Interview with Howard Gertler about Dash Shaw and Slobs and Nags

The Independent spoke with producer Howard Gertler about his latest project, an animated feature, still in development, called Slobs and Nags, directed by Dash Shaw, one of The Independent’s Ten Filmmakers to Watch in 2010. Gertler is producing with John Cameron Mitchell; they have worked together in the past, and Shaw’s work is their first animated feature together.

How were you and John Cameron Mitchell put in touch with Dash Shaw to produce Slobs and Nags?

Howard Gertler: John and I have worked on a lot of films together. John met Dash on the film Rabbit Hole, with Nicole Kidman and Aaron Eckhart. John hired Dash to do the drawings that were in the film – a character in the movie, a teenager, was supposed to have drawn them.

What drew you both to Slobs and Nags and Dash Shaw in particular?

Gertler: I’ve always been an avid reader of comic books and a big fan of Dash’s work, The Unclothed Man in the 35th Century A.D. Dash did some animated shorts that we loved.
Dash sent John the [Slobs and Nags] script and he fell in love with it. This will be a small crew, two to three other animators. More voice casting than The Unclothed Man and a bigger budget.

Tell us a little bit about your process with producing an animated film, as opposed to live action. You’ve produced a lot of live action – was this your first animated production?

Gertler: I was involved with an animated short in stop motion prior to this. Dash’s style is really different than the typical animated film. As far as the actual production, you still do the budget, the schedule, cast it. It’s similar. It has the same emotional resonance as live action.

Kadish: Can you tell us a little bit about the story?

Gertler: It’s sci-fi. It’s still in the script stage now. Dash’s story can only be told with his unique animation technique and style; it’s the most effective tool to tell it. The story is the perfect melding of style and content. It’s an exciting and innovative story about the search for identity in society today, in this capitalist 21st century world. There are characters ranging from teenagers to middle age. [It’s a story about how] it’s never too late to discover your passion.