Indie animator auteur Don Hertzfeldt (World of Tomorrow, It’s Such A Beautiful Day) and beloved horror filmmaking savant Ari Aster (Beau is Afraid, Midsommar) are confirmed to be collaborating on a new animated movie. At the Overlook Film Festival this past weekend, during a screening of his latest film “Me”, Hertzfeldt spoke about the upcoming project. Later confirming with IndieWire that the genre and details of the film remain unknown.

What is known, is that the project is something Hertzfeldt had been working on for the past fifteen years. This makes sense given that the artist has always taken a very DIY approach to the craft. As to how Ari Aster is involved, the director had just released his work on Beau is Afraid, an experimental movie that many saw may be inspired by Hertzfeldt’s work. 

The following transcript was pulled by IndieWire regarding exactly what was said in that Q and A regarding the project:

Question: Any truth to the rumor that Ari Aster is inspired by your work? Specifically for “Beau Is Afraid”?

Hertzfeldt: Well, I have no idea. I haven’t asked him. I mean, I’m working with him now — but I haven’t asked him. But that might answer the question. [Laughter.] I am developing a feature film with Ari and his team and it’s a film that’s been in development for over 15 years. I guess after that long you don’t say it’s in development anymore; it’s stagnating for 15 years.

But Ari has been great. I love his work, obviously. And I think the project is in super good hands with them. They get it. And I guess it’s a horror movie? Like everything else I do, I suppose. But yeah, my fingers are crossed there. That’s one of the projects that’s very expensive and much bigger.

Why Don Hertzfeldt and Ari Aster’s pairing is the greatest thing in the history of modern surrealism?

Animator Don Hertzfeldt’s work has been such a major influence on almost all of modern pop culture that it’s astounding how little the animator gets praise in the wider public eye. His early comedic shorts were some of the first-ever viral videos in history (this was even, before YouTube) and his critically acclaimed rebellious series REJECTED, is about anti-consumerism (and was even nominated for an Oscar) featuring an experimental social  commentary about people that produce and make a living off commercial art.

Hertzfeldt’s style and absurdist black comedy humor helped shape much of Adult Swim’s early comedy scene thus indirectly influencing the entire animation industry. Acclaimed TV series such as The Simpsons, Fargo, and BoJack Horseman have all accredited Hertzfeldt for progressing the genre by being the first to challenge animated convention; while Pete Doctor, the director of the Pixar film Soul, has even acknowledged Hertzfeldt’s influence on his own movie. Unsurprisingly, Hertzfeldt’s influence also reaches out to webcomics as well, including the creation of Cyanide and Happiness – whose brand of comedy in mixing funny with the deathly surreal while using minimalist stick figures, matched much of the artist’s approach to the work.

Perhaps best of all, Don Hertzfeldt’s process of creating art for the sake of art, has gone on to inspire a generation of indie creators. His films such as World of Tomorrow and It’s Such a Beautiful Day were nominated for Oscars as being heartfelt stories that tackle heavy subjects through an existential lens. Some of the topics the animator has addressed over the years have been heavy themes about artificial intelligence, immortality, love, loss, and most of all, how we as humans experience and deal with the subject of death.

Atop of this, and as no stranger to his own degree of accolades, Ari Aster has widely been considered one of the best horror movie makers of our times. In the dawn of A24 independent film making, the director has made such hits such as Hereditary and Midsommar, two movies that defied genre in taking a very atmospheric approach to the re-contextualization of horror. Serving as cerebral films exploratory of existentialist themes.

Aster’s work has previously explored the dymanics of family, grief, loss, and identity; often while focusing in on the burdens of heritage and severe mental health. The degree of symbolism in his work has also a masterclass in subtext, as many of his films hold a lot of re-watchability value, utilizing the technical marvel of missed perceptions. Elements that the director plants from the very beginning of a story that’ll only make sense upon re-watch.

It’s for this reason both directors are highly applauded as unconventional story tellers that defy expectations with their utilization of surrealist realism and finding ways to express that in uncomfortable but authentic ways. Which is why fans of the genre are excited to see this happen.