Max Landis Unleashes the “Animal Fighting Championships”
by Dan Casey on June 5, 2013
Since time immemorial, mankind has had one question on its mind: what is the strongest animal? Today, Max Landis, Wallpaper and the Nerdist Channel provide an answer, albeit with a slightly more animalistic spelling, as the Animal Fighting Championships rise to the top of the YouTube food chain on the Nerdist Channel.
The brainchild of Chronicle writer and former Nerdist Podcast guest Max Landis, the Animal Fighting Championships is essentially a frenetic, adrenaline-fueled dance party set to the dulcet tones of Ricky Reed and electropop outfit Wallpaper. With their song “Underdog” playing in the background, the video pits kigurumi-clad fighters in head-to-head battles involving slow motion cameras, Holi powder, excessive amounts of glitter, and some seriously awesome breakdancing. It’s pure, unbridled fun distilled into music video form and it’s finally here for your enjoyment.
To give you a sense of just what the hell you’re actually in for, I caught up with director Max Landis to find out how this project came to life, if Adam Savage is still alive, and just who the “stongest aminal” is after all.
Max Landis: Tiger. I mean just by definition, a tiger is stongar than most other aminals. It’s orange, it does flips and breakdancing; clearly it’s evolved for aminal combat. At one point the tiger in the battle was breakdancing and the stongball got stuck on its leg and swung around; I mean at the point, you look at Darwin, you look at the whole idea of natural selection, and the answer is self evident.
N: How did Animal Fighting Championships come about? Did someone just have 40 kigurumis and a whole mess of Holi powder lying around?
ML: I actually made a video anticipating this question, but the short answer is, it was kind of system-hacky. It was something I really wanted to do, just somewhere in my heart, and I found a way to make it happen. I was lucky enough to be inspired by the work of the stupid-talented Ricky Reed, and facilitated by the supremely entrepreneurial Chris Hardwick. It also helps that I know some very, very strong animals. Herding the aminals in and gathering stong for them to use on each other was definitely the hardest part of the process.
N: What can unsuspecting viewers expect from the Animal Fighting Championships?
ML: Genuine weirdness from very attractive people. It’s essentially a music video, so don’t get disappointed, but when you look at it from a behavioral experiment, “we actually did this” perspective, I hope you’ll find it as awesome as I do. Also expect a fucking awesome song. Wallpaper fucking rocks.
N: How was the shooting process? How long did it take you guys?
ML: Nine and a half hours, roughly. One of the big challenges in shooting it was keeping people motivated and enjoying themselves, and for me that involved a tremendous amount of going through one on one and temperature checking my friends, so to speak, very regularly to make sure they were still having a good time.
N: How many videos will there be overall?
ML: Fifty billion.
N: The song is super rad. How did you guys link up with Wallpaper and Ricky Reed?
ML: Twitter. I was a fan, he was a fan, we hooked it up and became friends. From the second I heard “Underdog,” I was like “I gotta do something with this.”
N: Is Adam Savage okay? I was worried about him after that first promo.
ML: No, he’s dead.
N: You seem to be branching more into directing lately too. Is that an avenue you’re looking to pursue? Do you find you prefer it to writing or are they two sides of the same coin?
ML: They are definitely not two sides of the same coin. I’m starting to direct my first feature right now, and it’s fucking pandemonium; it’s like having a real job, versus writing, which is more free form, although it comes with its own trials and heartbreaks. I’m writing this to you from the production office of my movie. It’s blowing my mind even to type that.
N: Last, but not least – what would be inside your ideal burrito?
ML: Solution for global warming; the wrap would be served uncooked with a document inside, folded up, with the solution to global warming, AIDS, and the economic and jobs crisis written out in plain, uncomplicated language. If I’m having an ideal burrito, I don’t want beans and rice. I want to save the world. Also guac.