Heath Affolter is an award-winning producer, director and writer and a two-time LEO Award nominee. In 2006, Heath and his three brothers formed Affolter Entertainment, a Vancouver based production company. Affolter Entertainment produces and develops original content for film, television and the web. The films, commercials and music videos Heath and his brothers produced have won or been nominated for over 15 awards and played in dozens of film festivals worldwide. On a personal note, Heath loves movies and sports, but dislikes having to write bios about himself.
What part of Canada are you from Heath?
Born in Vancouver, grew up in the beautiful Slocan Valley in the Kootenay region of BC, and am currently back in Vancouver where I have been for the last decade or so. Love this town.
What inspired you to write for animation?
My brothers and I have always loved animation. Just like everyone, we loved cartoons when we were kids, but for some reason we just never grew out of it like most people (not the readers of this website of course, but you know... "normal" people). Having two brothers who are animators has helped keep me in touch with the animation world while growing up, but to be honest, I think I'd want to write for animation whether my brothers were involved in it or not. There's just so much you can do with it, you're truly bound by nothing, which is especially a blessing when you come from the indie film world where you're constantly being told to write what you know will be feasible to shoot. But in the end, I just love stories. Animation, live-action, fiction or non, they're all just mediums to tell stories, and most of the time it just comes down to which medium is the best for telling your particular story.
|Affolter Bros being interviewed at the Santa Cruz Film Festival|
How would you describe your writing style?
As far as the actual writing goes, I think that's kind of a difficult question for someone to answer about themselves. I guess the question is, how would you describe my writing style?
As far as the process of the writing goes, I would describe it as slow and steady wins the race. I tend to edit as I write, which is a horrible thing to do, but I usually just can't help myself. My brother Thomas has the ability to just open up and let it flow in a single burst and it's amazing. I tend to over-think every sentence as I go, which ends up being a blessing and a curse. It takes me longer to get through a first draft, but I'm usually semi-happy with the results. There's nothing worse than getting through a piece of writing and re-reading it only to realize, "This is all shit!" Although I think that's part of the process too.
|Heath dressed as Barf from Spaceballs for Halloween|
Can you share a script segment that no one has seen before?
I've attached a piece of writing that I found on my computer. It was nothing more than a personal writing exercise, no goal in the piece except to sit down and write something one day, and I ended up with what's basically a 1-page short story. I wouldn't say it's particularly good, but you asked for something no one has seen before, and the truth is anything good that I've written I probably would have shown to one of my brothers at some point. That's just how we work. But this piece, at the very least, is kind of interesting and more importantly, I've never shown it to anyone before this.
Cock sucking shit ball mother fucking stupid cunt fuck, Victor thought to himself. Here I am again. He chewed on his pen and stared at a blank page. The same blank page he had been staring at for the last five days, the blank page that haunted his dreams and waking hours alike. The pages before the blank page had all come rather easily. His pen ink had been flowing non-stop, and he wrote with neither judgement nor consciousness of where he was going with his story. He had simply decided to write. But when he reached his climax, he examined his options, knowing there were only so many directions in which to take the character he had built to his point.
The character’s name was Straggler, and he was a bartender in a speakeasy during prohibition times that had gotten in over his head with none other than Al Capone himself. The setup had gone so easy, with Straggler falling for a dame that led him into the seedy underworld, introducing him to grotesque side characters along the way. But now he had reached the end of his second act, and Victor realized he had nowhere to go. He had written himself into a corner. Victor had examined all the possible, plausible paths he could take to get himself out of it, and he had come to realize: He didn’t like any of them. Not only that, but he actually hated all of them. He was one hundred percent sure that he would be unsatisfied with any choice he made.
This wasn’t the first time that Victor had felt this way by any means, but rather something he faced every single day. He was a man who made unsatisfactory choices, knowing that he wouldn’t truly be happy with any choice he made, but knowing that decisions must be made regardless. Each unhappy choice he made was a hope that the result would lead him to a decision that would offer a choice he would like to make. Yet somehow that choice had managed to elude him, day in and day out.
Victor had realized all this while staring at his blank page over the last few days, having gone through an existential examination of his own life based on his inability to come up with the right ending for his story. But it wasn’t until this moment that Victor realized perhaps the unhappiness in his life was not a result of the choices he was making, but rather a result of the fact that he was making choices at all. It had been engrained in him since childhood, that choices must be made on a daily basis. Every day he had made them! Wake up, should I get out of bed? What should I wear? What to eat, where to go, what to do, every single day! And where had it led him, Victor wondered? Where had all of those decisions collectively taken him to? This moment. Here. With the blank page.
Why should I even make decisions at all? Victor had pondered this question for a day and a half now. And the final result he came to was – he shouldn’t. He was going to stop making decisions once and for all. He made the decision to make the last decision he ever made to be to decide to do nothing from here on out. He wasn’t even going to finish the story he was writing. Shit, why should stories even have an ending? Why couldn’t they just be, he wondered? So instead of finishing, he was just going to
By Heath Affolter
Can you talk about your involvement in a recent animation project?
My bros and I are constantly developing new ideas for animated series or features, but as far as production goes, our latest webseries Food Flix was particularly fun. It's a mix of stop-motion and 2D animation, which is perfect for us since two of us are trained in live action and two of us are trained in animation. We always collaborate on the story and writing aspects, but at a certain point with our animated projects I have to sort of step back and let the animators do their work. But with stop motion, Thomas and I are able to help build the sets and handle all of the camera and lighting work while Nathan and Jon do the actual animation.
|Affolter Bros on the red carpet at the Boston International Film Festival|
What is one animation project that you are proud to have been involved in?
Again, I'd have to say Food Flix, just because the style of it is so unconventional and I feel like we pushed ourselves to see how far we could go with the mixture of stop-motion and 2D. Although I'm extremely excited about a couple of new projects that we're developing right now.
What projects are you working on now?
We've started a new YouTube channel called Comedy Blender (which is where we launched Food Flix), and we're going to continue to upload a new comedy video to that every other Friday, so that's a constant monkey on our backs. The good type of monkey, of course. We're also developing a few new animated series ideas that I'm really excited about, but I can't say too much about those before we're ready to pitch them. And I'm also working as a Production Coordinator at DHX Media where I've worked on animated shows for Dreamworks and Hasbro, although again, I'm not at liberty to say what I'm currently working on. Secrets galore.
Who is one of your favourite Canadian animators/artists/writers?
Well, I know he's not a "writer" per se, but the bulk of what I write is comedy, and my favourite Canadian comedian is Norm Macdonald. He's written some movies and for a lot of TV shows, but it's his stand-up that really gets me. Stand-up writing is truly an art, one that I've never actually dabbled in myself, and his writing combined with his delivery is just non-stop pure gold. My apologies go out to the millions of "serious" writers that I failed to mention.
What is one of your favourite art/animation/writing craft books?
There are of course many, but one that I particularly loved was "Conversations with Wilder" by Cameron Crowe. It's basically just a series of interviews that Cameron Crowe did with Billy Wilder over a number of years, but I feel like I was able to learn more about story by hearing two great filmmakers talk about film than I did from any of the "Here's how you make a great ____" type of books that I've read.
Who is an up-and-coming or relatively unknown Canadian writer or artist that everyone should check out?
Ken Kabatoff is a super talented Vancouver-based writer, director and producer. He's created a few TV shows that are in development with a couple of major companies, and it's really only a matter of time before he takes over Hollywood. He doesn't have a website, but you can follow him on Twitter @KenKabatoff - https://twitter.com/kenkabatoff.
Are you involved with any art organizations in Canada?
Sadly, I am not. Wait, does being a Scene Member at Cineplex count?
Has your writing won any awards/accolades?
My brothers and I have actually been lucky enough to win (or be nominated for) quite a few awards for the films we've produced, most of which I helped write. You can see a full list of them here: http://affolterentertainment.com/awards.html
What are some of your writing career milestones?
Winning some awards is always nice, but I think the best were having a short film I wrote and produced with my brothers purchased for distribution, and having one of our TV series ideas optioned (though sadly, it was not picked up to series... yet!).
Check out the links below to get updates on what Heath and his brothers are up to.
Main Website: http://www.affolterentertainment.com
Affolter Entertainment Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Affolter-Entertainment/208514832503091
Affolter Entertainment Twitter: @AffolterFilms
Comedy Blender YouTube: http://www.youtube.com/user/comedyblender
Affolter Entertainment Twitter: @AffolterFilms
Comedy Blender YouTube: http://www.youtube.com/user/comedyblender
Comedy Blender Facebook https://www.facebook.com/aecomedyblender
Comedy Blender Twitter: @Comedy_BlenderComdey Blender Instagram: http://instagram.com/comedyblender/