This past weekend I was down in San Diego and had the chance to attend something pretty spectacular. My friends and I went down to La Jolla to the Museum of Contemporary Art San Diego and saw the first screening of ‘Spike and Mike’s Animation Festival’. Now, I’m a huge fan of ‘Spike and Mike’s Sick and Twisted’ program. I had no idea what to expect from a regular animation festival.

The evening began with free cupcakes. Since it was “Dessert Day”, the first 100 people who showed up received a free cupcake courtesy of The Burger Lounge. Sugar rush before awesome animation? Sounds like a winner to me. We went to find our seats and grabbed extras (our friends had decided a cupcake was not enough food for dinner). As we were waiting, the theater began to slowly fill up. All ages were at this show. Children 5-6 years old to adults in the 70 year range. It was quite a different crowd from what I had been anticipating.

Fifteen minutes before the show began, one of the ‘Spike & Mike’ interns’ threw out a bunch of mylar balloons. Now, I don’t know about you, but when someone throws a balloon out in the audience, I became a 5 year old again. There were people behind us that were shouting to send the balloons back our way (we had decided to sit in the third row from the back). Endless entertainment of trying to have a balloon come our way and to finally be able to bop it back towards the front was pure enjoyment. Everyone was participating. It was a great way to kill the time before the show was to begin.

As the lights dimmed, Spike made his way out on the stage. I learned some new things about the man that I had not known. Did you know that he screened John Lassetter, Pete Docter, and Andrew Stanton’s senior animation films? He rented out that exact auditorium we were in for those CalArts boys. Spike is based out of the San Diego area, which again – I did not know. This was the second year that he had put together this animation festival. He then told us about his favorite piece of the night (more on that in a bit), and then a few honorable mentions. Spike seemed like a very down to earth kind of guy. Someone I would love to just sit down and have a beer with.

On to the animation. The festival began with a bit called ‘KJFG:Snake’. Now, this animation was hilarious. I knew the evening was starting out right when they showed this short first. There were quite a few different types of animation shown. Stop-motion, digital, hand-drawn. All different mediums. One of my favorite pieces of the night was a short called ‘Peguin on the Left’. The first half of the show closed with the piece that Spike had raved about called ‘Love & Theft’. This piece is NSFW. It is beyond amazing. And to see it in HD in the theater, with HD sound, was phenomenal.

The festival runs through the end of November. If you are in the La Jolla or San Diego area, I highly suggest checking it out. Again, I mentioned that all ages were at the show. There are some animations that do have “adult” material in them, so keep that in mind if you want to take kids. Overall, this festival is fantastic. I can’t wait to see it next year.