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For Bill Plympton, Cheatin' is couples therapy

Bill Plympton makes Cheatin' look good
Bill Plympton makes Cheatin' look good
Copyright 2009, Photo by Leonard B. B.

For independent animation idol Bill Plympton, Cheatin' certainly is the product of co-dependency. On the other hand, Plympton's new animated film Cheatin' has a more engaging and unexpected tone than realistic, dour, garden variety movie relationship dysfunction.

On the other, other hand, Cheatin' is not for kids.

To signal the week-long theatrical run of Cheatin', the LA Animation Examiner poses related questions to Plympton, who answers candidly, in spite of his film's tricky title.

LA Animation Examiner: What is the inspiration for Cheatin'?

Bill Plympton: My inspiration for Cheatin' came from a heartbreaking romance I had about 15 years ago. Two months after moving in together, we were ready to strangle each other, yet we were still hot to have sex.

LAAE: How is Cheatin' similar to your other feature films? How is it different?

BP: Cheatin' is very similar to my previous films in that they are all hand-drawn by me, very low-budget,
with no computer animation, and with very adult surrealistic humor. Cheatin' is different because it's the first time I've had a female protagonist.

LAAE: An animated female protagonist who is hot for sex?! How refreshing! Now, please describe your favorite Cheatin' sequence.

BP: The one I love the most is called The Screaming Nipple. It's only on-screen for about 4 seconds, but it begins with a man's nipple with a staple through it (don't ask; see the film), and then the nipple turns into an open mouth, then into a hitman thug, all bulked up with weapons, screaming in vengeance.

LAAE: Many folks would like to realize their own feature length animated movies but are unable to wrangle the financing, marketing, and distribution. How do you do it consistently? Any tips for novices?

BP: Yes, I have a number of tips. I'll introduce my Plympton Dogma, which is
#1 - Keep your film short. For features, this means 75 minutes or less; for shorts, 5 minutes or less.
#2 - Keep your film cheap, about $1,000 per minute.
#3 - Keep your film funny - everyone likes to laugh, especially with animation.

But the real difficulty for me is usually finding distribution. Even though my films are very popular, win awards
(Cheatin' has already won over 10 festival awards), and get great international distribution, here in the U.S.,
all of the market analysts believe that Americans only want to see computer animation made for children.
I believe that Cheatin' will break that narrow-minded stereotype.

LAAE: Which is more thrilling: winning an Oscar or working with Kanye West? Why?

BP: First off, I've never won an Oscar; I've only been nominated, twice. I worked with Kanye in my studio for
about two days on his music video for Heard 'em Say, and it was great. He's a visual genius, his ideas were
great, and he knows what he wants.

But I'd have to take the Oscars.


To take in Plympton's Cheatin', hurry to the Downtown Independent Cinema on South Main Street in Los Angeles. Cheatin' triumphs until August 21. To learn the fine points of Cheatin', visit

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