake you up and inspire you instead of enslave your mind.