Hertzfeldt came to Webb as a result of several years of correspondence between Webb art instructor Mike Quinn and Hertzfeldt's staff. Hertzfeldt included Webb in his 30-city tour promoting his latest film, "It's Such a Beautiful Day."
The 23-minute film is the third in a series that began with "Everything Will Be OK" in 2006. He promoted the second part of the series, "I am so proud of you," in 2008-2009. In addition to his Academy Award nomination in 2001 for "Rejected," Hertzfeldt has received a Sundance Film Festival award and other honors.
Quinn's son, Ian, a 2002 Webb graduate, introduced him to Hertzfeldt's films more than a decade ago. "I like Hertzfeldt's early work because it is simply hilarious; full of over-the-top bits that are very strange and innovative with lots of goofy gore," said Quinn. "However, I felt the stories also relayed themes of significance to students, such as rejection, acceptance and awkward attempts at romance, so I showed them to my classes."
He added, "When I saw Mr. Hertzfeldt's presentation of his later works in 2009, I felt there was much more going on. These films presented truths and beauty as well as the funny stuff. When Don spoke to the audience he was so easygoing and candid about his work that I thought it would be wonderful if he could speak to our students at Webb."
Hertzfeldt explained to Webb students that he has been writing and drawing almost all of his life although he has not had much formal training in art. He found that he could cheaply animate his stories rather than deal with the budgets necessary to create them through live action.
"I like to point out to my students that Don Hertzfeldt has been very successful by drawing simple stick figures, so maybe they won't feel so intimidated by drawing," said Quinn. "But the truth is that Don has an extreme amount of talent, effort, control and intent going into every mark he makes."
Senior Erin Aliquo, from Murfreesboro, said she was "honored to spend the day with Hertzfeldt. "Don Hertzfeldt is one of the most incredible people I've ever met. He's one of the most influential filmmakers."
Elizabeth Norvell, a sophomore from Normandy, added, "It was an honor to meet him. He was down to earth, interesting and shared a lot of valuable information."
Hertzfeldt resides in Austin, Texas. He graduated from the University of California Santa Barbara.