Spike Decker: Sick & Twisted Web Pioneer

CANNES, FRANCE (05/23/2000) - Just a few blocks from the red-carpeted entrance of the main screening cinema for the International Festival du Film, a very different kind of premiere took place Tuesday night. In the smoke-filled basement room of the Miramar Hotel, animation fanatics gathered for a midnight showing of Spike & Mike's Sick and Twisted Festival of Animation.

Founded in 1977 as a way for creators Spike Decker and Mike Gribble to avoid getting up in the morning for a real job, the festival has gathered a cult following on the West Coast. But at Cannes this year, Spike (the surviving member of the duo) was heralded as the man who discovered the secret to bringing film content to the Web. Spike's collection of animated short films won accolades from Cannes attendees hunting for content to populate Web sites.

Short, animated films like Spike's are appealing in that they are suited to slow download speeds for the bandwidth-challenged, but they are especially suited to what is still the most dominant Internet audience -- 18- to 35-year-old men. In fact, Spike's selections are so graphic that the Internet is the only place, aside from late-night cinematic screenings, that the Sick & Twisted Festival of Animation can get past FCC restrictions.

"It's so sick and twisted, I can't even sell it to cable," Spike told an audience at a Cannes panel discussion about film and the Internet earlier today. With so many Cannes attendees wondering what the convergence of film and the Internet will look like, SpikeandMike.com provides a real-life money-making example With a digital library comprising more than 20 years of animated shorts, Spike is a much sought-after figure this week at Cannes.

Attempting to leave the stage after his panel appearance, the 6-foot-5 linebacker-esque Spike, a self-described "freak," was accosted by an eager dot-com CEO anxiously bidding for a piece of his action. "We've got so much stuff that could be exploited," Spike said in an interview with The Standard on Tuesday. "The Internet has been a great thing to come along. I'm tired of being a pioneer and not getting a payday."

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