This paper stop-motion animated music video was created for the band Severance Package and their song "Scissors Gonna Cut Ya". It was created by filming the band and dancers, printing at 12 fps, cutting them out and compositing in the computer. Additional stop-motion animation of my hand, scissors, and scraps of paper were used, along with paper sets and a 3D printed retro TV. See the behind the scenes images below:
My criteria for an opportunity worth taking are:
1. I get to work with great people who are trying to do great and positive things with their lives and talents.
2. It pays well and when I’m done I’ll be proud to talk about it.
3. It doesn’t pay well, but it helps someone who is genuinely trying to make a difference, is a valuable learning experience, or a springboard into something new and exciting.
On November 15th, 2014 I left a steady job in a field I wasn’t passionate about to create art for a living. 2016 was my year of saying yes to every opportunity that came my way and if I was a little scared to work on a project due to fear of failure… I did it anyway. During this experiment I had coffee or phone conversations with more than 30 complete strangers from around the country. I listened to what they were passionate about and tried to help by using my talents. This was the first year in my life I felt a sense of community and understood how we are all connected. These are the highlights and struggles of my second year as a full-time artist.
In 2015 I released a short film called The Spaceman. This Kickstarter backed film gave me the confidence and support to quit my job and follow my dreams. Throughout 2015 it played in film festivals around the world and its final stop was in January at the Sundial Film Festival. My brother and I had a blast meeting other filmmakers and seeing some really inspiring films. To our surprise we walked away with two awards, Best Narrative Film, and Best of Festival. What a great way to start the year!
The year also started off strong with a very fun project for a New York sketch comedy web series called Lunch Specials. I was asked to create a quick, energetic, and raw, opening credits for their show along with titles for each episode using chalk on a chalkboard. This was the first time I’d animated using a chalkboard and it was a nice creative challenge. The creators of the show found my work through LinkedIn. It seems daunting to keep up with all the social networking sites but this is a great example of why it doesn’t hurt to put yourself out there.
Last year I began editing the horror film Dolly Deadly for director Heidi Moore after other editors left the project. I had already contributed stop-motion animation to a few scenes a year earlier but was reluctant to take on such a big editing job. I definitely underestimated the amount of time it would take to finish the film and it led into the first couple of months of 2016. This made my life temporarily chaotic as I was trying to juggle other projects as well. In the end, I’m glad I signed on to the film because I learned a lot of tricks along the way and I feel much more comfortable with the thought of making my own feature film someday. It was exciting to hear that Dolly Deadly was picked up for distribution by Legless Corpse Films, is already building a nice underground audience, and is currently touring the country as well as film festivals. You can buy a copy here.
Although I no longer seek out graphic design jobs, I continued to take them on when approached. This year I made 4 more posters for The University of Alabama. Designed logos, t-shirts, flyers, coupons, print advertisements, and created a fun website illustration for a new Northern California company (I can’t say what it is yet but its cool!).
During my downtime I worked on a new short fantasy/horror film called 3 Keys. My goal with the film was to challenge myself with narrative structure, cinematography, special effects, and editing. We just wrapped production with all live-actors and are prepping to animate stop-motion puppets and bring in a voice actor for a significant character. This is my biggest, most challenging film to date that has allowed me to collaborate with talented artists from around the world. I hope to have a trailer in a month.
For the last year I have been collaborating with my friend Dana Hocking on a children’s book and video game called Monsters Project. This was a new experience for me since I’d never been involved in the development of a game before. We spent many hours on the phone brainstorming ways to make it challenging, fun, and full of mysteries. This month we did our first book signing at a Barnes & Noble in Chico, CA and let kids play our game in the store. You can download the game for free here. The book is available through Amazon and Barnes & Noble.
Stop-Motion Music Videos
In 2015 I created my first stop-motion music video for the band Michelin Embers and after several months the video started to get some recognition within the Northern California music scene, and eventually winning Best Brief Film at the Shortz Film Festival in September. This video led to bands from around the country requesting quotes and now I hire freelancers for assistance when needed. I’m currently animating a music video for the band Severance Package and their song “Scissor’s Gonna Cut Ya.” This retro video has a punk edge to it and is mostly made from paper cut outs of the band. We are planning on releasing the video in February to coincide with their new album release.
On top of animating the Severance Package video, I am also creating a trippy background animation for a Beatles: Abbey Road Tribute Show to be held at Laxson Auditorium at Chico State University in February. This animation will be played during the Side B Medley as a live band performs on stage.
Animation Chico Festival
On December 10th I’ll be hosting the 2nd annual Animation Chico Festival, which showcases short international animations from around the globe. I’ve really enjoyed Co-Directing this festival because I’m able to meet other creative animators and illustrators who are on the same path as I am.
I was asked to teach two Art Classes next Semester at Chico State University for one of my former professors while she travels. I still remember sitting in her classes and knowing I had something to say as an artist but really struggling to figure out what that was or how to do it. The timing couldn’t be better because I finally know those answers. This is an exciting opportunity and I hope I can help students get a step closer to reaching or even understanding their goals as people and artists.
If you are discouraged with the rising wave of hate in this world, you can fight back by being an example. Make it your goal to help and understand others before helping yourself. If you enjoy creating, go out and make something. If you see someone doing something great with his or her life, ask how you can help. Every day is still a struggle, its uncomfortable, exciting, nerve-wracking, emotional, and wonderful… but it is all worth it.
A few years ago I heard about a Kickstarter project looking to fund a horror movie called Dolly Deadly. The movie was to be in the style of the classic Troma films; very disturbing, lots of blood, and lots of fun. I had seen Director Heidi Moore's previous short films and decided to contribute to the campaign.
Lucky for me, she contacted me the next day because she had seen my previous stop-motion short film Wormholes and wanted me to be involved in adding some classic stop-motion effects to her film. Over the next few years I animated doll parts, guts, eyeballs, and a scarecrow. The movie is now touring the country and being distributed through Legless Corpse Films.
Check out the video below to see some of my stop-motion highlights from the movie:
This is my creative space, also known as my "play room." It is a place where I can build, destroy, and alter objects to suit whatever project I'm working on. When I'm at my busiest, it is a giant pile of props and materials causing me to trip with each step. When I finish a film, or music video, I spend days cleaning and reorganizing, reflecting on the time I spent creating and getting excited for what is to come.
I wanted to share the evolution of my studio with you so you can see how chaotic the art process really is. These photos are like time capsules for me and as I look at them I'm reminded of what music or podcast I was listening to while creating, the fun times collaborating with friends and family, and how I discovered what I'm capable of when I don't worry about failing and just keep pushing through.
These photos were taken during the productions of The Spaceman, Wormholes, Diggin' On, Animation Chico Promo, Three Notes, Dolly Deadly, Sinful: A Graphic Novel, The Last Foxhole, Farewell Letter, 3 Keys, Grusum, and Breathe.
Special Thanks to those pictured below and to those who have contributed to these projects : Joe Batt, Jenny Funk, Dave Hoppe, Jay Darden, Jordan Funk, Dan Reinhard, Brenden Price, Michelin Embers, Richard Whillock, Heather Bennett, Rickie Barnett, Dustin Eggleston, Devon Blenkush, Wayne Houchin, Dana Hocking, & Ryan Sanders. (Sorry if I left someone out!)
I'm continuously amazed with the kind of work artists have been putting into my new movie. Once again, I need to take the time to promote the work of one of these collaborators. Dustin Eggleston took my complicated idea for a scary door and made it look easy. This door weighs well over 100 pounds and could have come straight out of a nightmare. Check out how he made it in the images below.
First I drew designs that would be laser cut and welded onto the door. Dustin needed to simplify a few sections to make it work with the cutter.
Once again, I had the pleasure of working with the talented puppet maker Richard Whillock. This time he helped me create a stop-motion puppet as well as an identical rod-puppet so I can film in real time with the actress during some important shots. Check out the puppet photos below.
One of the best parts of filmmaking is the opportunity to collaborate with talented people in order to bring your vision to life. I'd like to take the opportunity to highlight the talented skills of Devon Blenkush, who took my simple instructions (which I can't say yet due to spoilers) and exceeded my expectations.
Here are photos of the small fairy tale door he created for my new film 3 Keys.
I met Devon when I was around 19 years old when we both worked at Kmart. Years later we bumped into each other and had a great talk about the things we were passionate about. In all the years I had worked with him I didn't know he had this secret passion for woodworking and especially had no idea how gifted he was at it. I'm so pleased to add and celebrate his creativity in my new film.
I'll add more photos as soon as we start filming with the door. Keep checking back for updates.
We had so much fun last night filming my new fantasy short film 3 Keys. Months of preparation went into organizing this first day because it involved designing and building a bed that falls backwards on a hinge for a trick shot. 7 people were needed to make a 15 second shot look convincing. Check out these behind the scenes photos and keep checking back for more updates.
Steve Martin wanted to be a magician and became the most famous comedian in the world. Arnold Schwarzenegger wanted to be the greatest bodybuilder who ever lived and became a movie star and governor. If you read enough biographies on successful people you will see a common thread that connects them all; they knew when to change their path.
I bought my first guitar in the sixth grade and by the time I was twelve I was playing Green Day and Weezer songs in front of my entire Junior High school. I was sure I had found my calling and it was to become a rock star. Fifteen years later I sounded and played better than ever but could no longer find the creative energy to pick the guitar up. This instrument that once brought me so much joy now sat in its case for months at a time until inspiration would find me… but eventually, inspiration stopped coming back.
I silently gave up on this dream in 2010 but didn’t realize it until two years later. There was no more enjoyment, there were no more songs in me, and although this may sound sad, it was a big sigh of relief. To fill the creative void I did something I’d always wanted to do and decided to create a stop-motion short film in my spare time. Wormholes became my new obsession. I spent every week for one-year building models, puppets, and learning how to animate in what used to be my home music studio. I mostly kept this to myself because I didn’t know how to explain it to my friends but it was incredibly fun. As I worked, memories started flooding back of my childhood and the hours I spent making films with my parent’s camcorder and my action figures. It felt like I had come home.
I decided to release Wormholes online and the feedback I received was far greater than anything I’d done in music. I think it was because I created it for the right reasons. It was simply made for fun and made for me. Over the next few years as I transitioned into becoming a filmmaker and animator, I saw many parallels with my experiences in music. It became evident that my failure at my first dream wasn’t a failure at all, but instead training and education.
With music I learned how to create flyers for my bands and spent years testing out different ways of promoting our shows. I learned how to create websites, logos, and CD covers, and work with printing presses. I figured out how to create buttons, and vinyl banners for our merch tables, and how to get interviews from the local papers and radio stations. My pursuits in music gave me the courage to approach venues about playing shows, and send my albums out to be reviewed.
I learned about the not so fun stuff like contracts and lawyers, copyright laws, and the disgusting habit of namedropping. I learned that every time I chased a trend, I would fail but when I created music or art that made me happy there was no downside. I learned that I’m not special and everyone in this world is capable of being great at something so I should not compare myself to others.
I learned that collaboration is extremely important and giving credit to those who contribute will lead to better work then doing everything on my own. I studied and observed everything with the music industry from the way a chord progression brought out emotions to how a band advertised their latest album. I learned to dissect why something worked and why it didn’t. When I decided to become a filmmaker, all of these lessons transferred over.
The title of this post is misleading because I didn’t give up on my dreams at all. I simply altered them based on my experiences and interests. I’m not the same as that twelve year old who first sang in front of an audience and I’m glad. I’ve evolved into someone else. Music is still a big part of my life and I enjoy composing for my movies, playing the guitar and piano in my spare time, and listening to what others are putting out into the world but I’m so thankful I gave up my dream because it made way for the new one and that’s just starting.
When I was 6 years old I rushed out of my bedroom to share a funny story with my mom. She was talking to her friend in the living room and the TV was quietly on providing just enough background noise to block out the chaos of us kids. I don’t remember what was so hilarious at the time to cause me to run to her, but I do remember the moment that followed. I remember it so vividly because it would traumatize me for the rest of my life.
Before I could say a word, something caught my attention on the TV and within 30 seconds I was curled up in a ball on the couch, clinging to my mother’s arm in utter terror. The show was Entertainment Tonight but the thing that would haunt my dreams for decades to come was the infamous doll Chucky.
The thought never even occurred to me that my beloved teddy bear or any other toy could possibly come to life and kill, but from that day forward I saw the world differently. Though I would never actually watch the Child’s Play movies until I was 19, those 30 seconds of footage along with the image of Chucky on the VHS tapes at the video rental stores, fueled my imagination with terror.
At first Chucky would appear in my nightmares each week until eventually he only showed up when I had internal turmoil. By the time I was in high school I figured out he represented whatever my current problem was and how well I was handling it. If I was running away from my problems in real life, I found myself running away from Chucky. If I was ready to tackle a problem head on, I found myself stabbing him, or setting him on fire. Eventually, we even became friends and would sit on the couch together watching TV… I still don’t know what that means.
Everything changed when my family took a trip to Universal Studios and I saw how movies were made. I’m not sure if it is in my imagination but I remember our tour bus driving past a glass case with chucky dolls on display and I became fascinated. By the time I was 9 years old, I began checking out books from our local library on film techniques and became fascinated with the practical effects in Star Wars, and Jaws.
In 2012 I started to focus my artistic exploration towards stop-motion animation, essentially building dolls to animate in my dark home studio. Last year it hit me… I was overcoming my fear of dolls by controlling them through my art. While doing research on animatronics for my movie The Spaceman, I watched the making of Child’s Play and found a new respect for these filmmakers who unknowingly tortured my childhood. The creativity and craftsmanship that went into making this classic horror film was remarkable.
Next month I will begin filming a new short film about Nightmares called 3 Keys. Through filmmaking I am exploring this concept more directly and have even commissioned a terrifying clown doll marionette along with other puppets to try and conquer this fear once and for all. Maybe that’s what the creators of Child’s Play were doing back in 1988 or maybe they just wanted to make the scariest movie possible. Either way I hope I don’t send another kid down the same terrifying path Chucky gave me.
I’ll be posting behind the scenes stills and concept art for my new movie soon. Keep checking back for updates.
Let’s pretend you’ve already lived your entire life and as you came to the end, you had the chance to live it again. How would you spend each day? What would you do differently? This kind of fantasy rattled around in my brain during restless nights and miserable days working in retail.
For years I knew I needed to change the direction my life was going and I found myself eight years into a profession that did not represent my goals, talents, and strengths. It seemed that the longer I stayed, the harder it became to leave and as more time passed, my confidence in fulfilling my dreams diminished. My dream was to be creative for a living.
One year ago today, with either courage or perhaps pure ignorance, I left being comfortable for the unknown. I could clearly visualize in my mind what life would be like if I didn’t try… I was already living it. I had the support of my wife (even with a baby on the way) and had enough experience to know where to start. After all, I went to school to study art and there wasn’t a valid enough excuse to give up before ever trying.
This is a summary of what I experienced in my first year as a full-time freelance artist and if you stumbled upon this because you want to change where you are in life, just remember I also google searched, “Should I quit my day job?” before starting my journey.
WHAT DID I ACCOMPLISH?
My plan was to make a living as an illustrator and take on graphic design projects on the side. I created a clear business plan and set out to make it happen but soon had to change course when the universe started pulling me in a different direction… filmmaking and animation.
At the time I left my day job, I was just finishing my second film, a black and white sci-fi short called The Spaceman. With a stop-motion animated monster as the villain, this Kickstarter funded project ended up opening all kinds of unexpected doors for me. I entered it in many film festivals and competitions, which resulted in winning 4 awards. It was seen by thousands of people around the world and has so far screened in California, Utah, New York, & Australia. Through this experience I was able to connect with other filmmakers and movie lovers and to better recognize my strengths and weaknesses.
Years ago, a friend taught me how to write press releases and by following his advice The Spaceman was featured in multiple regional newspaper articles including the Chico Enterprise Record, Chico News & Review, & the Orion. I appeared on two TV news shows, a podcast, did multiple radio interviews, and images from my film were used in a Videomaker Magazine article on Stop-Motion animation techniques. The movie was also featured on the websites Film Pulse, best-horror-movies, & sci-fi bloggers.
As traction grew for The Spaceman it also drew attention to my first animated short, Wormholes that ended up playing to over 700 people at Keeping Chico Weird. There were two people at this show who ended up hiring me to animate music videos. Other unexpected opportunities happened when I was asked to speak to classrooms at Butte College, Chico State University, and give a talk at the Museum of Northern California Art’s pop up event. These appearances led to getting the Art at the Matador Scholarship Room, where I showed my work to the public in a historic Chico, CA motel.
In between all of these events I worked on over 40 graphic design jobs including clients such as The University of Alabama, Georgia Southern University, and Innovate NorthState. I created a Kickstarter video for a clothing company, and an officially licensed Star Wars apparel teaser for DesignByHumans. Near the end of the year, a lot of my time shifted towards stop-motion animation including work in a feature horror film called Dolly Deadly, music videos for Norwegian songwriter Annie Woodward, and the band Michelin Embers.
WHAT DID I LEARN?
1. Charge What You Are Worth
I made many mistakes this year and I’d have to say my biggest is not charging what I’m worth. I was so fearful that I wouldn’t have any work that I ended up short changing myself. This was my most fulfilling and successful year and yet this year brought in one of the lowest incomes in my working life. Still, I wouldn’t change it for the world and I have a better understanding now of what my time is worth.
2. Plant Seeds
There were three months this year when I felt like a complete failure because either the money wasn’t coming in, or the projects were drying up. I made sure to spend those slow days updating my website, working on personal projects, and being thankful for what I’d already accomplished so far. I noticed the more I put myself out into the world, the more opportunities trickled in. Occasionally, I would meet with a potential client assuming our project wasn’t going to work out, but months later would hear back from them with the green light to start working. I have absolutely no idea what I’ll be creating in 2016 and this should scare me but as long as I put in the work and do my best something will always be around the corner.
3. Enjoy your work
Finally, you must enjoy your work, not the money, accolades, or success. The work must come first. If you’ve found something you love, make an honest commitment to it, and enjoy every moment. Set a specific time every day where you put away your phone and distractions and just go for it. You will be happiest and do your best work when you let yourself enjoy it.
On November 15th, 2014 I said my goodbyes and tried to never look back. These last twelve months have become pivotal for me as an artist and a person. I understand there is a long way to go but I am now dedicating myself full time to achieving it.
Here is a behind the scenes look of the drill being held by a rig. The drill was made from a steampunk eyepiece, airdry clay, and painted foam core. I later deleted the rig to make it appear like it was floating above the ground. These scenes were fun because I also animated dirt by pushing it around with my fingers.
This is the inside view of a hole that the drill was digging. It was created by gluing torn pieces of textured, packaging cardboard together. I then added some lights and filmed the set against green screen.
Here is a screen shot after the puppet was animated and composited in. This puppet was based on the illustrations of Rick Barnett who also created their album cover. The video will be online sometime next month. Keep checking back for updates.
I am in my 12th month making a living in the Arts. The purpose of this blog is to keep myself motivated, on track and to provide knowledge for those looking to make a similar decision.
August and September left me feeling overwhelmed, and overworked. I realized I hadn’t posted in far too long so this will have to cover the last two months. I’m sorry for the delay but here we go…
Internal and External Struggles
August and September left me doubting myself for the first time all year. I brought in the least amount of money due to long term projects that pay out when finished, had to wait on slow payments from the University systems, and a few clients decided to take their time sending those checks. On top of that, unexpected car repairs came up, and I caught a cold for a week.
Despite these setbacks I have been working very hard. Having a month where I struggled financially was the kind of kick in the ass I needed. It helped me understand how I need to prepare in the future.
In a way I feel like the more I accomplish and the closer I get to achieve my goals, the more my internal resistance tries to hold me back. I found myself on multiple occasions thinking how ridiculous it was for me to leave a steady job to make art out of puppets (it sounds even worse when I type it). However, I am being true to myself, I am working every day, and people are taking notice of it.
I am so thankful that my film The Spaceman is still taking off and finding its audience. The puppets, sets, storyboards, and more were featured in the September issue of Videomaker Magazine. They have over 50,000 subscribers across North America and an amazing online following. It will be playing at the SciFi Festival in Australia on October 31st and screened last month at the Shortz Film Festival in Chico, CA. My participation in Shortz also brought in interviews from the Chico ER Newspaper, Weekend Showcase radio show, and KRCR TV.
In August I animated a short promotional video for Animation Chico, was hired to create a very stylized beating heart for Norwegian singer/songwriter Annie Woodward’s latest music video, and had a few great production shoots for the film The Last Foxhole which I am producing for director Joe Batt.
In September I finally made time to start writing the script for my next live-action film, found the actors, and started planning the budget.
My favorite moments over the last two months were spent working on the stop-motion music video for Michelin Embers, which required building a wagon, backdrops, and miniature bridges, a drive-in movie theatre, and more. I can’t wait to show everyone!
I’m finding that my graphic design work is getting smaller to make room for film projects but I’m still maintaining monthly retainers. In September I designed event flyers for The University of Alabama, Georgia Southern University, and Allegory Bellydance.
The End is Near…
Next Month will be my last post about my life after leaving my day job. I will recap the year’s highlights and explain the lessons I’ve learned in my first year as a self-employed artist. I’m not sure if anyone reads this but it really helps me process such a big decision and navigate through this crazy first year. Thank you for all your support!
I'm really excited to share these behind the scenes photos of my latest project for the band Michelin Embers. The guys asked me to create a stop-motion music video for their song "Diggin' On" that will also incorporate footage of the band playing.
The puppet was based on the illustrations of Rick Barnett who also created their album cover. It was made with a metal armature and clay head and the clothing was created with the help of artist Aryn Fisher. The backdrop was painted on a 10 foot piece of paper.
The vehicle is made from wood, metal, 3D printed parts, and found objects.
In the opening shot of the music video, we will start underground and come up to the surface before meeting the puppet. Here is a photo of me and artist Heather Bennett designing the underground layers using pieces of cardboard. I later 3D printed dinosaur bones and glued them on the surface.
Keep checking back for more behind the scenes photos.
I am in my ninth month of making a living in the Arts. The purpose of this blog is to keep myself motivated, on track and to provide knowledge for those looking to make a similar decision.
GOOD PROBLEMS TO HAVE
July quickly became my most stressful month yet but I kept reminding myself that this kind of stress is so much better than having the general public yell at me on a daily basis for things I can’t control. The cause of my stress came from my inability to say no to projects and for the first time in my career I overbooked.
In order to meet all of my deadlines I worked longer hours and created a production schedule from July through December to stay on track. I also decided not to take on any new work unless I can finish these early.
FINDING AND PROMOTING TALENT
My ultimate goal is to start an animation studio and I took the first big step in this direction last month by hiring two freelancers to help me build sets, and puppet clothing for a new Michelin Embers stop-motion music video. I love collaborating with talented artists with skills that I don’t have and thought this was a great opportunity to test out their talents. When you work with people who are passionate about what they do, it brings the production to a whole other level. I will post behind the scenes images from this video very soon.
I also finished editing the rough draft of the feature film Dolly Deadly, organized my upcoming animation festival Animation Chico and found most of our judges (I’ll be announcing them soon). I booked a small stop-motion animation job in a music video for director Morgan Barajas and continued to maintain my graphic design jobs on the side.
My short film The Spaceman was mentioned at best-horror-movies.com and won the Honorable Mention Award at the One Reeler Short Film Competition. It was also accepted in the Village of Brewster Film Festival (Brewster, NY) and will be screened there on September 5th.
There are only 3 more posts in this series and then I will write a yearly reflection of my jump into self-employment. If you have any questions, suggestions, or specific things you’d like me to talk about, write them in the comments below.
I love working with foam core and decided to create a miniature replica of the El Rey Theatre and film it against green screen. Every other piece was illustrated and painted by hand. The marquee was printed on transparency paper and illuminated by lights I purchased at IKEA. Finally, everything was animated together in the computer.
A lot of work went into this 20 second animation but it was tons of fun.
Music by Dana Hocking.
I am in my eighth month of making a living in the Arts. The purpose of this blog is to keep myself motivated, on track and to provide knowledge for those looking to make a similar decision.
GAINING SKILLS BECAUSE YOU HAVE TO
I think I’m finally settling into my new occupation and no longer look at this as an experiment but a lifestyle. Is it better to have a part-time job or be a full-time artist? I think the answer is really somewhere in between. The job I left paid well, had benefits, 401K, and the trappings up a comfortable life… but since it didn’t fit my skill set or align with my goals it was dragging me down. I stopped growing as an artist because how I spent my day wasn’t feeding me creatively.
It seems that everyday I am coming across something I don’t know. It might be a feature in Photoshop, or a new editing technique for a commercial. I now have the luxury of making the time to learn and enhance my skills because my job requires it. All of these small lessons are adding up and turning into knowledge that is at my disposal for future projects.
WHAT I DID ON MY SUMMER VACATION
June was a great learning experience for me both professionally and personally as I struggled to find enough time in my day to be a father and also meet my many deadlines. Some days felt like I barely accomplished anything at all but I adjusted my expectations, learned how to manage my time differently and I’m now back on track. Every free second counts so I’m spending less time looking at my phone and more time appreciating my family and career.
Most of June was spent editing a feature horror film called Dolly Deadly. I have been involved with this project as an animator for a couple of years but just recently took over the editing responsibilities. My film The Spaceman won another award in The Accolade Global Film Competition, and I started an animation film festival called Animation Chico, to be held on December 12th at the El Rey Theatre in Chico, CA.
The highlight of the month (and year) was flying out to Salt Lake City with my brother Jordan to attend a huge Sci-Fi/Fantasy/Horror festival we were accepted into called FilmQuest. We met amazing filmmakers from around the world, did interviews with magazines and movie websites, and watched our creation in front of a new audience. My biggest take away from the festival was in understanding that there is a real future for me in film. I still have a lot to learn but I’m doing what I need to be doing.
I am in my seventh month of making a living in the Arts. The purpose of this blog is to keep myself motivated, on track and to provide knowledge for those looking to make a similar decision.
LAST MONTH WAS CRAZY
I’m finally feeling the momentum of all my hard work and promotion and its fun, exhilarating, and exhausting. I scaled back on my graphic design jobs and focused on getting my name out as a freelance stop-motion animator and filmmaker. I won my second film competition award in The IndieFest Film Competition and was accepted into a big sci-fi/fantasy/horror festival in Salt Lake City called FilmQuest happening the week of June 18th (more on that next month).
A TEMPORARY SIGH OF RELIEF
May was also significant because it was the first month I matched my income from my previous retail job. One of the biggest hurdles with leaving that day job was the comfortable paycheck and I know it will be a while before this is a common occurrence but it was so cool to get there so soon.
ART AT THE MATADOR
Probably the biggest event in May was being awarded the Art at the Matador scholarship room in Chico, CA. This is an event that happens every summer in a Chico motel. The scholarship gave me my own room to set up puppets, props, and sets, sell merchandise, and talk to the hundreds of guests that strolled through. Along with the room came the opportunity to promote my work through a radio interview, TV appearance, and newspaper article.
I sold DVDs & t-shirts, gave out postcards with my animation services, and got over 50 people to signup for my mailing list. I talked to four different guests about potential commercial and music video work, as well as two teachers who want me to talk to their students. One of the best parts of the two day event was teaching kids how to animate at the animation station I created using a metal armature and dragonframe software. A week after the event there was a positive review of my DVD in our local Chico Enterprise Record. I’m so thankful for all the great people I met and hope to do something like this again soon.
While making my short film The Spaceman it was my goal to use as many practical effects as possible from stop-motion animation and miniatures to animatronics and props. The movie required combining a very small stop-motion puppet with a live actor. In order to make these two seem like they existed in the same environment I used as many transitional effects as possible. For example: I would show the stop-motion monster puppet, cut to the live-actor in the woods, then cut to the big foam-latex tentacle interacting with the actor and repeat. I also created composite shots that showed both the puppet and actor together.
There were two tentacles used for the movie. Since my budget was running low and I didn’t have enough experience in making foam latex props of this size, I shopped around and found a great website called FrightProps. It was here that I found a tentacle that was already the size I needed.
The tentacle was beautifully painted and had suction cups along the bottom, but unfortunately it didn’t fit the look of the puppet. Upon more research I found that they also sold latex paint and so I painted black and white stripes on both tentacles. I cut the suction cups off one by one with an exacto knife and had to be careful not to show the damaged side while filming since the foam stuffing could be seen.
One tentacle was hollowed out and we used a 3D printed cable animatronics system inside. This took four people to run as we pulled the cables in varying directions to create realistic movement. The second tentacle was used to hit the actor and the ground without hurting him.
See the final film here: