Exclusive: Brent Hoff of Wholphin Lets Us Send Him IMs


If you’ve never heard of Wholphin before then you’re going to thank us for introducing you to this cinematic gem. The quarterly DVD magazine — now seven issues old — is the brainchild of Dave Eggers and Brent Hoff; it features short films, documentaries, animation, and instructional videos that have not, for whatever reason, found wide release.

If you live in New York, check out a screening of Wholphin No 7 and the Best of Wholphin Volume 1, at 92YTribeca this Saturday, November 29th.

After the jump, our IM interview with The Hoff about the origins of the magazine, the short film he’d love to track down, and his top secret scoop on Spike Jonze’s upcoming Where the Wild Things Are — which Eggers wrote.

Caroline: Were you around from the start with Wholphin? Spring 2006? brenth: Yeah. The idea grew out of conversations Dave and I had been having. Caroline: About wanting to see more random films? Or expanding the scope of McSweeney’s? brenth: About having seen these really great shorts that were not getting any distribution. Caroline: Right — that was a very different time. brenth: All those two years ago… Caroline: Seriously though! brenth: I know! By the way, isn’t this retro [using AIM]? Shouldn’t we be doing the new Gchat? Caroline: We’re being ironic. Ok, so back to the first issue of Wholphin, how did you get heavies like Spike Jonze and Miranda July to allow you to use their work? brenth:Dave is friends with both Spike and Miranda. Seeing Spike’s Al Gore doc was partially what inspired this whole thing. I had been telling him the best films at Sundance were sometimes the shorts and after he saw Miguel and Miranda’s film Are You The Favorite Person Of Anyone?, he agreed. Caroline: Which film/s from that first DVD were you the most excited to have discovered? And how did you? Was it going to festivals, sourcing through friends, etc.? brenth: Um. The Turkish version of the Jeffersons was something special to be sure. Finding the films was a complete mix. A friend from The Onion turned us on to the artist who sings Stairway To Heaven backwards. I had another friend who told me to check out Carson Mell’s work. Almost nothing on that issue was from festivals actually. Caroline:Did your previous gigs at The Daily Show and Best Week Ever help? And did they make finding pieces that were humorous a priority? brenth:I think my previous experience in the bowels of TV helped me recognize that my tastes are not entirely mainstream. It helped me see the line of where my abnormal fascinations with obscure science ends and something other people might also want to see begins. If that makes any sense… Caroline: So did you ever get your hands on that PT Anderson short you told Radar about? brenth: No. Not yet. Thanks for reminding me. Caroline: Is there another great white whale you’re trying to track down? brenth: Yes. Several. But I don’t really want to talk about them for fear of making the directors nervous. We just heard that Charlie Kaufman made short films when he was at NYU. Caroline: Why should reclusive people in New York go out to see Volume 7 on Saturday night instead of just waiting for the DVD to arrive in the mail? brenth: We always try to make our screenings more events than just screenings. We might have drunk bees or crying competitions going on. They’re damn fun. We might have a sort of water crystal screaming contest at the screening where you yell words into water, the water forms into crystals, depending on what you yell. It’s a fringe-science thing. Trying to work it out still. Caroline: Ha. Drunk bees. Ok, last question, and I have to ask it, so don’t judge. Do you know anything top secret about Where the Wild Things Are and/or do you plan to see it? brenth: I heard the script is one of the best scripts ever written. And it wasn’t Dave who told me that. Can we do this whole interview again in mime?