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An Interview With Kirk Millett

// Featured, Interviews


Long ago, in the early days of online entertainment, animation was king.  It ruled the net with massive kingdoms like Mediatrip, Hotwired and Icebox.  These empires were inhabited with legendary knights, skilled in the weapon of the age — Flash.

Alas, that was then. Today, animation is still king- the kingdoms of old are a shell of what they once were but the knights are bigger than ever.

Kirk Millett is one such knight.  Once a regular contributor to, Kirk has taken his Flash skills and retro-chic style and created his own monarchy at Though he is probably best known as the creator of Nylon Futura — the super-sexy star of his Flash series by the same title, his other animated shorts are just as eye-popping.  And with his latest work Souvenir anyone can see Kirk is on his way to something big.

Skwigly Magazine asked for a minute of Kirk s busy schedule and he said, Okay. This is how it went down:

Where are you from and what was your upbringing like?

I was born and raised in California. My family is very dysfunctional and fragmented, my parents divorced when I was 5. I’m sure that very much contributed to my love for fantasy and escapist entertainment.

Holy-! Me too! So THAT’S why I love comics, movies, video games, etc. My dysfunctional family!! Wow. Have you ever thought of doing a lil’ psychiatry on the side? Don’t give up animation though- We want to see a lot more work from you.

You’re not the first person to make the shrink comment (sigh). I am very interested in human behaviour, but I’d rather make movies and maybe reach a few people that way.

At what moment did you realize you were going to become and illustrator/animator (trying to get to the secret of your super clean style here)?

I think the Mac changed everything for me. I found that I could make a living doing vector art. Then I started using Flash in 2000 and realized that I could do more with my vector skills in a multimedia environment. Throw in storytelling and music, and I was hooked! Unfortunately, most of the Flash work out there is for Web interface and gaming projects, not movie-making. Now Flash is being using as a production tool on some TV shows, things might be looking up.

So I guess you’re a complete MAC guy eh?

I have nothing against PCs, but I am a pretty content Mac-user.

What influences your work the most- besides paying bills?

Even bill-paying doesn’t influence my work as much as it could, or should. I’m definitely not driven by cash. I’m mostly influenced by good storytelling, whatever the form.

Of course anyone who follows your work has GOT to ask
— are there anymore Nylon Futura in the works? I know she was in a magazine back in the day- any other plans for the character?

Yes, there will definitely be more NYLON movies. There are other elements to the series that have yet to be revealed. The cast will be rounded out with a villain and also a guardian angel-type of character. Plus, I need to roll out the new car! It has a few secret capabilities that will be covered in the next movie.

Ooooo! Spy-like stuff? Like any of the Bond mobiles?

A bit. The Aston Martin DB5 is one of my all-time favourite cars. It definitely was an influence on Nylon’s new car design, as was Speed Racer’s Mach 5 and the 1960’s Batmobile. The big difference though, is that Nylon’s car has been “repurposed” by her new robot side-kick and it now features some alien technology.

Is Nylon based on a real person and if so what is her phone number/e-mail address?

You’re funny! Sadly, she doesn’t really exist. When I was creating the character, I had 3 main influences…”Max” (Jessica Alba) from the DARK ANGEL TV series, Lucille Ball and “Francesca” from the stop-motion film, MAD MONSTER PARTY.

It’s alright. I was askin’ for a friend anyway- I’m married.

I’ve gotten some great NYLON feedback over the years. Some even by women. Most people (guys) do focus on her sex appeal. On the strength of the NYLON movies, I was recently offered a gig doing an “adult” Flash series.
I passed. Subtlety goes a long way. That’s what I love about Hitchcock’s movies. He kept things in the shadows, he gave you suggestions and let YOU fill in the blanks.

You had a model of Nylon’s car on your site- How did you build that and do you use it to create her animations?

The model is still there, in the DESIGN section of my site. It started with a bunch of pencil sketches. Then I cleaned up my final designs on the Mac and made some basic cross-sections to insure a fairly symmetrical cardboard model. The windshield was cut out of a plastic storage container. The car model will definitely help when I work on the next NYLON movies.

What inspired you to do “Souvenir”? What’s the back story?

Most of my movies are light and humorous. I wanted to go in a different direction and do something more intense and macabre….Hitchcock, Twilight Zone, black and white, that kind of thing. The story changed a few times along the way and I experimented a lot with the style. I actually made an animatic of the entire movie…then rewrote half the story! I really enjoyed working on SOUVENIR and I was happy with the final product.

Well you nailed macabre right in the head with that piece. Personally I really liked your opening sequence and was fascinated by your backgrounds. Simple but very effective. Do you spend a lot of time planning your backgrounds?

Thanks, I appreciate the compliment. I do enjoy creating background art almost as much as main characters. I try to create a good balance between the two elements so the viewer can focus on what’s important to the story.

Another sweet move you did was a “snap zoom”. Was that done in flash as well?

That was a bitmap, a motion blur done in Photoshop.

You used to have a pencil test you created for “Smells Good” is this the way you create your work or was that an exercise?

Wow, you remember that thing?! Given that I’m not a formally trained animator, I find that making quick pencil tests really helps me understand basic animation techniques. I still do them occasionally.

Which 3 programs are most essential to your process?

Flash, Illustrator and Pro Tools.

Do you animate with other programs outside of Flash?

Nope. Just Flash.

Would you plot out your process to a finished project (animation)?

I start with story ideas and concept sketches, then I work my way to a very basic script and storyboard.
Using Adobe Illustrator (and a mouse), I turn key sketches into vector art and then animate in Flash.
The music ideas usually develop as I’m writing the story. I record voice-overs last, then go back and lipsynch the characters to match the audio.

That’s interesting that you do the audio last. Most throw that in fairly early on the list. Do your actors get to see the animation before they track?

Yes. It definitely helps them get a handle on their character’s motivation.

This being an animation magazine we almost skimmed over the fact that you actually make the music for your pieces. Is that a completely digital process? How long does it take you and what programs do you use?

My musical process is completely digital. I work with a Roland keyboard using a now defunct midi sequencing program, StudioVision Pro. I then import the midi file into Pro Tools, do some mixing and export an audio

What is your favourite animated film?

That’s a tough one. I’d have to go with THE IRON GIANT. Love that retro styling!

Ooooo, yeah. That is a keeper. I can see a lot of that retro style in your work too. What things do you read/see to fuel that inspiration in your art?

I watch a lot of movies and listen to a lot of music, mostly soundtracks. I try to take in as much art and storytelling as possible. Creative knowledge is everywhere. Most TV commercials are annoying, but they can also be great examples of editing. I have a growing collection of TV theme music. Again, it’s all about delivering your message in a focused and impactful way. That is why my art tends to be clean and streamlined, I try to remove the clutter and distil my ideas down their most basic and potent elements.

What would be your dream job?

I’d like to oversee my own animated series on Cartoon Network, Nickelodeon, etc. Otherwise, maybe a lingerie designer?

I’m sure it won’t be long before you have something rolling on a national network- but should you change your mind I know a guy who wants to help you pick out models for your lingerie business.

I like your optimism! A network gig would be very sweet, and why not?! As for the lingerie models…don’t get me started 😉

Take a look at Kirks flicker gallery –

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