Mike Jittlov

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Mike Jittlov in 1996
Mike Jittlov in 1979

Mike Jittlov (born June 8, 1948) is an American animator and the creator of short films and one feature length film using Stop Motion, Rotoscoping and Pixilation, among other techniques. He is best known for the 1989 feature-length film The Wizard of Speed and Time, based on his 1979 short film of the same name, both of which he directed and starred in. The feature version did poorly in theatres but has established a cult following since its release on videotape and laserdisc.

Some of his other original film shorts, including The Interview, Swing Shift, Animato, and Time Tripper (released separately and as a collection called Animato) won many top awards and repeat film festival screenings, bringing him to the attention of The Walt Disney Studio. In 1978, Jittlov co-starred on Disney's two-hour TV extravaganza, Mickey's 50th, with the short film Mouse Mania, creating and animating the first stop-motion Mickey Mouse, along with 1,000 other Disney toys marching around a psychiatrist's office. The short is now featured on the Disney DVD Mickey Mouse in Living Color, Volume Two. Since Disney did not usually allow individual creators to receive credit on their television productions (preferring a generic thanks to "the many Disney animators who made this possible") Mike put his and partner Deven Cheregino's name on the toys in the final production number, where they couldn't be edited out.

In late 1979, he co-starred again on Disney's Major Effects television special – this time introducing the world to the 500-mph Green "Wizard of Speed and Time". With an improved soundtrack, WoSaT was released to 16mm film collectors in 1980, along with four of his other short films.

Jittlov also created the inaugural short film played on the Disney Channel. It featured an animated satellite shaped like Mickey Mouse's head, which was later reproduced for the special features of the DVD version of Disney's 1937 film, Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs. The Mickey Satellite film played to park-goers waiting in line at Space Mountain for years, and is still shown to Walt Disney Parks and Resorts employees during orientation. The prop was also used in a scene in the full-length The Wizard of Speed and Time.

He later worked as a special effects technician on the film Ghost (where he also portrayed the "Dark Spirits"), and in fan films including Darth Vader's Psychic Hotline.

Jittlov distinguishes himself in terms of appearance at science fiction conventions by wearing his traditional green jacket and green shoes like the ones seen in The Wizard of Speed and Time. He was an early Internet user, with his own website, and frequent poster to his own UseNet group, alt.fan.mike-jittlov. His website can be found at http://www.wizworld.com/.

Samples of his work:

Mike Jittlov provides examples of the following tropes:
  • Clip Art Animation: Used in many of his early works, most notably the first half or so of "Fashionation". There's even an example in the feature-length version of The Wizard of Speed and Time, with a cut-out tour bus passing a postcard image of Hollywood's famous Chinese Theater.
  • Cloudcuckoolander: Can come across this way at times due to his personal quirks. Also, one of his life's goals is to make a film where the special effects aren't just making it look better, but are doing ... something ... that improves the lives of the people watching.
  • Digital Piracy Is Okay/Keep Circulating the Tapes: The only official releases of the feature-length Wizard of Speed and Time were on laserdisc and on VHS circa 1989-1990 (from which Jittlov received little or no royalties). However, there is an ISO image of a simple DVD version of the film floating about in torrent and other forms on the Net, the use and distribution of which Jittlov encourages and endorses.
  • Handshake Substitute: If "nothing" counts as a substitute. Jittlov refuses to shake hands with people, and not for the usual reasons (phobia of germs or personal dislike); it's more that he doesn't seem to think shaking hands makes sense.
  • Memetic Outfit: Green jacket and green sneakers.
  • Pixilation: Practically a trademark of his work.
  • Screwed by the Producer: Producer Richard Kaye, who played crooked producer Harvey Bookman in the feature-length Wizard of Speed and Time, stole just about everything about the film that wasn't nailed down (including the original WoSaT oil painting by the late Frank Kelly Freas) and fled the United States after its completion. And Jittlov discovered his contract with Kaye essentially paid him nothing for his work on the movie.