You are what you eat. It’s a saying that no one takes seriously – unless, of course, you really do turn into the food that you eat.
In directors Jamie Dwyer and Justin Ulloa’s new short film Pizza Face, we meet a self-absorbed waitress who gets what she deserves (or serves, rather) after she downloads a sinister mobile app and turns into a living, breathing pizza.
Created by studio Snaxtime, the film has the same amusing 2D animation style used in its predecessor Cheese Dog: The Movie. Combine this aesthetic with an equally comedic, equally dark story about food and social media, and you’ve got a recipe (no pun intended) for an entertaining (if not disturbing) viewing.
Pizza Face has been screened at various film festivals including San Diego Comic-Con and Festival de Cannes. It has also received numerous recognitions, including the winner at the London Film Awards and Best Animation at the Motor City Nightmares International Film Festival.
We spoke to Dwyer recently to learn more about the process that went into the making of Pizza Face.
The last time we spoke was in 2015 for your film Cheese Dog: The Movie. What have you been busy with since? And what’s changed for you as a filmmaker?
“Cheese Dog: The Movie was an incredible ride and we couldn’t wait to get back to work and continue that journey. We finished Pizza Face in 2016 and spent most of last year traveling with it around the world from Hong Kong to Comic-Con International. Otherwise, we’ve had our hands full with other projects.
“Justin runs Snaxtime.com, a junk food blog and Instagram account (@snaxtimeusa), and Jamie is a creative director in advertising and marketing.”
Let’s talk about your latest work, Pizza Face. How did you come up with the concept for it?
“Pizza Face is a horror-comedy follow-up to Cheese Dog: The Movie. It’s more or less a standalone sequel. While the two share a campy style and even a few reoccurring characters, our intention with Pizza Face was to create a complementary narrative with a darker, more poignant tone.
“That being said, all of our work has a lot of color and humor, and Pizza Face is no different. We want our viewers to have fun.”
Once again we loved your film’s animation style. How would you describe it? Can you also tell us the creative process behind it?
“We do all the animation ourselves, and found a style and process that really works for us. We gravitate towards 2D, using a super detailed collage aesthetic. The style lends itself to the way we like to tell our stories; we treat our characters like paper dolls and build out our sets like a stage play.
“Most animation these days are made in 3D, which can be super awesome. But there’s something refreshingly simple and classic about 2D. We’ll leave CGI to the experts at Pixar.
“Beyond the animation, we love collaborating with our composer Carla Patullo (White Widow) to bring our story to life with music. We’ve done many projects together, and we always have a lot of fun working together. Also, we were so lucky to have our lead actor Diane Marshall-Green voice Micki. She totally nailed it.”
Is there a message that the film is trying to tell its audience?
“Growing up, we both loved shows like Tales from the Crypt and Friday the 13th: The Series with their twisted morality tales that revealed the fears and horrors lurking beneath our everyday lives.
“With Pizza Face, we looked to these horror series as inspiration, and added a modern twist – a warning against the dangers of living our lives through our phones. There’s a darker side to selfie-culture that we can all relate to.
“We were excited to play around with that, and build a story that was contemporary and relevant.”
What’s next for you?
“We’re developing our next movie, a twisted retelling of a classic fairytale. We hope to move it into production later this year. Stay tuned!”