What neighborhood do you live in?
My neighborhood is the borderland between Crown Heights and Prospect Heights. You've got Golden Krust on one side of the street and hipster coffee houses on the other, which is perfect since my grandmother is Jamaican and I sometimes wear skinny jeans. I live near a lot of friends, and we play board games every other weekend. It's a great spot.
What has your Oscar experience been like so far?
It was so surreal to read the announcement online. I didn't absorb it at first. But a few days ago, a courier delivered my Oscar invitation, all satiny and gold-embossed and fancy, and then it started to feel real. There has been so much to do and so little time to do it, I've felt a little bit like Judge Doom from Who Framed Roger Rabbit when he's getting run over by the steamroller. But with more joy mixed in.
What inspired the premise of "Head Over Heels"?
The flash of inspiration came from a spiral staircase in Rembrandt's painting "The Philosopher in Meditation." It looks like he might have painted the stairs upside down, and I imagined someone living on the ceiling using it to come down to the floor. That image—someone living on the floor and someone else on the ceiling—struck me as a wonderful way to express distance between a husband and wife using animation. It had a lot of emotional power and potential for humor.
What happens to short films, with or without an Oscar-nomination?
An independently produced short film like "Head Over Heels" almost never gets a theatrical release. Usually, you'll play on the festival circuit for a year or two and then put it online. But because of the Oscar nod, "Head Over Heels" will actually be screening in a program of Oscar nominated shorts in cinemas around the country, including several in New York. This is fantastic because it means a wide audience will get a chance to see the film the way we want them to: in the dark, sitting next to a friend, without several other tabs open on their browser.