standard Adult Animated Video: 1st Annual ‘Twillerama’ Festival Is a Dirty Hit

Randy J. Johnson (left) and Jeff Twiller, animated hosts of the event, are interrupted by Todd Hanson (Photo by Matthew Taub)

“I didn’t expect to literally walk into some of my all time favorites in the independent animation scene,” said Drew Wolke of Bushwick. “And at the same time, I’m catching new works from unknown artists who are promising, yet original and unexpected.”

All of this, with an adult-oriented theme and animated hosts.

Morgan Miller (left) and Josh Kleefeld created the series (Photo by Matthew Taub)

The “Twillerama” Animation Anthology at Videology in Williamsburg Saturday evening was a ‘festival’ of sorts–mocking more serious film awards ceremonies, it was hosted by two fictional animated characters. Jeff Twiller and Randy J. Johnson discerned their favorite shorts from a supposed youtube broadcast atop a trash heap in a satirical parallel between Brooklyn and Queens, called “Slushing Brooks.” 

Photo by Matthew Taub

If their dialogue was brash and their assessments crude, they were the perfect accompaniment to the outlandish, bizarre, and hilarious showcase of material they premiered: a miscarriage in a shopping aisle treated like a minor inconvenience, a first date viewed only from the inside of a woman’s mouth, and a small child turned inside out, among others. Disturbing as the topics were, they all managed to leave the audience laughing.

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Morgan Miller painstakingly hand-drew the host characters over four months from his home in an industrial section of Williamsburg. He also provided the voice of Jeff Twiller.

He came up with the idea for the festival with his friend Josh Kleefeld, whom he met at the University of the Arts in Philadelphia, where they both graduated from film school in 2000. Kleefeld provided the voice for co-host Randy J. Johnson. Recordings were accomplished at a studio in Brooklyn.

Photo by Matthew Taub

Photo by Matthew Taub

Todd Hanson, of the The Onion, made a guest appearance as an animated character and voiced himself.

Photo by Matthew Taub

Peter Ahern, Kelsey Stark, Liesje Kraai, Richard O’ Connor, Brett W. Thompson, George Griffin, Josh Kleefeld, and Morgan Miller (Photo by Matthew Taub)

The producers of the short films were a decidedly eclectic mix, with interesting backgrounds and motivations. The creator of the miscarriage short went by a pseudonym, Sylvia Liken, which she suggested was worthy of a google search.

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“I was in graduate school, and I had a lot of nightmares,” Liken said. “It was a very stressful time, and this was somehow extremely cathartic to me. It’s absurd, obviously, that the animated woman has a miscarriage and doesn’t seem to care, other than it inconveniencing her.  But it’s the whole thing, of her being on a bluetooth in the shopping aisle, a woman on the go. It’s a commentary on our values.”

Kleefeld, for his part, felt that the hosts reflected an uglier but more realistic american landscape.

“The hosts are parts of people who we’ve been and known,” Kleefeld said. “Ugly people and their ugly lives. It’s what most people in the world are really like.”

Miller would love to see the characters become members of a program that hosted reviews of animated shorts on a recurring basis.

The full lineup of shorts that premiered was as follows:
Marianne (2013, dir. Richard O’Connor)
The Club (1975, dir. George Griffin)
Orifice (2011, dir. Kelsey Stark)
Moons (2014, dir. Liesje Kraai)
One Minute Fluidtoon on Paper, #4 (circa 2011, dir. Brett W. Thompson)
Boobatary (2010, dir. Leah Shore)
The Date (1998, dir. Bill Plympton)
Martian Precursor (circa 2010, dir. Brian and Kevin Lonano)
Teat Beat of Sex Episode 1: Kirby (circa 2007 or 2008, Signe Baumane)
Dad Teaches Me How to Shave (2011, dir. Simone and Danny Dresden)
Mountain Ash (2013 dir. Jake Armstrong and Erin Kilkenny)
Sidewalk (2013, dir. Celia Bullwinkel)
The First Time Cee Cee Did Acid (circa 2011, Twins are Weird)
Hey Rachel (2010, dir. Sylvia Liken)
A Place Better Than Ours (2000, dir. Wally Chung)
Down To The Bone (circa 2010, dir. Peter Ahern)