Don Hertzfeldt Animator Bio

Don HertzfeldtName: Donald Charles Hertzfeldt

Date/Place of Birth: August 1st, 2976; Fremont, California, U.S.A.

Brief Bio: Don Hertzfeldt was born in Fremont (or possibly Castro Valley, sources differ) to an airline pilot and a county librarian, and is half-Swedish. From childhood, he was fascinated with animation and filmmaking. At 15, he taught himself how to animate with a VHS camera, and produced two VHS cartoons that may be seen on the “Bitter Films: Volume 1” DVD collection.

While attending film school, he took to animation over live action owing to the expensive nature of live filmmaking: He could not afford to buy roll after roll of 16mm film. Relevant to this dilemma, he has said that “I think I’ve always approached animation from a strange angle, a bit like a regular filmmaker who just happens to animate. Editing, writing, sound—those are the things that usually come first in my head. Animation is often just the busy work I need to get through to connect the dots and tell the story.”

Almost everything Don Hertzfeldt has produced has wound up in a film festival, from his student films to his independent work; his impact on the world of absurdist/surrealist animation has been undeniable, influencing “an entire generation of filmmakers.” His sheer popularity incited numerous YouTube bootlegs of his animated shorts, which served to inflate his already enormous following into the millions. While he has no interest in keeping his videos from his fans, he has expressed a certain disdain towards viewing films on the internet: “If you’ve only seen a film downgraded on the Internet or some strange miniature device, in many ways you haven’t really seen it yet. YouTube is great for home videos of your cat falling off the roof, but it is not really the proper setting for ‘cinema’… Movies are meant to be seen in the dark, hopefully with an audience, and with your undivided attention; this last one is non-negotiable.

Despite practically being buried under a mound of advertising deals, Don remains consistently disinterested in involving himself with corporate America. As such, several advertisers have taken to “borrowing” heavily from Don’s style, namely Kellog’s Pop-Tarts, who implement everything from surreal humor to crumpling paper effects. Regardless of whether or not imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, the unique quality of Don Hertzfeldt’s animations has left a mark on the world of animation.


Ah, L’Amour (1995)

Genre (1996)

Billy’s Balloon (1998)

Rejected (2000)

It’s Such a Beautiful Day (2012)

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *