Mortified’s “I Hate Drake”

Intro from Jay Allison: We're featuring the co-winners of our Self Portrait competition (along with: "My Most Important Self Portrait" by James Barany). It comes from the comedy collective "Mortified" who encourage people to read out loud the most embarrassing things they wrote as children. "I Hate Drake" is an hysterical and heartfelt entry from Will Nolan's childhood diary about an archetypal bullying episode. Like most of the multi-media pieces on Transom, it's story-driven and works fine without the images, but the animation deepens the story and makes it even funnier. Producer David Nadelberg says, "I had a specific visual aesthetic in mind for what a Mortified animation should look like. It should have the raggedy, moody, frenetic energy of a teen notebook. Innocent at the core but frayed on the surface. We called this aesthetic: punk meets Punky Brewster." If you're feeling a little battered by life today, take a few minutes to let "I Hate Drake" make you feel better. As ever, the producers will be at Transom to take your questions.

Note: some language in this piece is not appropriate for children (even though it’s a kid who wrote it.)

About Mortified and the “I Hate Drake” Video

Mortified is a forum for people to share their most embarrassing childhood artifacts (old letters, lyrics, journals, poetry, home videos) in an effort to reveal stories about their lives. It’s a grassroots project and is constantly evolving.

Over the years, my co-producer Neil Katcher and I have been lucky enough to tackle everything from books to stage to the web. But of all our goals with Mortified, animation has always been high on our wishlist. So when we were brainstorming ways to market our first book, Mortified: Real Words Real People Real Pathetic, we decided the time was finally right to make that dream a reality.

I selected a chapter titled I Hate Drake for our first foray. I Hate Drake is an excerpt from a guy named Will Nolan’s childhood diary. Short, brutal and sweet, Will’s journal entry has always captivated me, and it’s descriptive language seemed ripe for a visual adaptation.

Visual Link

I had a specific visual aesthetic in mind for what a Mortified animation should look like. It should have the raggedy, moody, frenetic energy of a teen notebook. Innocent at the core but frayed on the surface. We called this aesthetic: punk meets Punky Brewster.

Paperworld night image
I Hate Drake

So I contacted Bill Barmisnki an amazingly talented animator I interned for in college, and crossed my fingers that he’d spark to it. Barminski is known for his humorous and innovative use of mixed media that leant itself perfectly to Mortified’s tone.

“Ripped from the pages of real,” was the directive. Bill took that phrase and ran with it, creating a lush world of lined paper and strange scribbled beings. I gave him lots of creative freedom. Working alongside Mike Hulswit and Chris Louie (who is now his partner in Walter Robot), he nailed it.

Production

For legal reasons, we didn’t want to use a real kid’s face for the photo of Drake. So Bill dug through some old yearbooks and merged several faces into one, creating a “Franken-teen.” The live action footage is actually shot in Barminski’s house. That’s his wife ironing. My favorite shot is the nighttime sequence at 2:02 when the boy falls from the tree–the colors perfectly capture the feeling of loneliness.

As for the audio, we originally planned to record Will in a studio and set that to music. For a variety of reasons, that didn’t pan out so we resorted to plan B–lifting the audio from footage of Will reciting his diary at a Mortified Live concert. The only bummer with that is that sometimes people think that’s a laugh track. Perhaps one day we’ll be able to revisit it and restore the original vision.

Since producing the Mortified: I Hate Drake video, we’ve been able to see Mortified in a whole new light. We’d love to be able to work with Barminski again and hope that opportunity will arise. In the meantime, you can watch our other Mortified videos, which span from concert clips to animations and beyond.

Additional support for this work provided by

Open Studio Project

with funding from the

Corporation for Public Broadcasting

David Nadelberg

About
David Nadelberg

David Nadelberg is a writer and producer, known for The Mortified Sessions (2011), Newton (2003) and Mortified Nation (2013).

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  • Sydney Lewis

    8.18.09

    Reply
    Me too!

    Bill sure did nail it. Love the id gone wild to protect the ego feel of the animation.

    Didn’t mind the crowd sounds cause they support the viewer’s reactions — from laughing to cringing to sympathy to hate.

    Wondering if Nolan felt it captured the emotional essence of that experience.

    Thanks!

  • Joshua Taylor Barlow

    8.21.09

    Reply
    He took my shoes…

    This piece had me cracking up the first time I saw it. What I enjoy the most is how the animator Bill Barminski is able to capture that sense of manic bewilderment of the boy in the journal as read by Will.

    Another thing I love about this and your other Mortified pieces is the audience element. There is a sympathy/empathy element to their laughter, as well as the mutual cringe moments. We’ve all got stories like these – it’s great to see them shared in such a friendly – hilarious way.

  • David Nadelberg

    8.21.09

    Reply
    re: me too

    Thanks Sydney. Glad you enjoyed it.

    Dave
    Producer, Mortified: I Hate Drake

  • James Barany

    8.23.09

    Reply
    My favorite moment….

    Stuck in the tree…the angst and trauma of that situation then quickly followed by a report of his shoes being o.k. was in my opinion; pure genius. It really let us all know what was important from a certain point-of-view. I’m also delighted throughout the work by the juxtaposition of literal vs. imaginative moments, they work well together. The hand-drawn vs. 3D raster-vector spaces creates an interesting tension that echos qualities embedded within the story itself. Bravo to all involved!

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