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salad fingers #2   Interview with Salad Fingers Creator David Firth

Semantikon: Who, and, what is Salad Fingers? On your site you mention the name came from a friends chat alias, one site regular is divining a thesis on the topic…

David Firth: One day I was playing guitar and for some reason (co writer) Crust told me I have Salad Fingers. Later his name on MSN was "Salad Fingré" "Fingré" being our term for sticking two fingers up at people (very similar to the American middle finger) We were discussing flash cartoon making and he said I should make a film about a man who likes to touch rusty spoons (he wasn't really serious) but I made it anyway.

Salad Fingers is a green man who lives on his own in a desolate shack in the middle of nowhere. He enjoys the feeling of different textures against his skin. I originally told people that if they want to know what he's about and where he came from then they should try and work it out from the stuff that he says and what can be seen lying around in the background --this is where people started playing detective so someone set up a site called the Salad Fingers Thesis with lots of very silly theories.
Semantikon: Discuss your disclaimer “These may upset children and the elderly…”
David Firth: If I was a child I'd be upset, and if I was elderly I'd probably write in and complain. Elderly people like to moan.
Semantikon: What influences helped define the salad fingers storyline and cast of characters (literary, musical, cultural)?
David Firth: Very old children's books are quite inspirational...also whenever I listened to Boards Of Canada I got floods of Ideas, as well as that, the films of David Lynch, South Park, Tim Burton, the League Of Gentlemen and Chris Morris.
Semantikon: In previewing salad fingers to a small sample of our audience and semantikon volunteers, we found people described Salad Fingers in terms aligned more closely with the comic book. As the animation style of filmmaking is not just cartoons---did you set out to make a “comic” or “cartoon”? Discuss the decision.
David Firth: I don't really read comics to be honest, I guess it's the wobbly writing that made people say that, but I only added that so I didn't have to explain to Americans what I was saying....maybe that and the fact that he doesn't move a lot, but that's just laziness.
Semantikon: Salad Fingers is produced utilizing Flash, a vector based key frame animation tool that outputs media rich films that are small in file size. In your experience, how have internet based mediums (including flash) shaped audience expectations of film, the filmmaker, and, the story telling?
David Firth: I always hated flash films, they didn't ever move me at all, I hated the low frame rate and I hated the fact they always seemed to be unfunny computer game parodies or digs at Metallica and Eminem. So I guess that's all I ever expected to see when I clicked on a flash film. I avoided flash for ages but no one wanted to spend 25 minutes downloading an AVI. I guess people expect a flash movie to make it's point in around 1-3 minutes, maybe they expect to laugh or see some cool violence all rounded off with either a punchline or an ending, so I made sure that with episode 1 they got none of those ingredients and as I expected it got ignored and mocked.
Semantikon: You moved away from traditional frame based movie making in previous works to Flash. How has this decision affected your production cycle? Story telling? Making the works more widely available?
David Firth: I can get episodes done much quicker and post them on newgrounds. I went from having a fan base of about 200 to about 100,000.
Semantikon: You’ve sampled from bands like Sigur Ros, Aphex Twin and Boards of Canada in your audio design for the salad fingers. The choice in what to sample having its very own connotations, what guides the selection of audio tracks that help shape the salad fingers storyline and envrionment?
David Firth: Music is very important. It's usually more of a case of "what animation could I fit to this song?" rather than "what song could I fit to this animation?" Music emphasises emotion and I like to think that i have always used that to my advantage.
Semantikon: Now that Salad Fingers #4 has been released, How do we get a new episode? (Software, Music, Voice Over, Brief step-through of the creation.)
10 steps to Salad Fingers
1. We sit and think of ideas, usually a brief synopsis
     (we usually think of 2 episodes per brain storm)
2. I write it up adding most of the dialogue and decide on the music
3. I story board really roughly
4. I draw all the backgrounds in flash and separate into scenes
5 I do all the voices about 5 times and cut them up into sentences
     (sound forge)
6. I do the majority of the animation
7. I watch it through and hate it so I add some new scenes
8. Then it's the lip sync (so annoying)
9. And then the wobbly writing (equally annoying)
10. I stick it on newgrounds
Semantikon: The voice talent for the salad fingers character is a mix of a brooding gimp and a gentle grandma before she sets the cat on fire. How did arrive at the voice for Salad Fingers? In the script and rehearsal process, what do to work out the vocal nuances that shed light on the character?
David Firth: I just thought of a pathetic voice that sounded innocent at the same time and that's what I came up with. There is no rehearsal, I just say it straight into the mic. When we are coming up with ideas we all pitch ideas for things he might say in his voice, so then we know if a certain line
works or not.
Semantikon: You’ve produced salad fingers by soliciting donations, selling t-shirts and baby outfits. You’ve not chosen to sell Salad Fingers episodes, making it available to whoever wants it, essentially, freeware. Discuss the choice to distribute salad fingers for free and your experiences selling the image of Salad Fingers.
David Firth:There haven't been very many donations at all and I still haven't received a penny from the t-shirt company. Everything on the internet is free, so why should my cartoon be any different? If they got on TV then I'd expect some money but they'd still be available for free on my site. Artists are not artists if they care more about money than being appreciated.