Director David Silverman on Oscars bid by Emmys favorite 'The Simpsons'
“We don’t want to analyze it too much,” admits David Silverman when asked what’s made “The Simpsons” last so long. “There’s just some magic to it. It’s amazing that the characters have endured so long, but animation does have that ability. Things like Bugs Bunny have endured for a long time because people still recognize the characters. I think in our case we still have a way of getting people to see it.”
After 10 wins (out of 22 nominations) as Best Animated Program at the Primetime Emmys, “The Simpsons” could finally add an Oscar to its list of honors. “Maggie Simpson in The Longest Daycare,” directed Silverman, is nominated for Best Animated Short.
This is Silverman’s second film to receive an Oscar nomination; he served as co-director on “Monster’s Inc.” which lost the inaugural Oscar for Best Animated Feature to "Shrek" in 2001.
This short came from a desire to try something new. “Part of it might have been born out of experimenting with 3-D,” says Silverman. “Using things that were already in the show, seeing what we could do. That started people thinking about using it for a theatrical short. And then the idea of it being nonverbal seemed like a good one because we hadn’t done an entire adventure that way in a long time.”
“The Longest Daycare” puts Maggie Simpson front and center, pitting her against her arch-nemesis -- the baby with one eyebrow -- at the Ayn Rand School for Tots. “We thought that Maggie would be the ideal choice for a nonverbal plot. It just seemed natural to have her at daycare: that way you could have it in her world and in the world of the babies.”
“In many ways, what I liked about the way the short evolved once I started storyboarding it; it was almost like a Warner Bros short. It’s like Coyote vs. Road Runner. It’s remarkable how they would do those shorts in six weeks, and that’s because they were primarily two character stories. It took us about two months to animate our short.”
Our odds have the 'Simpsons' short in second place with the backing of two Experts, three Editors and about 20% of our Users. That support translates into odds of 10/3, putting it well behind frontrunner "Paperman." That fusing of handrawn animation and CGI is predicted to win by 11 Experts, three Editors and 80% of our Users and has odds of 17/10.
Silverman has been with “The Simpsons” since “The Tracey Ullman Show” (1987-1990), when the lovable yellow family was featured in shorts between commercial breaks. He directed “The Simpsons Movie” (2007), as well as over thirty episodes of the series. He has long served as the show’s supervising director, overseeing the animation of each and every episode. His contribution to “The Simpsons” has been immeasurable.
“We wouldn’t have had a show without David,” reveals executive producer and film and TV legend James L. Brooks. “He got me at a Christmas party over twenty-five years ago and poured his heart out about the importance of animation and how all animator wanted a series. His passion was part of the driving force.”
“You’ll be in a story meeting, and David’s there, and you’re pitching jokes, and suddenly he passes you his pad and you break up. You see something that’s sort of perfect, or you see something that’s touching; he always wants to stay in character, he honors the past, he represents the present. He’s just one of the very best.”